Difference Between Strength & Opportunity in SWOT

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Companies often get multiple internal viewpoints when developing a SWOT analysis.
Companies often get multiple internal viewpoints when developing a SWOT analysis. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Strengths and opportunities are significantly different elements in a company's SWOT analysis. An analysis of your strengths as a company include traits, capabilities and cultural elements that give you advantages over your competitors in serving your markets. Opportunities are potential areas for development or improvement that you may or may not have strengths to match.

SWOT Basics

A SWOT analysis is an integral part of a company's strategic planning process. Each of the four letters in the acronym identify an area where a company should perform an internal and external scan to understand its current situation. "S" represents company strengths, "W" is weaknesses, "O" stands for opportunities and "T" represents threats. By developing a thorough table with each of these areas fully explored, a company has a good idea of its current situation in the market.

S for Strengths

Strengths are what separates one company's performance from another. If you have nothing that makes you different or better than competitors, it is hard to market effectively. Exploring your strengths means asking a number of questions. A company should analyze its advantages, what it does better than competitors, what special resources or efficient advantages it has, perceptions from the market, factors leading to sales and profit and unique selling propositions, according to the website "Mind Tools."

O for Opportunities

Whereas strengths include significant internal exploration, the opportunities section of SWOT is largely externally driven. Opportunities are generally in new areas for potential profit and growth. Common types of opportunities may include customer needs not yet fulfilled, new and emerging technological opportunities, relaxation of binding regulations and international trade-barrier removal, indicates the "Quick MBA" website in its SWOT analysis overview. Some companies may also consider completely new marketplace opportunities.

The Connection

The elements of the SWOT analysis are interconnected, especially with regard to strengths and opportunities. When companies develop business strategies, they generally try to find scenarios where their strengths as a company match up neatly with openings or opportunities in the market. For instance, if your company is a leader in your industry and implements cutting-edge technology and an untapped customer market wants the benefits that technology provides, you have good alignment of your strengths and marketplace opportunities.

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