Small Bites – Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency – SWOC

What’s a SWOC and how can it help?

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

Tip: A SWOC or SWOT analysis can be a great way to look at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Challenges (or Threats) for your farm business. To start, divide a sheet of paper into four. In each square write at the top one of the four components. If you work in a partnership or couple, try doing this individually first. Set a timer for 10 minutes and sit with your pen and paper or laptop without any other distractions. It may help to consider your farm’s land base, markets, labor needs, community and family as you work through each of the four areas.

  1. After you complete your ten-minute brainstorm- review your results and consider the following-
    Of the strengths you listed- how are you using them on the farm now? What advantages do they give you and your farm? How would you like to be using these strengths (or maximizing) them in 3 months, 6 months, a year?
  2. In reviewing the weaknesses you listed- how have you approached these disadvantages? Are there support services that might help? Do you need additional training or education?
  3. How many opportunities have you generated? When you review each of these, can you say WHO on the farm would handle them?
  4. Challenges can be overwhelming. When you look at the list of challenges you’ve identified can you compare them to past challenges? How did you tackle those? Are there external factors that could create new challenges, what are they?

Doing a SWOC exercise is a way to generate new ideas, perspectives, and share some of what may be on your mind. The format allows you to capture your thoughts and if needed, take more time before discussing them with other members of your farm team. More prompts and perspectives on SWOC analysis here.

Want some help? Meet with a farm coach to go through the process – learn more about farm coaching.