A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is one of the most valuable tools entrepreneurs and small business owners have to help make better business decisions. This exercise 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.
We’ll explain more about conducting a SWOT analysis and share resources for free, downloadable SWOT analysis templates.
To conduct a SWOT analysis, you’ll generally assess your business and how its elements fall into four categories:
Most SWOT analyses are broken down into a 2 x 2 matrix, with one box for each of the four components. If you’re unsure how to start your analysis, here are eight free downloadable SWOT templates to guide you.
Bplans offers its free 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 industries and businesses, including online stores like Etsy shops and food establishments. These samples give you an idea of what a business-specific SWOT analysis should look like.
On BusinessBalls, you’ll find several free downloadable SWOT tools available in Word and PDF formats. The website 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.
Maybe you’ve 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 to answer for each component to help you determine what to put in each box.
For example, for strengths, you’re asked to determine:
For weaknesses, you’re asked about:
This thorough, introspective look at your company may help you uncover things you didn’t previously consider.
Priority Matrix, an app by Appfluence, provides a free SWOT template with a seven-step process that helps you complete 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 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 following four steps), your last step is prioritizing the results and determining your next course of action. (You can also download the Priority Matrix app for iOS to help you create your analysis.)
SlideModel’s collection of free PowerPoint SWOT analysis templates can help get your message across in an eye-catching and engaging way.
The first template is a basic, one-page template that lists items under each SWOT section. There are also two multislide, table-based templates: One is very simple and flat, while the other uses sleek graphics and a clean layout. Both use a master SWOT analysis as a cover or intro slide and then break down each section in the following 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.
Smartdraw offers several professionally designed SWOT analysis diagrams for instant productivity. The templates work on any device, including mobile devices, Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Smartdraw also offers free support through telephone or email.
Note that Smartdraw is only free for a seven-day trial and you must create an account to use the templates. You must buy Smartdraw to print, share or export them.
Designers at Superside have created more than 20 unique PowerPoint templates to help you conduct a thorough SWOT analysis. These free templates feature various designs and styles, giving you several options to customize how you choose to present your information. You can choose from an abundance of colors and themes to find the template that best fits your team and its style.
Below are some of the primary advantages of conducting a SWOT analysis.
Whether you’re looking for investors, you’re trying to reach new customers in different markets, or you have another goal, conducting a SWOT analysis can bring insights and decision-making clarity. SWOT analyses are helpful for new businesses, but it’s also valuable to conduct them periodically to stay abreast of industry changes. Consider conducting an analysis once or twice a year. This way, you can help your business stay ahead of the competition and appeal to customers from a place of strength.
Adam Uzialko contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.