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9 Alternatives to SWOT Analysis For Business Planning
by Brett Farmiloe
November 29, 2023
Businesspersons looking at analytics on computer

SWOT Analysis Alternatives

Many business professionals are well acquainted with and have conducted a SWOT Analysis before. The process requires the individual to analyze their business and identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Doing so allows leaders to plan for the future and identify ways to expand and improve their current offerings.

Although it is a tried and true process, it is not the only exercise out there! We asked 9 business leaders to share their alternatives to the SWOT Analysis exercise and how their different processes help them plan for the future.

business professionals who contributed to this article

NOISE Analysis

Consider using a NOISE Analysis. It stands for Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, Strengths, and Exceptions. The main premise behind NOISE analysis is that you frame issues in terms of what you don’t have rather than what you need to do. In NOISE analysis, we say we will need new clients next month. It’s not a very big change, but it seems to feel more positive because needs to be met seem easier than challenges to be overcome.
- Pete Newstrom, Arrowlift

Improvement Venn Diagram

As the owner of multiple businesses, I prefer to move away from a SWOT analysis for an individual business or strategy and move in a more people-focused direction. The first step is a simple list based on customer and employee feedback I’ve received to find areas that need improvement. Instead of approaching them as “weaknesses” or as one part of an overall strategy, I treat them as areas needing work and as a singular improvement-driven strategy.

I use an Improvement Venn Diagram for a visual analysis as opposed to a list method containing strengths and opportunities. The left circle is for our strengths as an organization and as people, and the right circle is for what we WANT to do or add to our business. The overlap area contents are the opportunities we can put into action now with the resources we already have.
- Liz Illg, Systems Consultant

Research Other Organizations Within Your Industry

The specific answers that go into a SWOT analysis are ever-changing given that industries are constantly progressing. However, the thing that stays consistent is the fact that your organization will always have strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With that in mind, it is crucial to do research on other organizations within your industry. That research will help you better understand where your company measures up among the rest as well as where the opportunities to advance are. SWOT is truly a game of compare and contrast, with the goal of making positive changes for the betterment of your organization.
- Rex Murphy, Montauk Services

Get Feedback From Clients and Customers

I enjoy getting feedback from my clients and customers. They share what they think the company does well, as well as what they think we should change. If you're going to analyze your strengths and weaknesses, you might as well get them directly from your customers. After all, their opinion matters the most.
- James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC

Internal Analysis

Internal analysis is key to uncovering issues that are holding our company back and finding areas that we can capitalize on to spur growth. In order to get a holistic view of our company’s current state, we seek insights from internal members as well as outside consultants. The insights from employees and managers give us invaluable information from a closeup perspective. The outside examination gives us an unbiased view of our firm. 
- Chris Dunkin, Portable Air

Use a Pro-Con Perspective

The dental industry is not a seasonal industry that tends to require a regularly thorough analysis, but it is going through a shift into digital 3D printing that has encouraged a different approach to business planning. Professionals in the field plan for new methods of dental procedures and create new educational tools using 3D-printed parts. This all includes assessing all the health risks and safety requirements necessary. Essentially, everything is looked at using a pro-con perspective to ensure the best for patients.
- Henry Babich, Stomadent Dental Lab 

Look at More Successful Businesses

Often the best way to analyze your strengths is to look at a more successful business. What are they really doing well? How do you compare? What services do they avoid, and why? Where do they network? How flexible is their business with unique niches? Quickly you'll see some competitive opportunities that might fit your business.
- Tony Baumer, Old Grey Tiger Consulting

Quarterly Meetings to Discuss the Company's Progression

We have quarterly and annual meetings where we discuss progress and analyze what went wrong. Every year, we set goals and priorities, but as 2020 has shown us, it's impossible to plan too much ahead. Once per quarter, the entire company meets to discuss what we can do better and how.
- Dmytro Okunyev, Chanty

Audit Your Inbox 

A few years ago I reviewed all incoming emails I’d received from our customers throughout the course of our business. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The commonalities throughout these emails helped me identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I’ve learned that your customers will tell you what your strengths are, and where the opportunities may be. You just have to listen to your customers, and do something about it. 
- Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

About the author
Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Brett Farmiloe Founder & CEO,
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48 Questions to Ask in Your SWOT Analysis
Every business owner should conduct a regular SWOT analysis to assess the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to its competition.
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