Every business has to strategically assess its market positioning to increase its chances of success. While it is important to account for the positive factors one can face in their business activities, it is crucial to acknowledge the negative factors, such as threats. Threats are one of the four key parts of the well-known SWOT analysis. This article goes over the SWOT analysis and takes a special look into the “Threats” aspect that must be considered in this technique. We will go over threats, the importance of identifying threats, examples of threats, and how to mitigate or minimize them in your environment.
To start, we will briefly look into what a SWOT analysis is.
What Is A SWOT Analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a tool and strategic procedure popularly used in the business world to help organizations understand and improve their positioning in their market. Through the use of the SWOT analysis, you can learn about the favorable features of your business in comparison to your competitors. In addition, you may find out what sets you apart from the rest and how you can use that to realize your goals. You can also learn about the risks and disadvantageous aspects that are present that could hurt your operations.
SWOT itself stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These four factors are each dissected and analyzed to help identify the strong points, shortfalls, vantage points, and hazards that an organization faces. This evaluation places a business in a position that enhances its chances of achieving prosperity.
Strengths and weaknesses are aspects that an organization possesses. These internal aspects could either work in the business’s favor as strengths or work to its detriment as weaknesses. On the other hand, opportunities and threats exist outside of the business that can affect the business’s standing. These external factors present desirable prospects in the form of opportunities and offer undesirable prospects in threats.
Threats in The SWOT Analysis
As you may well guess, threats are not a good thing. Threats have a negative and disadvantageous effect on all kinds of entities. They represent the looming or current dangers to an establishment. They can be ongoing, predictable, and continuous. However, they can also be volatile, unpredictable, and temporary.
Threats could be hindrances or restrictions that a business is facing in its operations, limiting its chances of successful operations and progression. Threats could also arise from other businesses, such as competitors or suppliers, and technological developments in the market. Sometimes, an identified threat can be a direct product of an existing weakness.
Whatever the case, threats are a likely and unavoidable factor you will encounter in the business world. The aim is to reduce their impending impact or, if possible, to eliminate them. Therefore, one has to learn how to scan their business environment for dangers and risks to understand the types of threats they are vulnerable to.
Importance of Identifying Threats
The identification of threats can make all the difference for new and already existing businesses. Just as it is beneficial to understand your weaknesses to perform better, it is advantageous to also evaluate prominent threats – as unpleasant as that may sound. This important step of analyzing threats helps businesses navigate to minimize their exposure to damages that can arise from prevailing threats.
Like something out of our control, it is not always possible to completely get rid of a threat – especially if it is of a large magnitude. Therefore, identify and assess your threats so you can minimize or avoid their undesirable impact as much as you can. This strategic move of preparation can make a business’s trajectory significantly easier.
You reduce your chances of being caught off guard by unfavorable developments in your market. You spare your business from having to deal with the aftermath of disruptions from threats that were ignored. You stay a step ahead of predicted risks and equip yourself with the necessary tools and plans that will help you evade irreversible damage.
Another reason why assessing threats is important is because once carefully evaluated and understood, some threats can be identified as opportunities in disguise. As a result, you may find that you can not only eliminate a threat but also completely transform the threat into an opportunity—an effective way of killing two birds with one stone.
Disregarding the impact and presence of threats can mean disastrous outcomes for any business. If threats are not taken seriously, this can leave an entire operation vulnerable to problems that could have easily been preventable. On the other hand, if threats are ignored, cooperation encounters immense losses that could even lead to its closure.
Examples of Threats
Threats can come in many forms and have minimal to large consequences if left unconsidered or unattended. They may also come from different sources and appear in more than one circumstance. Because of this, you may want to have a bit of an idea of what exactly counts as a threat – the following are a few examples of threats in a SWOT analysis:
- Low entry barriers: this is likely to result in new competitors or rivals frequently and easily entering the market. This can create an environment that leaves low security for the existing business. It is easy for new competitors to rise in the market and increase the pressure of competition.
- Technology advancements: if the business operates in a market where technological advancements can disrupt its operations, this counts as a threat. Some businesses may fail to adapt to new technology or could be completely replaced by the rise of new technology.
- Existing rivals: not forgetting the competitors a business already has, the actions and changes those other businesses make can have heavy implications for your business. For instance, if a rival lowers their prices, they could attract your customers and reduce your success chances.
- Acts of Nature: we all know how uncontrollable, destructive, and random mother nature can be. Natural events can invite or increase threats of varying scope if they are not well prepared for. For example, businesses located in areas prone to flooding are susceptible to unpredictable damages from heavy rains. Another instance is the case of a disease outbreak that prevents businesses from operating optimally.
- Laws and regulations: the legal conditions under which your organization operates could also present a threat to your business’s wellbeing. If, for example, regulations on custom duties are changed or modified, this could prove highly detrimental to entities that operate on an international level.
- Supplier capabilities: if a business relies on suppliers, it faces the risk of those suppliers failing to perform as required, which presents a threat. If suppliers undergo a shortage of important materials or even get shut down entirely, this can leave a business in a highly unfavorable position.
Many more disruptive instances can threaten the survival of a business. Some threats may only occur in specific industries, while some may occur seasonally. Often, a threat to one entity may be a desirable instance to another entity. It is, therefore, important to take into account the type of business that is being assessed to better identify what type of threats to look out for.
How to minimize or eliminate Threats?
One’s response to threats must be proactive as opposed to reactive. Threats must be recognized and found as early as possible. This will give the business ample time to prevent immense setbacks that it could experience from arising threats. This will also enable the business to be well prepared for unavoidable and high-impact threats. Being proactive is key.
It is also essential that contingency plans are set up to minimize the effect of a threat. The plans must be thorough and specific. Organizations must be honest and realistic about the threats they face to quantify how well equipped they are to handle them. Time must also be factored in to assess how long-term the impending threat is expected to manifest and to make a plan that would be able to timeously eradicate the threat.
Threats are one of the four important factors in a business environment that must be carefully accounted for. If left unattended, they create high risks to businesses and can even lead to irreversible losses. In addition, a business will encounter unique threats depending on its particular specialization, market, and operations. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify new threats and to recognize recurring threats.
However, as undesirable as threats are, they do encourage businesses to be more alert, cautious, and conscious of their market environment. Moreover, acknowledging threats helps businesses strategize optimally, which will help them decrease and even eradicate risks and setbacks.