A SWOT analysis is a useful marketing tool to help you discover the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your firm.
SWOT helps to reveal the internal aspects of your firm (strengths and weaknesses) while identifying external factors (opportunities and threats). Conducting a SWOT analysis helps to uncover opportunities and analyse areas of your firm that need improvement.
It also helps to identify your competitors and create a strategy to differentiate your firm in the market.
Consider the following points when conducting a SWOT analysis of your firm:
Strengths refer to the advantages of your firm. Think about what your firm is known for and does better than competition. Consider how your clients, staff and community regard the firm.
Some examples of strengths may include having a well-established reputation, a convenient location, a broad client base, high emphasis on personal service, and personal involvement and commitment of partners to client care.
Weaknesses refer to areas where you can improve and internal factors that may lead to poor sales. Examples of weaknesses may include clients not used to paying regularly for professional work or not used to paying high fees for high-value services, clients’ perception of value, partners too “bogged” down with compliance work, inadequate staff resources for larger clients, staff attitude to overtime/extra work and so forth.
Opportunities refer to taking advantage of external influences such as changing trends, technologies, markets, social patterns, lifestyle changes, government policy and so on. Forecasting opportunities is a great way of getting ahead of your competitors to serve your client’s in a way that meets their changing needs or changes to their external environment. Opportunities for your firm may include adopting new technology services or new specialist tax planning services or it might be a reducing number of small professional firms in your local area.
Threats are external obstacles your firm faces that could hinder or seriously threaten your firm from running. For example, it may be emerging technology that threatens your firm, new competition moving into your area, loss of one or more ‘major’ clients, economic conditions, changing regulation, difficulty in delivering new value-added services or sole practitioners undercutting fee structure.