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SWOT analysis: Examples and templates

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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: 

Opportunities

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

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.

[Inline illustration] SWOT analysis (Example)

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.

Why is a SWOT analysis important?

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.

Versatility

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. 

Meaningful analysis

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.

Static analysis

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. 

Don’t forget, a bit of creativity and collaboration can go a long way. Encourage your team to think outside of the box with 100+ team motivational quotes .

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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

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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 of business plan

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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Key Takeaways

  • 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

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.

Internal Factors

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?

External Factors

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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SWOT Analysis: How To Do One [With Template & Examples]

Caroline Forsey

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.

man conducting swot analysis for his business

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.

→ Download Now: Market Research Templates [Free Kit]

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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Free SWOT Analysis Template

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Importance of a SWOT Analysis

You’ve noticed by now that SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The framework seems simple enough that you’d be tempted to forgo using it at all, relying instead on your intuition to take these things into account.

But you shouldn’t. Doing a SWOT analysis is important. Here’s why.

SWOT gives you the chance to worry and to dream.

A SWOT analysis is an important step in your strategic process because it gives you the opportunity to explore both the potential risks and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.  You’re giving yourself the space to dream, evaluate, and worry before taking action. Your insights then turn into assets as you create the roadmap for your initiative.

For instance, when you consider the weaknesses and threats that your business may face, you can address any concerns or challenges and strategize on how to mitigate those risks. At the same time, you can identify strengths and opportunities, which can inspire innovative ideas and help you dream big. Both are equally important. 

SWOT forces you to define your variables.

Instead of diving head first into planning and execution, you’re taking inventory of all your assets and roadblocks. This process will help you  develop strategies that leverage your strengths and opportunities while addressing and mitigating the impact of weaknesses and threats.

As a result, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of your current situation and create a more specific and effective roadmap. Plus, a SWOT analysis is inherently proactive. That means you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and set realistic goals. 

SWOT allows you to account for mitigating factors.

As you identify weaknesses and threats, you’re better able to account for them in your roadmap, improving your chances of success.

Moreover, accounting for mitigating factors allows you to allocate your resources wisely and make informed decisions that lead to sustainable growth. With a SWOT analysis as a guide, you can confidently face challenges and seize opportunities.

SWOT helps you keep a written record.

As your organization grows and changes, you’ll be able to strike things off your old SWOTs and make additions. You can look back at where you came from and look ahead at what’s to come.

In other words, SWOT analyses serve as a tangible history of your progress and provide a reference point for future decision-making. With each update, your SWOT analysis becomes a living document that guides your strategic thinking and helps you stay agile and adaptable in an ever-changing business landscape.

By maintaining this written record, you foster a culture of continuous improvement and empower your team to make data-driven decisions and stay aligned with your long-term vision.

Parts of a SWOT Analysis

Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you strategize effectively, unlock valuable insights, and make informed decisions. But what exactly does a SWOT analysis include?

Let’s explore each component: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

swot analysis chart: strengths

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.

swot analysis chart: weaknesses

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.

swot analysis chart: opportunities

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.

swot analysis chart: threats

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.

swot of business plan

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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

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

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.

HubSpot’s free SWOT analysis template explains how to do a SWOT analysis.

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

swot analysis chart: hubspot swot analysis template

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.

An example SWOT analysis of 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:

An example SWOT analysis for 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.

A SWOT analysis example for a restaurant small business.

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.

A SWOT analysis example 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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What Is a SWOT Analysis and How to Do It Right (With Examples)

Posted february 2, 2021 by noah parsons.

swot of business plan

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.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analyzed in a 2 by 2 grid to define them for your business.

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.

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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

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

UPer Crust Pies SWOT analysis example

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.

swot template download link

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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Article • 17 min read

SWOT Analysis

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

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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What is a SWOT Analysis? (And When To Use It)

Table of contents.

swot of business plan

A SWOT analysis is a planning process that helps your company overcome challenges and determine which new leads to pursue. “SWOT” stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You should perform a SWOT analysis before you commit to any sort of company action, whether you are exploring new initiatives, revamping internal policies, considering opportunities to pivot or altering a plan midway through its execution.

While there are numerous ways to assess your company, one of the most effective is to conduct a SWOT analysis. Learn all about this approach below.

What is the objective of a SWOT analysis?

The primary objective of a SWOT analysis is to help organizations develop a full awareness of all the factors involved in making a business decision . Albert Humphrey of the Stanford Research Institute created this method in the 1960s during a study conducted to identify why corporate planning consistently failed. Since its creation, the SWOT analysis has become one of the most useful tools for business owners to start and grow their companies.

“It is impossible to accurately map out a small business’s future without first evaluating it from all angles, which includes an exhaustive look at all internal and external resources and threats,” Bonnie Taylor, chief marketing officer at CCS Innovations, told Business News Daily. “A SWOT accomplishes this in four straightforward steps that even rookie business owners can understand and embrace.”

Use these free downloads to help grow your business. Create your own SWOT analysis matrix with our SWOT Analysis Template Spreadsheet or check out these free SWOT analysis templates from other companies.

When to perform a SWOT analysis

Employ a SWOT analysis before you commit to any company action, whether that’s exploring new initiatives, revamping internal policies, considering opportunities to pivot or altering a plan midway through its execution. Sometimes it’s wise to perform a general SWOT analysis to check on the current landscape of your business and improve operations as needed. The analysis can show you key areas where your organization is performing optimally and areas where operations need adjustment.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking about your business operations informally, in hopes that they will all come together on their own. If you take the time to put together a formal SWOT analysis, you’ll be able to see the whole picture of your business. From there, you can discover ways to improve or eliminate your company’s weaknesses and capitalize on its strengths.

While the business owner should certainly be involved in creating a SWOT analysis, it is often helpful to include other team members in the process. Ask for input from a variety of team members and openly discuss any contributions made. The collective knowledge of the team will allow you to adequately analyze your business from all sides. 

You can also conduct a personal SWOT analysis in your own life, whether for professional or other purposes. 

What does a SWOT analysis include?

A SWOT analysis focuses on the four elements of the acronym, allowing companies to identify the forces influencing a strategy, action or initiative. Knowing these positive and negative elements can help companies more effectively communicate what parts of a plan need to be recognized.

When drafting a SWOT analysis, individuals typically create a table split into four columns to list each impacting element side by side for comparison. Strengths and weaknesses won’t typically match listed opportunities and threats verbatim, although they should correlate, since they are tied together.

Billy Bauer, owner of ROYCE New York, noted that pairing external threats with internal weaknesses can highlight the most serious issues a company faces.

“Once you’ve identified your risks, you can then decide whether it is most appropriate to eliminate the internal weakness by assigning company resources to fix the problems, or to reduce the external threat by abandoning the threatened area of business and meeting it after strengthening your business,” said Bauer.

Internal factors

Strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) refer to internal factors, which are the resources and experience readily available to you.

These are some common internal factors:

  • Financial resources (funding, sources of income and investment opportunities)
  • Physical resources (location, facilities and equipment)
  • Human resources (employees, volunteers and target audiences)
  • Access to natural resources, trademarks , patents and copyrights
  • Current processes (employee programs, department hierarchies and software systems) [See related articles: Best CRM software of 2024 and The Best Business Accounting Software Services of 2024 ]

External factors

External forces influence and affect every company, organization and individual. Whether these factors are connected directly or indirectly to opportunities (O) or threats (T), it is important to note and document each one.

External factors are typically things you or your company do not control, such as the following:

  • Market trends (new products, technology advancements and shifts in audience needs)
  • Economic trends (local, national and international financial trends)
  • Funding (donations, legislature and other sources)
  • Demographics
  • Relationships with suppliers and partners
  • Political, environmental and economic regulations

After you create your SWOT framework and fill out your SWOT analysis, you will need to come up with some recommendations and strategies based on the results. Linda Pophal, strategic marketing communication consultant and content marketer at Strategic Communications, said these strategies should focus on leveraging strengths and opportunities to overcome weaknesses and threats.

“This is actually the area of strategy development where organizations have an opportunity to be most creative and where innovative ideas can emerge, but only if the analysis has been appropriately prepared in the first place,” said Pophal.

In a SWOT analysis, strengths and weaknesses cover your own resources and processes. Opportunities and threats pertain to conditions outside your organization, such as market trends and regulations.

SWOT examples

SWOT analysis table

Bryan Weaver, an in-house advisor to Scholefield Construction Attorneys, was heavily involved in creating a SWOT analysis for his firm. He provided Business News Daily with a sample SWOT analysis template and example that was used in the firm’s decision to expand its practice to include dispute mediation services. His SWOT matrix included the following:

Resulting strategy: Take mediation courses to eliminate weaknesses and launch Scholefield Mediation, which uses name recognition with the law firm, and highlights that the firm’s construction and construction law experience makes it different.

“Our SWOT analysis forced us to methodically and objectively look at what we had to work with and what the marketplace was offering,” Weaver said. “We then crafted our business plan to emphasize the advantages of our strongest features while exploiting opportunities based on marketplace weaknesses.”

Blank SWOT analysis table

Additional business analysis strategies

The SWOT analysis is a simple but comprehensive strategy for identifying not only the weaknesses and threats of an action plan, but also the strengths and opportunities it makes possible. However, a SWOT analysis is just one tool in your business strategy. Additional analytic tools to consider include the PEST analysis (political, economic, social and technological), MOST analysis (mission, objective, strategies and tactics) and SCRS analysis (strategy, current state, requirements and solution).

Consistent business analysis and strategic planning is the best way to keep track of growth, strengths and weaknesses. Use a series of analysis strategies, like SWOT, in your decision-making process to examine and execute strategies in a more balanced, in-depth way.

Max Freedman and Nicole Fallon contributed to this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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SWOT Analysis In Business (With Examples)

SWOT Analysis in business

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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.

swot of business plan

“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

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

Download SWOT Analysis Excel Template

This link will open as an Excel spreadsheet and is ready, and

easy to use but you can follow these video instructions for more information. 

SWOT Analysis Template Video

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.

SWOT

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.

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How to Do a SWOT Analysis for Better Strategic Planning

Female entrepreneur working in her home office at the computer on a SWOT analysis to discover the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to her business.

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.

YouTube video

  • 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.

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.

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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:

SWOT Analysis Example for a Computer Store

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:

SWOT Analysis Template

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

Content Author: Tim Berry

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.

Check out LivePlan

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How To Write a SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan

An acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, a SWOT Analysis is designed to help you analyze your company’s capabilities against the realities of your business environment. Doing so allows you to direct your business toward areas where your abilities are the strongest and your opportunities are abundant. It also allows you to develop short and long-term strategies for your business. A well-developed SWOT analysis will:

  • capture business opportunities by capitalizing on business strengths
  • overcome weaknesses to take advantage of business opportunities
  • monitor potentially threatening outside forces while maintaining or developing internal strength response capabilities
  • eliminate weaknesses to protect your business from threats

Writing a SWOT Analysis  

When writing your SWOT Analysis, we recommend involving employees with different perspectives and stakes in your company, for example, management, sales, customer service, and customers.

To write a SWOT Analysis for a business plan, we recommend following these four steps. You can use a four-square SWOT Analysis template, or if more manageable, you can make lists for each category.

Example of a four-square template:

four square template business plan

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
  • Competitors
  • 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

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.

swot of business plan

Divide your strengths into two groups:

  • Group 1: Strengths that can help you take advantage of opportunities facing your business.
  • Group 2: Strengths that can help you head off potential threats.

Divide your weaknesses into two groups:

  • Group 1: Weaknesses that require improvement before you can take advantage of opportunities.
  • Group 2: Weaknesses that you need to completely and quickly overhaul and convert into strengths to avert potential threats to your business.

Continually refer to your lists as you make decisions that contribute to your business, including developing strategies and actions for capitalizing on opportunities. Questions that can guide your decision making include:

  • Do strengths open any opportunities?
  • How can we convert weaknesses to strengths?
  • What do we have to do to take advantage of opportunities?
  • How can we best neutralize threats?

SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan Conclusion

Once you have finalized your SWOT Analysis and added it to your business plan, don’t just leave it and forget it. A SWOT Analysis is a crucial element in any business plan and should be revisited regularly, at least annually.

Suppose your business is facing significant changes in the marketplace or competitive conditions, experiencing growth problems, or failing to meet goals. In that case, you may want to revisit your SWOT Analysis more frequently.

It should reflect the world around you as it is, not the way it was. It’s an invaluable tool for leveraging your company’s strengths, minimizing threats, taking advantage of available opportunities, strategic planning, and determining company objectives.

At Bsbcon, we are available to provide support and guidance with your company’s SWOT Analysis, ensuring that it reflects the current state of your business and considers all factors needed to ensure your business’s short and long-term goals and successes. Once your SWOT Analysis is complete, we will work with you to incorporate it seamlessly into your business plan.

Each of our business plans are tailor-made (no templates or plugins!) and designed to be easily implementable in practice. We have business plans for bank loans, investors, strategic purposes, immigration, and more.

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What is SWOT Analysis?

SWOT Analysis Example

SWOT analysis is a process where the management team identifies the internal and external factors that will affect the company's future performance. It helps us to identify of what is happening internally and externally, so that you can plan and manage your business in the most effective and efficient manner.

When to Use SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT involves identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and opportunities and threats present in the market that it operates in. It can be used for studying various situation of a business:

  • Organization can perform SWOT analysis for each of its products, services, and markets when deciding on the best way to achieve future growth.
  • At the start of a project, it's important to get a handle on the current situation. Appreciating your strengths, studying opportunities, pinpointing weaknesses and identifying threats is a prudent way to kick off the start-ups in the right direction.

Basic Concepts of SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis will help you understand the company's position which will encourages ideas and decision-making on how to build on strengths, exploit opportunities, minimize weaknesses and protect against threats. Below are four benefits of using a SWOT analysis for your business:

  • Identify Core Competencies - It provides a clear view of your core competencies, and allows you to build on them to meet your business objectives
  • Identify Weaknesses - Recognizing your company's weaknesses is one of the first steps to improving your business. It reveals your weaknesses and provides a chance to reverse them
  • Explore Opportunities - It helps your to explore the opportunities that lies ahead. Using this you can draft your strategic growth plans based on your strengths and weaknesses
  • Recognize Potential Treats - It helps you analyze possible threats to your business, and you can subsequently make necessary changes to the business policies and necessary actions. Additionally, it facilitates making supplementary or alternative plans, contingency plans, and so on

SWOT Question and Checklist

We can conduct the SWOT analysis by answering the group of similar questions (depending on the context or nature of the problems you would like to solve) for each of the four components:

  • Identify skills and capabilities that you have.
  • What can you do particularly well, relative to rivals?
  • What do analysts consider to be your strengths?
  • What resources do you have?
  • Is your brand or reputation strong?
  • What do rivals do better than you?
  • What do you do poorly?
  • What generates the most customer dissatisfaction and complaints?
  • What generates the most employee dissatisfaction and complaints?
  • What processes and activities can you improve?

Opportunities

  • Where can you apply your strengths?
  • How are your customers and their needs changing?
  • How is technology changing your business?
  • Are there new markets for your strengths? (e.g. foreign)
  • Are there new ways of producing your products?
  • Are your rivals' customers dissatisfied?
  • Are customers able to meet their needs with alternative products?
  • Are customers needs changing away from your product?
  • What are your competitors developing?
  • Are your rivals improving their product offerings or prices?
  • Is new technology making your product obsolete?
  • Is your cash-flow and debt position healthy?
  • Are your employees satisfied?
  • Is turnover high?
  • Is new competition coming?
  • Are sales growing slower than the industry average?

SWOT Template

You can develop a list of prioritized Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats based on some questions, analysis, interviews research of the current state and external operating environment.

SWOT Templates

How to Conduct SWOT Analysis?

As we mentioned before, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a way of summarizing the current state of a company and helping to devise a plan for the future. Regardless of whether you or your team are future planning for specific products, work, personal or any other area, the SWOT analysis process can be conducted with the following steps:

Step 1 - List all strengths that exist now. Then in turn, list all weaknesses that exist now.

Step 2 - List all opportunities that exist in the future. Opportunities are potential future strengths . Then in turn, list all threats that exist in the future. Threats are potential future weaknesses .

Step 3 - Plan of action - Review your SWOT matrix with a view to creating an action plan to address each of the four areas.

  • Strengths need to be maintained, built upon or leveraged.
  • Weaknesses need to be remedied or stopped.
  • Opportunities need to be prioritized and optimized.
  • Threats need to be countered or minimized.

SWOT Analysis Example 1 - Internet Small Business Startup

Action plan.

As you use the SWOT Analysis for planning, you align the positive elements to help take advantage of opportunities and identify the gaps in the negative elements that must be improved or managed. Driving to implications from the SWOT requires us to take a strategic leap, looking at the connections across the categories (e.g. where does a strength help us mitigate a threat), as well as looking holistically across for trends.

  • Strength - Maintain low overhead by changing pay structure to balance basic pay with performance base bonuses
  • Weakness - Study, research and implement project planning system and follow it
  • Opportunity - Test new market with one existing product first
  • Threats - include business partner in performance based commission scheme

SWOT Analysis Example 2 - Starbucks *

SWOT Analysis Example 2

SWOT Analysis Example 3 - Nike *

SWOT Analysis Example 3

*Disclaimer: This case study has been compiled from information freely available from public sources. It is intended to be used as an example for illustration purposes only

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* SWOT Analysis is powered by Visual Paradigm's web technology. You can create it in both Visual Paradigm Desktop and Visual Paradigm Online .

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Blog Marketing

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, they are still used today in businesses across the world

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.

swot acronym

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 :

SWOT analysis template

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.

swot analysis template flower

Opportunities

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?

SWOT analysis example

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.

Gradient Column SWOT Analysis Template

SWOT analysis templates (with examples )

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:

swot analysis template for word

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:

business proposal swot analysis

Personal SWOT analysis templates

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.

Personal swot analysis template

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.

business employee swot analysis template

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.

swot of business plan

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.

swot of business plan

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.

Visual Column SWOT Analysis Template

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 .

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 templates

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.

Beige SWOT Analysis Template

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.

swot of business plan

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.

Company SWOT Analysis

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.

Bold swot analysis template

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.

Orange Brewery SWOT Analysis Template

Take a look at page 4 of this consulting proposal template for an example of how to use SWOT analyses in a consulting proposal :

swot chart in a consulting proposal template

Looking for more consulting templates?

  • Consulting proposal templates
  • Business proposal templates
  • Job proposal templates

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:

swot analysis example

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.

B2C Consulting SWOT Analysis Template

A version of this SWOT analysis template is used in this business proposal (page 4).

consulting proposal template with swot analysis

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.

Vibrant B2C Consulting Presentation Template

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
  • Availability
  • 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.

Blue Fitness SWOT Analysis Template

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:

swot analysis template graphic design

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:

swot analysis template numbered list

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:

Light Competitor Analysis Presentation Template

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.

B2C Client Consulting Presentation Template

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.

Business Growth Client Consulting Proposal Template

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.

Business Strategy Mindmap Template

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.

Vibrant B2C Consulting Proposal Template

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?

Simple B2C Consulting Proposal Template

Are you ready to create your SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is an invaluable tool for evaluation and is particularly useful for small businesses or businesses in times of change. Make sure you follow these SWOT analysis best practice tips to maximize your evaluation opportunities and further your evaluation by conducting a thorough Competitor Analysis .

All of the SWOT analysis examples featured in this blog post are fully customizable SWOT analysis templates available for use on Venngage.  You can also use our Smart Templates to create documents easily.

Once you’ve created your business or personal SWOT analysis, make sure to keep a copy safe for the next time you conduct an evaluation. With Venngage you can keep your work online or download a SWOT analysis PDF if you’re a Business user.

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SWOT Analysis

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The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business and organisations. 

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Information about the origins and inventors of SWOT analysis is below. The SWOT analysis headings provide a good framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of a company or business proposition,  or any other idea .

Completing a SWOT analysis is very simple, and is a good subject for  workshop sessions . SWOT analysis also works well in  brainstorming  meetings.

Use SWOT analysis for business planning, strategic planning, competitor evaluation, marketing, business and product development and research reports. You can also use  SWOT analysis exercises for team building games .

Note that SWOT analysis is often interpreted and used as a  SWOT Analysis 2x2 Matrix , especially in business and marketing planning.

In addition to this 2x2 matrix method, SWOT analysis is also a widely recognised method for gathering, structuring, presenting and reviewing extensive planning data within a larger business or project planning process.

See also  PEST analysis , which measures a business's market and potential according to external factors; Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It is often helpful to complete a PEST analysis prior to a SWOT analysis. In other situations, it may be more useful to complete a PEST analysis as part of, or after, a SWOT analysis. See also  Porter's Five Forces model , which is used to analyse the competitive position.

Please note:  If you use SWOT Analysis as a 2x2 matrix method, then technically  Strengths  and  Weaknesses  are  internal factors  (generally the case anyway), whereas  Opportunities  and  Threats  are  external factors  (this can be more difficult since it requires you to ignore internal threats and opportunities). The  SWOT 2x2 'internal/external' matrix  method thus only considers  external  threats and opportunities.

As a more general guide, here is a  free SWOT analysis template worksheet (doc file) , and the same free SWOT analysis tool (pdf format) .

If you have difficulty opening the above doc file here are two other formats:

  • SWOT Analysis Template doc file using table format instead of text-boxes
  • SWOT Analysis Template doc for Apple Mac  

A SWOT analysis measures a business unit, a proposition or idea; a PEST analysis measures a market.

A SWOT analysis is a subjective assessment of data that is organised by the SWOT format into a logical order that helps understanding, presentation, discussion, and decision-making. The four dimensions are a useful extension of a basic two heading list of pro's and con's ( free pro's and con's template here ).

A SWOT analysis can be used for all sorts of decision-making, and the SWOT template enables proactive thinking, rather than relying on habitual or instinctive reactions.

The SWOT analysis template is normally presented as a grid, comprising four sections, one for each of the SWOT headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The free SWOT template below includes sample questions, whose answers are inserted into the relevant section of the SWOT grid. The questions are examples or discussion points, and obviously can be altered depending on the subject of the SWOT analysis. Note that many of the SWOT questions are also talking points for other headings - use them as you find most helpful, and make up your own to suit the issue being analysed. It is important to clearly identify the subject of a SWOT analysis because a SWOT analysis is a perspective of one thing, be it a company, a product, a proposition, an idea, a method, or option, etc.

A SWOT analysis is commonly presented and developed into a 2x2 matrix, which is shown and explained within the  SWOT analysis matrix  section.

Internal vs External Factors

Modern SWOT analysis in business and marketing situations is normally structured so that a 2x2 matrix grid can be produced, according to two pairs of dimensions.

Strengths and Weaknesses , are 'mapped' or 'graphed' against  Opportunities and Threats . To enable this to happen cleanly and clearly, and from a logical point of view anyway when completing a SWOT analysis in most business and marketing situations,  Strengths and Weaknesses  are regarded distinctly as  internal factors , whereas  Opportunities and Threats  are regarded distinctly as  external factors .

Here is the explanation in more detail:

Swot Matrix (2x2 matrix: internal/external categories) Here is a typical extension of the basic SWOT analysis grid into a useful 'action-based' 2x2 SWOT matrix.

The SWOT analysis in this format acts as a quick decision-making tool, quite aside from the more detailed data that would typically be fed into business planning process for each of the SWOT factors.

Here the 2x2 matrix model automatically suggests actions for issues arising from the SWOT analysis, according to four different categories:

N.B. SWOT analysis is a very flexible tool. Its use is not restricted to business and marketing. Be mindful that when SWOT is used in situations outside of business and marketing, strict categorisation of the SWOT dimensions (according to 'internal' and 'external' factors) can be limiting, and so a more open interpretation of the model can be helpful in such circumstances, especially when assessing Opportunities and Threats.

Also be mindful that if using the SWOT analysis model only as a 2x2 matrix, which assumes the categorisation of internal and external factors (and notably limiting the assessment of threats and opportunities to external factors only), that it is very easy then to miss certain threats and opportunities that can exist (internally) within the company/organisation. Some internal threats and opportunities can be substantial, for example, opportunities such as: energy-saving, process-improvement, training, advertising, or discontinuing loss-making products, or threats such as: desertion or key staff, the loss of major contracts, to name just a couple of typically ever-present threats within large commercial corporations.

Be mindful therefore that the 'simplified' SWOT 2x2 matrix 'internal/external' method is not a reliable tool alone for identifying all threats and opportunities within organisations, or indeed any other situation.

You will note from the  origins of SWOT analysis  below that the methodology did not begin, and was not operated as the simple 2x2 'internal/external' matrix that we commonly see today. 

Particularly, the original application of the model did not restrict threats and opportunities to just external factors. Instead, six key aspects of the business in question (namely: product, process, customer, distribution, finance, admin) were each assessed using the SWOT model. Each aspect was considered according to all four SWOT elements. Thus, today when we apply the SWOT model to an entire business, if we disregard internal threats and opportunities, so the analysis can exclude some potentially serious issues.

Different Applications

SWOT analysis is a powerful model for many different situations. The SWOT tool is not just for business and marketing. Here are some examples of what a SWOT analysis can be used to assess:

  • a company (its position in the market, commercial viability, etc)
  • a method of sales distribution
  • a product or brand
  • a business idea
  • a strategic option, such as entering a new market or launching a new product
  • an opportunity to make an acquisition
  • a potential partnership
  • changing a supplier
  • outsourcing a service, activity or resource
  • project planning and project management
  • an investment opportunity
  • personal financial planning
  • personal career development - direction, choice, change, etc.
  • education and qualifications planning and decision-making
  • life-change - downshifting, relocation,
  • relationships, perhaps even family planning?..

Whatever the application, be sure to describe the subject (or purpose or question) for the SWOT analysis clearly so you remain focused on the central issue. This is especially crucial when others are involved in the process. People contributing to the analysis and seeing the finished SWOT analysis must be able to understand properly the purpose of the SWOT assessment and the implications arising.

SWOT Analysis Template

Subject of SWOT analysis: (define the subject of the analysis here)

This SWOT analysis example is based on an imaginary situation. The scenario is based on a business-to-business manufacturing company, who historically rely on distributors to take their products to the end user market. The opportunity, and therefore the subject for the SWOT analysis, is for the manufacturer to create a new company of its own to distribute its products direct to certain end-user sectors, which are not being covered or developed by its normal distributors.

The subject of SWOT analysis example: the creation of own distributor company to access new end-user sectors not currently being developed.

See also the  free PEST analysis template and method , which measures a business according to external factors; Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It is often helpful to complete a PEST analysis prior to competing a SWOT analysis.

See also  Porter's Five Forces model .

Difference and Relationship between PEST and SWOT

There is some overlap between  PEST  and SWOT. Similar factors appear in each. That said, PEST and SWOT are certainly two different perspectives:

PEST tends to assess a market, including competitors, from the standpoint of a particular proposition or a business.

SWOT in business and marketing tends to be an assessment of a business or a proposition, whether it is your own business or (less commonly) a competitor's business or proposition.

Strategic planning is not a precise science - no tool is mandatory - it's a matter of pragmatic choice as to what helps best to identify and explain the issues.

PEST analysis may useful before SWOT analysis where it helps to identify SWOT factors. Alternatively PEST analysis may be incorporated within a SWOT analysis, to achieve the same effect.

PEST becomes more useful and relevant the larger and more complex the business or proposition, but even for a very small local businesses a PEST analysis can still throw up one or two very significant issues that might otherwise be missed.

The four quadrants in PEST vary in significance depending on the type of business, for example, social factors are more obviously relevant to consumer businesses or a B2B (business-to-business) organisation close to the consumer-end of the supply chain, whereas political factors are more obviously relevant to a global munitions supplier or aerosol propellant manufacturer.

All businesses benefit from a SWOT analysis, and all businesses benefit from completing a SWOT analysis of their main competitors, which interestingly can then provide useful points back into the economic aspects of the PEST analysis.

This remarkable piece of history as to the origins of SWOT analysis was provided by  Albert S Humphrey , one of the founding fathers of what we know today as SWOT analysis. I am indebted to him for sharing this fascinating contribution. Albert Humphrey died on 31 October 2005. He was one of the good guys.

SWOT analysis came from the research conducted at Stanford Research Institute from 1960-1970. The background to SWOT stemmed from the need to find out why corporate planning failed. The research was funded by the fortune 500 companies to find out what could be done about this failure. The Research Team were Marion Dosher, Dr Otis Benepe, Albert Humphrey, Robert Stewart, Birger Lie.

It all began with the corporate planning trend, which seemed to appear first at Du Pont in 1949. By 1960 every Fortune 500 company had a 'corporate planning manager' (or equivalent) and 'associations of long range corporate planners' had sprung up in both the USA and the UK.

However a unanimous opinion developed in all of these companies that corporate planning in the shape of long range planning was not working, did not pay off, and was an expensive investment in futility.

It was widely held that managing change and setting realistic objectives which carry the conviction of those responsible was difficult and often resulted in questionable compromises.

The fact remained, despite the corporate and long range planners, that the one and only missing link was how to get the management team agreed and committed to a comprehensive set of action programmes.

To create this link, starting in 1960, Robert F Stewart at SRI in Menlo Park California lead a research team to discover what was going wrong with corporate planning, and then to find some sort of solution, or to create a system for enabling management teams agreed and committed to development work, which today we call 'managing change'.

The research carried on from 1960 through 1969. 1100 companies and organisations were interviewed and a 250-item questionnaire was designed and completed by over 5,000 executives. 

Seven key findings  lead to the conclusion that in corporations chief executive should be the chief planner and that his immediate functional directors should be the planning team. Dr Otis Benepe defined the 'Chain of Logic' which became the core of system designed to fix the link for obtaining agreement and commitment.

  • Monitor and repeat steps 1 2 and 3

We discovered that we could not change the values of the team nor set the objectives for the team so we started as the first step by asking the appraisal question, for example, what's good and bad about the operation. We began the system by asking what is good and bad about the present and the future. What is good in the present is Satisfactory, good in the future is an Opportunity; bad in the present is a Fault and bad in the future is a Threat. This was called the SOFT analysis.

When this was presented to Urick and Orr* in 1964 at the Seminar in Long Range Planning at the Dolder Grand in Zurich Switzerland they changed the F to a W and called it SWOT Analysis.

SWOT was then promoted in Britain by Urick and Orr as an exercise in and of itself. As such it has no benefit. What was necessary was the sorting of the issues into the programme planning categories of:

  • Product  (what are we selling?)
  • Process  (how are we selling it?)
  • Customer  (to whom are we selling it?)
  • Distribution  (how does it reach them?)
  • Finance  (what are the prices, costs and investments?)
  • Administration  (and how do we manage all this?)

[*N.B. Albert Humphrey's reference to 'Urick and Orr' is uncertain. Does this instead really refer to the notable British management theorists/and for a time consultancy partners Lyndall Urwick and John Leslie Orr? I don't know. If you do please tell me.]

The second step then becomes 'what shall the team do' about the issues in each of these categories. The planning process was then designed through trial and error and resulted finally in a 17 step process beginning with SOFT/SWOT with each issue recorded separately on a single page called a planning issue.

The first prototype was tested and published in 1966 based on the work done at 'Erie Technological Corp' in Erie Pa. In 1970 the prototype was brought to the UK, under the sponsorship of W H Smith & Sons plc, and completed by 1973. The operational programme was used to merge the CWS milling and baking operations with those of J W French Ltd.

The process has been used successfully ever since. By 2004, now, this system has been fully developed, and proven to cope with today's problems of setting and agreeing realistic annual objectives without depending on outside consultants or expensive staff resources.

Key Research Findings

The key findings were never published because it was felt they were too controversial. This is what was found:

1) A business was divided into two parts. The base business plus the development business. This was re-discovered by Dr Peter Senge at MIT in 1998 and published in his book the Fifth Discipline (not '5th Dimension' as previously stated here - thanks J Hoffman for this correction, 28 Jan 2011). The amount of development business which become operational is equal to or greater than that business on the books within a period of 5 to 7 years. This was a major surprise and urged the need for discovering a better method for planning and managing change.

2) Dr Hal Eyring published his findings on 'Distributive Justice' and pointed out that all people measure what they get from their work and divide it by what they give to the work and this ratio is compared to others. If it is not equal then the person first re-perceives and secondly slows down if added demands are not met. (See for interest  Adams Equity Theory  and the  Equity Theory Diagram pdf )

3) The introduction of a corporate planner upset the sense of fair play at senior level, making the job of the corporate planner impossible.

4) The gap between what could be done by the organisation and what was actually done was about 35%.

5) The senior man will over-supervise the area he comes from. Finance- Finance, Engineering-Engineering etc.

6) There are 3 factors which separate excellence from mediocrity:

a. Overt attention to purchasing

b. Short-term written down departmental plans for improvement

c. Continued education of the Senior Executive

7) Some form of formal documentation is required to obtain approval for development work. In short we could not solve the problem by stopping planning.

By sorting the SWOT issues into the 6 planning categories one can obtain a system which presents a practical way of assimilating the internal and external information about the business unit, delineating short and long term priorities, and allowing an easy way to build the management team which can achieve the objectives of profit growth.

This approach captures the collective agreement and commitment of those who will ultimately have to do the work of meeting or exceeding the objectives finally set. It permits the team leader to define and develop co-ordinated, goal-directed actions, which underpin the overall agreed objectives between levels of the business hierarchy.

Albert S Humphrey  August 2004

Issues into Actions

Albert Humphrey advocated that the six categories:

provide a framework by which SWOT issues can be developed into actions and managed using teams.

This can be something of a 'leap', and so the stage warrants further explanation. Translating the SWOT issues into actions, are best sorted into (or if necessary broken down into) the six categories, because in the context of the way that business and organisations work, this makes them more quantifiable and measurable, responsible teams more accountable, and therefore the activities more manageable. The other pivotal part in the process is of course achieving the commitment from the team(s) involved, which is partly explained in the item summarising Humphrey's TAM® model and process.

As far as identifying actions from SWOT issues is concerned, it all very much depends on your reasons and aims for using SWOT, and also your authority/ability to manage others, whom by implication of SWOT's breadth and depth, are likely to be involved in the agreement and delivery of actions.

Depending on pretext and situation, a SWOT analysis can produce issues which very readily translate into (one of the six) category actions, or a SWOT analysis can produce issues which overlay a number of categories. Or a mixture. Whatever, SWOT essentially tells you what is good and bad about a business or a particular proposition. If it's a business, and the aim is to improve it, then work on translating:

strengths (maintain, build and leverage) ,  opportunities (prioritise and optimise) ,  weaknesses (remedy or exit) ,  threats (counter)

into actions (each within one of the six categories) that can be agreed and owned by a team or number of teams.

If the SWOT analysis is being used to assess a proposition, then it could be that the analysis shows that the proposition is too weak (especially if compared with other SWOT's for alternative propositions) to warrant further investment, in which case further action planning, other than exit, is not required.

If the proposition is clearly strong (presumably you will have indicated this using other methods as well), then proceed as for a business, and translate issues into category actions with suitable ownership by team(s).

This is my understanding of Albert Humphrey's theory relating to developing SWOT issues into organisational change actions and accountabilities. (I'm pleased to say that Albert kindly confirmed that this is indeed correct.)

There are other ways of applying SWOT of course, depending on your circumstances and aims, for instance if concentrating on a department rather than a whole business, then it could make sense to revise the six categories to reflect the functional parts of the department, or whatever will enable the issues to be translatable into manageable, accountable and owned aims.

Here is a  summary of Albert Humphrey's impressive TAM® (Team Action Management) model , developed and used to speed up the process of initiating and controlling organisational change.

Why You Need a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

Table of contents.

swot of business plan

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:

swot of business plan

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?

Opportunities

  • 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:

swot of business plan

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: 

swot of business plan

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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PESTLE Analysis

SWOT and Business Analysis Tools

How to Use SWOT in Business Plans

Jun 16, 2016 by Thomas Bush

Building a successful business requires extensive forethought and planning. The latter, business planning, assists you in picking goals, defining strategies, and actualizing your vision. It may sound complicated to do so, but with the help of some key business analyses , especially the SWOT analysis, you can make the process much easier for yourself.

SWOT: What and Why?

If you’re a regular PESTLEAnalysis.com reader, you should know by now that SWOT analysis identifies the S trengths, W eaknesses, O pportunities, and T hreats of a business or individual venture. A well-executed SWOT analysis reveals lots of information about the circumstances you (do or will) find yourself in, and how to make the most out of them, both of which are essential in business planning.

If you are still not sold on the importance of a SWOT analysis in business, it is critical that you review this article (“ How Your Business Could Fall Without Proper SWOT Analysis ”) before continuing on.

SWOT Analysis in Business Planning / Plans

Business plans often try to answer questions like “How will we grow?”, “What will we change?”, or “What might prevent us?” The two external factors in a SWOT matrix (Opportunities and Threats) begin the process of answering these questions, thanks to their inherent relation to the future. The other two factors (Strengths and Weaknesses) — both of which are internal — also contribute to an answer, but in a less explicit way. These two factors help you pick out, amongst other things, what to make the most of and what might need working on to reach your goals.

Business Planning, Analysis, and SWOT

You can’t plan for where you want your business to be in some amount of time if you don’t know where it is now. Thankfully, business analyses are designed to help you work that out. Before actually getting started with your business plan, be sure to conduct a concise business analysis (which might also use a SWOT analysis as discussed in a previous article ) to gain some more insight into this matter.

Actually Planning with SWOT

When formulating a business plan, go through each of the variables included in a SWOT analysis, and ask how they relate to your plan. Here are a few examples for each factor:

  • Does our vision correspond with what we do well?
  • Are we good at what we will need to be good at?
  • How will our plan make the most of what we are good at?
  • Weaknesses:
  • Will our business plan be hindered by certain weaknesses?
  • Is it worth fixing them, or adjusting our plan to avoid them?
  • Opportunities:
  • What opportunities can we plan for?
  • How will we make the most of unexpected, unplanned-for opportunities?
  • What could prevent us from following our plan?
  • How will we deal with any unexpected issues?

SWOT Models for Business Planning

Everything is better explained with lots of examples or outlines, and so we have an entire article dedicated to SWOT analysis templates for more effective, efficient business planning. Be sure to check it out for another approach to using SWOT in business.

That’s all there is to using SWOT analysis in business planning! It may seem simple, but its benefits are surprisingly apparent. Have you used a SWOT analysis for business planning or a previous venture? We’d love to hear about it down below, along with your questions and comments.

Image © Thodonal | Dreamstime.com – Business plan

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COMMENTS

  1. SWOT Analysis Explained

    A SWOT analysis is a framework used in a business's strategic planning to evaluate its competitive positioning in the marketplace. The analysis looks at four key characteristics that are...

  2. SWOT Analysis: Examples and Templates [2023] • Asana

    A SWOT analysis is a technique used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to develop a strategic plan or roadmap for your business. While it may sound difficult, it's actually quite simple.

  3. SWOT Analysis: How To With Table and Example

    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...

  4. SWOT Analysis: How To Do One [With Template & Examples]

    A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique that puts your business in perspective using the following lenses: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

  5. What Is a SWOT Analysis and How to Do It Right (With Examples)

    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.

  6. What Is A SWOT Analysis? An Explanation With Examples

    A SWOT analysis is a high-level strategic planning model that helps organizations identify where they're doing well and where they can improve, both from an internal and an external perspective. SWOT is an acronym for "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats."

  7. SWOT Analysis

    Core Strategy Tools › SWOT Analysis Article • 17 min read SWOT Analysis Understanding Your Business, Informing Your Strategy MTCT 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.

  8. SWOT

    Written by Kyle Peterdy What is SWOT Analysis? SWOT stands for S trengths, W eaknesses, O pportunities, and T hreats. A SWOT analysis is a framework to help assess and understand the internal and external forces that may create opportunities or risks for an organization. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors.

  9. Develop your SWOT analysis

    A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. Developing a SWOT analysis can help you look at your business in a new way and from different directions. It can also help you to: create or fine tune your business strategy

  10. What is a SWOT Analysis? How To Use It for Business

    A SWOT analysis is a planning process that helps your company overcome challenges and determine which new leads to pursue. "SWOT" stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats ...

  11. How to do a SWOT Analysis in 7 Steps (with Examples & Template)

    A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that an organization can use to thoroughly evaluate a business or product. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It allows businesses to evaluate their company's competitive advantage and the flaws of its current business model and create strategies to capitalize on or reduce these observations.

  12. SWOT Analysis In Business (With Examples)

    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.

  13. SWOT analysis: An easy tool for strategic planning

    SWOT analysis is a framework for identifying and analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats you are facing.

  14. How to Do a SWOT Analysis for Better Planning

    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.

  15. How To Write a SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan

    How To Write a SWOT Analysis For a Business Plan Written by Anna Black 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.

  16. SWOT analysis

    SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning and strategic management technique used to help a person or organization identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning.It is sometimes called situational assessment or situational analysis. Additional acronyms using the same components include TOWS and WOTS-UP.

  17. What is SWOT Analysis?

    SWOT analysis is a technique developed at Stanford in the 1970s, frequently used in strategic planning.SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of an organization, project or business venture.A SWOT analysis is a simple, but powerful, framework for leveraging the organization's strengths ...

  18. How to Do a SWOT Analysis (Examples & Free Template!)

    A SWOT analysis is a technique used to determine and define your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats - SWOT. SWOT analyses can be applied to an entire company or organization, or individual projects within a single department.

  19. 20+ SWOT Analysis Templates, Examples & Best Practices

    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.

  20. SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

    Note that SWOT analysis is often interpreted and used as a SWOT Analysis 2x2 Matrix, especially in business and marketing planning. In addition to this 2x2 matrix method, SWOT analysis is also a widely recognised method for gathering, structuring, presenting and reviewing extensive planning data within a larger business or project planning process.

  21. Why You Need a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

    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).

  22. How to Use SWOT in Business Plans

    SWOT Analysis in Business Planning / Plans Business plans often try to answer questions like "How will we grow?", "What will we change?", or "What might prevent us?" The two external factors in a SWOT matrix (Opportunities and Threats) begin the process of answering these questions, thanks to their inherent relation to the future.

  23. How To Conduct A SWOT Analysis In Your Business Plan

    A SWOT analysis evaluates your business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Doing a SWOT analysis can help you to see how your business can improve and capitalise on current opportunities. A good SWOT analysis should also clarify what might hold you back, and how and when to take remedial action.

  24. 25+ SWOT Analysis Templates (Free Downloads)

    This management and business SWOT analysis template plays with shades of green, blue and gray to suggest trustworthiness, which is underscored in the balanced rectangle design. A monthly fee for 20 PPT template downloads starts at 49.99 USD. Seven-day free trial available.