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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.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
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SWOT analysis: Examples and templates
A SWOT analysis helps you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for a specific project or your overall business plan. It’s used for strategic planning and to stay ahead of market trends. Below, we describe each part of the SWOT framework and show you how to conduct your own.
Whether you’re looking for external opportunities or internal strengths, we’ll walk you through how to perform your own SWOT analysis, with helpful examples along the way.
What is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a technique used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your business or even a specific project. It’s most widely used by organizations—from small businesses and non-profits to large enterprises—but a SWOT analysis can be used for personal purposes as well.
While simple, a SWOT analysis is a powerful tool for helping you identify competitive opportunities for improvement. It helps you improve your team and business while staying ahead of market trends.
What does SWOT stand for?
SWOT is an acronym that stands for:
When analyzed together, the SWOT framework can paint a larger picture of where you are and how to get to the next step. Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these terms and how they can help identify areas of improvement.
Strengths in SWOT refer to internal initiatives that are performing well. Examining these areas helps you understand what’s already working. You can then use the techniques that you know work—your strengths—in other areas that might need additional support, like improving your team’s efficiency .
When looking into the strengths of your organization, ask yourself the following questions:
What do we do well? Or, even better: What do we do best?
What’s unique about our organization?
What does our target audience like about our organization?
Which categories or features beat out our competitors?
Example SWOT strength:
Customer service: Our world-class customer service has an NPS score of 90 as compared to our competitors, who average an NPS score of 70.
Weaknesses in SWOT refer to internal initiatives that are underperforming. It’s a good idea to analyze your strengths before your weaknesses in order to create a baseline for success and failure. Identifying internal weaknesses provides a starting point for improving those projects.
Identify the company’s weaknesses by asking:
Which initiatives are underperforming and why?
What can be improved?
What resources could improve our performance?
How do we rank against our competitors?
Example SWOT weakness:
E-commerce visibility: Our website visibility is low because of a lack of marketing budget , leading to a decrease in mobile app transactions.
Opportunities in SWOT result from your existing strengths and weaknesses, along with any external initiatives that will put you in a stronger competitive position. These could be anything from weaknesses that you’d like to improve or areas that weren’t identified in the first two phases of your analysis.
Since there are multiple ways to come up with opportunities, it’s helpful to consider these questions before getting started:
What resources can we use to improve weaknesses?
Are there market gaps in our services?
What are our business goals for the year?
What do your competitors offer?
Example SWOT opportunities:
Marketing campaign: To improve brand visibility, we’ll run ad campaigns on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Threats in SWOT are areas with the potential to cause problems. Different from weaknesses, threats are external and out of your control. This can include anything from a global pandemic to a change in the competitive landscape.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to identify external threats:
What changes in the industry are cause for concern?
What new market trends are on the horizon?
Where are our competitors outperforming us?
Example SWOT threats:
New competitor: With a new e-commerce competitor set to launch within the next month, we could see a decline in customers.
SWOT analysis example
One of the most popular ways to create a SWOT analysis is through a SWOT matrix—a visual representation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The matrix comprises four separate squares that create one larger square.
A SWOT matrix is great for collecting information and documenting the questions and decision-making process . Not only will it be handy to reference later on, but it’s also great for visualizing any patterns that arise.
Check out the SWOT matrix below for a simple example. As you can see, each of the quadrants lists out the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
When used correctly and effectively, your matrix can be a great toolkit for evaluating your organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
How to do a SWOT analysis, with examples
A SWOT analysis can be conducted in a variety of ways. Some teams like to meet and throw ideas on a whiteboard, while others prefer the structure of a SWOT matrix. However you choose to make your SWOT analysis, getting creative with your planning process allows new ideas to flow and results in more unique solutions.
There are a few ways to ensure that your SWOT analysis is thorough and done correctly. Let’s take a closer look at some tips to help you get started.
Tip 1: Consider internal factors
Often, strengths and weaknesses stem from internal processes. These tend to be easier to solve since you have more control over the outcome. When you come across internal factors, you can start implementing improvements in a couple of different ways.
Meet with department stakeholders to form a business plan around how to improve your current situation.
Research and implement new tools, such as a project management tool , that can help streamline these processes for you.
Take immediate action on anything that can be changed in 24 hours or less. If you don’t have the capacity, consider delegating these items to others with deadlines.
The way you go about solving internal factors will depend on the type of problem. If it’s more complex, you might need to use a combination of the above or a more thorough problem management process.
Tip 2: Evaluate external factors
External factors stem from processes outside of your control. This includes competitors, market trends, and anything else that’s affecting your organization from the outside in.
External factors are trickier to solve, as you can’t directly control the outcome. What you can do is pivot your own processes in a way that mitigates negative external factors.
You can work to solve these issues by:
Competing with market trends
Forecasting market trends before they happen
Improving adaptability to improve your reaction time
Track competitors using reporting tools that automatically update you as soon as changes occur
While you won’t be able to control an external environment, you can control how your organization reacts to it.
Let’s say, for instance, that you’re looking to compete with a market trend. For example, a competitor introduced a new product to the market that’s outperforming your own. While you can’t take that product away, you can work to launch an even better product or marketing campaign to mitigate any decline in sales.
Tip 3: Hold a brainstorming session
Brainstorming new and innovative ideas can help to spur creativity and inspire action. To host a high impact brainstorming session, you’ll want to:
Invite team members from various departments. That way, ideas from each part of the company are represented.
Be intentional about the number of team members you invite, since too many participants could lead to a lack of focus or participation. The sweet spot for a productive brainstorming session is around 10 teammates.
Use different brainstorming techniques that appeal to different work types.
Set a clear intention for the session.
Tip 4: Get creative
In order to generate creative ideas, you have to first invite them. That means creating fun ways to come up with opportunities. Try randomly selecting anonymous ideas, talking through obviously bad examples, or playing team building games to psych up the team.
Tip 5: Prioritize opportunities
Now, rank the opportunities. This can be done as a team or with a smaller group of leaders. Talk through each idea and rank it on a scale of one through 10. Once you’ve agreed on your top ideas based on team capabilities, competencies, and overall impact, it’s easier to implement them.
Tip 6: Take action
It’s all too easy to feel finished at this stage —but the actual work is just beginning. After your SWOT analysis, you’ll have a list of prioritized opportunities. Now is the time to turn them into strengths. Use a structured system such as a business case , project plan, or implementation plan to outline what needs to get done—and how you plan to do it.
SWOT analysis template
A SWOT analysis template is often presented in a grid format, divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents one of the four elements.
Use this free SWOT analysis template to jump-start your team’s strategic planning.
Identify the strengths that contribute to achieving your objectives. These are internal characteristics that give you an advantage. Some examples could be a strong brand reputation, an innovative culture, or an experienced management team.
Next, focus on weaknesses. These are internal factors that could serve as obstacles to achieving your objectives. Common examples might include a lack of financial resources, high operational costs, or outdated technology.
Move on to the opportunities. These are external conditions that could be helpful in achieving your goals. For example, you might be looking at emerging markets, increased demand, or favorable shifts in regulations.
Lastly, let's address threats. These are external conditions that could negatively impact your objectives. Examples include increased competition or potential economic downturns.
Why is a SWOT analysis important?
A SWOT analysis can help you improve processes and plan for growth. While similar to a competitive analysis , it differs because it evaluates both internal and external factors. Analyzing key areas around these opportunities and threats will equip you with the insights needed to set your team up for success.
A SWOT analysis isn’t only useful for organizations. With a personal SWOT analysis, you can examine areas of your life that could benefit from improvement, from your leadership style to your communication skills. These are the benefits of using a SWOT analysis in any scenario.
1. Identifies areas of opportunity
One of the biggest benefits of conducting an analysis is to determine opportunities for growth. It’s a great starting point for startups and teams that know they want to improve but aren’t exactly sure how to get started.
Opportunities can come from many different avenues, like external factors such as diversifying your products for competitive advantage or internal factors like improving your team’s workflow . Either way, capitalizing on opportunities is an excellent way to grow as a team.
2. Identifies areas that could be improved
Identifying weaknesses and threats during a SWOT analysis can pave the way for a better business strategy.
Ultimately, learning from your mistakes is the best way to excel. Once you find areas to streamline, you can work with team members to brainstorm an action plan . This will let you use what you already know works and build on your company’s strengths.
3. Identifies areas that could be at risk
Whether you have a risk register in place or not, it’s always crucial to identify risks before they become a cause for concern. A SWOT analysis can help you stay on top of actionable items that may play a part in your risk decision-making process.
It may be beneficial to pair your SWOT analysis with a PEST analysis, which examines external solutions such as political, economic, social, and technological factors—all of which can help you identify and plan for project risks .
When should you use a SWOT analysis?
You won’t always need an in-depth SWOT analysis. It’s most useful for large, general overviews of situations, scenarios, or your business.
A SWOT analysis is most helpful:
Before you implement a large change—including as part of a larger change management plan
When you launch a new company initiative
If you’d like to identify opportunities for growth and improvement
Any time you want a full overview of your business performance
If you need to identify business performance from different perspectives
SWOT analyses are general for a reason—so they can be applied to almost any scenario, project, or business.
SWOT analysis: Pros and cons
Although SWOT is a useful strategic planning tool for businesses and individuals alike, it does have limitations. Here’s what you can expect.
The simplicity of SWOT analysis makes it a go-to tool for many. Because it is simple, it takes the mystery out of strategic planning and lets people think critically about their situations without feeling overwhelmed.
For instance, a small bakery looking to expand its operations can use SWOT analysis to easily understand its current standing. Identifying strengths like a loyal customer base, weaknesses such as limited seating space, opportunities like a rising trend in artisanal baked goods, and threats from larger chain bakeries nearby can all be accomplished without any specialized knowledge or technical expertise.
Its versatile nature allows SWOT analysis to be used across various domains. Whether it’s a business strategizing for the future or an individual planning their career path, SWOT analysis lends itself well.
For example, a tech start-up in the competitive Silicon Valley landscape could employ SWOT to navigate its pathway to profitability. Strengths might include a highly skilled development team; weaknesses could be a lack of brand recognition; opportunities might lie in emerging markets; and threats could include established tech giants.
SWOT excels in identifying external factors that could impact performance. It nudges organizations to look beyond the present and anticipate potential future scenarios.
A retail company, for example, could use SWOT analysis to identify opportunities in e-commerce and threats from changing consumer behavior or new competitors entering the market. By doing so, the company can strategize on how to leverage online platforms to boost sales and counteract threats by enhancing the customer experience or adopting new technologies.
Subjectivity and bias
The subjective nature of SWOT analysis may lead to biases. It relies heavily on individual perceptions, which can sometimes overlook crucial data or misinterpret information, leading to skewed conclusions.
For example, a manufacturing company might undervalue the threat of new entrants in the market due to an overconfidence bias among the management. This subjectivity might lead to a lack of preparation for competitive pricing strategies, ultimately affecting the company's market share.
Lack of prioritization
SWOT analysis lays out issues but falls short on prioritizing them. Organizations might struggle to identify which elements deserve immediate attention and resources.
For instance, a healthcare provider identifying numerous opportunities for expansion into new services may become overwhelmed with the choices. Without a clear way to rank these opportunities, resources could be spread too thinly or given to projects that do not have as much of an impact, leading to less-than-ideal outcomes.
Since SWOT analysis captures a snapshot at a particular moment, it may miss the evolving nature of challenges and opportunities, possibly leading to outdated strategies. An example could be a traditional retail business that performs a SWOT analysis and decides to focus on expanding physical stores, overlooking the growing trend of e-commerce. As online shopping continues to evolve and gain popularity, the static analysis might lead to investment in areas with diminishing returns while missing out on the booming e-commerce market trend.
SWOT analysis FAQ
What are the five elements of swot analysis.
Traditionally, SWOT stands for its four main elements: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. However, a fifth essential element often overlooked is "actionable strategies." Originally developed by Albert Humphrey, SWOT is more than just a list—it's a planning tool designed to generate actionable strategies for making informed business decisions. This fifth element serves to tie the other four together, enabling departments like human resources and marketing to turn analysis into actionable plans.
What should a SWOT analysis include?
A comprehensive SWOT analysis should focus on the internal and external factors that affect your organization. Internally, consider your strong brand and product line as your strengths, and maybe your supply chain weaknesses. Externally, you'll want to look at market share, partnerships, and new technologies that could either pose opportunities or threats. You should also account for demographics, as it helps in market targeting and segmentation.
How do you write a good SWOT analysis?
Writing an effective SWOT analysis begins with research. Start by identifying your strengths, like a strong brand, and your weaknesses, like a small human resources department. Following that, look outward to find opportunities, possibly in technological advancement, and threats, like fluctuations in market share. Many businesses find it helpful to use a free SWOT analysis template to structure this information. A good SWOT analysis doesn't just list these elements; it integrates them to provide a clear roadmap for making business decisions.
What are four examples of threats in SWOT analysis?
New technologies: Rapid technological advancement can make your product or service obsolete.
Supply chain disruptions: Whether due to natural disasters or geopolitical tensions, an unstable supply chain can seriously jeopardize your operations.
Emerging competitors: New players entering the market can erode your market share and offer alternative solutions to your customer base.
Regulatory changes: New laws or regulations can add costs and complexity to your business, affecting your competitiveness.
How do you use a SWOT analysis?
Once you've completed a SWOT analysis, use the results as a decision-making aid. It can help prioritize actions, develop strategic plans that play to your strengths, improve weaknesses, seize opportunities, and counteract threats. It’s a useful tool for setting objectives and creating a roadmap for achieving them.
Plan for growth with a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis can be an effective technique for identifying key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Understanding where you are now can be the most impactful way to determine where you want to go next.
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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.
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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 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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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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Personal swot analysis, swot analysis video.
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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What Is a SWOT Analysis and How to Do It Right (With Examples)
Posted february 2, 2021 by noah parsons.
A SWOT analysis is an incredibly simple, yet powerful tool to help you develop your business strategy, whether you’re building a startup or guiding an existing company.
What is a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company—things that you have some control over and can change. Examples include who is on your team, your patents and intellectual property, and your location.
Opportunities and threats are external—things that are going on outside your company, in the larger market. You can take advantage of opportunities and protect against threats, but you can’t change them. Examples include competitors, prices of raw materials, and customer shopping trends.
A SWOT analysis organizes your top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats into an organized list and is usually presented in a simple two-by-two grid. Go ahead and download our free template if you just want to dive right in and get started.
Why do a SWOT Analysis?
When you take the time to do a SWOT analysis, you’ll be armed with a solid strategy for prioritizing the work that you need to do to grow your business.
You may think that you already know everything that you need to do to succeed, but a SWOT analysis will force you to look at your business in new ways and from new directions. You’ll look at your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can leverage those to take advantage of the opportunities and threats that exist in your market.
Who should do a SWOT Analysis?
For a SWOT analysis to be effective, company founders and leaders need to be deeply involved. This isn’t a task that can be delegated to others.
But, company leadership shouldn’t do the work on their own , either. For best results, you’ll want to gather a group of people who have different perspectives on the company. Select people who can represent different aspects of your company, from sales and customer service to marketing and product development. Everyone should have a seat at the table.
Innovative companies even look outside their own internal ranks when they perform a SWOT analysis and get input from customers to add their unique voice to the mix.
If you’re starting or running a business on your own, you can still do a SWOT analysis. Recruit additional points of view from friends who know a little about your business, your accountant, or even vendors and suppliers. The key is to have different points of view.
Existing businesses can use a SWOT analysis to assess their current situation and determine a strategy to move forward . But, remember that things are constantly changing and you’ll want to reassess your strategy, starting with a new SWOT analysis every six to 12 months.
For startups, a SWOT analysis is part of the business planning process. It’ll help codify a strategy so that you start off on the right foot and know the direction that you plan to go.
How to do a SWOT analysis the right way
As I mentioned above, you want to gather a team of people together to work on a SWOT analysis. You don’t need an all-day retreat to get it done, though. One or two hours should be more than plenty.
1. Gather the right people
Gather people from different parts of your company and make sure that you have representatives from every department and team. You’ll find that different groups within your company will have entirely different perspectives that will be critical to making your SWOT analysis successful.
2. Throw your ideas at the wall
Doing a SWOT analysis is similar to brainstorming meetings, and there are right and wrong ways to run them. I suggest giving everyone a pad of sticky-notes and have everyone quietly generate ideas on their own to start things off. This prevents groupthink and ensures that all voices are heard.
After five to 10 minutes of private brainstorming, put all the sticky-notes up on the wall and group similar ideas together. Allow anyone to add additional notes at this point if someone else’s idea sparks a new thought.
3. Rank the ideas
Once all of the ideas are organized, it’s time to rank the ideas. I like using a voting system where everyone gets five or ten “votes” that they can distribute in any way they like. Sticky dots in different colors are useful for this portion of the exercise.
Based on the voting exercise, you should have a prioritized list of ideas. Of course, the list is now up for discussion and debate, and someone in the room should be able to make the final call on the priority. This is usually the CEO, but it could be delegated to someone else in charge of business strategy.
You’ll want to follow this process of generating ideas for each of the four quadrants of your SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Questions that can help inspire your analysis
Here are a few questions that you can ask your team when you’re building your SWOT analysis. These questions can help explain each section and spark creative thinking.
Strengths are internal, positive attributes of your company. These are things that are within your control.
- What business processes are successful?
- What assets do you have in your teams? (ie. knowledge, education, network, skills, and reputation)
- What physical assets do you have, such as customers, equipment, technology, cash, and patents?
- What competitive advantages do you have over your competition?
Weaknesses are negative factors that detract from your strengths. These are things that you might need to improve on to be competitive.
- Are there things that your business needs to be competitive?
- What business processes need improvement?
- Are there tangible assets that your company needs, such as money or equipment?
- Are there gaps on your team?
- Is your location ideal for your success?
Opportunities are external factors in your business environment that are likely to contribute to your success.
- Is your market growing and are there trends that will encourage people to buy more of what you are selling?
- Are there upcoming events that your company may be able to take advantage of to grow the business?
- Are there upcoming changes to regulations that might impact your company positively?
- If your business is up and running, do customers think highly of you?
Threats are external factors that you have no control over. You may want to consider putting in place contingency plans for dealing with them if they occur.
- Do you have potential competitors who may enter your market?
- Will suppliers always be able to supply the raw materials you need at the prices you need?
- Could future developments in technology change how you do business?
- Is consumer behavior changing in a way that could negatively impact your business?
- Are there market trend s that could become a threat?
SWOT Analysis example
To help you get a better sense of what at SWOT example actually looks like, we’re going to look at UPer Crust Pies, a specialty meat and fruit pie cafe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They sell hot, ready-to-go pies and frozen take-home options, as well as an assortment of fresh salads and beverages.
The company is planning to open its first location in downtown Yubetchatown and is very focused on developing a business model that will make it easy to expand quickly and that opens up the possibility of franchising. Here’s what their SWOT analysis might look like:
SWOT analysis for UPer Crust Pies
How to use your SWOT Analysis
With your SWOT analysis complete, you’re ready to convert it into a real strategy. After all, the exercise is about producing a strategy that you can work on during the next few months.
The first step is to look at your strengths and figure out how you can use those strengths to take advantage of your opportunities. Then, look at how your strengths can combat the threats that are in the market . Use this analysis to produce a list of actions that you can take.
With your action list in hand, look at your company calendar and start placing goals (or milestones) on it. What do you want to accomplish in each calendar quarter (or month) moving forward?
You’ll also want to do this by analyzing how external opportunities might help you combat your own, internal weaknesses. Can you also minimize those weaknesses so you can avoid the threats that you identified?
Again, you’ll have an action list that you’ll want to prioritize and schedule.
UPer Crust Pies — Potential strategies for growth
Back to the UPer Crust Pies example: Based on their SWOT analysis, here are a few potential strategies for growth to help you think through how to translate your SWOT into actionable goals.
- Investigate investors. UPer Crust Pies might investigate its options for obtaining capital.
- Create a marketing plan. Because UPer Crust Pies wants to execute a specific marketing strategy—targeting working families by emphasizing that their dinner option is both healthy and convenient—the company should develop a marketing plan.
- Plan a grand opening. A key piece of that marketing plan will be the store’s grand opening, and the promotional strategies necessary to get UPer Crust Pies’ target market in the door.
Next steps with your SWOT Analysis
With your goals and actions in hand, you’ll be a long way toward completing a strategic plan for your business. I like to use the Lean Planning methodology for strategic plans as well as regular business planning. The actions that you generate from your SWOT analysis will fit right into the milestones portion of your Lean Plan and will give you a concrete foundation that you can grow your business from. You can download our free Lean Plan template to help you get started.
If you have additional ideas for how a SWOT analysis can help your business and how it fits into your regular business planning, I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter @noahparsons .
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated for 2021.
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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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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:
Looking for more marketing resources?
- How to conduct a SWOT analysis in marketing (+examples)
- The complete guide to marketing infographics
- How to use SEO in your visual marketing
- How to make a marketing plan
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?
- Business letterhead templates
- Mind map templates
- Business pitch deck templates
- How to write a project plan
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.
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.
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How to Do a SWOT Analysis for Better Strategic Planning
6 min. read
Updated October 27, 2023
Conducting a SWOT analysis of your business is a lot more fun than it sounds. It won’t take much time, and doing it forces you to think about your business in a whole new way.
The point of a SWOT analysis is to help you develop a strong business strategy by making sure you’ve considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces in the marketplace.
- What is a SWOT analysis?
S.W.O.T. is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is an organized list of your business’s greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the company (think: reputation, patents, location). You can change them over time but not without some work. Opportunities and threats are external (think: suppliers, competitors, prices)—they are out there in the market, happening whether you like it or not. You can’t change them.
Existing businesses can use a SWOT analysis, at any time, to assess a changing environment and respond proactively. In fact, I recommend conducting a strategy review meeting at least once a year that begins with a SWOT analysis.
New businesses should use a SWOT analysis as a part of their planning process. There is no “one size fits all” plan for your business, and thinking about your new business in terms of its unique “SWOTs” will put you on the right track right away, and save you from a lot of headaches later on.
Looking to get started right away? Download our free SWOT Analysis template.
In this article, I will cover the following:
- How to conduct a SWOT analysis
- Questions to ask during a SWOT analysis
- Example of a SWOT analysis
- TOWS analysis: Developing strategies for your SWOT analysis
To get the most complete, objective results, a SWOT analysis is best conducted by a group of people with different perspectives and stakes in your company. Management, sales, customer service, and even customers can all contribute valid insight. Moreover, the SWOT analysis process is an opportunity to bring your team together and encourage their participation in and adherence to your company’s resulting strategy.
A SWOT analysis is typically conducted using a four-square SWOT analysis template, but you could also just make lists for each category. Use the method that makes it easiest for you to organize and understand the results.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
I recommend holding a brainstorming session to identify the factors in each of the four categories. Alternatively, you could ask team members to individually complete our free SWOT analysis template, and then meet to discuss and compile the results. As you work through each category, don’t be too concerned about elaborating at first; bullet points may be the best way to begin. Just capture the factors you believe are relevant in each of the four areas.
Once you are finished brainstorming, create a final, prioritized version of your SWOT analysis, listing the factors in each category in order of highest priority at the top to lowest priority at the bottom.
I’ve compiled some questions below to help you develop each section of your SWOT analysis. There are certainly other questions you could ask; these are just meant to get you started.
Strengths (internal, positive factors)
Strengths describe the positive attributes, tangible and intangible, internal to your organization. They are within your control.
- What do you do well?
- Positive attributes of people , such as knowledge, background, education, credentials, network, reputation, or skills.
- Tangible assets of the company , such as capital, credit, existing customers or distribution channels, patents, or technology.
- What advantages do you have over your competition?
- Do you have strong research and development capabilities? Manufacturing facilities?
- What other positive aspects, internal to your business, add value or offer you a competitive advantage?
Weaknesses (internal, negative factors)
Weaknesses are aspects of your business that detract from the value you offer or place you at a competitive disadvantage. You need to enhance these areas in order to compete with your best competitor.
- What factors that are within your control detract from your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive edge?
- What areas need improvement to accomplish your objectives or compete with your strongest competitor?
- What does your business lack (for example, expertise or access to skills or technology)?
- Does your business have limited resources?
- Is your business in a poor location?
Opportunities (external, positive factors)
Opportunities are external attractive factors that represent reasons your business is likely to prosper.
- What opportunities exist in your market or the environment that you can benefit from?
- Is the perception of your business positive?
- Has there been recent market growth or have there been other changes in the market the create an opportunity?
- Is the opportunity ongoing, or is there just a window for it? In other words, how critical is your timing?
Threats (external, negative factors)
Threats include external factors beyond your control that could place your strategy, or the business itself, at risk. You have no control over these, but you may benefit by having contingency plans to address them if they should occur.
- Who are your existing or potential competitors?
- What factors beyond your control could place your business at risk?
- Are there challenges created by an unfavorable trend or development that may lead to deteriorating revenues or profits?
- What situations might threaten your marketing efforts?
- Has there been a significant change in supplier prices or the availability of raw materials?
- What about shifts in consumer behavior, the economy, or government regulations that could reduce your sales?
- Has a new product or technology been introduced that makes your products, equipment, or services obsolete?
- Examples of a SWOT analysis
For illustration, here’s a brief SWOT example from a hypothetical, medium-sized computer store in the United States:
See our SWOT analysis examples article for in-depth examples of SWOT analyses for several different industries and business types or download our free SWOT analysis template .
- TOWS analysis: Developing strategies from your SWOT analysis
Once you have identified and prioritized your SWOT results, you can use them to develop short-term and long-term strategies for your business. After all, the true value of this exercise is in using the results to maximize the positive influences on your business and minimize the negative ones.
But how do you turn your SWOT results into strategies? One way to do this is to consider how your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats overlap with each other. This is sometimes called a TOWS analysis.
For example, look at the strengths you identified, and then come up with ways to use those strengths to maximize the opportunities (these are strength-opportunity strategies). Then, look at how those same strengths can be used to minimize the threats you identified (these are strength-threats strategies).
Continuing this process, use the opportunities you identified to develop strategies that will minimize the weaknesses (weakness-opportunity strategies) or avoid the threats (weakness-threats strategies).
The following table might help you organize the strategies in each area:
Once you’ve developed strategies and included them in your strategic plan, be sure to schedule regular review meetings. Use these meetings to talk about why the results of your strategies are different from what you’d planned (because they always will be) and decide what your team will do going forward.
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.
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Why You Need a SWOT Analysis for Your Business
Table of contents.
Understanding your company’s position within your market or industry and knowing how and where you can grow is critical for any business owner. This knowledge allows you to develop your company strategically rather than wasting your efforts trying to expand into a market that doesn’t align with your business or being steamrolled by a surprise competitor.
What is a SWOT analysis?
SWOT — which stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats” — is a type of analysis that helps you develop your business strategy by comparing internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) against external factors (opportunities and threats). Examples of internal factors include things that you have control over and can change, such as your staff or your intellectual property. External factors are things that you cannot control, such as consumer trends or competitors.
A traditional SWOT analysis takes your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and organizes them into a list that is presented in a 2 x 2 grid.
A SWOT analysis has four quadrants:
The analysis provides you with an accurate picture of what your business is currently doing well and how it can improve.
“[A SWOT analysis] gives you a firm grasp of what is affecting your business internally and externally,” said Lynne Pratt, creative content expert. “By carefully evaluating the analysis, a business can find new ways of progressing and achieving growth .”
Why should you do a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis gives you a detailed, unbiased overview of your business as a whole or a specific product or campaign. It can also help train your brain to consider every factor that could affect your project or business. When you’re facing a tough issue or if you’re just unsure of your current strategy, a SWOT analysis illuminates details so you can formulate actionable plans based on each of the four quadrants.
For example, if you were considering opening a new location for your business, you could run a SWOT analysis to see if you are in a good position to do so. You could also use it to identify outside factors that you will need to plan for.
“A SWOT analysis is useful so that you don’t get caught entirely off-guard,” said David LaVine, founder of RocLogic Marketing. “You [should] do a SWOT analysis for each application area you’re considering operating in.”
“We conduct [analyses] every six months as a rule in our business,” said Alistair Dodds, marketing director and co-founder of Ever Increasing Circles. “They act as a great check on how the competition has evolved in that time period.” [Discover five effective ways to differentiate your product .]
Who should conduct a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis should be a collaborative effort between several levels of employment within your company. Founders and leaders should be the most closely involved, but to gain a true picture of your business, gather input from a group of people that can contribute several perspectives.
“It’s vital to go through your analysis with key stakeholders,” said Dodds. “When you identify weaknesses, it’s a great time to get other department heads and staff to suggest solutions — you’ll be amazed at the creativity and problem-solving inherent in your team if they are given the opportunity [for] input.”
If you’re a solo operation, ask close friends or related professionals, such as your accountant, lawyer or advisor, for input. Having plenty of outside perspectives helps make your analysis as well-rounded and objective as possible.
How to do a SWOT analysis
The first step of a SWOT analysis is to create your grid. Start with strengths in the upper left corner, then weaknesses in the upper right corner, opportunities in the bottom left and threats at the bottom right of the grid.
Next, fill in each quadrant. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself questions that apply to each box. Here are some suggestions.
- What do you do well?
- What unique skills or services do you have?
- What experiences do you have that can help you achieve your goal?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- Where are you most profitable? Why?
- What aspects of your business could hinder your progress?
- What skills or resources are you lacking?
- What is costing you money?
- Is there anything you feel like you’re failing at?
- What can you improve?
- What external conditions can help you achieve your business goals ?
- Are there new audiences you could potentially reach?
- Is there technology you could use to enhance your business?
- Can you do more for your existing customers?
- Where or how could you expand your business?
- What external conditions could damage your progress or performance?
- What do your competitors do well?
- What are your competitors doing that you are not?
- What is going on in your industry?
- What is happening (or could happen) in the economy that could harm your business?
- Are there new competitors in your market?
- Is your target audience shrinking?
Here are some additional points to consider as you fill in your quadrants:
Your quadrants do not have to be perfect — you can always create multiple drafts of your analysis, editing what you have filled in as you go. Host a brainstorming meeting to complete your first draft.
After you have filled in the quadrants, review each quadrant and evaluate your results.
In preparation for these conversations, review some of the most important terms for business owners to enhance your ability to assess each area of the SWOT analysis and brainstorm solutions.
A SWOT analysis helps you consider aspects of your business you may have overlooked. This multifaceted exercise drives you to expand your thinking, create more strategic plans and produce better results as you achieve your goals.
How to evaluate your results
To evaluate your SWOT analysis effectively, start with your strengths and don’t brush them off, said Pratt. “You might feel that because you’ve got these nailed down that you don’t need to do anything with them, but this is wrong,” she said. “There is always room for improvement and working on your strengths, as well as [with] the [other quadrants], will help them remain your strengths.”
Next, look at your weaknesses and identify which aspects of your business each weakness is related to. For example, is poor customer retention due to staff? Location? Competitors? “Identify where the problem is coming from so you can begin to plan to address it,” said Pratt.
Then, you can see which of your threats are related to your weaknesses and if any of them are caused by something you can change. Try to connect your strengths to ways you can combat threats.
Finally, consider whether there are time constraints that could impact your opportunities. Are any of them short-term or seasonal? If so, make it a priority to hit those opportunities first and create an action plan for taking advantage of them.
Nathan Thompson, e-commerce and growth lead at The Others Beauty Co., said his company splits their business opportunities into short-, mid- and long-term goals. They set deadlines for each goal to ensure it gets done. “SWOT results should be analyzed and evaluated in order of actionability,” he said. “Having deadlines set for each milestone ensures accountability for all parties.”
As you’re evaluating your results, remember that your SWOT analysis is only a starting point, not an actionable plan. “Don’t confuse SWOT for strategy,” said Greg Githens, executive and leadership coach at Catalyst and Cadre. You are still responsible for developing a strategy that will take you from where you are to where you want to be, and SWOT provides a roadmap for that strategy.
A sample of SWOT in action
To see how SWOT analysis works, consider this example:
Soft-Touch makes pads that attach by Velcro to the plastic face mask worn by sleep apnea sufferers to help them breathe while they sleep. The company founder herself has sleep apnea, and she developed the product to increase the comfort of wearing the mask and to eliminate the marks it left on her face the following morning.
The company has largely grown its sales through word-of-mouth. A major sleep apnea equipment maker wants Soft-Touch to supply the pads for all of its masks. To satisfy the increased demand, Soft-Touch would have to outsource its manufacturing.
Here is a sample SWOT analysis for Soft-Touch as they consider this opportunity:
Notice that the SWOT analysis doesn’t provide an answer; rather, it provides a framework to help formulate an answer and allows you to see exactly what the opportunities are (an expanded market share and increased revenue), what weaknesses currently limit the company (lack of funding and marketing expertise, limited manufacturing capacity), its current strengths (unique proposition and trusted brand) and the threats it could face if it takes the opportunity (less control and need for financing).
“Taking time to think strategically will lead to ways you can streamline to get more done as well as take your business into new directions that can benefit (or even save) the company,” said Joshua Ladick, president of GSA Focus.
Additional reporting by Sean Peek.
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How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Small Business
Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps a business owner identify his/her strengths and weaknesses, as well as any opportunities and threats that may exist in a specific business situation. A SWOT analysis is most commonly used as part of a marketing plan, but it is also a good tool for general business strategizing and serves as a starting point for team discussions.
When conducted thoroughly, a SWOT analysis can uncover a wealth of information and can be useful in a number of situations. This article will walk you through how to conduct a SWOT analysis and provide some tips that will help you use the tool effectively.
Using a SWOT Analysis Matrix
A SWOT matrix is usually depicted as a square divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents one element of the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Questions to Ask During the Process
The easiest way to start filling in each quadrant is by answering a series of questions. Use the list below to get started, focusing on the questions that are most relevant to your business and current situation.
Strengths: For this quadrant, think about your and your business's attributes that will help you achieve your objective. Questions to consider:
- What do you do well?
- What are your unique skills?
- What expert or specialized knowledge do you have?
- What experience do you have?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- Where are you most profitable in your business?
Weaknesses: For this quadrant, think about the your and your business's attributes that could hurt your progress in achieving your objective. Questions to consider:
- In what areas do you need to improve?
- What resources do you lack?
- What parts of your business are not profitable?
- Where do you need further education and/or experience?
- What costs you time and/or money?
Opportunities: For this quadrant, think about the external conditions that will help you achieve your objective. Questions to consider:
- What are the business goals you are currently working towards?
- How can you do more with your existing customers or clients?
- How can you use technology to enhance your business?
- Are there new target audiences you have the potential to reach?
- Are there related products and services that provide an opportunity for your business?
Threats: For this quadrant, think about the external conditions that could damage your business's performance. Questions to consider:
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?
- What are your competitors doing that you're not?
- What's going on in the economy?
- What's going on in the industry?
Using Data Compiled in a SWOT Analysis
One of the most important parts of your SWOT analysis is using the data you compiled to identify new strategies and goals for your business. For example, you can:
- Create a plan to build up your strengths even more.
- List ways you can work on building up your weaknesses.
- Set SMART goals for each of the opportunities you identified.
- Devise a plan to use your strengths to decrease the threats you identified.
Then, look for ways to combine data from different quadrants in even more ways:
- Explore how you can combine your strengths and opportunities to develop new strategies.
- Try combining strengths and threats to identify threats you can eliminate.
- Look at your weaknesses and opportunities to create a list of areas ready for improvement.
- Make a list of areas to avoid that fall under weaknesses and threats.
Once you understand how to compile your SWOT data and find ways to use it strategically, the SWOT analysis will be a tool that you can use over and over in your business to explore new opportunities and improve your decision-making process.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Swot analysis: how to strengthen your business plan.
Every business, big or small needs a solid plan to succeed. A well-constructed business plan takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of a company and the opportunities and threats present in the marketplace. One of the most useful tools for assessing these factors is the SWOT analysis as it provides a comprehensive overview of a company's current situation and potential for growth. In this article, we will discuss what a SWOT analysis is, why it is important for businesses, who should conduct it, and how to conduct it effectively.
What is a SWOT analysis?
Have you ever wondered how businesses manage to evaluate all the internal and external factors that could affect their success? Welcome to the SWOT analysis. It's a strategic planning tool that helps businesses identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths refer to internal factors that give a company an edge over its competitors. Think of a strong brand, loyal customer base, experienced employees, or efficient operations. Weaknesses, on the other hand, are internal factors that put a company at a disadvantage. These could be a weak brand, lack of funding, inexperienced employees, or outdated technology .
But what about external factors that could impact a business's success? That's where Opportunities and Threats come in. Opportunities are external factors that could help a company grow and succeed. This could include a growing market, new trends, technological advancements, or changes in regulations. Threats, on the other hand, are external factors that could harm a company's growth and success. Examples of threats could be economic downturns, increased competition, changes in consumer behavior, or natural disasters.
By conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses can make informed decisions about their strategic initiatives. By focusing their resources on areas with the greatest potential for growth and competitive advantage, businesses can increase their profitability, market share, and long-term success. So, whether you're a business strategist, executive, manager, or consultant, SWOT analysis can provide a fresh perspective on your company's current situation and potential for growth .
Why is a SWOT analysis important for businesses?
A SWOT analysis is essential for developing a business plan that maximizes a company's strengths, minimizes its weaknesses, and takes advantage of opportunities while mitigating threats.
Here are some of the reasons why a SWOT analysis is important for businesses:
- Identifies key areas for improvement By conducting the SWOT analysis, businesses can gain a better understanding of their internal weaknesses and external threats, which enables them to prioritize areas for improvement. They can then focus their resources and efforts on those areas, which can help them become more competitive and improve their overall performance.
- Maximizes the strength of businesses In addition to identifying areas for improvement, SWOT analysis also helps businesses identify their strengths. By leveraging these strengths, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and take advantage of their competitive advantages. This can lead to increased market share, improved profitability, and overall success.
- Mitigates threats SWOT analysis can help businesses identify potential threats to their operations and take proactive measures to mitigate them. This could include diversifying their product or service offerings, investing in risk management strategies, or developing contingency plans to minimize the impact of unforeseen events.
- Takes advantage of potential opportunities In addition to mitigating threats, SWOT analysis can also help businesses identify potential opportunities for growth and success. By capitalizing on these opportunities, businesses can increase their market share, expand their customer base, and improve their overall performance.
- Provides a comprehensive overview Finally, SWOT analysis provides a comprehensive overview of a company's internal and external factors. This can help businesses develop a well-informed business plan that takes into account their current situation and potential for growth. By developing a strategic plan based on the SWOT analysis, businesses can increase their chances of success and achieve their long-term goals.
How to conduct a SWOT analysis?
Now that we know what a SWOT analysis is and why it is important for businesses, let's discuss how to conduct a SWOT analysis effectively. Here are the steps involved:
- Define the objective: The first step in conducting a SWOT analysis is to define the objective. What is the purpose of the analysis? What are the specific goals that the analysis aims to achieve? Defining the objective will help focus the analysis and ensure that it is relevant to the specific needs of the business.
- Gather information: Once you have defined the objective, the next step is to gather information about the business, its industry, and its competitors. This can include things like financial reports, customer feedback, market research, and competitor analysis.
- Identify strengths: What are the things that the business does well? What advantages does it have over its competitors? This can include things like a strong brand, loyal customer base, experienced employees, and efficient operations.
- Identify weaknesses: The next step is to identify the weaknesses of the business. What are the areas that need improvement? What disadvantages does it have compared to its competitors? This can include things like a weak brand, lack of funding, inexperienced employees, and outdated technology.
- Identify opportunities: To identify the opportunities available to the business , you need to address questions such as, What are the trends in the industry? What changes in regulations could benefit the business? What new technologies are emerging? This can include things like a growing market, new trends, technological advancements, and changes in regulations.
- Identify threats: The final step is to identify the threats to the business. What are the economic, social, and environmental factors that could impact the business negatively? What are the risks associated with the current situation and potential growth opportunities? This can include things like economic downturns, increased competition, changes in consumer behavior, and natural disasters.
Once the SWOT analysis is complete, the next step is to use the information to develop a strategic plan that maximizes the strengths of the business, minimizes its weaknesses, takes advantage of opportunities, and mitigates threats.
Who should conduct a SWOT analysis and what are the benefits?
A SWOT analysis can be conducted by anyone involved in the strategic planning process of a business. This can include business strategists , executives, managers, and consultants. Here are some of the benefits of conducting a SWOT analysis:
- Provides a fresh perspective on a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, allowing for a more objective view of the situation.
- Facilitates strategic decision-making that enables businesses to make informed strategic decisions based on their current situation and potential for growth.
- Helps prioritize action items based on their importance and potential impact to the business.
- Encourages collaboration among team members, allowing for a more comprehensive analysis of the situation.
- Enables risk assessment associated with their current situation and potential growth opportunities.
- Improves communication among team members, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding the current situation and potential for growth.
This information helps businesses to prioritize their key strategic initiatives, focus their resources on areas with the greatest potential for growth and competitive advantage, and develop a strategic plan that aligns with their goals and objectives. Ultimately, a SWOT analysis helps businesses to make more effective strategic decisions that can lead to increased profitability, market share, and long-term success.
Example of a SWOT analysis
To help illustrate the SWOT analysis process, let's take a look at an example of a SWOT analysis for a company in the fashion industry:
- Strong brand recognition
- Innovative designs
- Loyal customer base
- Experienced and skilled designers and staff
- Efficient production processes
- Limited distribution channels
- Dependence on a few key suppliers
- High production costs
- Lack of international presence
- Limited online presence
- Growing demand for sustainable fashion
- Emerging markets in Asia and South America
- Expansion into e-commerce
- Partnership with influencers and celebrities
- Diversification of product offerings
- Economic downturns and recessions
- Increased competition from established and emerging brands
- Shifting consumer preferences and trends
- Changes in regulations and trade policies
- Disruptive technologies and innovations
Using this SWOT analysis, the company could focus on expanding its distribution channels and international presence, reducing production costs, and investing in sustainable and diverse product offerings.
Q: Is a SWOT analysis only for large businesses? A: No, a SWOT analysis is beneficial for businesses of all sizes, including small businesses.
Q: Can a SWOT analysis be conducted for a specific project or product? A: Yes, a SWOT analysis can be conducted for a specific project or product to evaluate its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Q: How often should a SWOT analysis be conducted? A: It is recommended to conduct a SWOT analysis at least once a year or whenever there are significant changes in the industry, competition, or business environment.
Q: What should I do with the information gathered from a SWOT analysis? A: The information gathered from a SWOT analysis should be used to develop a strategic plan that maximizes strengths, minimizes weaknesses, takes advantage of opportunities, and mitigates threats.
In conclusion, a SWOT analysis is an important tool that can help businesses of all sizes and industries to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses can gain a better understanding of their current situation and potential growth opportunities, enabling them to make informed business decisions and develop effective business strategies. As a strategic leader or business strategist, it is important to conduct a SWOT analysis regularly to stay up-to-date with changes in the industry and competition, and ensure that your business plan is relevant and effective in achieving your business goals.
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How to conduct a swot analysis for your new business.
Thinking of starting a new business? Our advice: grab a posterboard or setup your RocketBook Beacons on your whiteboard. (Really, any sheet of paper that can be divided into four quadrants will do.) A SWOT analysis is your next project – and probably, your best friend when it comes to the success of your business.
If you’re unfamiliar, SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.” Typically, these are listed in four quadrants for easy reference (thus the posterboard). Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the analysis step by step. If you’re learning about SWOT for the first time as an existing business owner, it’s not too late! This exercise will help you identify the murky areas or “stuck” places in your business, which will give you the clarity you need to go to the next level.
Use SWOT to Find Your Spot
So, why a SWOT analysis? The objective here is to identify your spot in the market. This will be a foundational tool for the launch and growth of your business! As you work through the four quadrants, you’ll find areas to highlight, areas to improve, and areas to clarify in your business, which will help you find your ideal customer, stand out against competitors, and find smart strategies to take your business to the next level.
Step 1: Research
Before you start filling in the quadrants of your SWOT analysis, you’ve got to do your homework. Take a look at the market for your industry. Who are your competitors? Trust us, you have competition. You may not see it yet, but it’s there. To find competing brands, we suggest a Google search . What would your ideal client type into the search bar to find YOU? Whoever pops up is your competition. What do you like about them, and what discourages you from using their service or product? Take note of what competing brands do well and where they’re lacking. If you’re creating something new, there’s likely a gap in the market. Find it.
Once you’ve finished your research, draw your 4 quadrants. Leave plenty of room for notes – this is going to get good.
Step 2: Define your strengths.
Head to the top left quadrant and start listing your strengths. Don’t limit yourself – these can be strengths of your business’s product or service as well as your own strengths as an entrepreneur. What do you do well? Why is your product great? What are you known for? Why are you passionate about this particular business?
Example: “I am a people person, so I offer excellent customer service.”
Step 3: Define your weaknesses.
Move to the right, and write down some weaknesses. This might not seem as fun, but it’s just as important. What areas of business are you simply not good at? Which things are just “not your strong suit?” What would potential clients hope to get from you and your business that they will not find? No entrepreneur is great at everything, and no business meets every need. By clearly identifying what you don’t do, you’ll solidify what you do well – which will help you stay on the right track.
Example: “I’m not very organized, so I have a hard time keeping detailed financial records.”
Step 4: Define your opportunities.
As you move to the bottom left quadrant, shift your thinking a little bit. This section is more about your industry and less about you. Is there something missing in your current market? If you’re able to offer what’s missing, it’s definitely worth exploring. It will give you a competitive edge and offer something invaluable to your clients. What opportunities do you see that other companies aren’t taking advantage of? Make a note of those “open doors” so you can make plans to walk through them.
Example: “None of the other landscapers in my city offer full-color renderings for client approval, and I can quickly design those kinds of graphics.”
Step 5: Define your threats.
Finally, fill your bottom right quadrants with any hesitations or foreseen problems as you launch your business. Is the market saturated with competition? Are there areas of your business you haven’t found clarity on just yet? It’s also a good idea to list any issues that are out of your control, but could have significant effects on your business, like a potential COVID shutdown that will negatively impact your work, or a legal precedent or city code that will make it difficult for you to thrive.
Example: “My new restaurant could be limited to 50% capacity for the foreseeable future, which would greatly diminish my profits.”
Step 6: Establish your priorities.
You’ve done the research and you’ve combed through all the good, bad, and ugly of your business idea. Now, you’re equipped to strategize and summarize your business plan. Did any gaps pop up in your analysis? You can take the needed time to learn more about an area you’re unfamiliar with. Did you realize you’ll never crunch the numbers correctly? Factor in the cost of an accountant. Did you find a unique edge for your product? Build your marketing around it.
Consult your SWOT analysis often. Down the road, you may even find yourself wanting to revisit the entire process and create a new one. This is definitely one of our favorite tools for new (or growing!) businesses. Find your angle, fill in your gaps, and get ready to launch.
See more of our helpful guides and worksheets HERE .
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SWOT Analysis In Business (With Examples)
- Business Growth
Here is a simple strategic SWOT analysis that you can use as a highly effective method for creating an edge in the market and to insure long term success.
SWOT is an acronym for the Strengths and Weakness of a business and the Opportunities and Threats facing the business. It is used to understand Current and Future, Internal and External factors that may have an effect on a business results and success.
The Strengths and weaknesses are focused inward to analyze what your company does well and where it could be better. Opportunities and Threats are focused externally towards the industry, which analyze any potential negative effect on the business.
How To Carry Out A SWOT Analysis In Business
To carry out a SWOT analysis for your business, summarize the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business relative to competitors. A SWOT analysis is a simple, yet highly effective method for conducting an analysis on a business, product or service. Before you try writing a business or marketing plan, it is highly recommended that you first complete a SWOT analysis.
A SWOT approach to planning requires owners to look very closely and analytically at every aspect of their operation, so that objectives can be evaluated as achievable, while also building up a clear picture of the strategies that need to be adopted under the constraints that have been recognized.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art Of War -
When completing a SWOT analysis, the aim is to reflect on all aspects of your business’s operations. You may wish to do this exercise alone or include your staff, spouse or business advisor. Whether you choose to do it alone or with others, make sure you allow a solid chunk of time to complete the analysis without being interrupted.
A SWOT analysis is a brainstorming exercise and to get the best results I suggest you allow yourself at least thirty minutes, or preferably an hour. This allows your mind to free itself of the multitude of thoughts and minor details of day to- day living. It takes time to get a flow of ideas going, so be patient and allow yourself time. Once you have allotted sufficient time to focus on this exercise it is time to get started.
SWOT Analysis Template: Excel Download
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The SWOT Analysis Goal
After you have successfully completed the SWOT analysis, take some time to explore ways to consolidate your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantages of the opportunities and be prepared for the threats.
Your priorities should be to:
- Consolidate a strength
- Use a strength to address an opportunity or threat
- Use a strength to minimize a weakness or threat
- Convert a weakness to strength
- Convert a threat to an opportunity
SWOT Analysis Template: PDF Download
Download swot analysis pdf.
A SWOT analysis is a simple, yet highly effective method for conducting an analysis on a business, product or service. Before you try writing a business growth or marketing plan, it is highly recommended that you first complete a SWOT analysis.
S WOT Analysis - STRENGTH
The first step is to reflect on what you do really well. What is working for you at the moment? Can you consolidate on any of these strengths and make them an even bigger advantage for your business? Try asking yourself the following questions
What are your business’s strengths?
- Attractive shopfront
- Operating hours
- Industry experience
- Follow-up service
- What do you do well?
- What unique resources can you draw on?
- What do others see as your strengths?
- How are you superior to your competitors?
- Why are your products or services so good?
- What is it that makes your business unique?
Potential Internal Strengths Can Be:
- Adequate financial resources.
- Well thought of by buyers.
- An acknowledged market leader.
- Well-conceived functional area strategies.
- Insulated from strong competitive pressure.
- Proprietary technology.
- Cost advantages.
- Better advertising campaigns.
- Product innovation skills.
- Proven management.
- Better manufacturing capability.
- Superior technological skills.
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art Of War -
S W OT Analysis - WEAKNESS Examples
Weaknesses need to be understood so you can compensate or improve them. This is not the time to start beating yourself up for being less than perfect. Everyone has weaknesses. Your first task is to identify anything you think you need to improve. These could include:
- Time management
- Marketing strategy
- Certain products or services
- Cleaning up your work environment
- Follow-up procedures
- What could you improve?
- Where do you have fewer resources than others?
- What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
Potential Internal Weaknesses Can Be:
- No clear strategic direction.
- Obsolete facilities.
- Low profitability because …
- Lack of managerial depth and talent.
- Poor track record in implementing strategy.
- Internal operating problems.
- Too marrow a product line.
- Weak market image.
- Weak distribution network.
- Below-average marketing skills.
- Unable to finance needed changes.
- Higher overall costs relative to key competitors.
Make a comprehensive list and start reviewing which ones you could start transferring into strengths. If you find it difficult to be objective, ask someone you trust for his or her feedback on your perceived weaknesses.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
SW O T Analysis - OPPORTUNITY
The third stage of the analysis process is to look at the opportunities that your business has available. Where could you start gaining an advantage over your competitors? The more you know about what your competitors are doing, the easier it will be for you to see opportunities to create something different and compelling. Another great way to discover possible opportunities is to ask your current customers. They will often have all the answers if you are brave enough to ask the question.
- What external factors can you take advantage of?
- Are there current resources that are underutilized?
- How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
- What trends could you take advantage of?
- What good opportunities are open to you?
Potential External Opportunities Can Be:
- Serve additional customer groups.
- Enter new markets or segments.
- Expand product line to meet broader range of customer needs.
- Diversify into related products.
- Falling trade barriers in attractive foreign markets.
- Complacency among rival firms.
- Faster market growth.
There are always opportunities. Take the time to brainstorm a comprehensive list and don’t sensor your ideas. There will be time to eliminate the most impractical ideas later. For now, just get the ideas down on paper.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
SWO T Analysis - THREAT
Finally, you need to assess any current or future threats to your business. All potential threats should be brainstormed. It is better to be aware of problems that might arise than to be hit with them out of the blue. This list could include things like changes in legislation, a multinational competitor opening a store or a lack of products due to importing issues. Whatever the possible threats, list them and assess whether they are real or unlikely. Are there any threats to your current market share? When all areas have been plotted and identified, you will be in a much better position to plan your future.
Take the time to complete this exercise thoroughly as the benefits are very real.
- What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
- What is your competition doing?
- What trends could harm you?
Potential External Threats Can Be:
- Entry of lower-cost foreign competitors.
- Rising sales of substitute products.
- Slower market growth.
- Adverse shifts in foreign exchange rates and trade policies of foreign governments.
- Costly regulatory requirements.
- Changing buyer needs.
- Adverse demographic changes.
SW OT Analysis Examples
- Sample SWOT Ideas for a Local Restaurant
- Example SWOT for a Small, Local Coffee Chop Chain
“Who wishes to fight must first count the cost”
About the Author Hans
Hans had 40 of his own businesses over the last 30 years and is famous for creating fast-growing businesses” He is an author, speaker, coach, and consultant and a specialist in business optimization and turnaround, helping smaller business owners eliminate business limitations, threats, and growth challenges in achieving their sales, profit, cash flow, and income goals with sniper precision.
20 big money mistakes business’s make in 2021, 6 ways to save & turnaround a failing business, 7 proven business turnaround strategy steps, ten keys to a successful business turnaround.
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- Posted On April 18, 2023
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Why to do a SWOT analysis for a business plan
Table of Content
As you develop your business plan, there are a myriad of considerations that need to be taken into account. One of the most important factors is conducting a SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is a strategic planning that helps businesses identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses can develop strategies to address their weaknesses, capitalize on their strengths, and take advantage of new opportunities.
What is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of a business, project, or individual. The analysis involves identifying the internal and external factors that can affect the success or failure of a venture. Here’s a breakdown of what each element of the SWOT analysis represents:
- Strengths: These are the positive attributes or qualities of the subject being analyzed. They can include things like a strong brand reputation, skilled staff, unique products or services, or efficient processes.
- Weaknesses: These are the negative aspects of the subject being analyzed. They can include things like poor cash flow, low employee morale, outdated technology, or a lack of resources.
- Opportunities: These are external factors that can be leveraged to the advantage of the subject being analyzed. They can include things like emerging markets, new technologies, changing consumer trends, or favorable government policies.
- Threats: These are external factors that can negatively impact the subject being analyzed. They can include things like increasing competition, economic downturns, regulatory changes, or natural disasters.
Benefits of SWOT analysis?
In this guide, we will outline the key benefits of conducting a SWOT analysis and provide tips on how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your business plan.
- Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses: The first benefit of conducting a SWOT analysis is that it helps businesses identify their strengths and weaknesses. Strengths are internal factors that give a business an advantage over its competitors, while weaknesses are internal factors that put a business at a disadvantage. To identify your strengths and weaknesses, it is important to conduct an honest and thorough analysis of your business.
Assessing Opportunities and Threats: A SWOT analysis also helps businesses assess opportunities and threats. Opportunities are external factors that could benefit a business, while threats are external factors that could harm a business. To assess opportunities and threats, it is important to conduct a competitive analysis and a market analysis. This may include analyzing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, identifying new market trends, and assessing changes in the regulatory environment. By identifying opportunities and threats, you can develop strategies to take advantage of new opportunities and mitigate potential threats.
Developing Business Strategies: One of the most important benefits of conducting a SWOT analysis is that it helps businesses develop Strategic business planning. By identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, businesses can develop strategies that capitalize on their strengths, address their weaknesses, take advantage of new opportunities, and mitigate potential threats.
Prioritizing Business Priorities: Another benefit of conducting a SWOT analysis is that it helps businesses prioritize their business priorities. By identifying the most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, businesses can focus their resources on the most important areas of their business. If your SWOT analysis identifies a major new market opportunity, you may prioritize your product development efforts to take advantage of this opportunity.
Facilitating Communication and Collaboration: Finally, conducting a SWOT analysis can facilitate communication and collaboration within your organization. By involving key stakeholders in the SWOT analysis process, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. This may include involving your employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders in the SWOT analysis process. By involving everyone in the process, you can ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and can work together to develop effective strategies to address them.
How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis?
Now that you understand the benefits of conducting a SWOT analysis, let’s take a look at how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your business plan.
Step 1: Identify Your Business’s Internal Factors: The first step in conducting a SWOT analysis is to identify your business’s internal factors. These are the factors that are within your control and can have an impact on your business’s performance. This may include your products or services, your brand reputation, your financial position, your employees, and your marketing strategy. To identify your business’s internal factors, ask yourself the following questions:
What are our core strengths as a business?
What are our biggest weaknesses?
What are our key financial metrics?
How effective is our marketing strategy?
How satisfied are our customers?
Step 2: Identify Your Business’s External Factors: The second step in conducting a SWOT for market analysis is to identify your business’s external factors. These are the factors that are outside of your control and can have an impact on your business’s performance. This may include your competitors, changes in the regulatory environment, changes in technology, and changes in market trends. To identify your business’s external factors, ask yourself the following questions:
Who are our main competitors?
What are our key market trends?
What are the regulatory challenges we face?
How is technology impacting our industry?
What are the biggest threats to our business?
Step 3: Analyze Your Business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats: The third step in conducting a SWOT analysis is to analyze your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This involves looking at your internal and external factors and identifying the most important factors that are impacting your business.
To analyze your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, use a SWOT matrix. This is a four-quadrant table that allows you to organize your findings and identify key areas for improvement.
In the SWOT matrix, list your strengths in the top-left quadrant, your weaknesses in the top-right quadrant, your opportunities in the bottom-left quadrant, and your threats in the bottom-right quadrant. Then, use this information to develop strategies to capitalize on your strengths, address your weaknesses, take advantage of new opportunities, and mitigate potential threats.
Step 4: Develop Strategies Based on Your SWOT Analysis: The final step in conducting a SWOT for market analysis is to develop strategies based on your findings. This involves identifying the most important areas for improvement and developing strategies to address them.
To develop effective strategies, consider the following questions:
How can we build on our strengths to grow our business?
How can we address our weaknesses to improve our performance?
How can we take advantage of new opportunities to expand our business?
How can we mitigate potential threats to protect our business?
By answering these questions, you can develop effective strategies that address your business’s most pressing needs.
In conclusion, conducting a SWOT analysis is an essential step in developing a strategic business planning for market analysis. By identifying your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can develop strategies to build on your strengths, address your weaknesses, take advantage of new opportunities, and mitigate potential threats.
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November 24, 2023 By Siddhi Jain
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SMEs के लिए आउटसोर्सिंग बिजनेस कंसल्टेंसी सेवाओं के लाभ परिचय आउटसोर्सिंग बिजनेस कंसल्टेंसी सेवाएं छोटे और मध्यम उद्यमों (SMEs) के लिए एक लोकप्रिय विकल्प है जो अपने संचालन को सुव्यवस्थित करना और लागत कम करना चाहते हैं। आउटसोर्सिंग उस काम […]
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SMEs માટે આઉટસોર્સિંગ બિઝનેસ કન્સલ્ટન્સી સેવાઓના લાભો પરિચય આઉટસોર્સિંગ બિઝનેસ કન્સલ્ટન્સી સેવાઓ એ નાના અને મધ્યમ સાહસો (SMEs) માટે તેમની કામગીરીને સુવ્યવસ્થિત કરવા અને ખર્ચ ઘટાડવાનો એક લોકપ્રિય વિકલ્પ છે. આઉટસોર્સિંગ એ કામ સંભાળવા માટે બહારની કંપનીઓનો ઉપયોગ કરવાની પ્રથા […]
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What is a SWOT Analysis?
- Last Updated: March 27, 2023
- By: Greg Bouhl
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the S trengths, W eaknesses, O pportunities, and T hreats involved in a business venture or business startup. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or startup and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective.
A SWOT analysis starts with a definition of a desired end state or objective. In an initial marketing plan of a business startup that desired end state or objective will probably involve the attainment of the marketing objectives after a year of business. Identification of SWOTs is essential because the steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOT analysis.
The four different factors in the SWOT analysis are defined as:
- Strengths: attributes of the organization that are helpful to achieving the objective
- Weaknesses: attributes of the organization that are harmful to achieving the objective
- Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective
- Threats: external conditions that could do damage to the business’s performance
Examples of strength attributes which can be used to gain the business a competitive advantage could be factors such as:
- Strong brand names
- Good reputation among customers
- Cost advantages from proprietary know-how
- Advantageous manufacturing capabilities
- Superior personnel
- Favorable access to distribution networks
- Superior product
- A superior location where the product can be purchased
- Advantages in promotion, such as advertising, public relations, word of mouth and point of sale
Your business will capitalize on its strengths
A weakness can be defined as the absence of competitive strength such as:
- Lack of patent protection
- A weak brand name
- Poor reputation among customers
- High cost structure
- Lack of access to good raw materials or natural resources
- Lack of access to key distribution channels
Your business will shore up its weaknesses
Analysis of the external environment may reveal opportunities for profit and growth for the startup business. Some of these include:
- An unfilled customer need
- Loosening of regulations
- A growing market segment
- Technological change
- Socio-cultural changes
Your business will use its strengths to invest in its opportunities
External environmental threats can be the flip side of opportunities. These can include:
- Negative socio-cultural changes
- Technological changes that threaten to make a product obsolete
- Threats of changes in laws and regulations
- Shifts in consumer tastes away from the business’s products
- Increased trade barriers
External threats can’t be controlled but they need to be identified and may be able to be impacted.
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Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I am a serial entrepreneur, educator, business advisor, and investor.
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40 SWOT Analysis Examples of Real Businesses
- Tyler @ Demplates
Marketing managers need to segregate any business information into appropriate four quadrants of SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats). Even for those who already knew how and what information needs to be allocated where, it is imperative to analyze and understand already existing SWOT analysis example for real businesses. I personally recommend you to read at least a minimum of five examples from the below set of 40 SWOT analysis examples. You might witness some of the points which may represent a close resemblance of the business that you are currently evaluating.
The examples of SWOT analysis will give you a kick-start to analyze your business while our free SWOT analysis templates can help you get going without any hindrance.
See Also: 40 Free SWOT Analysis Templates In Word See Also: 20 SWOT Analysis Template PPT files
Select and click any of the links provided below to hop and see your favorite example of SWOT analysis:
Apple SWOT Analysis
Starbucks swot analysis (example of a swot analysis), mcdonalds swot analysis, disney swot analysis, costco swot analysis, netflix swot analysis, walmart swot analysis, amazon swot analysis, chipotle swot analysis, samsung swot analysis, coca cola swot analysis, best buy swot analysis, google swot analysis, under armour swot analysis, ford swot analysis, jcpenney swot analysis, home depot swot analysis, facebook swot analysis, adidas swot analysis, south west airlines swot analysis, ikea swot analysis, toyota swot analysis, whole foods swot analysis, at & t swot analysis, microsoft swot analysis, boeing swot analysis, pepsico swot analysis, johnson and johnson swot analysis, lego swot analysis, harley davidson swot analysis, chick-fil-a swot analysis, ibm swot analysis, nordstrom swot analysis, shenzhen city hotel industry swot.
Retail Chain Fashion Goods SWOT
Haier UK Market Entry SWOT
Ellens Stardust Diner SWOT
Crown plaza city center birmingham swot.
Where Do You Put SWOT Analysis In A Business Plan?
The point of a SWOT analysis is to help you develop a strong business strategy by making sure you’ve considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses , as well as the opportunities and threats it faces in the marketplace.
How is SWOT analysis done in a business plan?
SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis helps you see how you stand out in the marketplace, how you can grow as a business and where you are vulnerable . This easy-to-use tool also helps you identify your company’s opportunities and any threats it faces.
What should you do before you begin a SWOT analysis?
Before you begin the SWOT analysis you need to do some research to understand your business, industry and market . Get a range of perspectives by talking to your staff, business partners and clients. Also conduct some market research and find out about your competitors.
Why is SWOT analysis Important explain in 3 5 sentences?
SWOT Analysis is important because it’s a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) . Present data related to a SWOT analysis helps identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the industry.
What are the strengths of a business?
Some examples of strengths include:
- Strong employee attitudes.
- Excellent customer service.
- Large market share.
- Personal relationships with customers.
- Leadership in product innovation.
- Highly efficient, low-cost manufacturing.
- High integrity.
What are the strengths and weaknesses in business?
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company—things that you have some control over and can change . Examples include who is on your team, your patents and intellectual property, and your location. Opportunities and threats are external—things that are going on outside your company, in the larger market.
What are the new business opportunities?
Online Business Opportunities
- Web Design.
- App Development.
- Amazon Selling.
- Etsy Selling.
- Course Creation.
- Virtual Assisting.
- Influencer Marketing on Social Media.
What are the most successful small businesses 2020?
What are the most profitable small businesses?
- Handymen or handywomen. The number of people who know how to repair things around the house is dwindling. …
- Online education. …
- Tutoring. …
- Real estate agency. …
- Child-oriented businesses. …
- Dental offices. …
- Gardening and landscaping. …
- Information technology (IT) support.
What are examples of business opportunities?
- Online gaming.
- Print-on-demand services.
- Freelance business.
- Ecommerce store owner.
What businesses will always be in demand?
- Food. Food is required for life and this means demand will always be high. …
- Pharmaceutical. The pharmaceutical industry has experienced impressive growth globally. …
- Healthcare. …
- Education. …
- Sin Industry. …
- 6. Entertainment & Media. …
- Professional Services.
What is a market weakness?
A weakness is a limitation or fault in your company or marketing plan that prevents it from achieving its goals . These weaknesses are internal considerations or vulnerabilities that can lead to diminished revenue or the outright failure of your enterprise.
What are examples of opportunities?
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.
How do you turn your strength into an opportunity?
- Strengths–Opportunities. Use your internal strengths to take advantage of opportunities.
- Strengths-Threats. Use your strengths to minimize threats.
- Weaknesses-Opportunities. Improve weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities.
- Weaknesses-Threats. Work to eliminate weaknesses to avoid threats.
What are the strengths of a small business?
7 Glorious Advantages of Being a Small Business
- Flexibility. When you are a small business, are way more flexible and able to make the changes necessary to survive than a big outfit. …
- Expertise. …
- Uniqueness of Small Businesses. …
- Satisfaction. …
- Personal Service. …
- Focus. …
- Small Business Owner: A Great Boss.
What strengths are most valuable to the business?
4 Key Strengths of Successful Businesses
- Reliability. Reliability is doing what you said you’d do when you said you were going to do it. …
- Competence. …
- Openness. …
What are my strengths?
Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
What is the most important part of the SWOT analysis?
Begin with the strengths and weaknesses and then process the results . Move on to the opportunities and threats and do the same. It’s critical to remain optimistic when you’re discussing the results of a SWOT analysis. Weaknesses and threats can cause a planning team to feel defeated.
How important is SWOT analysis for a good leader?
The SWOT analysis is one of the most-used tools by leaders, and with good reason. When used correctly, identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats provides a foundation for effective strategic planning.
How do you create a SWOT analysis explain your answer in 3 5 sentences?
How to Do a SWOT Analysis
- Determine the objective. Decide on a key project or strategy to analyze and place it at the top of the page.
- Create a grid. Draw a large square and then divide it into four smaller squares.
- Label each box. …
- Add strengths and weaknesses. …
- Draw conclusions.
What are the example of weaknesses?
Here are a few examples of the best weaknesses to mention in an interview:
- I focus too much on the details. …
- I have a hard time letting go of a project. …
- I have trouble saying “no.” …
- I get impatient when projects run beyond the deadline. …
- I sometimes lack confidence. …
- I can have trouble asking for help.
What are some weaknesses in business?
The 7 Business Weaknesses That May Be Your Biggest Advantages
- No one knows you. …
- You lack the resources to grow. …
- You’re new to the industry. …
- High-priced, expert employees are out of your budget. …
- What you’re offering to customers isn’t exactly clear. …
- A specialized product means a high-price point.
What is a major weakness of product?
A potential weakness of product positioning is that every company wants to position its products favorably in the minds of consumers , so there is usually a high level of competition. New companies, for example, often find it difficult to position their products in a market that has well-established competitors.
What is the easiest business to start?
15 Easy Businesses to Start
- Event Planning. …
- Gardening and Landscaping Services. …
- DJing. …
- Painting. …
- Yoga Instruction. …
- Local Tour Guide. Image (c) Zero Creatives / Getty Images. …
- Tutoring. Tutor helping one of her students. …
- You Don’t Need Much Money But You Do Need… Couple running small gardening business .
- Purchase History
- Pet Store SWOT Analysis: A Complete Guide
by I.J. Karam | Nov 26, 2023 | Business Plans
Starting a pet store is an exciting venture for animal lovers and aspiring entrepreneurs. To ensure the success of your pet shop, it is crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of your business environment. One effective tool for this purpose is a pet store SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Our expert consultants have over 15 years of experience helping pet store entrepreneurs plan their businesses including developing winning pet store business plans and thorough SWOT analyses. In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of developing a SWOT analysis tailored specifically for a pet shop project, helping you better visualize your ideas and set a solid foundation for your venture.
Pet Store Strengths
Identifying the strengths of your pet store is the first step in building a successful business. Here are typical strengths related to this industry:
- Location: Assess the location of your pet store. Is it easily accessible? Is there high foot fall? Are you located in a residential area with many pet owners? A convenient and visible location can be a significant asset, therefore spend all the necessary time to find a great spot to open your pet shop.
- Product Variety: It is important to understand the range of products you can offer. Whether it’s pet food, toys, grooming supplies, or specialty items, a diverse product selection can attract more customers with various needs. Get your product mix right and customers will follow.
- Expertise: If you or your staff have expertise in animal care, behavior, or nutrition, this knowledge can set your pet store apart. Customers often appreciate good advice and guidance on pet care and this may become a strong differentiator versus your competitors.
- Customer Loyalty Programs: Implementing customer loyalty programs or offering discounts can certainly encourage repeat business. Have a look at what the competition is already doing in this area and propose something better. It all boils down to keeping your clients happy and excellent customer service coupled with attractive discounts can make a big difference.
- A Strong Online Presence: In today’s digital age, having a powerful online presence is a must. Launch a user-friendly website and post consistently on social media to attract customers at various stages of the digital marketing funnel. We also highly recommend you experiment with e-commerce and sell your pet products online. This can unlock additional revenue streams and help you tap into a new customer base.
Pet Shop Weaknesses
Be honest in assessing the weaknesses of your pet store. Identifying areas for improvement is essential for long-term success. Here are few typical examples:
- Limited Resources: If you have limited financial resources or a small team, it’s important to acknowledge this as a potential weakness. Look for strategies to optimize your resources effectively. Seeking external funding can help in such situations. In all cases, it is always a good idea to develop a thorough pet store financial plan to accurately visualize your potential costs, revenues and profits over time.
- Tough Competition: Research and understand the competitive landscape you operate in. Identify competitors in your area and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Look at their pricing strategies and unique selling proposition. This will help you better position your offering and grab market share.
- Inventory Management: Poor inventory management can lead to overstock or stockouts. Consider implementing a robust inventory system to avoid these issues and optimize stock levels.
- Limited Space: A pet store with limited space is not ideal because you will have to reduce the range of products to sell. Explore creative ways to maximize your shop’s space and make it appealing to customers by compensating with a great décor.
- Seasonality Swings: There is a high chance some pet products will be subject to seasonal fluctuations. Typical examples include veterinary products and some pet accessories like dog clothing. Develop strategies to address seasonal challenges and ensure consistent revenue throughout the year.
Pet Store Opportunities
Identifying opportunities allows you to capitalize on external factors that can positively impact your pet store. The following are common examples:
- New Trends in the Pet Industry: Stay informed about current pet industry trends. For example, if there’s a growing interest in organic or specialty pet foods, consider incorporating these products into your inventory. Keeping up to date with these tendencies allows to maximize your revenue potential by serving the new demand as it emerges.
- Partnerships: Explore potential partnerships with local veterinarians, groomers, or pet trainers. Collaborations will surely enhance your credibility and attract more customers.
- E-commerce: As already mentioned in the Strengths section, consider expanding your pet business to include online sales (if you haven’t yet done so). Online shopping is not only growing over time but is also increasingly becoming the de facto channel to research and purchase retail products, and pet products are no exception.
- Community Engagement: Engage with the local community through events, sponsorships, or partnerships with animal shelters. This will help you build a positive reputation within the community and increase your clients and sales.
- Additional Pet Services: It is a good idea to assess if there is demand for additional services linked to your pet shop, such as pet grooming, training classes or veterinary clinics. By offering these services you will diversify your revenue streams.
Threats to your Pet Store Project
Understanding potential threats is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate risks and ensure the long-term viability of your pet shop. The following are examples of threats you might encounter:
- Economic Downturn: Economic declines or recessions can impact consumer spending on non-essential items, including pet products. Be prepared to adjust your business strategy during these tough times.
- Changes in rules and regulations: It is wise to stay informed about any changes in regulations related to the pet industry within your jurisdiction. It is crucial to remain in compliance with health and safety standards to ensure the long term continuity of your pet shop.
- Online Competition: The rise of online pet stores can pose a threat to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. We recommend you focus on not only providing a unique in-store experience and exceptional customer service, but also a user-friendly e-commerce site to compete effectively.
- Supply Chain Disruptions: No business is an island, and you will surely need to source your pet products from a certain number of suppliers. But dependence on a handful of specific suppliers can make your business vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. Therefore, we recommend to diversify your suppliers and always have contingency plans in place.
- Changes in Demand and Consumer Preferences: Monitor shifts in consumer preferences and adapt your product offerings accordingly. Remaining attuned to customer needs ensures ongoing relevance in the market. In this fast-paced era, it is paramount to stay top of mind by following the latest consumer trends and offering what your customers want.
A well-executed SWOT analysis provides valuable insights that can guide your decision-making process and contribute to the success of your pet store. Regularly revisit and update your analysis to stay responsive to changes in the business environment. By leveraging your strengths, addressing weaknesses, capitalizing on opportunities, and mitigating threats, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the dynamic landscape of the pet industry and build a thriving business.
Finally, we see the SWOT analysis as an integral part of a solid business plan. In fact, a business plan is your best bet to maximize the success of your pet store and we highly recommend you develop one for your project. The good news is that you can now do so in a fast and cost-effective manner. Check our ready-made pet store business plan with automatic financials , this pre-made template might save you a lot of time, effort and money.
Best of luck!
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9 Social Media Competitor Analysis Tools That Will Help You Win
Put your performance in context and find out how to beat the competition with the right social media competitor analysis tool.
Social media competitor analysis tools should be a staple in every social manager’s toolbox. Unfortunately, there’s often a temptation to focus inward and get stuck micro-analyzing your own internal social media performance.
The thing is, your own performance analysis is much more valuable when placed in the context of what’s happening overall in your industry niche. And to understand that context, you need competitive analysis tools.
Bonus: Get a free, customizable competitive analysis template to easily size up the competition and identify opportunities for your brand to pull ahead.
What is a social media competitor analysis tool?
A social media competitor analysis tool is a type of software that allows you to benchmark your social performance against that of your competitors.
This type of competitive tool also helps you analyze your competitors’ social strategy , so you can get a sense of what’s working and what’s not within your niche.
Ideally, your benchmarking analysis would always show you outperforming your competitors. But, realistically, this is highly unlikely. Fortunately, once you implement the right tools, you can learn something from every competitor post — and make informed changes to your strategy that will eventually help you outpace the competition.
Bonus: If you’re looking for higher-level tips for performing a social media competitor analysis, check out our tactical how-to guide .
Beautiful reports. Clear data. Actionable insights to help you grow faster.
9 best social media competitor analysis tools for 2024
Hootsuite offers built-in competitor analysis and benchmarking tools within Hootsuite Analytics.
Free 30-day trial
All you have to do is build your competitor watchlist by adding up to 20 hand-picked competitive accounts. (The number you can add varies depending on your Hootsuite plan .) Then, with just a couple of clicks you can generate a competitive analysis report that includes the following metrics for every competitor:
- Number of posts published
- Posting frequency
- Average engagement rate
- Number of fans or followers
- Audience growth rate
- Estimated total engagement
You can also see more details analysis results such as:
- Post performance: Take a look at the top- and lowest-performing posts based on your chosen metric.
- Performance by post type: How different types of posts performed based on your chosen metric.
- Trending hashtags: A word cloud of the most-used hashtags from your competitors’ top posts based on your chosen metric.
- Post length: Average character count and number of hashtags in your competitors’ posts.
Competitor analysis is available for X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.
Hootsuite’s industry benchmarking tool is especially useful if you’re not sure yet who your competitors are. That’s because all you have to do is choose your industry, and the tool does the rest.
You can compare your results for several metrics to the industry average and see charts tracking the pattern over time. The benchmarking tool also provides recommendations to improve your social media strategy and results.
Industry benchmarking is available for Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
To keep a keen eye on what your top competitors are up to on social media, it’s also a good idea to set up a social listening strategy. Hootsuite Streams allow you to gather your competitors’ content in one dashboard in real time.
Start free 30-day trial
Learn more about how to set up a social listening strategy .
Phlanx offers competition trackers for Instagram, YouTube, X, and Twitch.
The graphs are clear and easy to understand, and Phlanx offers a beginner-friendly price point. But the competitive analysis is based on engagement rate only, so keep this in mind if you want to analyze additional metrics.
Sprinklr provides competitive analysis insights for Facebook, X, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as Quora, VK, and Sina Weibo. It does not include LinkedIn or TikTok.
The reports analyze your competitors’ content types, post themes, post categories, sentiment, and tone.
Sprinklr is an enterprise-level solution starting at nearly $3,600 per user per year. See how Sprinklr compares with Hootsuite .
4. Social Blade
Source: Social Blade
Social Blade’s tool for social media competitor performance analysis allows you to compare three accounts per chart for X, YouTube, and Twitch using their free online tool.
The stats tracked vary by network. For X, the comparison focuses on followers, follower growth, and number of Tweets.
An interesting feature is the ability to look up a competitor’s handle on various social platforms (including Instagram and Facebook) to see the “grade” assigned to them based on their Social Blade Rank. It’s based on metrics like number of followers and engagement rate.
Later provides Instagram engagement rate benchmarking against the industry average for accounts with a similar following. It also offers a weekly report of the top 50 industry hashtags on Instagram.
If you’re only focused on Instagram and need only an overview picture of how your engagement rate stacks up against the industry average, this could be a good competitive tool for you. However, it may not be one of the best social media competitor analysis tools to choose if you need to perform an in-depth analysis or address multiple social media platforms.
Find out more about how Later compares to Hootsuite .
6. Sprout Social
Source: Sprout Social
Sprout Social offers a social media competitor analysis tool to compare your key metrics against top competitors. You can also benchmark your performance against others in your industry. There are social listening tools to help identify keywords and hashtags.
There are solid competitive analytics features here, but they lack some of the customization options savvy social marketers may look for. It’s also a pricey solution, with an average cost of $332 per user seat.
See how Sprout Social compares to Hootsuite .
BuzzSumo is a content marketing tool designed to provide data to guide marketing decisions. Part of that data discovery involves competitor analysis.
BuzzSumo tracks key competitor metrics across the web. For social channels, they focus on Facebook, where you can analyze engagement based on post type, post length, and time published.
You can also find the top shared content across social networks based on a keyword search, and get a breakdown of the most popular social platforms in your niche.
Overall, this tool provides the most competitive insight if your social strategy is primarily focused on Facebook.
Keyhole is a social media competitive analysis tool that allows you to do some free competitor keyword and hashtag research. You can use the search bar at Keyhole.co to determine which social platforms a hashtag was used on and the top referring sites and accounts. This is particularly useful for branded or campaign hashtags.
If you sign up for a paid plan, you can access more detailed competitive analytics and competitor benchmarking.
9. Klarity Analytics
Source: Hootsuite App Directory
Klarity Analytics offers cross-platform competitive analysis with translation capabilities in 20 languages. You can monitor competitors’ metrics and use the Klarity Index to see how your social activity ranks in your niche.
Klarity is particularly useful for brands using social media marketing to reach Asian audiences, as their competitive analytics tools include platforms like Sina Weibo and WeChat.
Free social media competitive analysis template
7 tips for using competitor intelligence in your social strategy, 1. set performance goals.
Understanding how well your competitors’ social posts perform makes it much easier to set realistic goals for your own content.
This is especially helpful when you’re starting a new account or adding a new social platform to your social strategy, since you don’t have a lot of your own data to work from yet. But even when you have an established social presence, understanding what your competitors are up to (and what kinds of results they’re getting) helps keep your expectations realistic in a constantly changing field.
A good social media competitive analysis tool will give you an easy overview of your competitors’ top-performing posts based on the metrics that matter most to you. In combination with benchmarking tools that compare overall account performance , this gives you a clear sense of the possibilities within your niche.
2. Understand your results
Just as a competitive analysis helps you know what to expect and how to plan, it also helps you understand your results after the fact. This is particularly useful if you see an unexpected result or an overall change in the trends of your social performance.
Rather than trying to understand your results in isolation, you can check whether your competitors are seeing similar changes. This can help you analyze the reasons for the change: Is it a response to your specific content or a shifting trend industry-wide?
With this better understanding of what your results mean in context, you can better plan how to respond. Do you need to experiment to adjust to a change in the algorithm ? Shift your post type or content mix? Knowing what’s happening with your competitors gives you a much greater pool of data to draw from.
3. Source ideas and inspiration
Social media competitive intelligence tools bring the top-performing content from your main competitors into one place, so you can see at a glance what’s working best within your industry. This is a far more effective way to understand the social landscape than checking all their various accounts. (Bonus: You don’t have to give them a follow!)
Keeping an eye on top-performing competitor content in particular is a good way to stay on top of relevant memes, trends, hashtags , and strategies that have been proven to connect with an audience similar to your own.
You never want to copy your competitors’ content, of course, but you absolutely do want to learn from and experiment with the strategies that have proven to work for them .
4. Clarify your unique selling proposition
Understanding how your competitors position themselves also helps you understand how best to differentiate your brand.
What makes you different? Where do you excel? What unique benefits do you offer that make you truly stand out from the competition?
All of this boils down into your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP is a critical part of your social marketing strategy. In fact, it’s the foundation of your entire brand identity. Analyzing your brand in the full context of the competitive marketplace makes sure your USP is accurate and compelling.
Ongoing competitive analysis also provides an early warning system in case a new or existing competitor tries to hone in on your USP.
The idea is never to disparage your competitors but to make sure your audience understands the unique benefits you provide.
5. Conduct audience research
You can gain some powerful audience insights from competitor analysis tools. First, you’ll get a good sense of the potential audience size for a brand in your particular niche.
But diving deeper, you can also see what works the best for connecting with your audience. Competitive analysis tools can help you answer questions like:
- What are the social platforms where your audience is most interested in engaging with brands like yours?
- Do they prefer videos or text posts? Stories or Reels?
- What tone of content seems to resonate? Should you make some tweaks to your brand voice ?
- When are they most likely to engage with social content?
- What problems are they experiencing with your competitors? Are there pain points you can help resolve through existing services or new innovations?
- What do they love most about your competitors? Are there elements of your products and services you need to work on or highlight?
Understanding how your audience engages with competitor content provides a good starting point for your own content strategy.
Hashtag analysis is useful here too. Rather than just leaping on a new hashtag you spot in your competitive analysis, put some thought into the intent behind the hashtag. What can it tell you about your audience, and the ways they think about their social personas? Does it offer clues on how you can better position your brand?
6. Uncover new hashtags and keywords for better discoverability
We’ve mentioned hashtags a couple of times already in terms of customer intent and trending topics. But it’s also important to review your competitors’ social strategies to discover the terms that are helping them grow their audiences beyond existing followers.
Hashtags are the easiest to identify, of course. But take a deeper look at your competitors’ content with the widest reach. Are there useful keywords and phrases that could be getting their content in front of new eyeballs?
Competitive analysis can be a key input for your social SEO strategy .
7. Perform a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis is a specific type of brand analysis that long pre-dates social media. It’s a highly effective way of understanding the competitive landscape right now as well as what’s on the horizon.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Social media competitive analysis tools provide much of the information you need to perform an in-depth SWOT analysis. For the details of the analysis itself, check out our blog post on how to conduct a social media SWOT analysis .
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