Using a SWOT analysis tool provides you with the guidance you need to successfully lead your business.
- SWOT analysis tools provide you with a guide to follow when creating your own SWOT analysis.
- There are several tools to choose from. The various options provide templates and starter questions to ensure you are focused on the right areas.
- There are a number of free and paid SWOT analysis tools. Paid options range from $5 to $100.
- This article is for business owners looking to find a SWOT analysis tool to help them with their decision making.
A SWOT analysis requires strategic planning and careful review of current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. However, it's often difficult to "wing it" when conducting your analysis. By using tools and templates, you'll feel more focused on your overall objective and organized with your strategic plan.
Here's everything you need to know about running a SWOT analysis and 10 tools to guide you through it.
What is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a technique that helps grow your business and align it with its bottom line. The analysis comprises of four parts:
Strengths: what your company does well, unique qualities, internal resources and tangible assets
Weaknesses: where your company falls short, areas that need improvement, things your competition does better
Opportunities: things you can capitalize on, emerging needs for your products/services, press/media coverage
- Threats: competitors, negative press, changing environment/customer attitude
Conducting a SWOT analysis prompts you to think critically about your business or career. By analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can better understand why your business is growing and what challenges lie in wait. The key to benefitting from this exercise is critical thinking – you need to analyze yourself, and your business accurately and honestly, to determine a proper strategy.
Key takeaway: A SWOT analysis allows you to take a critical look at various aspects of your business. It requires you to look at four key components: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
How to do a SWOT analysis
Below is an explanation of the steps to complete a SWOT analysis.
1. Define the objective of your SWOT analysis.
What is your purpose for conducting a SWOT analysis? Maybe you're deciding whether to develop a new product or service, or perhaps you're looking to compete better with businesses in your market. Your objective dictates how you move forward with your analysis and which areas you focus most of your attention on.
2. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Establish your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats based on the definition above. You'll want to ask yourself specific questions. Get specific with your responses. For example, when identifying opportunities, ask yourself, "What does my company do well?" "Do we have good leadership?" "What are some of our unique tangible assets?" Your answers will guide your results.
3. Use an analysis tool.
Choose an analysis tool to help conduct your SWOT analysis process so you can accurately measure each of the four components. Most offer question prompts or questions to guide your thinking and help you focus on more specific goals/objectives. They also help you categorize each section and form actionable goals.
4. Think critically about your results.
Once you have your chart, combine information from different categories and find ways to capitalize on your findings. For example, by looking at strengths and threats, you can accurately plan for how to deal with problems in an active way.
By looking at weaknesses and opportunities, you can develop strategies for how your business can improve. The goal of this exercise is to think about each category in isolation and then let each one interact with one another. This will illuminate new challenges and areas for development for your business.
Key takeaway: To conduct a successful SWOT analysis, you must determine what the analysis is going to examine; identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; choose an analysis tool; and, finally, analyze the results.
SWOT analysis tools for small businesses
The following SWOT analysis tools feature templates, starter questions and overall guidelines for conducting a SWOT analysis.
Smartsheet provides free SWOT analysis templates so you have a framework to analyze your career or business. It provides Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word templates and Smartsheet-specific templates.
Some templates are equipped with extra sections that focus on competitors or combine categories to create a space for identifying strategies. Plus, there are more creative SWOT templates for presentations, like the puzzle, diamond, and leaves template.
MindTools provides free worksheets to start your SWOT analysis plus other resources for conducting a good SWOT analysis, like an explainer video, an infographic, lists of starter questions, and information on strategies. There are some good SWOT tips as well as an example of a completed SWOT analysis. MindTools provides extensive resources on what a SWOT analysis is and how to complete one in the best way for your business.
This tool allows business owners to create SWOT diagrams and map out important strategies resulting from the exercise. Creately is great for small business owners looking to draft impressive diagrams for presentations or company handouts. You can create and download five public diagrams for free. If you want or need for than five diagrams, or if you have more than three collaborators, you'll have to upgrade to a paid monthly subscription. Creately integrates with Google Images and support collaboration from team members.
If this is your first SWOT analysis, Creately provides some examples from other companies so you understand what strategies your SWOT analysis may reveal once you've completed the exercise.
Cost: Free or $5 per user per month
Canva provides a host of online, business-relevant SWOT templates to work from. While this tool may not be ideal for completing your SWOT analysis, it is a good way to convert what you've found into a condensed, professional, presentable format for colleagues or other stakeholders.
You can upload your own photos or choose from more than 1 million stock images. You can also add filters, crop, and edit images directly in Canva. You can share your SWOT analysis with colleagues for feedback and collaboration by sending a link or clicking the Share button in the top right corner of the page. Canva works online and with iPhone and iPad devices, so you can view or edit an analysis from anywhere.
This tool is ideal for SWOT analysis diagrams that need to be created on Android or Windows 10 devices. Grapholite is, essentially, a flow-charting tool, but it has all the characteristics and tools to create a SWOT analysis diagram. This tool is also flexible and allows you to create SWOT diagrams that differ from traditional constructions, such as a Venn diagram. Grapholite features drawing tools, drag-and-drop capabilities, online and offline modes, and export options. It's available for free in the app store for iOS users.
Cost: $39.99 from the Windows Store. (Note: The Windows Store app is included in a Team or Business license.) An online and desktop version is available for $99.99.
6. WikiWealth SWOT Analysis Generator
WikiWealth's SWOT Analysis Generator provides prefilled SWOT sections to help you get started with your analysis. Once you've reviewed what's listed, you can choose prelisted strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, or you can add your own company-specific ideas.
This is a great tool for business owners who aren't sure where to start on their SWOT analysis. You can view explanations of each SWOT statement and add comments to each section. Business owners and their teams can prioritize different items by upvoting or downvoting them. If your business still needs more resources, there are more than 4,000 SWOT reports from other companies you can view as examples or even work from.
7. Ivory Research SWOT Analysis Generator
Ivory Research's SWOT Analysis Generator walks you through the steps for creating your report. Similar to WikiWealth's version, Ivory provides users with the ability to select strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from a preselected list. Ideally, these items will help you brainstorm other ideas specific to your business.
Once you've filled out all four categories, Ivory provides the option to have one of its writers draft a professional SWOT analysis specific for your business. While the generator is free, the service is not. The Ivory service isn't geared toward design, but it could be a good starting point for your SWOT analysis.
8. Microsoft Office or G Suite
Sometimes the best tools are the simplest ones. For brainstorming strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, Microsoft Office or G Suite programs provide the necessary tools for creating a SWOT analysis. After all, most of the time working on a SWOT analysis should be spent brainstorming and thinking critically about your business. You can use Google Sheets or Excel to make a quick list and then work with another program to design the diagram for handouts or a presentation.
If you're looking to design your SWOT analysis using these programs, Microsoft PowerPoint provides some SWOT templates for creating charts or Venn diagrams. Google offers the ability to create charts in Google Docs that can be imported into Google Slides.
Cost: Packages vary based on your business's subscription.
Gliffy is a great tool for physically creating your SWOT analysis. However, it doesn't offer questions or templates that guide your analysis; it only allows you to design your chart, similar to Creately.
By using Gliffy, you can develop impressive diagrams with its high customization, shapes and drawing tools.
Cost: $7.99 for one professional user, or $4.99 per user for teams
As its name implies, SWOT is a leading online SWOT analysis tool that offers free SWOT analysis templates of various layouts to help guide and organize your experience. You can also customize/build your own templates to match your preferences.
Once made, you can allow your team to vote on specific statements in each category and choose which to focus on.
The most important element to work on when creating a SWOT analysis is thinking critically about your business. There are several tools listed here with examples of other company's analyses, common items found in a SWOT analysis, and thought-provoking questions to get you and your co-workers thinking about your business.
No matter which tool you use, try to design and draft diagrams that are easily digestible and professional if they're going to be shared with the entire company or clients.
SWOT analyses help you gauge the position of your business in the marketplace and the challenges and opportunities you're likely to face in the future.
Additional reporting by Matt D’Angelo.