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Lead Your Team Strategy

8 SWOT Analysis Tools for Small Businesses

8 SWOT Analysis Tools for Small Businesses
Credit: Marekuliasz/Shutterstock

Conducting a SWOT analysis prompts you to think critically about your business or career. By analyzing strengths, weakness, 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. There are different tools that can help you throughout this exercise, most of which provide good questions to guide your thinking.

Once you've established some strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, try combining information from different categories. 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 some areas for your business to 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.

The following  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 begin analyzing 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 templates for presentations, like the puzzle, diamond and leaves template.

Cost: Free

MindTools provides free worksheets to get started on your SWOT analysis. It offers 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.

Cost: Free

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. Otherwise, you'll have to pay a monthly subscription cost depending on your business's needs and users. This program also integrates with Google Images and can support collaboration from team members.

If this is your first SWOT analysis, Creately provides some examples from other companies so you understand what kinds of strategies your SWOT analysis will reveal once you've completed the exercise.

Cost: Free or $5 per user per month

Canva provides a host of online, business-relevant templates to work from when creating a SWOT analysis. 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 professional, presentable format for colleagues or other businesses.

You can either upload your own photos or choose from more than one 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.

Cost: Free

This tool is ideal for SWOT analysis diagrams that need to be created on Android or Windows 10 devices. Grapholite is, at its core, a flow-charting tool. But it possesses 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 and $9.49 from Google Play. An online and desktop version is available for $99.99. Note that the Windows Store app is included in a Team or Business license.

WikiWealth's free 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 up voting 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.

Cost: Free

IvoryResearch provides a SWOT Analysis Generator that can walk 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, this service is not. The Ivory service isn't geared toward design, but it could be a good starting point for your SWOT analysis.

Cost: Free

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 templates for creating charts or Venn diagrams directly in PowerPoint. Google also 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.

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 good questions to get you and your coworkers 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 can help you get an idea of where your business is and the kinds of challenges and opportunities you're likely to face in the future.

Matt D'Angelo

Matt D'Angelo is a contributor covering small business for business.com and Business News Daily. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications.