Penny presenting SWOT analysis

Ever had a great idea and then never seen it through to fruition? Ever felt you needed to change something about your business but just didn’t know quite what?

For any situation requiring clarity and decision-making let me recommend that you do a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis is a business tool that will:

1) Clarify situations
2) Effect long-lasting positive change
3) Produce practical plans
4) Explore new solutions
5) Aid communication
6) Great visual aid

There is just one problem. Few of us in the hairdressing industry are using SWOT on any kind of regular basis.


After all we have all reconciled ourselves to the fact that we are not just hairdressers but professionals based in a highly-productive skill-based industry, haven’t we? So if SWOT is the most renowned tool currently used for analysis by companies all over the world from multinational Corporates to single unit start-ups, it’s about time we got stuck-in doing the same.

So having got the message that this is something we need to understand and actually do, let me start at the beginning and do a quick what, when and how to SWOT with you!


Firstly SWOT is an abbreviation of four words that are traditionally placed in a four-square chart:

  • Strengths
  • Weakness
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

The next step is to decide what it is you would like to analyse. Is it your current team situation? A retail promotion? Yourself in your current role? One of the ways a SWOT may not work is if you are not specific enough in what it is you are trying to analyse so get clear on the situation first.

Once you have decided on the situation to be analysed, either begin as a team or as an individual thinking about the Strengths of the situation and writing those key points in the Strengths box.

Once that area has been pretty much exhausted move round to the Weakness box and fill in. If these two boxes are done carefully they will almost ‘lead’ you to the Opportunities box.

Another point to make here is BE HONEST when filling in your Strengths and Weaknesses; if not your Opportunities box will neither be applicable or practical, having been based on false information.

The Threats part has to be done last of all. This is your ‘protection’ area. The damage-limitation bit, as I call it. It is not for irrational fears, but more an awareness of potential pitfalls of a situation if certain measures are not taken.

For example, if you are analysing a potential retail promotion, the Threat box could be preparing the right amount of stock ordering otherwise the promotion will not yield the best results.

I find it really helpful to remember the four key factors like this.

  • Strength is to build
  • Weakness is to correct
  • Opportunity is to exploit
  • Threat is to protect

So now you know what a SWOT is and how to do it, it just leaves me to add the reasons why I think a SWOT Analysis can bring real positive impact to you and your business.

Apart from being a quick and easy tool to use for business overview, it is recognised that using SWOT as a team building and motivation exercise is a fantastic tool for sharing a company vision.

While it is cited that between 33%- 48% of people leave a company because “they don’t get told anything and therefore don’t feel a part of anything”, what better way of leading a team meeting than doing a SWOT together for a salon promotion or fundraising event?

This salon business advice was initially written for HJi.