A SWOT analysis is one of the most valuable tools an entrepreneur has to help make better business decisions. This exercise — whose name is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats — explores the positive and negative aspects of proposed ideas, strategies and other business moves. It also identifies any internal and external forces opposing those proposals and ways they can impact the company.
Most SWOT analyses are broken down into a two-by-two matrix, with one box for each of the four components. If you're not sure where to start with your analysis, here are six free, downloadable SWOT templates to guide you.
Bplans offer its SWOT analysis template as a downloadable PDF file. From this resource page, you can find instructions for filling out a SWOT analysis, what to use it for, and sample SWOT analyses for various types of companies and industries. These include food establishments, as well as online stores, such as an Etsy shop, to give you an idea of what business-specific SWOT analyses should look like. [See Related Story: SWOT Analysis: Examples, Templates & Definition]
On BusinessBalls, you'll find several different downloadable SWOT tools available in Word and PDF format. This article includes a detailed explanation of each SWOT component, as well as a filled-out sample with numerous types of potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats your business might have.
If you've ever wondered what a SWOT analysis would look like for some of the world's biggest and best-known corporations, Creately has designed samples for companies like Google, Amazon and Nike on its SWOT analysis template page. You can also create and edit a blank template using Creately's web-based SWOT software.
MindTools offers a SWOT worksheet that guides you through the process of filling out your analysis. This article lists a series of questions you can answer for each component to help you figure out what to put in each box. For example, for Strengths, you are asked to list what advantages your organization has over others and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is; for Weaknesses, you're asked what factors cause your business to lose sales. This thorough, introspective look at your company may help you uncover things you didn't think of.
5. Priority Matrix
Priority Matrix, an app by Appfluence, provides a seven-step process that guides you toward filling out your SWOT analysis. First, it instructs you to choose your objective and decide what area of your business you want the analysis to focus on. Then, you need choose your "SWOT team," the key team members who will be involved in any decision-making that happens following the analysis. After listing items for each SWOT component (the next four steps), your last step is to prioritize the results and figure out your next course of action. You can also download the Priority Matrix app to help you create your analysis.
SlideModel's collection of free PowerPoint SWOT analysis templates can help you get your message across in an eye-catching and engaging way that can help persuade your audience. The first is a basic, one-page template that simply lists items under each SWOT section. There are also two multislide, table-based templates — one template is very simple and flat, while the other uses sleek graphics and a clean layout — both of which use a master SWOT analysis as a cover or intro slide, and then break down each section in the next slides. Additionally, the concept-based SWOT analysis template uses shapes and colors to visually illustrate ideas, whereas the creative template allows the use of images, diagrams and other objects.
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.