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Why and How to Create a SWOT Analysis for Your PT Business

After last week's blog on business motivation slumps, I figured we could explore one of the solutions offered and discuss in detail why a SWOT analysis can be helpful and how to conduct one.


What Is a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and it's a crucial strategic planning tool for any fitness business, whether you're a freelance personal trainer, or you run a facility, or an online training venture.


When Do You Need to Do a SWOT Analysis?
The short answer is whenever you need one, but that's quite vague, so let's see a few examples:

- You can conduct analysis for a particular project, campaign or product launch to figure out if it's worth launching it at all.

- It's beneficial when you feel that your business is stuck, and you can't put your finger on the reason. An analysis based on facts will show you where you need to make improvements.

- It can also be part of your regular business assessment procedure once a year, every 6 months, whenever you take your business through an evaluation and do your business planning for the next phase.


What Are the Benefits of Conducting a SWOT Analysis?
Numbers and data don't lie. There are pros and cons for conducting a SWOT analysis, but the benefits strongly outweigh the disadvantages. If you have specific targets you want to hit with your personal training business and you are dedicated to getting there within a particular period, you will need a way to understand where you are right now and what tools are available so you can plan how to get there.

Just like you help your clients to create a progress tracking system for themselves so both them and you can focus on making strides towards their fitness goal, the SWOT analysis can become an essential part of monitoring your business progress so you would immediately know if something needs your attention.


How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Fitness Business
If you search for the keywords "SWOT Analysis" in Google, you will find a host of results for templates with a variety of designs, shapes or layouts. One of the advantages of this tool is that you only really need paper and a pen. Consider using a whiteboard or a flip chart for visibility and reminder.

The template designs can be of any layout nowadays, but the most traditional way to do this is to draw a big square or rectangle and split it into 4 quadrants, like on the picture below.



Each quadrant will have a label: STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS. As shown on the chart, keep strengths and weaknesses on the same axis, whether you do it horizontally or vertically, that's your choice. When you start elaborating on each of the factors, always think of the original reason for performing the analysis: the answers may be slightly or very much different depending on whether you are assessing a product, your whole business operation or yourself as a business owner.

You can see that these four elements can be split into internal and external factors that affect your business; you can change and work on the internal factors, but you can only create a strategy on how to approach the external factors and react to them. Once you are done with this analysis, you should have a good idea of where to focus your energy.


Strengths
Identify the advantages in comparison with the competition, all the assets that help the business develop and any attributes that position you as the leading expert in your niche. You can answer the following questions here:

- What's going well?

- What expertise, unique knowledge and skills can you offer?

- Which aspect, product or service in your business is the most profitable?


Weaknesses
This is the section where you list everything you think could jeopardise your business growth, damage your clients' experience with your business and ultimately spoil your progress in hitting those targets. Questions to consider:

- What skills, resources or qualities are missing from your services?

- Where do you feel you lose money or time - e.g. you are not efficient?

- In what areas do you think you could improve or what courses you should take?


Opportunities
Think of any external condition, circumstance or environmental advantage that can help you achieve your objective. Ask yourself these questions:

- How can you use the currently available resources and client base to be more efficient and successful?

- What doors would be easy to open for you in your immediate circles? E.g. local social networks, online networks you have been part of for some time, your own friends list, etc.

- What are the business goals you are working for right now?

Threats
Any external factor that you feel could hurt your progress to hit your target can be listed here. Things to consider:

- Are you missing out on something your competitors are ahead of you?

- What's going on in the industry and the economy?

- What obstacles do you face?


Processing Data and Creating Strategies
This is the critical step. Having compiled all that information will have no benefit if you don't use the data AND act on them. The info-graphic above gives an excellent overview of how to look at the data.

1. Focus on your strengths and build your business strategy on them to exploit your opportunities.

2. Resolve weaknesses by either enrolling on courses that will help you improve or simply outsource tasks that take too much time and energy, thus reducing the threats.

3. You can use the SMART goal setting method to explore and take on the opportunities you have.

4. Most risks are avoidable, so figure out which of your skills will come handy and which need improving to minimise the threats.
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