Last Updated on 31/08/2023 by James Barron
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a planning technique that is used to help identify and assess each part of the SWOT framework in a business, project or even an individual, allowing you to respond accordingly and plan for the future. This article will cover the Threats aspect of the SWOT analysis, in which we will list some potential threats that may or may not be within your control, however, it is still important that all types of threats should be considered and evaluated in a SWOT analysis.
Threats can often affect you before you have even started your day!
- A night spent in A & E with a sick child or outpatient injury may affect your work, study or exams the next day due to exhaustion
- A common threat, an alarm clock failure often makes people late for work or place of education
- Joining a car pool is a great way to save money and help the planet, however, if your lift fails to turn up it can badly affect your day
- Even worse, a lift that you had relied upon is suddenly no longer available, this could be dire if you cannot afford public transport and your place of work or education is too far away to walk
- Utility services carrying out emergency repairs have blocked your driveway, meaning you cannot get your car out. Unless the repairs are linked to your property, this is a thread that you could not have predicted
- Once you’ve finally been able to get on the road and start your journey, another threat is traffic, this can make you anything from a few minutes late to very late indeed
Transport can be a nightmare when things go wrong, whether it is your personal vehicle or public transport, it is a potential threat that needs to be considered.
- Personal vehicle will not start. This will certainly hold you up, however, it may only be a short term issue, providing you have taken reasonable care of the vehicle
- Personal vehicle fails its MoT test. You may be without your vehicle for a few days whilst repairs are carried out, this could be a medium term issue
- Personal vehicle is written off. This is likely to be a long term issue, unless you are able to borrow or hire a vehicle, you will need to find a replacement
- Personal vehicle out of fuel. Well, this was certainly foreseeable, unless your gauge is faulty of course
- Personal vehicle is stolen. Another long term issue, it can take a long time for insurers to get the funds for a replacement vehicle to you, this can cause serious problems if public transport is not available or you cannot afford to use public transport and it is too far to walk to your place of work or education
- Public transport breaks down. There is nothing you can do about this, expect to wait until a replacement is made available and hope this happens fast
- Public transport strike. If you rely upon public transport, such as the bus or rail services, and your place of work or education is too far to walk, then you are stuck unless you can afford a taxi or you can get a lift. Sadly, there are many of us who just have to take the day off
- Ran out of fuel. Taking the risk that you will be able to make it to the next filling station is just not worth it, this avoidable threat can cause all kinds of issues, it can also be dangerous at night, on the motorway or poorly lit, rural roads
- Pulled over by police for routine roadside check. This is out of your control, all you can do is hope the queue moves quickly, a perfect example of an unexpected threat
- A conviction, such as speeding or drink/drug driving, means you are unable to drive. A serious but completely avoidable threat leaves you relying upon public transport or lifts
- Public transport service is withdrawn. Sadly, this threat is happening more and more often, this threat can be serious if you are unable to access another mode of transport
Parking issues can not only be totally frustrating, they can also be a serious threat and may even prevent a person from attending work or education or even successfully completing a college or university course.
- Parking price hike. Many towns and cities have raised the price of parking, some have even doubled the charge! This may mean that some people are simply unable to afford to park, if other forms of transport are not an option and the distance is too far to walk, you may be unable to get to your place of work or education
- Residents parking introduced. This is a relatively new scheme in which parking is restricted to residents only in certain zones, this often severely reduces the amount of parking spaces available to non-residents. As with the parking price hike, if you are unable to park, other forms of transport are not an option and the distance is too far to walk, you may be unable to get to your place of work or education
- Multi-storey car park demolished or previously available parking areas removed. Another threat under the same heading of Parking! Where a driver was once able to drive into a town or city, confident that public parking would be available in some form or other, many of us are finding that this is simply not so these days. Multi-storey car parks are disappearing across the land, with out of town park and ride schemes replacing them, it is true that we need to clean up our polluted towns and cities but this can cause issues for many drivers. Some people are unable to afford the price of fuel to get to a park and ride as well as the price of the bus ticket for the rest of the journey, there are also many who still feel they cannot travel in a crowded bus because of the risk of Covid infection. This threat may prevent some people from getting to their place of work or education
- Clean Air Zones. Towns and cities across the country are introducing clean air zones, in which the most polluting vehicles are charged a fee for entering, some civic authorities have even banned certain vehicles, such as vans and other diesel vehicles from entering. As with the previous threat, this causes issues for many drivers and may even prevent them from accessing their place of work or education
Threats caused by the weather. We are not able to control the weather, in fact, the weather often controls us! The following threats are all weather related.
- Heavy snow prevents your journey. You wake up to find that you are snowed in, it is likely that most people at your place of work or education are also snowed in, this probably means that work and education will be badly affected
- Heavy snow causes closure of place of work or education. This is a serious threat, although online work and education will be possible, it is still likely to have a negative impact
- Flooding prevents your journey. This threat is not likely to be as widespread as heavy snow, therefore it is likely that it will not affect as many people at your work or place of education, causing less disruption to work and education
- Flooding causes closure of place of work or education. As with snow closures, the possibility of online work or education will lessen the impact, however, the damage caused by flooding may be greater than that caused by snow, making it a longer lasting threat
- High winds cause fallen trees. This is potentially a serious, life threatening or cause of injury threat. This threat can also cause severe disruption
- Heatwave causes unbearable temperatures within the work place or place of education. There is no legal maximum temperature at which educational establishments must close, however, for the sake of the health of students and staff, most schools, colleges and universities opt to send people home if the temperature becomes seriously hot – the NUT recommends that the maximum should be 26 degrees, interestingly, the WHO recommends 24 degrees
Most of us will become ill or suffer an injury at some point in our lives, some more seriously than others, here are some examples of health related threats.
- You are suffering with an illness, it is not serious but you will not be well enough to attend work or place of education for a short period, perhaps a day or two
- You have been infected with a virus, you do not feel particularly ill but cannot attend work or place of education until you are no longer contagious, you are well enough to work from home
- Your child or elderly, dependent relative is sick or have suffered an injury, you cannot attend work or place of education as you need to be at home to care for them. You may be able to get some work done from home
- You slip and fall on ice. Your injury does not appear serious but you may miss time at work or place of education due to hospital or doctor surgery check-up. This is a short term issue
- You slip and fall on ice. Lacerations or broken bones mean that you will have to take time off from work or your place of education until treatment has been provided by A & E or your doctor. A cast fitted to a broken arm or leg may prevent you attending your place of work or education. This is a medium term issue
- You slip and fall on ice. A serious injury will require admittance to hospital, you will not be able to attend work or place of education. This is likely to be a long term issue
- A dependent relative is becoming more needy, leaving you less time to concentrate upon work or education
The following are examples of potential threats associated with teaching or teaching establishments
- The teaching union calls for strike action, this will seriously impact your work or place of education
- Poor teaching. Unfortunately, a poor teacher can affect your academic achievement, cause stress and low self-esteem, this threat can impact the rest of your life
- A new teacher raises standards, this means you now have to catch up. This unexpected threat can cause student stress; however, it should only be short term until they have caught up with the work required of them
- Teacher is absent. A teacher not turning up can cause disruption to both students and fellow staff members, however, this should be only minor disruption, unless it affects exams or field trips
- Teacher is absent for extended period. This threat is likely to cause only minor disruption as a substitute teacher should be employed
- Incompetent admin staff. The role of admin staff is to ensure that the day to day, behind the scenes of an educational establishment runs smoothly, this cannot happen if the team or a member of the team is not competent. This threat can have a negative impact on both students and staff members
- Teacher who is senior to you and is due to retire decides to delay retirement. This threat is likely to affect your chances of promotion, along with the associated pay increase and any extra benefits
- Teaching establishment decides to hire externally for senior position instead of promoting within. This threat is similar to the above threat, although you may be permitted to apply for the job
- New senior staff member changes working conditions completely, leaving you unable to cope. The results of this threat can be wide ranging and can affect teaching and office staff as well as students, this is a serious threat that will require careful handling
- The best teacher is leaving. Many students have a favourite teacher who they rely upon to help them gain the best grades possible, when this teacher leaves they often feel bereft and abandoned. This threat can affect student performance and their sense of well being
- Fire closes place of work or education. This is obviously a serious threat, with the level of threat depending upon the severity of the fire
The following three threats are all short term threats but they are still likely to cause significant distraction or disruption to anyone who works or studies in the areas concerned.
- A suspicious package causes the closure of the place of work or education, or the surrounding area
- A police incident causes the closure of the place of work or education, or the surrounding area
- A visiting VIP causes disruption to the place of work or education, or to the surrounding areas
- Educational establishment is undergoing refurbishment during term time
- Construction work outside educational establishment, either within the grounds or outside
Computers. In this age of technology, we are more and more reliant upon computers, they can help to make our lives a great deal easier, until they go wrong of course. This section looks at potential threats caused by the failure or the vulnerabilities of technology.
- The failure of your personal computer/laptop can have a negative impact upon your work or education, this threat means you may miss online meetings or tutorials, so you will have to catch up. You will also have to find funds to repair or replace your device, if this is something that you cannot afford to do, this threat becomes a long term issue
- The failure of a piece of computing equipment at your place of work or education should be a short term threat as the IT help desk team should either fix or replace quickly, however, if the entire system is affected, this threat could serious and long lasting
- Incompetent IT help desk. The world runs on computers and teaching establishments are no exception. Schools, colleges and universities are generally completely reliant upon the experts in technology who run their IT help desks, unfortunately, any incompetence in this department can have a serious and wide ranging adverse effect. This threat could affect every department, student and staff member
- WiFi not working at home. The failure of your WiFi will mean that you cannot attend online meetings or tutorials, the severity of this threat will depend upon how long it takes to be fixed and how much it is going to cost
- WiFi not working at your place of work or education could be a serious threat that affects online meetings and tutorials, it can also affect research and revision
- A power cut at your place of work or education could be a severe threat that could have a negative impact upon every aspect of the teaching establishment, any piece of technology that works using mains electricity will not be available to use until power is restored
- A power cut at home is a lesser threat that will prevent you from online working, meetings or tutorials, unless you are able to use a charged mobile device using a 4G/5G connection
- Cyber-attack. This is an extremely serious type of threat that can cause widespread disruption to any kind of teaching establishment, organisation, business, government or individual. Types of cyber-attacks are ransomware, malware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), phishing, and so on
- Personal computer/laptop is old or obsolete. It is difficult to keep up with the pace of technology, it is not uncommon for computers to become outdated after around three years, with laptops perhaps one to two years, of course this will depend upon the quality, the brand and the purchase price. Generally, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. An old computer could cause issues with online meetings or tutorials, you may not be able to run certain software, or it could keep glitching or breaking down. If you are unable to afford an up to date computer or laptop, you may find that you are missing out on many of the benefits available that could help you with your work or education
- New technology makes you or your course subject redundant. Although technology can be a wonderful thing, its efficiency, speed and accuracy can also cause disruption, as it often replaces slower, error prone human workers
We are all affected by those around us, whether they are a family member, friend or colleague upon whom we rely, or a complete stranger whose actions or behaviour has an indirect effect upon you. This type of threat is often not something that you are able to control, although it should always be considered when it comes to making decisions.
- Your babysitting or child care arrangements have fallen through or changed, meaning that you are no longer able to attend your place of work or education. This is a serious threat, if you are unable to make long term arrangements for the care of your child you may not be able continue in your current role at work or complete your course
- Someone you have relied upon for support, either financial, health or otherwise, is no longer able to help. As with the above, this is a serious threat that could completely ruin your plans for work or education
- Bad behaviour of someone else prevents you from attending place of work or education. Unfortunately, the behaviour of others around you can often have a negative impact upon you or your plans. An example of this threat is the cancellation of a course due to the poor behaviour of a small number of fellow students
- A colleague with whom you work closely is leaving, this means that your workload will increase and your output is likely to suffer until a replacement is up to speed. This is a common threat, unless you are prepared to put more time into this issue, bearing in mind that you may not receive extra pay, you stand the risk of falling behind and having to catch up
- Your partner changes their job, this is potentially going to cause major upheaval and disruption. This threat could range from mild to severe, if it is simply a matter of changing work days or moving meal times, then it is an easy transition. However, if this career change means moving home, even if you remain local, then it becomes more serious. Moving to another city or county would be a major thing but moving to another country would be considered to be a severe threat
- Bullying in the place of work or education. Sadly, this is a real problem that shows no sign of going away, anyone who has suffered at the hands of a bully or bullies will know how badly it can affect your life. This is a serious threat that can affect children at school and adults in education or work, it can cause anxiety, low self-esteem and stress, all of which can lead to underperformance at work or in education
- Discrimination. This is a wide ranging threat that can affect any of us, we are protected in the UK by law against discrimination in the work place or place of education, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone because of the following: Age, Race, including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, Religion or belief, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender reassignment, Being married or in a civil partnership, Disability, Being pregnant or on maternity leave
- As with bullying, discrimination can cause anxiety, low self-esteem and stress, it can also lead to poor mental and physical health
- Employees headhunted away. This is a threat to most employers, including educational establishments, it can result in staff shortages and, depending upon who was actually headhunted, cause resentment and low morale in both staff and students
- Fellow students cheating. This threat can impact morale in any educational establishment, honest students may feel resentment when students cheat and get away with it, whereas teachers feel let down and personally slighted by the cheater
External changes that are completely out of your control and often unforeseeable, these threats can range from mild to severe.
- Recession. This threat may come in the form of cuts as the government fights to save costs, this may mean that courses or jobs are lost unexpectedly
- Recession causes drop in investment in your company, you may need to make redundancies or you may be at risk of redundancy
- The Bank of England has hiked the interest rate, meaning that you are unable to afford your course
- The Bank of England has hiked the interest rate, meaning that you can no longer afford your mortgage so you will have to either find a second job or sell up and move to a cheaper area
- Your landlord has raised your rent, meaning you will have to either find a second job or move to a cheaper place to live
- Your landlord is selling your rental property, you may have to face higher rent or find another place to live
- Your landlord is evicting you; you may have to fight eviction in court or find another place to live
- Clothing poverty. Not everyone realises that clothing poverty actually exists but this threat will prevent you from being able to afford suitable clothing for an interview. Feeling that you are dressed appropriately will help you feel confident enough to attend an interview for a college or university course or a job interview
Threats to teaching establishment jobs or courses. These may be serious threats that affect your future.
- Government changes affect your course detrimentally. A different government may change education programs or policies. This often happens when a new party is elected, it may mean that your course or intended course is affected, it can also mean that your job in an educational establishment may be affected
- Course fees are rising higher than expected. This threat may mean you have to delay or consider a whole new direction
- Course is cancelled due to low enrolment. You will have to delay, choose another teaching establishment or consider a whole new direction
- Grades not good enough for course. You may have to delay and re-sit, try clearing or consider a whole new direction. Although this is a threat, there should be a lot of help out there
- College/university changes grade requirements. This threat can be quite devastating and may need a complete rethink about your future
- Visa issues. Another potentially devastating threat that is likely to need careful handling and legal advice
- Prices are rising due to the cost of living crisis, this could mean that required equipment or resources are not affordable, this could mean the cancellation of the course
- Essential course equipment is faulty, damaged or broken beyond repair. This will need to be replaced, which will take time and funds may not be available, this could mean cancellation of the course
- Essential course equipment in short supply or no longer available. Unless alternatives are found, the course may have to be cancelled
- Unable to recruit new or replacement staff so course, project, etc., is impacted negatively or even cancelled
- Private tuition no longer available. This could be a serious threat, if you are unable to locate a replacement tutor, your knowledge of your subject may not be enough for a passing grade
- Private tuition fees have increased. As with the above, this could pose a serious threat to your education, if you cannot find other tuition within your budget, you may have to seek help from family or find a job
- You feel that your interview did not go well. This is potentially a threat to your career or the next stage of your education, however, you should try to relax and think positively
The following are threats that a student may experience once a course has started.
- The course is more difficult than expected. This is actually quite common; however, this threat could be serious enough to cause failure or drop out. Always seek advice, a little guidance and extra work may be enough to get you past this blip
- My second language skills are not good enough to understand the course. This serious threat will probably mean that you should delay your course until you have gained a greater grasp of the language. Seek advice, you may be eligible for tuition
- You feel that you are struggling with the course and that your mental health may be suffering. The pressure felt by students to successfully complete their course can often cause stress, anxiety and even depression. This is a severe threat to your physical and mental health and it is vital that you seek help, you are not alone and support will be available
- Course is too easy for you but it is necessary to complete it in order to gain the qualification. This is a mild threat, the issue will likely be boredom, if there is no chance of progressing without the qualification you will just have to soldier on
- You are unable to access the educational establishment resources, such as the library or advice centre. This threat could range from mild to severe, depending upon how long the resource is unavailable, internet searches should supply you with the information required, or you may even be permitted to use the resources of another educational establishment
- You discover that a newly opened educational establishment is offering what you feel are superior courses, they may also have better conditions or lower fees. This threat could cause a feeling of dissatisfaction with your current seat of learning; however, the grass is not always greener and changing to another school, college or university could have a negative impact upon your education
- You lose interest in the subject. Having worked hard to achieve the grades required for your course, you find that it does not suit you. It is important that you seek advice, you may be able to switch courses, however, you should be aware that you may have to move to a different educational establishment
- Your school, college or university is now offering a more interesting course. As with the above, you may be able to switch to this new course, talk it over with a member of staff
- You discover that your place of education is now offering what you consider to be a more suitable course for your long term plans. As with the previous two potential threats, always seek advice, your school/college/university will almost certainly do what they can to accommodate you
- Changes to your course are likely to have a significant impact upon you. Should your course change in any way midway through a year, it could pose a serious threat to your education and your future career. Examples of such changes include the following: Course is moved to another location, Content of course changes, Rise in course fees
Congratulations for reading all the example SWOT threats, enjoy 2 more as a bonus
- If your educational establishment does not seem willing to offer assistance then you should consider making a formal complaint
- You find that your chosen course subject is so wide that you do not feel you are learning in enough depth. This is a potential threat to your education and future career, it is important that you discuss this with your tutor or another member of the faculty, they will offer guidance as to whether the course is the right one for you or if you need to be more creative and plan your study sessions differently
Threats can affect us all as we go about our daily lives, some are obvious whilst others are not so clear, some are completely unpredictable whereas others are foreseeable. With a little forethought and the use of the SWOT analysis, we can often take steps to minimise these threats and their damaging effects.
What is a SWOT threat?
Threats are potential external challenges or adversities that might negatively impact the outcome or success of a project or business. They could arise from unfavourable trends or developments in the environment, which may reduce the benefits or increase the risks associated with a given decision. Identifying threats is essential for proactive planning and risk mitigation.
What are the four categories of threats for students?
In the context of a student, the four categories of threats can be understood as academic, physical, psychological, and digital. Academic threats include challenges like failing grades, plagiarism, or difficulty in understanding subjects. Physical threats encompass bullying, health issues, or campus safety concerns. Psychological threats relate to stress, anxiety, or peer pressure. Digital threats involve issues like cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, or digital addiction.
What are the four categories of threats for business?
The four categories of threats for business can be classified as operational, financial, reputational, and external. Operational threats involve disruptions to the daily functions of the business, such as supply chain interruptions or equipment malfunctions. Financial threats pertain to factors that impact the fiscal health of the company, like fluctuating market conditions or increased production costs. Reputational threats encompass negative publicity, customer dissatisfaction, or scandals. External threats arise from outside the business environment, such as regulatory changes, competitor actions, or geopolitical events.
What are the four categories of threats for the individual?
In the context of an individual person, the four categories of threats can be delineated as physical, emotional, financial, and digital. Physical threats pertain to harm or danger to one’s bodily well-being, such as illness or violence. Emotional threats involve factors that affect mental and emotional health, like stress, trauma, or toxic relationships. Financial threats encompass challenges like unemployment, fraud, or unexpected expenses. Digital threats relate to online vulnerabilities, including identity theft, cyberbullying, or privacy breaches.
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt
This book emphasizes the importance of clear, focused strategy in business and beyond. Rumelt outlines the elements of good strategy, such as coherent objectives and leveraged resources, while critiquing common misconceptions and flawed approaches. The book serves as a comprehensive guide for executives, managers, and strategists aiming to understand and implement effective strategy.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
The book introduces the “Lean Startup” methodology, which emphasises the importance of adaptability and iterative learning for startups. Ries presents a new approach to business development that involves a cycle of creating, measuring, and learning, thereby reducing waste and increasing the chances of success. It has become a foundational text for entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in innovative approaches to business.
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
This book introduces the concept of “Blue Ocean Strategy,” a framework for creating new market spaces rather than competing in crowded, “red oceans.” The authors provide tools and methodologies for breaking out of saturated markets and creating unique value propositions. Aimed at business leaders and strategists, the book offers a new lens for innovation and competition.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
This handbook offers a structured framework for understanding, analyzing, and designing business models. Using the “Business Model Canvas,” a visual template, the book provides a practical approach for developing innovative business ideas. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, executives, and anyone interested in challenging traditional business models.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin
Written by the former CEO of Procter & Gamble and a leading strategy consultant, this book delves into real-world applications of strategy in business. It outlines a framework involving choices, capabilities, and creating winning conditions, illustrated by case studies from P&G. The book aims to make strategy accessible and actionable for business leaders.
The SWOT Analysis: Using Your Strength to Overcome Weaknesses, Using Opportunities to Overcome Threats by Lawrence G. Fine
This book focuses on the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, a widely-used tool in business strategy and planning. Fine explains how to conduct a SWOT analysis effectively and how to use it for strategic planning and decision-making. The book serves as a guide for managers, consultants, and business students.
Risk Management and Financial Institutions by John C. Hull
This book is a comprehensive overview of risk management in financial institutions, covering various types of financial risks including market, credit, and operational risks. Hull discusses the principles, tools, and practices involved in identifying, measuring, and managing risk. The book is aimed at financial professionals, students, and anyone interested in the intricacies of risk management in the financial sector.
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge
This book introduces the concept of the “learning organization,” where people continuously expand their capacity to produce results they truly desire. Senge presents five disciplines, including systems thinking and team learning, that contribute to building such organizations. Aimed at leaders and managers, the book emphasizes the need for collective learning and adaptability in a rapidly changing world.
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff
This book applies game theory to decision-making processes in business and everyday life. The authors introduce strategic thinking through examples that range from business negotiations to social dilemmas. The book aims to equip readers with tools to make better, more strategic choices in various situations.
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.