Creating a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a lot like creating a business plan. Most small business owners won't particularly enjoy the process, but it's a necessary step before launching any venture, product or service. Why? Because a SWOT analysis is one of the most valuable tools a business owner has to help make better business decisions.
A SWOT analysis 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. Doing a SWOT analysis from scratch isn't the most efficient or effective way to get the job done, however. Instead, here are four free SWOT analysis templates to guide you and help you get started.
Don't know where to start with your SWOT analysis? Check out Bplans' SWOT analysis resource page, which offers both a free SWOT analysis template 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. Bplans' free SWOT analysis template is available as a downloadable PDF file, while sample SWOT analyses are published on the website itself. [SWOT Analysis: Examples, Templates & Definition]
To further help businesses with the process of performing a SWOT analysis, Bplans also offers a guide that explains what a SWOT analysis is and how to create one, as well as additional information like establishing growth strategies based on the SWOT analysis and how to successfully integrate the finished product into your business plan.
2. Microsoft Office
A SWOT analysis isn't just for noting down what you perceive as your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Get the most out of your SWOT analysis by applying your findings to other parts of your business strategy, which can be done using the free SWOT analysis templates offered by Microsoft Office's SWOT analysis template library.
In addition to a basic PowerPoint SWOT analysis template, Microsoft Office offers several free Excel SWOT analysis templates for different strategic purposes. These include two types of business planning checklists — which use your SWOT analysis to create a to-do list to prepare for a formal business plan — and two competitive SWOT analysis templates that let you compare your SWOT with that of your competitors. Download these free SWOT templates directly from Microsoft Office's template library.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best business plan software visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]
3. My Spreadsheet Lab
Need more functionality for your SWOT analysis? My Spreadsheet Lab offers another free Excel SWOT analysis template, but with a twist: It uses a list-based spreadsheet, and then takes that data to generate a table-based SWOT analysis chart based on your commands.
My Spreadsheet Lab's Excel SWOT analysis template breaks down the process into two steps. First, start by listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the predesigned spreadsheet. (The template also includes an optional Comments column, where you can add notes and more details about each item.) Next, indicate which items should appear in your SWOT analysis chart by using the "Y or N" column, where a "Y" indicates "yes" and an "N" means "no." All the items with a "Y" will appear in the final SWOT analysis chart, and the rest will be hidden. This way, you can easily create and edit a clutter-free SWOT chart — without losing all your ideas that are stored in the source spreadsheet.
PowerPoint can be your best friend when you're doing a SWOT analysis, especially if you will be presenting your findings. 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.
SlideModel offers five types of free PowerPoint SWOT analysis templates. 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. All templates are ready to use after they're downloaded.
Originally published on Business News Daily