Updated: Jan 14
Strategic planning is essential for the growth and success of a business. It is not a
one-time activity but rather a continuous process that helps to ensure long-term success.
A strategy is a set of goal-directed actions taken to gain and sustain superior performance, which allows a company to achieve a competitive advantage over similar businesses. While it is often a one or two-person operation, a personal training business can benefit from the idea of strategic planning. Whether your business is fully online or you are an independent contractor at a gym or a combination, it is imperative to have a strategic plan.
One popular strategic planning tool is the SWOT Analysis. SWOT analyzes internal and external factors which help determine a business standing in the marketplace relative to others. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal components while opportunities and threats are external factors. The SWOT Analysis will help you (the business owner) determine where you are and make a strategy to move forward. Part of running a successful business is recognizing the ever-changing tide of factors and the dynamic environment you operate in. These can both help and hurt your business, so it is imperative to revisit and reassess your strategy twice a year and conduct a business analysis to stay ahead of the competition.
Strengths & weaknesses
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the business.
Strengths are internal factors that promote favorable outcomes. They are the things you do well as a personal trainer. What are your core competencies? Core competencies are unique strengths that allow a business to differentiate itself from competitors (Rothaermel, 2015). They consist of different resources and capabilities. Resources can be tangible or intangible (For example brand, reputation, intellectual property, etc.). Capabilities are organizational and managerial skills needed to acquire and competently use a “diverse set of resources” (Rothaermel, 2015).
Weaknesses are internal factors that derail positive or successful outcomes. They are the areas you need to improve. What areas do your competitors do better? What resources and skills do you lack?
Opportunities & threats
Opportunities and threats are external to the business.
Opportunities are areas you can capitalize on. They are favorable external factors that can give a company a competitive advantage. What trends or market opportunities can you take advantage of? How can you use your strengths (core competencies) to capitalize on these openings in the market?
Threats are external factors that can harm your business. These threats can be from the business’ weaknesses. Can your weaknesses be detrimental to your business? What is your competition doing? Can these hurt your business?
Pros & cons of the SWOT Analysis
The SWOT Analysis helps you identify external factors that can harm your business and external opportunities or avenues that you can pursue to gain a competitive advantage.
The SWOT Analysis is simple and cost-effective.
The SWOT Analysis can evaluate a specific product, brand, or the entire business (multiple uses)
The SWOT Analysis can be very generalized and can be difficult to formulate something specific.
The SWOT Analysis is subjective and is often not based on actual data.
Rothaermel, F. (2016). Competitive Advantage in Technology Intensive Industries. In Technological Innovation: Generating economic results (Second Edition) (pp.233-256). doi : 10.1108/S1048-473620160000026008.