SWOT Analysis: How To Do One [With Template & Examples]
Published: October 05, 2023
As your business grows, you need a roadmap to help navigate the obstacles, challenges, opportunities, and projects that come your way. Enter: the SWOT analysis.
This framework can help you develop a plan to determine your priorities, maximize opportunities, and minimize roadblocks as you scale your organization. Below, let’s go over exactly what a SWOT analysis is, a few SWOT analysis examples, and how to conduct one for your business.
When you’re done reading, you’ll have all the inspiration and tactical advice you need to tackle a SWOT analysis for your business.
What is a SWOT analysis? Importance of a SWOT Analysis How to Write a Good SWOT Analysis SWOT Analysis Examples How to Act on a SWOT Analysis
What is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique that puts your business in perspective using the following lenses: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Using a SWOT analysis helps you identify ways your business can improve and maximize opportunities, while simultaneously determining negative factors that might hinder your chances of success.
While it may seem simple on the surface, a SWOT analysis allows you to make unbiased evaluations on:
- Your business or brand.
- Market positioning.
- A new project or initiative.
- A specific campaign or channel.
Practically anything that requires strategic planning, internal or external, can have the SWOT framework applied to it, helping you avoid unnecessary errors down the road from lack of insight.
Free SWOT Analysis Template
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Importance of a SWOT Analysis
You’ve noticed by now that SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The framework seems simple enough that you’d be tempted to forgo using it at all, relying instead on your intuition to take these things into account.
But you shouldn’t. Doing a SWOT analysis is important. Here’s why.
SWOT gives you the chance to worry and to dream.
A SWOT analysis is an important step in your strategic process because it gives you the opportunity to explore both the potential risks and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead. You’re giving yourself the space to dream, evaluate, and worry before taking action. Your insights then turn into assets as you create the roadmap for your initiative.
For instance, when you consider the weaknesses and threats that your business may face, you can address any concerns or challenges and strategize on how to mitigate those risks. At the same time, you can identify strengths and opportunities, which can inspire innovative ideas and help you dream big. Both are equally important.
SWOT forces you to define your variables.
Instead of diving head first into planning and execution, you’re taking inventory of all your assets and roadblocks. This process will help you develop strategies that leverage your strengths and opportunities while addressing and mitigating the impact of weaknesses and threats.
As a result, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of your current situation and create a more specific and effective roadmap. Plus, a SWOT analysis is inherently proactive. That means you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and set realistic goals.
SWOT allows you to account for mitigating factors.
As you identify weaknesses and threats, you’re better able to account for them in your roadmap, improving your chances of success.
Moreover, accounting for mitigating factors allows you to allocate your resources wisely and make informed decisions that lead to sustainable growth. With a SWOT analysis as a guide, you can confidently face challenges and seize opportunities.
SWOT helps you keep a written record.
As your organization grows and changes, you’ll be able to strike things off your old SWOTs and make additions. You can look back at where you came from and look ahead at what’s to come.
In other words, SWOT analyses serve as a tangible history of your progress and provide a reference point for future decision-making. With each update, your SWOT analysis becomes a living document that guides your strategic thinking and helps you stay agile and adaptable in an ever-changing business landscape.
By maintaining this written record, you foster a culture of continuous improvement and empower your team to make data-driven decisions and stay aligned with your long-term vision.
Parts of a SWOT Analysis
Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you strategize effectively, unlock valuable insights, and make informed decisions. But what exactly does a SWOT analysis include?
Let’s explore each component: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Your strengths are the unique advantages and internal capabilities that give your company a competitive edge in the market. A strong brand reputation, innovative products or services, or exceptional customer service are just a few examples. By identifying and capitalizing on your strengths, you can foster customer loyalty and build a solid foundation for growth.
No business is flawless. Weaknesses are areas where you may face challenges or fall short of your potential. It could be outdated processes, skill gaps within the team, or inadequate resources. By acknowledging these weaknesses, you can establish targeted initiatives for improvement, upskill your team, adopt new technologies, and enhance your overall operational efficiency.
Opportunities are external factors that can contribute to your company's progress. These may include emerging markets, technological advancements, changes in consumer behavior, or gaps in the market that your company can fill. By seizing these opportunities, you can expand your market reach, diversify your product offerings, forge strategic partnerships, or even venture into untapped territories.
Threats are external factors that are beyond your control and pose challenges to your business. Increased competition, economic volatility, evolving regulatory landscapes, or even changing market trends are examples of threats. By proactively assessing and addressing them, you can develop contingency plans, adjust your strategies, and minimize their impact on your operations.
In a SWOT analysis, you’ll have to take both internal and external factors into account. We’ll cover those next.
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- SWOT Analysis Template
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SWOT Analysis Internal and External Factors
A SWOT analysis typically has internal (i.e., within your organization) and external (i.e., outside your organization) factors at play. Here's a breakdown of each.
Internal factors refer to the characteristics and resources within your organization that directly influence its operations and performance. These factors are completely within your organization's control, so they can be modified, improved, or capitalized upon.
In a SWOT analysis, strengths and weaknesses are categorized as internal factors. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Brand reputation
- Unique expertise
- Loyal customer base
- Talented workforce
- Efficient processes
- Proprietary technology
- Outdated technology
- Inadequate resources
- Poor financial health
- Inefficient processes
- Skill gaps within the team
External factors are elements outside the organization's control that have an impact on its operations, market position, and success. These factors arise from the industry climate and the broader business environment. You typically have no control over external factors, but you can respond to them.
In a SWOT analysis, opportunities and threats are categorized as external factors. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Emerging markets
- Changing consumer trends
- Technological advancements
- Positive shifts in regulations
- New gaps in the market you could fill
- Intense competition
- Economic downturns
- Disruptive technologies
- Changing regulations
- Negative shifts in consumer behavior
Remember, a well-rounded SWOT analysis empowers you to capitalize on strengths, address weaknesses, seize opportunities, and navigate threats — all while making informed decisions for the future.
Now, let’s take a look at how you can write a good SWOT analysis for yourself or for stakeholders.
How do you write a good SWOT analysis?
There are several steps you’ll want to take when evaluating your business and conducting a strategic SWOT analysis.
1. Download HubSpot's SWOT Analysis Template.
There’s no need to start from scratch for your analysis. Instead, start by downloading a free, editable template from HubSpot. Feel free to use the model yourself, or create your own as it suits your needs.
3. Identify your objective.
Before you start writing things down, you’ll need to figure out what you’re evaluating with your SWOT analysis.
Be specific about what you want to analyze. Otherwise, your SWOT analysis may end up being too broad, and you’ll get analysis paralysis as you are making your evaluations.
If you’re creating a new social media program, you’ll want to conduct an analysis to inform your content creation strategy. If you’re launching a new product, you’ll want to understand its potential positioning in the space. If you’re considering a brand redesign, you’ll want to consider existing and future brand conceptions.
All of these are examples of good reasons to conduct a SWOT analysis. By identifying your objective, you’ll be able to tailor your evaluation to get more actionable insights.
4. Identify your strengths.
“Strengths” refers to what you are currently doing well. Think about the factors that are going in your favor as well as the things you offer that your competitors just can’t beat.
For example, let’s say you want to use a SWOT analysis to evaluate your new social media strategy.
If you’re looking at a new social media program, perhaps you want to evaluate how your brand is perceived by the public. Is it easily recognizable and well-known? Even if it’s not popular with a widespread group, is it well-received by a specific audience?
Next, think about your process: Is it effective or innovative? Is there good communication between marketing and sales?
Finally, evaluate your social media message, and in particular, how it differs from the rest of the industry. I’m willing to bet you can make a lengthy list of some major strengths of your social media strategy over your competitors, so try to dive into your strengths from there.
5. Identify your weaknesses.
In contrast to your strengths, what are the roadblocks hindering you from reaching your goals? What do your competitors offer that continues to be a thorn in your side?
This section isn’t about dwelling on negative aspects. Rather, it’s critical to foresee any potential obstacles that could mitigate your success.
When identifying weaknesses, consider what areas of your business are the least profitable, where you lack certain resources, or what costs you the most time and money. Take input from employees in different departments, as they’ll likely see weaknesses you hadn’t considered.
If you’re examining a new social media strategy, you might start by asking yourself these questions: First, if I were a consumer, what would prevent me from buying this product, or engaging with this business? What would make me click away from the screen?
Second, what do I foresee as the biggest hindrance to my employees’ productivity, or their ability to get the job done efficiently? What derails their social media efforts?
6. Consider your opportunities.
This is your chance to dream big. What are some opportunities for your social media strategy you hope, but don’t necessarily expect, to reach?
For instance, maybe you’re hoping your Facebook ads will attract a new, larger demographic. Maybe you’re hoping your YouTube video gets 10,000 views and increases sales by 10%.
Whatever the case, it’s important to include potential opportunities in your SWOT analysis. Ask yourself these questions:
- What technologies do I want my business to use to make it more effective?
- What new target audience do I want to reach?
- How can the business stand out more in the current industry?
- Is there something our customers complain about that we could fix?
The opportunities category goes hand-in-hand with the weaknesses category. Once you’ve made a list of weaknesses, it should be easy to create a list of potential opportunities that could arise if you eliminate your weaknesses.
7. Contemplate your threats.
It’s likely, especially if you’re prone to worry, you already have a good list of threats in your head.
If not, gather your employees and brainstorm. Start with these questions:
- What obstacles might prevent us from reaching our goals?
- What’s going on in the industry, or with our competitors, that might mitigate our success?
- Is there new technology out there that could conflict with our product?
Writing down your threats helps you evaluate them objectively.
For instance, maybe you list your threats in terms of least and most likely to occur and divide and conquer each. If one of your biggest threats is your competitor’s popular Instagram account, you could work with your marketing department to create content that showcases your product’s unique features.
SWOT Analysis Chart
Download a free SWOT analysis chart included in HubSpot’s free market research kit .
A SWOT analysis doesn’t have to be fancy. Our SWOT analysis chart provides a clear and structured framework for capturing and organizing your internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats. It's the perfect visual aid to make sense of the wealth of information gathered during your analysis.
(Plus, you can always customize and paste it into a document you plan to share with stakeholders.)
But remember: Filling out the SWOT chart is just one step in the process. Combine it with our entire market research kit , and you'll have all the tools necessary to help your organization navigate new opportunities and threats.
SWOT Analysis Examples
The template above helps get you started on your own SWOT analysis.
But, if you’re anything like me, it’s not enough to see a template. To fully understand a concept, you need to see how it plays out in the real world.
These SWOT examples are not exhaustive. However, they are a great starting point to inspire you as you do your own SWOT analysis.
Apple’s SWOT analysis
Here’s how we’d conduct a SWOT analysis on Apple.
First off, strengths. While Apple has many strengths, let’s identify the top three:
- Brand recognition.
- Innovative products.
- Ease of use.
Apple’s brand is undeniably strong, and its business is considered the most valuable in the world . Since it’s easily recognized, Apple can produce new products and almost ensure a certain degree of success by virtue of the brand name itself.
Apple’s highly innovative products are often at the forefront of the industry. One thing that sets Apple apart from the competition is its product inter-connectivity.
For instance, an Apple user can easily sync their iPhone and iPad together. They can access all of their photos, contacts, apps, and more no matter which device they are using.
Lastly, customers enjoy how easy it is to use Apple’s products. With a sleek and simple design, each product is developed so that most people can quickly learn how to use them.
Next, let’s look at three of Apple’s weaknesses.
- High prices
- Closed ecosystem
- Lack of experimentation
While the high prices don’t deter Apple’s middle- and upper-class customer base, they do hinder Apple’s ability to reach a lower-class demographic.
Apple also suffers from its own exclusivity. Apple controls all its services and products in-house, and while many customers become loyal brand advocates for this reason, it means all burdens fall on Apple employees.
Ultimately, Apple’s tight control over who distributes its products limits its market reach.
Lastly, Apple is held to a high standard when it comes to creating and distributing products. Apple’s brand carries a high level of prestige. That level of recognition inhibits Apple from taking risks and experimenting freely with new products that could fail.
Now, let’s take a look at opportunities for Apple.
It’s easy to recognize opportunities for improvement, once you consider Apple’s weaknesses. Here’s a list of three we came up with:
- Expand distribution options.
- Create new product lines.
- Technological advancement.
One of Apple’s biggest weaknesses is its distribution network, which, in the name of exclusivity, remains relatively small. If Apple expanded its network and enabled third-party businesses to sell its products, it could reach more people globally, while alleviating some of the stress currently put on in-house employees.
There are also plenty of opportunities for Apple to create new products. Apple could consider creating more affordable products to reach a larger demographic, or spreading out into new industries — Apple self-driving cars, perhaps?
Finally, Apple could continue advancing its products’ technology. Apple can take existing products and refine them, ensuring each product offers as many unique features as possible.
Finally, let’s look at threats to Apple.
Believe it or not, they do exist.
Here are three of Apple’s biggest threats:
- Tough competition.
- International issues.
Apple isn’t the only innovative tech company out there, and it continues to face tough competition from Samsung, Google, and other major forces. In fact, Samsung sold more smartphones than Apple did in Q1 of 2022 , shipping 17 million more units than Apple and holding 24% of the market share.
Many of Apple’s weaknesses hinder Apple’s ability to compete with the tech corporations that have more freedom to experiment, or that don’t operate in a closed ecosystem.
A second threat to Apple is lawsuits. Apple has faced plenty of lawsuits, particularly between Apple and Samsung . These lawsuits interfere with Apple’s reputable image and could steer some customers to purchase elsewhere.
Finally, Apple needs to improve its reach internationally. The company isn’t number one in China and doesn’t have a very positive relationship with the Chinese government. In India, which has one of the largest consumer markets in the world, Apple’s market share is low , and the company has trouble bringing stores to India’s market.
If Apple can’t compete globally the way Samsung or Google can, it risks falling behind in the industry.
Starbucks SWOT Analysis
Now that we’ve explored the nuances involved with a SWOT analysis, let’s fill out a SWOT template using Starbucks as an example.
Here’s how we’d fill out a SWOT template if we were Starbucks:
Download this Template for Free
Restaurant Small Business SWOT Analysis
Some small business marketers may have difficulty relating to the SWOTs of big brands like Apple and Starbucks. Here’s an example of how a dine-in Thai restaurant might visualize each element.
Small restaurants can lean into their culinary expertise and service skills to find opportunities for growth and brand awareness. A SWOT analysis can also help identify weaknesses that can be improved, such as menu variation and pricing.
While a restaurant might not be as worried about high-level lawsuits, a small business might be more concerned about competitors or disruptors that might enter the playing field.
Local Boutique SWOT Analysis
In another small business example, let’s take a look at a SWOT analysis for a local boutique.
This shop might be well known in its neighborhood, but it also might take time to build an online presence or get its products in an online store.
Because of this, some of its strengths and opportunities might relate to physical factors while weaknesses and threats might relate to online situations.
How to Act on a SWOT Analysis
After conducting a SWOT analysis, you may be asking yourself: What’s next?
Putting together a SWOT analysis is only one step. Executing the findings identified by the analysis is just as important — if not more.
Put your insights into action using the following steps.
Take advantage of your strengths.
Use your strengths to pursue opportunities from your analysis.
For example, if we look at the local boutique example above, the strength of having affordable prices can be a value proposition. You can emphasize your affordable prices on social media or launch an online store.
Address your weaknesses.
Back to the boutique example, one of its weaknesses is having a poor social media presence. To mitigate this, the boutique could hire a social media consultant to improve its strategy. They may even tap into the expertise of a social-savvy employee.
Make note of the threats.
Threats are often external factors that can’t be controlled, so it’s best to monitor the threats outlined in your SWOT analysis to be aware of their impacts on your business.
When to Use a SWOT Analysis
While the examples above focus on business strategy in general, you can also use a SWOT analysis to evaluate and predict how a singular product will play out in the market.
Ultimately, a SWOT analysis can measure and tackle both big and small challenges, from deciding whether or not to launch a new product to refining your social media strategy.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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20+ SWOT Analysis Templates, Examples & Best Practices
By Midori Nediger , Oct 12, 2023
You know what you need if you’re contemplating producing a new product line, jumping into a new industry, or even just working on a company analysis for a school assignment?
A SWOT analysis chart.
SWOT analysis is a great way to effectively evaluate a person, campaign, strategy or product — and if you want to create a SWOT table that impresses (your stakeholders or your college professor), you need a SWOT analysis template.
Read on to see different types of SWOT analysis templates you can create with Venngage, plus top tips and plenty of SWOT analysis examples.
Click to skip ahead:
What is a SWOT analysis?
What does swot stand for explaining each element of swot.
- Personal SWOT analysis examples
Company SWOT analysis templates
Marketing swot analysis templates.
- Nonprofit SWOT analysis examples
Exec SWOT analysis templates
- Consultant SWOT analysis examples
SWOT analysis templates for Word
Swot analysis templates for powerpoint, how to write a swot analysis, how to do a swot analysis, how to visualize a swot analysis.
- FAQs about SWOT analysis templates
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a business, project or any other specific situation.
It provides a comprehensive overview of the internal and external factors that can impact the current and future state of the entity, enabling informed decision-making and the formulation of effective strategies.
A SWOT analysis is a simple and practical evaluation model. A SWOT diagram looks at a combination of internal and external factors, as well as assessing strengths and weaknesses. This combination of evaluation metrics means a SWOT analysis is particularly useful for gaining a thorough overview of a business, product, brand or a new project early on in the project life cycle .
The SWOT diagram has been around since at least the 1960s, although its origins are unclear, and are still used today in businesses across the world. Here’s a grid SWOT analysis example that companies can easily put together.
While a SWOT matrix is a good starting point for evaluation, the disadvantage of a SWOT is that it doesn’t produce actionable outcomes — rather it helps you understand where you currently stand, and how you can begin to move your business forward.
A good SWOT analysis template, like this example, should always be followed by further planning and development so you have an idea of what internal factors need to be considered. It also helps to prepare for external factors beyond your company’s control.
For more information on what a SWOT analysis is and the importance of SWOT analyses, check out these posts:
- What Is a SWOT Analysis and Its Importance to Businesses
- Why Is a SWOT Analysis Important [+ Examples]
- Why You Need a Sales SWOT Analysis [+Tips on Writing One]
- What is a SWOT Analysis in Healthcare and Why You Need It
The simplest way to build a SWOT analysis is to use a free SWOT analysis template. In this post, we’ll share examples of SWOT analysis templates that you can customize for your business growth strategy.
SWOT is an acronym that stands for: Strengths — Weaknesses — Opportunities — Threats.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements:
Strengths are the areas you excel at. What do you do better than anybody else? What do people praise you for?
To identify your Strengths, spend some time thinking about what you’ve done well, what tasks were well within your comfort zone, and any times that you’ve exceeded expectations, or achieved fantastic results.
A SWOT matrix could be conducted during recruitment to help identify the strengths of candidates, and directly compare them effectively. Or use a SWOT analysis template to understand how internal and external factors impact your brand.
This SWOT analysis template, for example, examines the strengths of a training program offered to employees of a call center :
Pro tip : With a paid Venngage subscription , you can download this SWOT template as a PNG and add it to your Word document or PowerPoint presentation. You can also download it as a PPTX file and add it directly to your presentation as a slide.
Next you identify the areas that need improvement. Think about things you find difficult to achieve, times you’ve struggled to meet expectations, and areas that you don’t feel confident in. Look back at your Strengths list and think about the inverse when filling out your SWOT template.
Weaknesses should always be things you have control over, and things that you can put steps in place to improve upon. You could use a SWOT to help analyze your brand, and understand why your customers chose your competitors over you, or if there are any services you are not currently providing. Use this SWOT analysis example for inspiration.
Moving onto the “O” in our SWOT – Opportunities are areas that your business could take advantage of. When conducting a SWOT for internal company analysis, is there an unserved or underserved market that you could grow into? Are you maximizing your media coverage? Could you change or develop a product to better serve a wider audience? What external factors work to your benefit in filling market gaps?
If you look at SWOT Opportunities examples, you will find the importance of also looking back at your Strengths and Weaknesses lists. You should include any weaknesses that could be turned into a strength as an opportunity in your SWOT analysis template.
Finally, threats are potential or upcoming obstacles that you should be wary of. In this case, by threat, we mean emerging competitors, changes in the market, things that would negatively affect your business. Most commonly, you will not have any control over your threats but it’s still important to be aware of them so that you can develop contingency plans. Remember to keep this section of the SWOT matrix objective so you don’t miss out on opportunities.
SWOT analysis examples [with templates]
Personal swot analysis examples.
In some circumstances, you might want to conduct a personal SWOT analysis to help evaluate your personal growth. If, for example, you were looking to move up the career ladder in your existing profession, or to change careers completely. If creating a personal SWOT analysis, you should slightly reposition your thinking regarding “threats”.
Comparing strengths and weaknesses directly can help give you clarity over areas that you can improve, like in this personal SWOT analysis example.
Rather than thinking about competitors or change in the market, think more about things that may hold you back personally – i.e. a lack of business finances , or an upcoming relocation, as you can see in this SWOT analysis example.
SWOT analysis helps companies identify their strengths to capitalize on, weaknesses to address, opportunities to pursue and threats to mitigate.
It aids in understanding the competitive landscape, customer preferences and market trends, allowing companies to make informed decisions about product development, marketing strategies and market expansion.
When composing a SWOT analysis for a company, begin by objectively evaluating the organization’s internal strengths, including areas where it outperforms competitors, possesses unique resources or excels in customer satisfaction.
Simultaneously, honestly identify internal weaknesses such as inadequate resources, operational inefficiencies or gaps in skills.
To thoroughly assess the external environment, remain attentive to emerging market trends and potential growth areas as opportunities, while also considering potential threats such as evolving consumer preferences, regulatory changes or intensified market competition.
It is crucial to maintain objectivity, involve key stakeholders and consider the analysis in the context of both short-term and long-term business objectives. That way, you can ensure the strategic insights gleaned from the SWOT analysis are effectively translated into actionable plans and initiatives.
When developing a marketing plan you should use a business planning SWOT template for your product or service. By looking at what you do better than your competitors you can start to understand the best way to market your product. This free SWOT analysis template for Word showcases the opportunities for the business.
Take a look at page 4 of this template to see how you can integrate a SWOT analysis into a marketing plan:
Equally, by looking at opportunities you can begin to understand potential new markets, as well as under-served areas that you already market within. Marketers, consultants and freelancers often include SWOT analyses in competitor analysis reports .
Here’s an example of a competitor analysis report that uses a SWOT template on page 5:
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Nonprofit SWOT analysis examples
Nonprofit organizations can use SWOT analyses to help inform their strategic planning.
A SWOT is a great way to understand how your nonprofit fits into the market, and how you can maximize your impact by running effective targeted campaigns and fundraising initiatives. This SWOT analysis example showcases areas where a nonprofit can improve.
Especially in nonprofits, you often don’t have the luxury of testing out multiple ideas or strategies due to time and budget constraints. Conducting a SWOT analysis early on in your strategy development can help you make the most informed decisions. This SWOT analysis example highlights the threats that a nonprofit should be looking to overcome soon.
Looking for more nonprofit guides?
- The complete nonprofit marketing guide
- Nonprofit communication resources
- Nonprofit storytelling examples
Execs have to wear many different hats within their roles and organizations. Business development is a crucial part of company success, and being fully aware of your organizational strengths and weaknesses is invaluable. For example, there are numerous opportunities in this SWOT analysis example.
When going through a period of rapid growth within your business, you should take some time to conduct a SWOT analysis. This will help to ensure that you are able to reach your growth goals. Doing a SWOT also helps you identify any possible weaknesses that may become issues for your growth further down the line.
The weaknesses in this free SWOT analysis template for Word should be addressed quickly before they become a threat to the company.
A SWOT diagram can also be used to help evaluate employees’ work. You can assess your employees’ performances and provide detailed feedback, like in this SWOT analysis example.
Interested in more resources?
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Consultant SWOT analysis templates
Consultants are in a unique position because they are looking to market themselves. Starting out as a consultant can be difficult, but conducting a SWOT analysis of yourself as a consultant can help you discover any unique selling points for your services.
You might also want to conduct a SWOT analysis when delivering work for clients. A SWOT can help inform any project or growth plans that you are recommending. The SWOT analysis example below makes a strong case for the business.
Take a look at page 4 of this consulting proposal template for an example of how to use SWOT analyses in a consulting proposal :
Looking for more consulting templates?
- Consulting proposal templates
- Business proposal templates
- Job proposal templates
You can actually edit any of our SWOT analysis templates above and add them to your Word document as an image file. We offer PNG or PNG HD download options.
Here’s another example of a SWOT analysis template you can create for your Word or Google Docs file:
Note: download capability is only available in a paid Venngage plan .
Similar to Word, you can edit any of our SWOT analysis examples above and download them as a PNG to add to your PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. A Venngage Business user can also download the template as a PPTX file and upload it directly to your presentation as a slide.
Besides simple SWOT analysis templates, we also offer presentation templates containing SWOT charts:
To create a SWOT analysis, start by identifying your business’s strengths and weaknesses, followed by opportunities and threats in the market. Organize these factors into a concise table format, ensuring that each element is clear and specific. This analysis will provide a comprehensive overview of your business’s internal and external environment, aiding in strategic planning and decision-making.
The first two letters of our SWOT, Strengths and Weaknesses, are internal factors that you have control over, and you should look within your company or business to complete these sections. Opportunities and Threats are external factors that you do not have control over, and you should look outside of your organization to complete them, like in the simple SWOT analysis example below:
When developing any marketing campaign you can use a SWOT analysis, like the one above, to outline any potential threats as well as opportunities for your business. You can include a SWOT diagram as part of your marketing plan or business plan, like in this SWOT analysis template.
A version of this SWOT analysis template is used in this business proposal (page 4).
You can see how the designer has adapted the brand colors of this business into the SWOT analysis, which you can easily do by using My Brand Kit :
Tips for creating a SWOT analysis
When doing a SWOT analysis, it can be difficult to find jumping-off points for your evaluation. Often, you either go too big and list “impossible to fix” problems, or think small and spend your time and energy focusing on things that are overall insignificant.
You also need to consider internal factors like team size that may be changing. Deciding on your SWOT analysis questions can take as much time as conducting the SWOT analysis itself!
That’s why it’s important to decide on an overall goal or objective that you want your SWOT template to help you achieve. This could be more sales, bigger growth, better brand recognition, a prestigious award, or more.
If you’re creating a personal SWOT analysis template, you can pick a goal you’re working towards such as a promotion, or an award, and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to that goal. In personal SWOT analysis examples like this, you can give yourself a time period, such as the last year, to review.
Once you have decided on a goal, you can start to think about SWOT analysis questions that are related to:
- Your customers
- Your competitors
- Your market share
- Business growth
- Price point
- Online following
- Customer retention
- Budget restrictions
- Company culture
This is by no means a complete list of topics to evaluate, and you should add your own ideas, but it’s a good starting point for effective evaluation. Here’s a simple SWOT analysis template that shows you the result of asking the right questions.
A SWOT analysis helps you understand your business’s current position in the market and aids in developing strategies to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities and counter threats.
Follow these simple steps to create a comprehensive SWOT analysis:
- Identify strengths: Recognize internal positive attributes that are within your control, such as unique selling points, skilled workforce or strong brand recognition.
- Pinpoint weaknesses: Assess internal areas that need improvement, such as lack of resources, inefficient processes or poor brand reputation.
- Recognize opportunities: Analyze external factors that could benefit your business, such as emerging markets, technological advancements or changes in consumer behavior.
- Acknowledge threats: Consider external factors that could potentially harm your business, such as new competitors, changing regulations or economic downturns.
There are many different ways you can visualize a SWOT analysis. Below we’ve outlined the main layouts you might want to use for your SWOT, and provided SWOT analysis examples for each.
Use a 2×2 grid system design
You could use a 2×2 grid system to evaluate your options . This is a good way to compare all data at once, as each box has a direct relationship with every other box. This makes it easier to think about a SWOT as a whole, in context – rather than as individual segments, like in this SWOT analysis example we shared earlier:
A 2×2 grid is easily stylized and a flexible design style, and you can use brand colors, shapes, or motifs. 2×2 grids are also useful in business reports that contain a lot of information, as they make it easy to digest all elements of the SWOT quickly.
Use a vertical list
You can also use a vertical list. Vertical list SWOT analysis templates work well for Word, within reports, on the internet, or if sending via email. If you’re doing this, make sure you make a visual distinction between each segment by using a box or leaving plenty of space.
This SWOT analysis example uses a vertical list with different colored boxes in its design:
Use a horizontal table
A SWOT template for Word needs to be vertical, but that type of SWOT diagram is less useful for PowerPoint, due to the orientation of presentation slides usually being in landscape.
In this case, you should use a horizontal table for your SWOT analysis template. This is good for presentations as it allows you to fill the entire screen with information. Again, just make sure to suitably differentiate the segments with color, graphics, or empty space between the columns, like in this free SWOT analysis template for PowerPoint:
SWOT analysis best practices & design tips
Whilst a SWOT diagram is a fairly straightforward evaluation model, there are a couple of SWOT best practice tips you should follow in order to maximize the effectiveness of your SWOT:
Use measurable and quantifiable statements in your SWOT
You should be able to evidence all of the points in your SWOT template, aka prove that you are good at the thing you said you are good at. Saying you increase your market share regularly is good, but saying you increase your market share 10% year over year is even better.
Make sure all areas of your business are represented when developing the SWOT
Get feedback from different departments on both what their strengths/weaknesses are, but ask what they think your strengths/weaknesses are. This SWOT analysis example has gathered feedback from multiple teams.
Try and keep the lists an even number
If you have 5 strengths, find 5 weaknesses. For every opportunity, try and write down a threat. This makes it easier to compare the categories in your SWOT template.
Have a goal in mind when doing your SWOT analysis
Whether this is developing a new project plan or business, or scaling your revenue – a SWOT diagram is particularly useful when there’s a definitive outcome you’re trying to achieve.
Don’t aim for the perfect SWOT list straight away
When you’re customizing your SWOT analysis template, start with much longer lists gathered in a brainstorming session and whittle the lists down. This brings us to…
Make sure your SWOT is thorough
Make sure you’ve thought about every possible strength, weakness, threat, and opportunity. A SWOT is only as valuable as the information you include, so make sure you do your due diligence during the analysis. Take inspiration from this SWOT analysis example.
Format your SWOT in a way that makes sense for multiple uses
If you plan to present your SWOT analysis to an executive at your company, make sure it is clear to understand, and presented in a way that makes it easy to take in all of the information at once – such as a 2×2 grid template. If it’s for a company presentation, use a horizontal SWOT analysis template for PowerPoint.
Think short, mid, and long term
Your product might be great now, but what could be happening in the next 6 months that might affect that? What about within the next year? Sure that competitor could be small fish now, but what about if they have an aggressive growth plan in place? You need to be prepared for that to stay ahead of the game, and that’s where a SWOT analysis template comes in.
Use clever design tricks
Use color in your SWOT matrix to help grab attention. Differentiate different areas of your SWOT, as this SWOT analysis template does.
FAQ about SWOT analysis templates
1. why is a swot analysis important.
It’s important to remember that your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that you should analyze both internal and external factors. A SWOT diagram will allow you to gain a good, thorough understanding of where your business sits within the wider market, as well as identify potential opportunities to explore.
The benefit of a SWOT analysis is that you can directly compare every individual letter to its three counterparts. You can explore the relationship between your strengths and your weaknesses, but also look at how your strengths could be used to help leverage opportunities, and assess the potential your strengths have to help improve your weaknesses.
2. What comes after a SWOT analysis?
Once your SWOT template is complete you can use the information you have gathered to inform your business’ strategic planning.
Spend some time thinking about:
- How you can continue to develop your strengths?
- How you can improve your weaknesses, what procedures can be put in place or training can you undertake to help with this?
- Also, think about how you can leverage your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities you’ve listed.
- Can your strengths be used to tackle any threats?
- What about your weaknesses, will they hold you back from pursuing the opportunities?
- Will your weaknesses further disadvantage you when it comes to your threat list?
Are you ready to create your SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is an invaluable tool for evaluation and is particularly useful for small businesses or businesses in times of change. Make sure you follow these SWOT analysis best practice tips to maximize your evaluation opportunities and further your evaluation by conducting a thorough Competitor Analysis .
All of the SWOT analysis examples featured in this blog post are fully customizable SWOT analysis templates available for use on Venngage. You can also use our Smart Templates to create documents easily.
Once you’ve created your business or personal SWOT analysis, make sure to keep a copy safe for the next time you conduct an evaluation. With Venngage you can keep your work online or download a SWOT analysis PDF if you’re a Business user.
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Article • 17 min read
Understanding your business, informing your strategy.
By the Mind Tools Content Team
What Is a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and so a SWOT analysis is a technique for assessing these four aspects of your business.
SWOT Analysis is a tool that can help you to analyze what your company does best now, and to devise a successful strategy for the future. SWOT can also uncover areas of the business that are holding you back, or that your competitors could exploit if you don't protect yourself.
A SWOT analysis examines both internal and external factors – that is, what's going on inside and outside your organization. So some of these factors will be within your control and some will not. In either case, the wisest action you can take in response will become clearer once you've discovered, recorded and analyzed as many factors as you can.
In this article, video and infographic, we explore how to carry out a SWOT analysis, and how to put your findings into action. We also include a worked example and a template to help you get started on a SWOT analysis in your own workplace.
Why Is SWOT Analysis Important?
SWOT Analysis can help you to challenge risky assumptions and to uncover dangerous blindspots about your organization's performance. If you use it carefully and collaboratively, it can deliver new insights on where your business currently is, and help you to develop exactly the right strategy for any situation.
For example, you may be well aware of some of your organization's strengths, but until you record them alongside weaknesses and threats you might not realize how unreliable those strengths actually are.
Equally, you likely have reasonable concerns about some of your business weaknesses but, by going through the analysis systematically, you could find an opportunity, previously overlooked, that could more than compensate.
How to Write a SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis involves making lists – but so much more, too! When you begin to write one list (say, Strengths), the thought process and research that you'll go through will prompt ideas for the other lists (Weaknesses, Opportunities or Threats). And if you compare these lists side by side, you will likely notice connections and contradictions, which you'll want to highlight and explore.
You'll find yourself moving back and forth between your lists frequently. So, make the task easier and more effective by arranging your four lists together in one view.
A SWOT matrix is a 2x2 grid, with one square for each of the four aspects of SWOT. (Figure 1 shows what it should look like.) Each section is headed by some questions to get your thinking started.
Figure 1. A SWOT Analysis Matrix.
Swot analysis template.
When conducting your SWOT analysis, you can either draw your own matrix, or use our free downloadable template .
How to Do a SWOT Analysis
Avoid relying on your own, partial understanding of your organization. Your assumptions could be wrong. Instead, gather a team of people from a range of functions and levels to build a broad and insightful list of observations.
Then, every time you identify a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, or Threat, write it down in the relevant part of the SWOT analysis grid for all to see.
Let's look at each area in more detail and consider what fits where, and what questions you could ask as part of your data gathering.
Strengths are things that your organization does particularly well, or in a way that distinguishes you from your competitors. Think about the advantages your organization has over other organizations. These might be the motivation of your staff, access to certain materials, or a strong set of manufacturing processes.
Your strengths are an integral part of your organization, so think about what makes it "tick." What do you do better than anyone else? What values drive your business? What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't? Identify and analyze your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and add this to the Strengths section.
Then turn your perspective around and ask yourself what your competitors might see as your strengths. What factors mean that you get the sale ahead of them?
Remember, any aspect of your organization is only a strength if it brings you a clear advantage. For example, if all of your competitors provide high-quality products, then a high-quality production process is not a strength in your market: it's a necessity.
Weaknesses, like strengths, are inherent features of your organization, so focus on your people, resources, systems, and procedures. Think about what you could improve, and the sorts of practices you should avoid.
Once again, imagine (or find out) how other people in your market see you. Do they notice weaknesses that you tend to be blind to? Take time to examine how and why your competitors are doing better than you. What are you lacking?
Be honest! A SWOT analysis will only be valuable if you gather all the information you need. So, it's best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.
Opportunities are openings or chances for something positive to happen, but you'll need to claim them for yourself!
They usually arise from situations outside your organization, and require an eye to what might happen in the future. They might arise as developments in the market you serve, or in the technology you use. Being able to spot and exploit opportunities can make a huge difference to your organization's ability to compete and take the lead in your market.
Think about good opportunities that you can exploit immediately. These don't need to be game-changers: even small advantages can increase your organization's competitiveness. What interesting market trends are you aware of, large or small, which could have an impact?
You should also watch out for changes in government policy related to your field. And changes in social patterns, population profiles, and lifestyles can all throw up interesting opportunities.
Threats include anything that can negatively affect your business from the outside, such as supply-chain problems, shifts in market requirements, or a shortage of recruits. It's vital to anticipate threats and to take action against them before you become a victim of them and your growth stalls.
Think about the obstacles you face in getting your product to market and selling. You may notice that quality standards or specifications for your products are changing, and that you'll need to change those products if you're to stay in the lead. Evolving technology is an ever-present threat, as well as an opportunity!
Always consider what your competitors are doing, and whether you should be changing your organization's emphasis to meet the challenge. But remember that what they're doing might not be the right thing for you to do. So, avoid copying them without knowing how it will improve your position.
Be sure to explore whether your organization is especially exposed to external challenges. Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems, for example, that could make you vulnerable to even small changes in your market? This is the kind of threat that can seriously damage your business, so be alert.
Use PEST Analysis to ensure that you don't overlook threatening external factors. And PMESII-PT is an especially helpful check in very unfamiliar or uncertain environments.
Frequently Asked Questions About SWOT Analysis
1. who invented swot analysis.
Many people attribute SWOT Analysis to Albert S. Humphrey. However, there has been some debate on the originator of the tool, as discussed in the International Journal of Business Research .
2. What Does SWOT Analysis Stand For?
SWOT Analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
3. What Can a SWOT Analysis Be Used For?
SWOT analysis is a useful tool to help you determine your organization's position in the market. You can then use this information to create an informed strategy suited to your needs and capabilities.
4. How Do I Write a SWOT Analysis?
To conduct a SWOT analysis, you first need to create a 2x2 matrix grid. Each square is then assigned to one of the four aspects of SWOT. You can either draw this grid yourself or use our downloadable template to get started.
5. How Do SWOT Analysis and the TOWS Matrix compare?
While SWOT analysis puts the emphasis on the internal environment (your strengths and weaknesses), TOWS forces you to look at your external environment first (your threats and opportunities). In most cases, you'll do a SWOT Analysis first, and follow up with a TOWS Matrix to offer a broader context.
6. What Are the Biggest SWOT Analysis Mistakes?
- Making your lists too long. Ask yourself if your ideas are feasible as you go along.
- Being vague. Be specific to provide more focus for later discussions.
- Not seeing weaknesses. Be sure to ask customers and colleagues what they experience in real life.
- Not thinking ahead. It's easy to come up with nice ideas without taking them through to their logical conclusion. Always consider their practical impact.
- Being unrealistic. Don't plan in detail for opportunities that don't exist yet. For example, that export market you've been eyeing may be available at some point, but the trade negotiations to open it up could take years.
- Relying on SWOT Analysis alone. SWOT Analysis is valuable. But when you use it alongside other planning tools (SOAR, TOWS or PEST), the results will be more vigorous.
How to Use a SWOT Analysis
Use a SWOT Analysis to assess your organization's current position before you decide on any new strategy. Find out what's working well, and what's not so good. Ask yourself where you want to go, how you might get there – and what might get in your way.
Once you've examined all four aspects of SWOT, you'll want to build on your strengths, boost your weaker areas, head off any threats, and exploit every opportunity. In fact, you'll likely be faced with a long list of potential actions.
But before you go ahead, be sure to develop your ideas further. Look for potential connections between the quadrants of your matrix. For example, could you use some of your strengths to open up further opportunities? And, would even more opportunities become available by eliminating some of your weaknesses?
Finally, it's time to ruthlessly prune and prioritize your ideas, so that you can focus time and money on the most significant and impactful ones. Refine each point to make your comparisons clearer. For example, only accept precise, verifiable statements such as, "Cost advantage of $30/ton in sourcing raw material x," rather than, "Better value for money."
Remember to apply your learnings at the right level in your organization. For example, at a product or product-line level, rather than at the much vaguer whole-company level. And use your SWOT analysis alongside other strategy tools (for example, Core Competencies Analysis ), so that you get a comprehensive picture of the situation you're dealing with.
A SWOT Analysis Example
Imagine this scenario: a small start-up consultancy wants a clear picture of its current situation, to decide on a future strategy for growth. The team gathers, and draws up the SWOT Analysis shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. A Completed SWOT Analysis.
As a result of the team's analysis, it's clear that the consultancy's main strengths lie in its agility, technical expertise, and low overheads. These allow it to offer excellent customer service to a relatively small client base.
The company's weaknesses are also to do with its size. It will need to invest in training, to improve the skills base of the small staff. It'll also need to focus on retention, so it doesn't lose key team members.
There are opportunities in offering rapid-response, good-value services to local businesses and to local government organizations. The company can likely be first to market with new products and services, given that its competitors are slow adopters.
The threats require the consultancy to keep up-to-date with changes in technology. It also needs to keep a close eye on its largest competitors, given its vulnerability to large-scale changes in its market. To counteract this, the business needs to focus its marketing on selected industry websites, to get the greatest possible market presence on a small advertising budget.
It's also possible to carry out a Personal SWOT Analysis . This can be useful for developing your career in ways that take best advantage of your talents, abilities and opportunities.
SWOT Analysis Infographic
See SWOT Analysis represented in our infographic :
SWOT Analysis helps you to identify your organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
It guides you to build on what you do well, address what you're lacking, seize new openings, and minimize risks.
Apply a SWOT Analysis to assess your organization's position before you decide on any new strategy.
Use a SWOT matrix to prompt your research and to record your ideas. Avoid making huge lists of suggestions. Be as specific as you can, and be honest about your weaknesses.
Be realistic and rigorous. Prune and prioritize your ideas, to focus time and money on the most significant and impactful actions and solutions. Complement your use of SWOT with other tools.
Collaborate with a team of people from across the business. This will help to uncover a more accurate and honest picture.
Find out what's working well, and what's not so good. Ask yourself where you want to go, how you might get there – and what might get in your way.
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SWOT is useless. When you try it and you find Weaknesses box bulging, but Strengths & Opportunities completely empty, what can that possibly achieve?
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How to Write a Business Plan
How to develop action steps from your SWOT analysis
Your business plan should contain a SWOT analysis — a matrix that lists strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to launching your startup . However, a SWOT analysis can also help an existing business determine if its current or planned strategy will work. The analysis can guide your decision-making about a potential expansion, changes to your marketing strategy, or the addition of a new product or service.
Think of the SWOT matrix as the blueprint of your business. You are the architect and contractor who must use that blueprint to build the real-life business.
The SWOT analysis can show you where you are now and where you need to be to achieve your goals. This piece of strategic planning provides a realistic picture of your business model and processes, whether they are strengths or weaknesses.
The analysis also focuses your efforts on the most critical issues to address going forward. To make the most of the SWOT process, you’ll need to distill the information you gain from it and transform it into specific action steps. Here’s how.
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Ensure your SWOT is complete
Look at other SWOT analysis examples to ensure you’ve put enough thought and commentary into yours. That way, you know what you have to do to address the findings in each of the four sections.
It’s important to create balance so that one section doesn’t dominate, which can obscure possible strategies. That means balancing the controllable internal factors (i.e., strengths and weaknesses) with the external factors that are outside your control (i.e., the opportunities and threats ).
The optimal scope will vary from business to business, but a good average is six to eight points for each of the four sections in your SWOT. This generally yields a vivid picture of what the company can and cannot do, without overwhelming you as the founder. This approach also helps your team and any investors to see competitive advantages and strategic pathways.
Make connections between each of the four sections
The four sections in your SWOT don’t operate in a vacuum. Each section influences the results of another section in some specific way. Identifying these connections helps you spot solutions for threats and weaknesses.
For example, one of your company’s weaknesses may be that your product is struggling to differentiate itself from the competition. Therefore, a threat could be existing or new competitors that clearly demonstrate how their products solve customer needs.
Ranking the information in each section may help you see these connections because the more critical issues in one section may be entirely dependent on a problem, threat, or opportunity listed in another.
The solution is to identify the strengths that can leverage the opportunities and minimize the threats. At the same time, you should determine how to turn weaknesses into opportunities and eliminate weaknesses that would otherwise result in threats. This exercise is also known as TOWS analysis.
Create a list of tactics related to each of those four connections
The answers to the questions you pose during each section of the TOWS analysis will inform the tactics you need to implement. In the case of weak differentiation as a threat, tactics might involve adding more product features or changing your marketing strategy to focus on how your product alleviates specific pain points that the competition cannot.
Prioritize the tactics based on your understanding of the connections between strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This process helps determine which tactics will have the most impact on your startup.
Add more quadrants to your SWOT table to list the tactics corresponding to each of these pairings: Strengths–Opportunities, Strengths–Threats, Weaknesses–Opportunities, and Weaknesses–Threats. These additional sections deepen your understanding of whether your business strategy is feasible.
The enhanced SWOT analysis can also illustrate to an investor the level of clarity about your company’s internal strengths, future obstacles, new opportunities, and potential wins.
Identify and address anything unknown that appeared during the planning process
In conducting this analysis, you can uncover new insights that you might not have otherwise noticed had you siloed each section. The new information you’ve uncovered will impact your startup, so include it in your business planning.
For example, these unknown aspects might include strengths, external opportunities, or hidden threats that the TOWS analysis revealed. Armed with this information, you can increase the chances of capitalizing on those strengths or threats to drive your business forward.
The insights might also reveal a better path to strategic alignment. Through a deeper analysis, you can show your team how to work toward the same goals. Investors will also get a clearer picture of your business, its purpose, and your action plan to achieve that purpose.
A process that lets you take action
Your SWOT analysis serves as more than a summary of your research. It tells your business plan readers, investors, and team what needs to get done . The expanded commentary you add by undertaking the TOWS analysis will help identify and prioritize those actions. Your SWOT analysis evolves beyond a mere matrix and becomes a living, breathing strategy for your small business.
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Every small business owner should conduct a SWOT analysis at least twice yearly to assess their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats compared to their competition, markets and industry.
A SWOT analysis contains four sections that help determine your business's performance.
- Strengths . The business’s strengths indicate where the company excels and how it surpasses its competition. Whether it’s the quality of the product or service, its employees, or its position in the market, this section should tout the company’s accomplishments.
- Weaknesses . Recognizing and acknowledging the business’s weaknesses is crucial to know where to improve. For example, the company may be inefficient in certain areas or have high employee turnover. By revealing its failings, the business can take action to find solutions.
- Opportunities . Opportunities are the external factors a business can take advantage of to grow. Opportunities abound but may be hard to spot. A SWOT analysis can help you identify new products to sell or services to offer or how new technology can improve productivity and save money.
- Threats. The threats to your company are external influences that might hurt your company. Although you don’t have control over factors like rising interest rates or new competitors, it’s essential to recognize any threats before preparing an action plan.
Answering the following questions in our checklist can help you create your SWOT analysis. Download the checklist now.
This article is sponsored by Lexmark GO Line . Learn more about small business resources at Lexmark’s the Spot .
Lexmark GO Line helps small businesses make a lasting impression on the world with intentionally engineered printers and all-in-ones. Combining over 30 years of experience and expertise, Lexmark is proud to offer enterprise-class and built-for-SMB devices and features to customers worldwide. With over 7 million printers deployed in more than 170 countries, Lexmark helps customers print, secure and manage documents with ease. Make your mark with Lexmark GO Line. Visit Lexmark’s the Spot for SMBs.
Your First Step Toward Business Growth: SWOT Analysis Should you perform a SWOT analysis regularly? This planning technique can help you identify what your business is doing well and what it needs to improve.
SWOT Analysis Worksheet Download this worksheet to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your business. This information can help you outline goals and strategies for your business and marketing efforts.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
Free Business Plan Templates in Excel
By Joe Weller | September 27, 2020
In this article, we’ve rounded up an extensive list of free business plan templates and samples for organizations of all sizes. You can download all of the plans in Excel.
Included on this page, you’ll find business plan templates in Excel , business plan checklists in Excel , business plan financial templates in Excel , and more.
Business Plan Templates in Excel
These Excel business plan templates are designed to guide you through each step of a well-rounded strategy that supports your marketing, sales, financial, and operational goals.
Business Plan Template in Excel
This Excel business plan template has all the traditional components of a standard business plan, with each section divided into tabs. This template includes space to provide the executive summary, target audience characteristics, product or service offering details, marketing strategies, and more. The plan also offers built-in formulas to complete calculations for sales forecasting, financial statements, and key business ratios.
Download Business Plan Template
Excel | Smartsheet
One-Page Business Plan in Excel
To check the feasibility of your business concept, use this single-page business plan template. The template allows you to jot down the core details related to your idea. This template also includes room for you to provide concise information about what you do, how you do it, why you do it, who your idea serves, your competitive advantage, your marketing strategies, and your success factors. At the bottom of this one-page plan, you’ll find a table to conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Find more downloadable single-page plans and examples at “ One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide .”
Download One-Page Business Plan
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Sample 30-60-90-Day Business Plan for Startup in Excel
This 90-day business plan is designed for startup companies to develop a 90-day action plan. This template gives you room to outline the following: main goals and deliverables for each 30-day increment; key business activities; task ownership; and deadlines. This template also includes a built-in Gantt chart that adjusts as you enter dates. Visit “ 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Templates and Samples ” to download more free plans.
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For more free business plans in a wider variety of formats, visit “ Simple Business Plan Templates .”
Business Plan Checklists in Excel
These business plan checklists are useful for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners who want to organize and track the progress of key business activities.
Business Planning Checklist with Timeline in Excel
Use this checklist to keep your business planning efforts on track. This template enables you to add tasks according to each phase of your plan, assign an owner to each task, and enter the respective start and end dates. The checklist also enables you to create and color-code a visual timeline when you highlight the start and end dates for each task.
Download Business Planning Checklist with Timeline Template
Business Plan Checklist with SWOT Analysis in Excel
Use this business plan checklist to develop and organize your strategic plan. Add the name of the business activity, along with its status, due date, and pertinent notes. This template also includes a separate tab with a SWOT analysis matrix, so you can evaluate and prioritize your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Download Business Plan Checklist with SWOT Analysis - Excel
Business Startup Checklist in Excel
This checklist template is ideal for startup organizations. It allows you to list and categorize key tasks that you need to complete, including items related to research, strategic relationships, finance, development, and more. Check off each task upon completion to ensure you haven’t missed or overlooked any important business activities. Find additional resources by visiting “ Free Startup Plan, Budget & Cost Templates .”
Download Business Startup Checklist Template
Business Plan Financial Templates in Excel
Use these customizable templates to develop your organization’s financial plan.
Business Startup Costs Template in Excel
Use this template to estimate and track your startup and operational costs. This template gives you room to list line items for both funding and expenses; you can automatically calculate totals using the built-in formulas. To avoid overspending, compare budgeted amounts against actual amounts to determine where you can cut costs or find additional funding.
Download Business Startup Costs Template
Small-Business Budget Template in Excel
This simple business budget template is designed with small businesses in mind. The template helps you track the income and expenses that you accrue on a monthly and yearly basis. To log your cash balances and transactions for a given time frame, use the tab for cash flow recording.
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Startup Financial Statement Projections Template
This financial statement projections template includes a detailed profit and loss statement (or income statement), a balance sheet with business ratios, and a cash flow statement to analyze your company’s current and future financial position. This template also comes with built-in formulas, so you can calculate totals as you enter values and customize your statement to fit the needs of your business.
Download Startup Financial Statement Projections Template
For additional templates to help you produce a sound financial plan, visit “ Free Financial Templates for a Business Plan .”
Business Plan Marketing and Sales Templates in Excel
Use these downloadable templates to support and reinforce the marketing and sales objectives in your business plan.
Sales Forecast Template in Excel
This sales forecast template allows you to view the projected sales of your products or services at both individual and combined levels over a 12-month period. You can organize this template by department, product group, customer type, and other helpful categories. The template has built-in formulas to calculate monthly and yearly sales totals. For additional resources to project sales, visit “ Free Sales Forecasting Templates .”
Download Sales Forecast Template
Marketing Budget Plan in Excel
This marketing budget plan template helps you organize and plan your campaign costs for key marketing activities, such as market research, advertising, content marketing , and public relations. Enter the projected quantity and cost under each campaign category; the built-in formulas enable you to calculate projected subtotals automatically. This template also includes a graph that auto-populates as you enter values, so you can see where your marketing dollars are going.
Download Marketing Budget Plan Template
Other Business Plans in Excel
Use these business plan templates to conduct analyses and develop a plan of action that aligns your strategy with your main business objectives.
Business Action Plan Template in Excel
Use this basic action plan template to develop a roadmap for reaching your goals. Add a description of each action item, assign the responsible party, and list the required resources, potential hazards, key dates, and desired outcome. You can use this template to develop an action plan for marketing, sales, program development, and more.
Download Business Action Plan Template
Business Plan Rubric in Excel
Once you complete your business plan, use this rubric template to score each section to ensure you include all the essential information. You can customize this rubric to fit the needs of your organization and provide insight into the areas of your plan where you want to delve more deeply or remove unnecessary details. By following these steps, you can make certain that your final business plan is clear, concise, and thorough.
Download Simple Business Plan Rubric
Competitive Analysis Template in Excel
This template enables you to analyze the competitive landscape and industry for your business. By providing details related to your company and competitors, you can assess and compare all key areas, including the target market, marketing strategies, product or service offerings, distribution channels, and more.
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For additional free templates for all aspects of your business, visit “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”
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What Is SWOT Analysis?
Understanding swot analysis, how to do a swot analysis, the bottom line.
- Fundamental Analysis
SWOT Analysis: How To With Table and Example
These frameworks are essential to fundamentally analyzing companies
Ariel Courage is an experienced editor, researcher, and former fact-checker. She has performed editing and fact-checking work for several leading finance publications, including The Motley Fool and Passport to Wall Street.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position and to develop strategic planning. SWOT analysis assesses internal and external factors, as well as current and future potential.
A SWOT analysis is designed to facilitate a realistic, fact-based, data-driven look at the strengths and weaknesses of an organization, initiatives, or within its industry. The organization needs to keep the analysis accurate by avoiding pre-conceived beliefs or gray areas and instead focusing on real-life contexts. Companies should use it as a guide and not necessarily as a prescription.
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- SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique that provides assessment tools.
- Identifying core strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats leads to fact-based analysis, fresh perspectives, and new ideas.
- A SWOT analysis pulls information internal sources (strengths of weaknesses of the specific company) as well as external forces that may have uncontrollable impacts to decisions (opportunities and threats).
- SWOT analysis works best when diverse groups or voices within an organization are free to provide realistic data points rather than prescribed messaging.
- Findings of a SWOT analysis are often synthesized to support a single objective or decision that a company is facing.
Investopedia / Xiaojie Liu
SWOT analysis is a technique for assessing the performance, competition, risk, and potential of a business, as well as part of a business such as a product line or division, an industry, or other entity.
Using internal and external data , the technique can guide businesses toward strategies more likely to be successful, and away from those in which they have been, or are likely to be, less successful. Independent SWOT analysts, investors, or competitors can also guide them on whether a company, product line, or industry might be strong or weak and why.
SWOT analysis was first used to analyze businesses. Now, it's often used by governments, nonprofits, and individuals, including investors and entrepreneurs. There is seemingly limitless applications to the SWOT analysis.
Components of SWOT Analysis
Every SWOT analysis will include the following four categories. Though the elements and discoveries within these categories will vary from company to company, a SWOT analysis is not complete without each of these elements:
Strengths describe what an organization excels at and what separates it from the competition : a strong brand, loyal customer base, a strong balance sheet, unique technology, and so on. For example, a hedge fund may have developed a proprietary trading strategy that returns market-beating results. It must then decide how to use those results to attract new investors.
Weaknesses stop an organization from performing at its optimum level. They are areas where the business needs to improve to remain competitive: a weak brand, higher-than-average turnover, high levels of debt, an inadequate supply chain, or lack of capital.
Opportunities refer to favorable external factors that could give an organization a competitive advantage. For example, if a country cuts tariffs, a car manufacturer can export its cars into a new market, increasing sales and market share .
Threats refer to factors that have the potential to harm an organization. For example, a drought is a threat to a wheat-producing company, as it may destroy or reduce the crop yield. Other common threats include things like rising costs for materials, increasing competition, tight labor supply. and so on.
Analysts present a SWOT analysis as a square segmented into four quadrants, each dedicated to an element of SWOT. This visual arrangement provides a quick overview of the company’s position. Although all the points under a particular heading may not be of equal importance, they all should represent key insights into the balance of opportunities and threats, advantages and disadvantages, and so forth.
The SWOT table is often laid out with the internal factors on the top row and the external factors on the bottom row. In addition, the items on the left side of the table are more positive/favorable aspects, while the items on the right are more concerning/negative elements.
A SWOT analysis can be broken into several steps with actionable items before and after analyzing the four components. In general, a SWOT analysis will involve the following steps.
Step 1: Determine Your Objective
A SWOT analysis can be broad, though more value will likely be generated if the analysis is pointed directly at an objective. For example, the objective of a SWOT analysis may focused only on whether or not to perform a new product rollout . With an objective in mind, a company will have guidance on what they hope to achieve at the end of the process. In this example, the SWOT analysis should help determine whether or not the product should be introduced.
Step 2: Gather Resources
Every SWOT analysis will vary, and a company may need different data sets to support pulling together different SWOT analysis tables. A company should begin by understanding what information it has access to, what data limitations it faces, and how reliable its external data sources are.
In addition to data, a company should understand the right combination of personnel to have involved in the analysis. Some staff may be more connected with external forces, while various staff within the manufacturing or sales departments may have a better grasp of what is going on internally. Having a broad set of perspectives is also more likely to yield diverse, value-adding contributions.
Step 3: Compile Ideas
For each of the four components of the SWOT analysis, the group of people assigned to performing the analysis should begin listing ideas within each category. Examples of questions to ask or consider for each group are in the table below.
What occurs within the company serves as a great source of information for the strengths and weaknesses categories of the SWOT analysis. Examples of internal factors include financial and human resources , tangible and intangible (brand name) assets, and operational efficiencies.
Potential questions to list internal factors are:
- (Strength) What are we doing well?
- (Strength) What is our strongest asset?
- (Weakness) What are our detractors?
- (Weakness) What are our lowest-performing product lines?
What happens outside of the company is equally as important to the success of a company as internal factors. External influences, such as monetary policies , market changes, and access to suppliers, are categories to pull from to create a list of opportunities and weaknesses.
Potential questions to list external factors are:
- (Opportunity) What trends are evident in the marketplace?
- (Opportunity) What demographics are we not targeting?
- (Threat) How many competitors exist, and what is their market share?
- (Threat) Are there new regulations that potentially could harm our operations or products?
Companies may consider performing this step as a "white-boarding" or "sticky note" session. The idea is there is no right or wrong answer; all participants should be encouraged to share whatever thoughts they have. These ideas can later be discarded; in the meantime, the goal should be to come up with as many items as possible to invoke creativity and inspiration in others.
Step 4: Refine Findings
With the list of ideas within each category, it is now time to clean-up the ideas. By refining the thoughts that everyone had, a company can focus on only the best ideas or largest risks to the company. This stage may require substantial debate among analysis participants, including bringing in upper management to help rank priorities.
Step 5: Develop the Strategy
Armed with the ranked list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, it is time to convert the SWOT analysis into a strategic plan. Members of the analysis team take the bulleted list of items within each category and create a synthesized plan that provides guidance on the original objective.
For example, the company debating whether to release a new product may have identified that it is the market leader for its existing product and there is the opportunity to expand to new markets. However, increased material costs, strained distribution lines, the need for additional staff, and unpredictable product demand may outweigh the strengths and opportunities. The analysis team develops the strategy to revisit the decision in six months in hopes of costs declining and market demand becoming more transparent.
Use a SWOT analysis to identify challenges affecting your business and opportunities that can enhance it. However, note that it is one of many techniques, not a prescription.
Benefits of SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis won't solve every major question a company has. However, there's a number of benefits to a SWOT analysis that make strategic decision-making easier.
- A SWOT analysis makes complex problems more manageable. There may be an overwhelming amount of data to analyze and relevant points to consider when making a complex decision. In general, a SWOT analysis that has been prepared by paring down all ideas and ranking bullets by importance will aggregate a large, potentially overwhelming problem into a more digestible report.
- A SWOT analysis requires external consider. Too often, a company may be tempted to only consider internal factors when making decisions. However, there are often items out of the company's control that may influence the outcome of a business decision. A SWOT analysis covers both the internal factors a company can manage and the external factors that may be more difficult to control.
- A SWOT analysis can be applied to almost every business question. The analysis can relate to an organization, team, or individual. It can also analyze a full product line , changes to brand, geographical expansion, or an acquisition. The SWOT analysis is a versatile tool that has many applications.
- A SWOT analysis leverages different data sources. A company will likely use internal information for strengths and weaknesses. The company will also need to gather external information relating to broad markets, competitors, or macroeconomic forces for opportunities and threats. Instead of relying on a single, potentially biased source, a good SWOT analysis compiles various angles.
- A SWOT analysis may not be overly costly to prepare. Some SWOT reports do not need to be overly technical; therefore, many different staff members can contribute to its preparation without training or external consulting.
SWOT Analysis Example
In 2015, a Value Line SWOT analysis of The Coca-Cola Company noted strengths such as its globally famous brand name, vast distribution network, and opportunities in emerging markets. However, it also noted weaknesses and threats such as foreign currency fluctuations, growing public interest in "healthy" beverages, and competition from healthy beverage providers.
Its SWOT analysis prompted Value Line to pose some tough questions about Coca-Cola's strategy, but also to note that the company "will probably remain a top-tier beverage provider" that offered conservative investors "a reliable source of income and a bit of capital gains exposure."
Five years later, the Value Line SWOT analysis proved effective as Coca-Cola remains the 6th strongest brand in the world (as it was then). Coca-Cola's shares (traded under ticker symbol KO) have increased in value by over 60% during the five years after the analysis was completed.
To get a better picture of a SWOT analysis, consider the example of a fictitious organic smoothie company. To better understand how it competes within the smoothie market and what it can do better, it conducted a SWOT analysis. Through this analysis, it identified that its strengths were good sourcing of ingredients, personalized customer service, and a strong relationship with suppliers. Peering within its operations, it identified a few areas of weakness: little product diversification, high turnover rates, and outdated equipment.
Examining how the external environment affects its business, it identified opportunities in emerging technology, untapped demographics, and a culture shift towards healthy living. It also found threats, such as a winter freeze damaging crops, a global pandemic, and kinks in the supply chain. In conjunction with other planning techniques, the company used the SWOT analysis to leverage its strengths and external opportunities to eliminate threats and strengthen areas where it is weak.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a method for identifying and analyzing internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats that shape current and future operations and help develop strategic goals. SWOT analyses are not limited to companies. Individuals can also use SWOT analysis to engage in constructive introspection and form personal improvement goals.
What Is an Example of SWOT Analysis?
Home Depot conducted a SWOT analysis, creating a balanced list of its internal advantages and disadvantages and external factors threatening its market position and growth strategy. High-quality customer service, strong brand recognition, and positive relationships with suppliers were some of its notable strengths; whereas, a constricted supply chain, interdependence on the U.S. market, and a replicable business model were listed as its weaknesses.
Closely related to its weaknesses, Home Depot's threats were the presence of close rivals, available substitutes, and the condition of the U.S. market. It found from this study and other analysis that expanding its supply chain and global footprint would be key to its growth.
What Are the 4 Steps of SWOT Analysis?
The four steps of SWOT analysis comprise the acronym SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These four aspects can be broken into two analytical steps. First, a company assesses its internal capabilities and determines its strengths and weaknesses. Then, a company looks outward and evaluates external factors that impact its business. These external factors may create opportunities or threaten existing operations.
How Do You Write a Good SWOT Analysis?
Creating a SWOT analysis involves identifying and analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a company. It is recommended to first create a list of questions to answer for each element. The questions serve as a guide for completing the SWOT analysis and creating a balanced list. The SWOT framework can be constructed in list format, as free text, or, most commonly, as a 4-cell table, with quadrants dedicated to each element. Strengths and weaknesses are listed first, followed by opportunities and threats.
Why Is SWOT Analysis Used?
A SWOT analysis is used to strategically identify areas of improvement or competitive advantages for a company. In addition to analyzing thing that a company does well, SWOT analysis takes a look at more detrimental, negative elements of a business. Using this information, a company can make smarter decisions to preserve what it does well, capitalize on its strengths, mitigate risk regarding weaknesses, and plan for events that may adversely affect the company in the future.
A SWOT analysis is a great way to guide business-strategy meetings. It's powerful to have everyone in the room discuss the company's core strengths and weaknesses, define the opportunities and threats, and brainstorm ideas. Oftentimes, the SWOT analysis you envision before the session changes throughout to reflect factors you were unaware of and would never have captured if not for the group’s input.
A company can use a SWOT for overall business strategy sessions or for a specific segment such as marketing, production, or sales. This way, you can see how the overall strategy developed from the SWOT analysis will filter down to the segments below before committing to it. You can also work in reverse with a segment-specific SWOT analysis that feeds into an overall SWOT analysis.
Although a useful planning tool, SWOT has limitations. It is one of several business planning techniques to consider and should not be used alone. Also, each point listed within the categories is not prioritized the same. SWOT does not account for the differences in weight. Therefore, a deeper analysis is needed, using another planning technique.
Business News Daily. " SWOT Analysis: What It Is and When to Use It ."
Seeking Alpha. " The Coca-Cola Company: A Short SWOT Analysis ."
Panmore. " Home Depot SWOT Analysis & Recommendations ."
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- How to create a competitive analysis (w ...
How to create a competitive analysis (with examples)
Competitive analysis involves identifying your direct and indirect competitors using research to reveal their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own. In this guide, we’ll outline how to do a competitive analysis and explain how you can use this marketing strategy to improve your business.
Whether you’re running a business or playing in a football game, understanding your competition is crucial for success. While you may not be scoring touchdowns in the office, your goal is to score business deals with clients or win customers with your products. The method of preparation for athletes and business owners is similar—once you understand your strengths and weaknesses versus your competitors’, you can level up.
What is a competitive analysis?
Competitive analysis involves identifying your direct and indirect competitors using research to reveal their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own.
Direct competitors market the same product to the same audience as you, while indirect competitors market the same product to a different audience. After identifying your competitors, you can use the information you gather to see where you stand in the market landscape.
What to include in a competitive analysis
The purpose of this type of analysis is to get a competitive advantage in the market and improve your business strategy. Without a competitive analysis, it’s difficult to know what others are doing to win clients or customers in your target market. A competitive analysis report may include:
A description of your company’s target market
Details about your product or service versus the competitors’
Current and projected market share, sales, and revenues
Marketing and social media strategy analysis
Differences in customer ratings
You’ll compare each detail of your product or service versus the competition to assess strategy efficacy. By comparing success metrics across companies, you can make data-driven decisions.
How to do a competitive analysis
Follow these five steps to create your competitive analysis report and get a broad view of where you fit in the market. This process can help you analyze a handful of competitors at one time and better approach your target customers.
1. Create a competitor overview
In step one, select between five and 10 competitors to compare against your company. The competitors you choose should have similar product or service offerings and a similar business model to you. You should also choose a mix of both direct and indirect competitors so you can see how new markets might affect your company. Choosing both startup and seasoned competitors will further diversify your analysis.
Tip: To find competitors in your industry, use Google or Amazon to search for your product or service. The top results that emerge are likely your competitors. If you’re a startup or you serve a niche market, you may need to dive deeper into the rankings to find your direct competitors.
2. Conduct market research
Once you know the competitors you want to analyze, you’ll begin in-depth market research. This will be a mixture of primary and secondary research. Primary research comes directly from customers or the product itself, while secondary research is information that’s already compiled. Then, keep track of the data you collect in a user research template .
Primary market research may include:
Purchasing competitors’ products or services
Conducting online surveys of customers
Holding in-person focus groups
Secondary market research may include:
Examining competitors’ websites
Assessing the current economic situation
Identifying technological developments
Reading company records
Tip: Search engine analysis tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can help you examine competitors’ websites and obtain crucial SEO information such as the keywords they’re targeting, the number of backlinks they have, and the overall health of their website.
3. Compare product features
The next step in your analysis involves a comparison of your product to your competitors’ products. This comparison should break down the products feature by feature. While every product has its own unique features, most products will likely include:
Age of audience served
Number of features
Style and design
Ease of use
Type and number of warranties
Customer support offered
Tip: If your features table gets too long, abbreviate this step by listing the features you believe are of most importance to your analysis. Important features may include cost, product benefits, and ease of use.
4. Compare product marketing
The next step in your analysis will look similar to the one before, except you’ll compare the marketing efforts of your competitors instead of the product features. Unlike the product features matrix you created, you’ll need to go deeper to unveil each company’s marketing plan .
Areas you’ll want to analyze include:
As you analyze the above, ask questions to dig deeper into each company’s marketing strategies. The questions you should ask will vary by industry, but may include:
What story are they trying to tell?
What value do they bring to their customers?
What’s their company mission?
What’s their brand voice?
Tip: You can identify your competitors’ target demographic in this step by referencing their customer base, either from their website or from testimonials. This information can help you build customer personas. When you can picture who your competitor actively targets, you can better understand their marketing tactics.
5. Use a SWOT analysis
Competitive intelligence will make up a significant part of your competitor analysis framework, but once you’ve gathered your information, you can turn the focus back to your company. A SWOT analysis helps you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps turn weaknesses into opportunities and assess threats you face based on your competition.
During a SWOT analysis, ask yourself:
What do we do well?
What could we improve?
Are there market gaps in our services?
What new market trends are on the horizon?
Tip: Your research from the previous steps in the competitive analysis will help you answer these questions and fill in your SWOT analysis. You can visually present your findings in a SWOT matrix, which is a four-box chart divided by category.
6. Identify your place in the market landscape
The last step in your competitive analysis is to understand where you stand in the market landscape. To do this, you’ll create a graph with an X and Y axis. The two axes should represent the most important factors for being competitive in your market.
For example, the X-axis may represent customer satisfaction, while the Y-axis may represent presence in the market. You’ll then plot each competitor on the graph according to their (x,y) coordinates. You’ll also plot your company on this chart, which will give you an idea of where you stand in relation to your competitors.
This graph is included for informational purposes and does not represent Asana’s market landscape or any specific industry’s market landscape.
Tip: In this example, you’ll see three companies that have a greater market presence and greater customer satisfaction than yours, while two companies have a similar market presence but higher customer satisfaction. This data should jumpstart the problem-solving process because you now know which competitors are the biggest threats and you can see where you fall short.
Competitive analysis example
Imagine you work at a marketing startup that provides SEO for dentists, which is a niche industry and only has a few competitors. You decide to conduct a market analysis for your business. To do so, you would:
Step 1: Use Google to compile a list of your competitors.
Steps 2, 3, and 4: Use your competitors’ websites, as well as SEO analysis tools like Ahrefs, to deep-dive into the service offerings and marketing strategies of each company.
Step 5: Focusing back on your own company, you conduct a SWOT analysis to assess your own strategic goals and get a visual of your strengths and weaknesses.
Step 6: Finally, you create a graph of the market landscape and conclude that there are two companies beating your company in customer satisfaction and market presence.
After compiling this information into a table like the one below, you consider a unique strategy. To beat out your competitors, you can use localization. Instead of marketing to dentists nationwide like your competitors are doing, you decide to focus your marketing strategy on one region, state, or city. Once you’ve become the known SEO company for dentists in that city, you’ll branch out.
You won’t know what conclusions you can draw from your competitive analysis until you do the work and see the results. Whether you decide on a new pricing strategy, a way to level up your marketing, or a revamp of your product, understanding your competition can provide significant insight.
Drawbacks of competitive analysis
There are some drawbacks to competitive analysis you should consider before moving forward with your report. While these drawbacks are minor, understanding them can make you an even better manager or business owner.
Don’t forget to take action
You don’t just want to gather the information from your competitive analysis—you also want to take action on that information. The data itself will only show you where you fit into the market landscape. The key to competitive analysis is using it to problem solve and improve your company’s strategic plan .
Be wary of confirmation bias
Confirmation bias means interpreting information based on the beliefs you already hold. This is bad because it can cause you to hold on to false beliefs. To avoid bias, you should rely on all the data available to back up your decisions. In the example above, the business owner may believe they’re the best in the SEO dental market at social media. Because of this belief, when they do market research for social media, they may only collect enough information to confirm their own bias—even if their competitors are statistically better at social media. However, if they were to rely on all the data available, they could eliminate this bias.
Update your analysis regularly
A competitive analysis report represents a snapshot of the market landscape as it currently stands. This report can help you gain enough information to make changes to your company, but you shouldn’t refer to the document again unless you update the information regularly. Market trends are always changing, and although it’s tedious to update your report, doing so will ensure you get accurate insight into your competitors at all times.
Boost your marketing strategy with competitive analysis
Learning your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make you a better marketer. If you don’t know the competition you’re up against, you can’t beat them. Using competitive analysis can boost your marketing strategy and allow you to capture your target audience faster.
Competitive analysis must lead to action, which means following up on your findings with clear business goals and a strong business plan. Once you do your competitive analysis, you can use the templates below to put your plan into action.
How to create a winning marketing plan (with examples)
Project management software and tools: Your best picks for 2023
SWOT analysis: What it is and how to use it (with examples)
SMART Goals: How To Write Them and Why They Matter
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SWOT and Business Analysis Tools
SWOT Analysis For New Business Planning
Mar 12, 2018 by Kiesha Frue
You probably heard about SWOT analysis, that strategic tool used to identify S trengths, W eaknesses, O pportunities, and T hreats for products, ventures, or businesses.
With SWOT, companies can dive deep into their offerings and figure out the most effective way to plan, position, and execute processes or ideas . The information unlocked through the analysis is essential for all types of new business planning.
We plan because starting a business is hectic. It’s overwhelming. And incredibly stressful. You’ll find yourself working more than you sleep, but at the same time, feel like you’re not making any headway.
You could be, but in the wrong direction. SWOT analysis keeps businesses on the right track. And the best part is, anyone can do SWOT whenever they like. It doesn’t require any fancy tools (unless you’re into that).
Organization With SWOT And Strengths
New businesses are popping up every hour. We can thank the internet for that. More and more entrepreneurs are appearing because it’s much easier to develop a (digital) product and market it across the world . But it also means competition is high. Standing out as a business hasn’t ever been more complicated than right now.
For any business to succeed, a connection with others must be built. The company needs to offer something others can’t (or at least, better than others can). People stand out with slogans, mission statements, business names, the type of people they help, where they help, how they offer products… the list goes on. But that can also make it even more confusing for businesses to decide what to choose.
But that’s why we have SWOT. Before offering a product or service, companies must position themselves. If no one knows the company exists, is it successful? Typically, no. SWOT can help identify what it is about a business that’ll attract people. This is identified as the Strengths .
Consider these strengths.
- Who does the company help?
- Why do they help them?
- How can they help people better than anyone else?
- What is it that only the company can offer someone?
This can be a point of view or even an experience. Not every strength has to be tangible. Think about luxury brands. Buy a watch not just because it looks good. But because it makes them feel great. They look and feel wealthy, like they’re high up the social ladder.
Every customer loves a good story. Let’s make one up.
A company knits tiny sweaters for abandoned kittens. Okay, but what else?
The sweaters help these little kittens, abandoned by their mother, survive. Without the sweater, they won’t outlast the frigid cold temperatures close to Christmas. When you purchase this sweater, it gives tiny kittens a fighting chance to survive the holidays. Only then can they be adopted into their forever homes.
That’s cute. People love kittens, they love the idea of teeny-tiny sweaters on equally tiny kittens, and customers can help them survive by purchasing. It’s heartwarming. The customer also becomes the hero. It can make the company offering the product stand out with ease.
Who does the company help? If they help women, that’s incredibly generic. Are they single mothers? Or freshly graduated from high school? Are they over 50 or under? Do they live in a certain part of the world? What’s their specific problem?
The more niche the customer, the easier it can be for new businesses to position themselves. But only if it makes sense to what they’re offering .
And The Weaknesses
Did you know you can examine the above for weaknesses – or the W in SWOT – like strengths? Take the kitty sweater story/mission statement. Look at it with the eye of a critical customer. Would customers really care about helping defenseless kittens? What would prevent them from caring? What about people who decide they can knit these sweaters themselves – should they be convinced to buy from the company anyway?
The thing about weaknesses is that anyone can bring them up . But new companies should aim to be the first. Why? Because if the company understands their weaknesses before others realize they exist, companies have a better chance at fixing the problems or addressing them when brought up. It puts the company in the driver seat, able to control the communication and line of thinking.
New Businesses Require Opportunities
Opportunities are the third section of SWOT analysis. It can be incredibly crucial for new businesses to identify potential opportunities. It only takes one to take that step towards success.
Opportunities are everywhere. Many companies create their own. They pair up with other companies to promote limited-time products. Sometimes they’ll promote each other (and products) through marketing or in-person events. But it’s not always about a big display or requiring cash flow.
We see new companies create opportunities with guerilla campaigns. Businesses with small marketing budgets do something “big” to grab attention . It often costs little but can put a company at the top of their customers’ mind. Additionally, companies also use user-generated content (UGC). This is where customers are able to use products and showcase results or reviews online (popular on social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat).
An Example of UGC
Makeup brands capitalize on this method often. They’ll offer a product, create a hashtag, and encourage customers to share makeup looks, tutorials, and reviews of the product. The customer includes the hashtag in their post and the company takes snapshots to show off. It builds social proof; people enjoy and use the product regularly. And it doesn’t cost the company much at all.
Make a list of the type of opportunities a new company can use. It can be in-person, a focus on networking, or something the company themselves can create like hashtags mixed with customer input .
The Threats That Could End It All
A weakness is a tiny hole in a plan. But a threat (the T in SWOT) is always lurking, ready to rip those holes wide open and destroy new businesses before they even launch. The competition is a common threat, as is changing laws, regulations, or the state of the economy. It can be bad reviews or press . It can even be the customers themselves.
Knowing what outside influences could lead to the demise of a new business is the best way to prepare. A PESTLE analysis will be extremely beneficial since it examines how political, economic, social (customer), technological, legal, and environmental factors will affect the company. These factors can’t be changed easily, making them an endless threat if not factored into the business plan .
New businesses must identify critical threats before any new launch. Think of it this way: What is the one thing that could happen that’ll completely ruin our new business? Right it down. Decide how to deal with it. Then start thinking about the smaller threats.
If you identify threats ahead of time, you have plenty of time to create a plan of action if Dooms Day arrives.
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How To Write a SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan
An acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, a SWOT Analysis is designed to help you analyze your company’s capabilities against the realities of your business environment. Doing so allows you to direct your business toward areas where your abilities are the strongest and your opportunities are abundant. It also allows you to develop short and long-term strategies for your business. A well-developed SWOT analysis will:
- capture business opportunities by capitalizing on business strengths
- overcome weaknesses to take advantage of business opportunities
- monitor potentially threatening outside forces while maintaining or developing internal strength response capabilities
- eliminate weaknesses to protect your business from threats
Writing a SWOT Analysis
When writing your SWOT Analysis, we recommend involving employees with different perspectives and stakes in your company, for example, management, sales, customer service, and customers.
To write a SWOT Analysis for a business plan, we recommend following these four steps. You can use a four-square SWOT Analysis template, or if more manageable, you can make lists for each category.
Example of a four-square template:
After you’ve gathered the right group of employees together, brainstorm your company’s strengths and weaknesses and its opportunities and threats, first individually and then collectively.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company and can change over time with work. Examples of internal factors include:
- Company culture
- Company image
- Operational efficiency
- Operational capacity
- Brand awareness
- Market share
- Financial resources
- Organizational structure
Opportunities and threats are external, happening whether you want them to or not, and can’t be changed. Examples of external factors include:
- Societal changes
- Economic environment
- Government regulations
- Market trends
Strengths refer to the positive, tangible and intangible attributes internal to your company that are within your control.
To help you determine what your company’s strengths are, ask yourself:
- What does the company do well?
- The positive attributes of your employees (knowledge, background, education, credentials, network, reputation, or skills)
- The tangible assets of the company (capital, credit, existing customers or distribution channels, patents, or technology)
- What advantages does the company have over our competitors?
- Do we have strong research and development capabilities? What about manufacturing facilities?
- What other positive aspects, internal to the business, add value or offer us a competitive advantage?
Any aspect of your business that detracts from the value you offer or places you at a competitive disadvantage is a weakness. To determine your company’s weaknesses, ask yourself these questions:
- What factors detract from a competitive edge?
- To accomplish my objectives or compete with my strongest competitor, what areas need to improve?
- What does the business lack? Is it expertise? Maybe it’s access to skills or technology?
- Does the company have limited resources?
- Is my business in a poor location?
Opportunities are attractive external factors that denote reasons your business is likely to thrive. To identify your business opportunities, ask yourself:
- What opportunities are there in my market or my environment that I can benefit from?
- Does my business have a positive perception?
- Has my market recently grown, or have there been other changes that have created an opportunity?
- Is this opportunity ongoing or time-limited? How critical is my timing?
Any external factor beyond your control that could place your strategy, or the business itself, at risk is a threat. Although you have no control over threats, you can benefit by having a contingency plan to address them if and when they occur. To identify threats, ask yourself:
- Who are my existing or potential competitors?
- What factors beyond my control could place my business at risk?
- Are there challenges created by an unfavourable trend or development that could lead to declining revenues or profits?
- What situations could threaten my marketing efforts?
- Have supplier prices or the availability of raw materials significantly changed?
- Are there any shifts in consumer behaviour, the economy, or government regulations that could reduce my sales?
- Are any of my products, equipment, or services obsolete due to the introduction of a new product or technology in the market?
Once you’ve brainstormed your lists of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, we recommend ranking them through a voting process. At the end of this process, you should have a prioritized list of ideas, with one person, usually the CEO, having the final call on priority.
Divide your strengths into two groups:
- Group 1: Strengths that can help you take advantage of opportunities facing your business.
- Group 2: Strengths that can help you head off potential threats.
Divide your weaknesses into two groups:
- Group 1: Weaknesses that require improvement before you can take advantage of opportunities.
- Group 2: Weaknesses that you need to completely and quickly overhaul and convert into strengths to avert potential threats to your business.
Continually refer to your lists as you make decisions that contribute to your business, including developing strategies and actions for capitalizing on opportunities. Questions that can guide your decision making include:
- Do strengths open any opportunities?
- How can we convert weaknesses to strengths?
- What do we have to do to take advantage of opportunities?
- How can we best neutralize threats?
SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan Conclusion
Once you have finalized your SWOT Analysis and added it to your business plan, don’t just leave it and forget it. A SWOT Analysis is a crucial element in any business plan and should be revisited regularly, at least annually.
Suppose your business is facing significant changes in the marketplace or competitive conditions, experiencing growth problems, or failing to meet goals. In that case, you may want to revisit your SWOT Analysis more frequently.
It should reflect the world around you as it is, not the way it was. It’s an invaluable tool for leveraging your company’s strengths, minimizing threats, taking advantage of available opportunities, strategic planning, and determining company objectives.
At Bsbcon, we are available to provide support and guidance with your company’s SWOT Analysis, ensuring that it reflects the current state of your business and considers all factors needed to ensure your business’s short and long-term goals and successes. Once your SWOT Analysis is complete, we will work with you to incorporate it seamlessly into your business plan.
Each of our business plans are tailor-made (no templates or plugins!) and designed to be easily implementable in practice. We have business plans for bank loans, investors, strategic purposes, immigration, and more.
Contact us today to get started on accomplishing everything you’ve dreamed with consumer-tested, expert panel-approved business plans that outline your steps to success.
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- SWOT Analysis Checklist
The SWOT Analysis Checklist is a tool used to evaluate a project or plan. It helps identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a proposed project. The checklist can be used to identify the internal and external factors that could influence the project’s success. The SWOT Analysis Checklist helps organizations identify potential risks and provides an overview of the project’s potential. It is useful in decision-making and in developing a strategy for the project. The checklist can also be used to identify potential areas of improvement. Ultimately, the SWOT Analysis Checklist provides an overview of the project and can be used to ensure success.
- Not Completed
- Need Review
- Not Applicable (N/A)
- Identify your objectives
- Gather data and information related to the internal and external environment
- Identify the strengths of your organization
- Identify the weaknesses of your organization
- Identify the opportunities available to your organization
- Identify the threats that may be posed to your organization
- Develop strategies to capitalize on strengths and minimize weaknesses
- Develop strategies to take advantage of opportunities and reduce threats
- Analyze the data and generate a SWOT report
- Develop an action plan to address the identified issues
- Management Essentials
You may be also interested in
- PEST Analysis Checklist
- Market Analysis Checklist
- Cost Analysis Checklist
- Risk Analysis Checklist
- Competitor Analysis Checklist
- Financial Analysis Checklist
Frequently Asked Questions
What is swot analysis, swot analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization or project. it is a way of examining the internal and external factors that may affect the organization’s performance., how is swot analysis used, swot analysis can be used to identify the internal and external factors that influence the success of an organization or project. it can also be used to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of an organization or project, as well as to identify opportunities and threats that may affect its performance., what are the steps involved in swot analysis, the steps involved in swot analysis are: identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; analyzing each element; and developing strategies to address each element., what are some potential outcomes of swot analysis, potential outcomes of swot analysis include increased efficiency, improved customer service, better decision-making, and improved strategic planning..
Free Excel Templates, Dashboards, Calculators and Tutorials
Download Business Plan Checklist (with SWOT) Free Excel Template
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- SWOT Analysis
- Checklist / List , Template
- Business Plan Checklist (with SWOT)
- Download The Template File
- Extract The Zipped File
- Use the Template
Pool Repair Job Commission Sheet
Project risk management plan, project risk register, operational risk register, marketing project plan, occupational health and safety risk register.
Using this Business Plan Checklist, you can assign owners and completion dates to the key activities. These activities can be based on things and items that needs to be performed when preparing a formal business plan. This business plan checklist adopts SWOT analysis Framework.
Download SWOT Analysis Excel Templates and Tutorials
You can also explore other similar tutorials and excel templates on SWOT analysis to enhance your knowledge and get more ideas on doing it –
- SWOT Analysis for Beginners
- SWOT Analysis with Questionnaires
- Business Plan Idea Checklist (With SWOT Analysis)
- SWOT analysis Tutorial
What is SWOT ANALYSIS ?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and so a SWOT Analysis is a technique for assessing these four aspects of your business. You can use SWOT Analysis to make the most of what you’ve got, to your organization’s best advantage.
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