Classic ‘SWOT Analysis‘ involves evaluating the Strengths and Weaknesses within a business or organisation, ie an ‘Internal Analysis’.
Strengths and Weaknesses – or Characteristics
It’s important to assess the strengths and weaknesses of our business, focusing particularly on strengths, especially strengths which competitors do not have. These relative strengths are an essential element of your Competitive Advantage.
Play to your Strengths
Another approach to this ‘internal analysis’ of strengths and weaknesses is to use a more neutral term and list the ‘characteristics’ of you and your enterprise. You can then ask in which creative fields, which business situations, or with which particular customers, do these characteristics become strengths. Business strategy is about deploying your characteristics in markets and other situations where they become strengths in relation to the competition.
Rather than simply attempting to write down all the strengths and weaknesses we can think of on a blank sheet of paper, the PRIMEFACT Checklist below provides a useful structure for a comprehensive analysis.
To ‘know ourselves’ we need to assess the facts of our current situation as objectively as possible. It’s useful to ask others to help you to do this, since they can see things from different perspectives.
I devised this checklist specifically for the creative and cultural industries and have used it successfully with a range of clients including creative businesses and cultural organisations.
The PRIMEFACT checklist
What are the strengths and weaknesses of our people? Employees, directors, members, associates, advisers and other stakeholders.
Reputation (or Brand).
What is our reputation with our target customers? What are the strengths – or weaknesses – of our brand or brands?
What intellectual property do we have? How is it protected? How easily can it be turned into income streams?
Market Research/ Marktet Information.
What information do we have about market segments and market trends? What do we know about individual clients and their specific needs?
Ethos (or Values or Culture).
What is our ethos, our values and our organisational culture? Do all stakeholders subscribe to this same ethos?
Finances, ie money.
What is the current state of profitability, cashflow and assets? How much money do we have to invest or can we borrow?
Agility (or nimbleness or change-ability).
Are we agile enough to seize new opportunities. Are people prepared to change and ready for change? Or are we unable to change?
Collaborators (Alliances, Partnerships and Networks).
What are the strengths and weaknesses of our associations with other businesses and organisations (including government)?
Talents (competencies and skills).
What are our core competencies. What skills do we have available and what gaps are there? Are we able to learn new skills?
Be frank about your weaknesses too. But remember that not all weaknesses need to be fixed. Maybe you can find a new market position where your weaknesses are not so significant. The important thing here is to recognise your strengths and weaknesses in relation to competitors. You may have a particular strength, but if your competitors have it too, or are even better, then it does not give you Competitive Advantage.
This PRIMEFACT checklist and the ICEDRIPS checklist were first published in the book ‘T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity’ and feature in the Designing Your Creative Business ( DYCB ) toolkit and workshops.