Having various projects running over long periods of time can mean things fall by the wayside once the going gets tough or the novelty of newness wears off. I’ve found from my own experience that I will take up new interests, devote massive amounts of time and energy to them for several weeks or months only to let them fade away as something else catches my attention.
Usually, conducting a SWOT analysis is used before embarking on the next stage of a business enterprise, or to assess one’s own personal development. I have used them to reinvigorate ailing projects before they become too distant. In general, a SWOT analysis must be able to provide answers to questions that generate meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
I have adapted questions from a business perspective to apply to spare-time or hobby projects;
- What is unique about your project? – how would you describe it’s defining characteristics?
- What unique or low-cost resources can you draw upon that others cannot?
- What do other people see as strengths you can bring to the project?
- What factors mean that you can achieve your goals?
- What could be improved?
- What should be avoided?
- What is your audience or market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors will cause your project to lose value?
- What opportunities are there in the field of your interest/project?
- What are exciting external trends that you are aware of?
- What obstacles do you face?
- How is the environment surrounding your interest changing?
- How might changing technology have an effect?
- How might your project sink too much time or money?
- Could any of the weaknesses translate into threats?
Once you have a selection of answers to most of these questions, it is usual to put them into the form of a table for reference; a table of four sections each corresponding to one set of questions. The production of such a table drawn from these answers is what constitutes a SWOT analysis. If the need is to memorize them then you can get creative in a very practical sense and produce a colourful and/or pictorial representation of the different sections.
The application of the SWOT analysis is fairly straight-forward. I have found that when thorough enough with answering the questions, the table produced should demonstrate what is holding up or blocking the project and suggest ways that these issues can be addressed.