To be successful in business development, you need to have a strong understanding of the market you’re hoping to create partnerships in. You also have to be aware of the how the individual businesses in that market typically operate. We’re going to show you how to use a SWOT analysis to help develop your business development strategy.
What is a SWOT analysis?
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a methodology that was developed in the 1960s and ‘70s for evaluating a company’s strategic position. Since then, it’s been widely adopted in business schools and industry as a required component in the strategic planning process. It has enjoyed this wide adoption because you can apply it on anything from a single person or product, all the way up to an entire company or industry.
How to use SWOT for business development
At the core of business development is finding win-win scenarios. To do this, you need a deep understanding of the businesses involved and the market you’re operating in. Because a SWOT analysis is so versatile, it will give us a great starting point for planning our business development strategy.
We first run through it while focusing on our business. This will help us make sure we’re targeting the most impactful areas first. Next, we’ll run through it on our target market. This will give us a good understanding of the lay of the land. Finally, we’ll run through it a few times for various partner archetypes. This let’s us determine the right kind of partner to seek out.
How to use a SWOT analysis
Before we jump into the analysis, we want to run through the steps first. It’s a simple process, but to be successful with it we need to make sure we’re digging past surface-level answers. Here are the steps that we go through when performing a SWOT analysis:
Determine the target frame for your analysis – What is it you want to analyze? Is it a product line, a division, an organization, an industry, or something else?
Research your target – Perform some preliminary research by interviewing people knowledgeable about your target frame. Look for research publications that have already written about it.
List out the strengths – These are things that your frame is naturally good at. Be broad and honest here as we’ll be using them later.
List out the weaknesses – These are areas where your frame is lacking. Again be broad here, but be sure to nail down the big ones.
List out the opportunities – These are trends that are outside of your frame’s control that could positively impact your frame. Think of it like you’re a surfer who wants to get back to shore and the opportunities as waves that you could ride to get there more quickly.
List out the threats – These are trends that are outside of your frame’s control that could hurt your frame. Continuing the wave analogy, these would be something like a huge rock or a strong undercurrent that if you fell into, it could pull you away from shore.
Prioritize the lists – Rank each item in each list by how impactful you expect them to be.
Build your strategy – Start by asking how you can use your strengths to take advantage of the top opportunities or mitigate threats. Then move to what you need to do to ensure your weaknesses don’t prevent you from capturing opportunities or being hurt by threats.
Implementing a SWOT analysis
Once you’ve completed the various SWOT analyses, take a step back and consider them together. Look for situations where your strengths solve another firm’s weakness and vice versa. Find ones that let you both capture a high value opportunity. This is the holy grail of business development. Next, package these in a deal proposal and begin your outreach.