How to give yourself a SWOT analysis: A step-by-step guide

Light bulbs representing SWOT

Feeling inadequate and unqualified is a real thing, and it’s not as rare as you might think. If you feel this to a degree where you feel like you’ve been faking your own intelligence or made successful by luck, you could be dealing with Imposter Syndrome.

Luckily, there are many steps you can take to overcome Imposter Syndrome and feelings of inadequacy, one of which is conducting a personal SWOT analysis. Follow the steps below to get a better idea of what you truly excel at and what could use improvement.

What is a personal SWOT analysis?

SWOT is a business analysis technique that stands for: 

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats 

Strengths and weaknesses are controlled internally (by you), while opportunities and threats are controlled by external factors. SWOT is a popular tool in the professional world used by many companies and teams. While it’s primarily used for groups, SWOT can be conducted on a personal level.

You can take a big step towards overcoming Imposter Syndrome by performing a personal SWOT analysis. How?

Identifying your strengths can go a long way in helping you realize just how qualified you are.

Knowing your weaknesses will help you identify the skills that you can work on and turn into strengths.

You’ll find opportunities that ultimately help you and your business grow.

Lastly, you can accept that there are threats out there that are out of your control no matter how qualified you are, and then you can prepare for them.

Assess your strengths

Identifying your own strengths isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but try to be as objective as possible. Avoid being overly modest or overly confident. 

To help kickstart the process, start with some more tangible things. Do you have any degrees, certifications or trainings? Those could all be strengths to instantly throw on the list.

Now you can get into other questions to ask yourself, like:

  • Do you have positive personal traits that peers/mentors/friends/family have consistently pointed out to you?
  • What do you feel you are naturally good at doing?
  • What have you worked to get better at doing?
  • What specific tasks do you excel at?

Try thinking of your recent major accomplishments and what skills it took to achieve them. It might also help to view yourself through the lens of someone who knows you well, such as your boss or a coworker. You can even reach out to someone you’ve worked with and ask them what they thought your strengths were.

If you’re fair with yourself, you’ll likely find that your list of strengths is longer than you thought it would be. Keep this list handy so you can celebrate your successes throughout your day and add to it when you master something new.

Assess your weaknesses

When it comes to assessing your weaknesses, again, try to be as objective as possible. Don’t be too hard on yourself but don’t let yourself off the hook.

Keep in mind, you’re identifying these weaknesses in large part to see where it is you can grow and develop. However, you might also find weaknesses that help you identify tasks you should avoid for the time being.

Start with the simple things. Are you lacking training or skills relevant to your work/business? If so, these could be great starting points. Now, think more abstractly: 

  • What skills (hard or soft) are you certain you need to improve?
  • Are there any tasks you are uncomfortable doing?
  • What are your bad habits?
  • When you are feeling like an imposter, what qualifications do you think you lack?

You can reflect on any past failure and try to find the aspects that were in your control that may have contributed to the negative outcome. Knowing how to turn those mistakes into lessons is what will help overcome fear of failure and ultimately turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Assess the opportunities

Getting into opportunities means stepping into the easier half of your personal SWOT analysis. Here you can start looking externally at anything that may help you achieve your goals.

Think about what could help develop your business or make things a little easier. Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, and can be as simple as getting a new printer or as complex as getting your MBA. Ask yourself these questions to get you started:

  • Are there any relevant trainings or certifications you can get?
  • Is there any new tech that can make your life/work easier?
  • Are there communities, support groups, or networking opportunities that could be beneficial to you?
  • What are your competitors doing that you aren’t?

Your opportunities list will soon become a to-do list that will help move your business forward and increase your list of strengths.

Assess the threats

Pinpointing threats is the last step in conducting a personal SWOT analysis. Threats are any external factor that might get in the way of your success.

Like opportunities, threats can be big or small, short-term or long-term. Think about your goals and what (outside of your own weaknesses) might get in your way of achieving those goals. The following questions may help:

  • Can market shifts have overwhelming effects on your business?
  • Could demand for your offerings/skills change?
  • Where do you stand amongst your competitors?

Once you have your threats listed out, you can start to plan how you’ll mitigate the risks. This could be anything from opening a business savings account to starting a second business on the side.

What can you learn from your personal SWOT analysis?

Now that you have gathered all of this data, you have to actually analyze it.

First and foremost, take your personal SWOT analysis (specifically, your strengths) as evidence that you are no imposter. You are qualified to run your business and always able to improve on your weaknesses.

Rank the opportunities you identified either by importance or ease of completion so you can start to pursue them. You’re also now aware of the specific threats to your business and can take the time to prepare for them.

Conducting a personal SWOT analysis has many potential benefits that can help you achieve your business goals and overcome Imposter Syndrome. By rooting down in reality and taking an objective look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can get out of your own way and grow your business to its fullest potential.