What is a SWOT analysis and how do you go about performing one? My Product Roadmap has broken it down, with examples, to make your next SWOT analysis easy. It is a fantastic tool for businesses to improve the performance of projects and processes. Find out more.
What is SWOT?
A SWOT analysis is a technique used to assess and evaluate four key aspects of your business or organisation:
Strengths - What does your company do well? Your qualities? Internal resources and tangible assets?
Weaknesses - What could be improved? Where do you lack resources?
Opportunities - What external factors could you take advantage of? What do your competitors lack?
Threats - What external factors could present problems? How can these factors impact your business?
A SWOT analysis looks at the past, present and future of a business, business idea or proposal. Originally, SWOT analyses were just used for businesses. However, this technique is now also utilised amongst investors, governments and entrepreneurs.
Strengths and weaknesses present the internal factors to do with your organisation, such as assets, company culture, brand, processes and staff. Opportunities and threats represent external factors, such as the wider economy, market trends and government regulations.
Why is a SWOT analysis important?
The importance of a SWOT analysis is that from this technique you can create a strategy. Once you have taken the time to evaluate your businesses’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to create a solid business plan to improve the project.
The information and insight that an effective SWOT analysis provides encompasses everything from prioritising tasks and highlighting potential problems to scoping new ideas to help your plan succeed.
A SWOT analysis forces you to look at and consider your business in different ways and from new angles. You can use a SWOT analysis to fully utilize what you've got to your business's advantage. Simultaneously, you reduce the chances of failure by understanding what you're lacking, and eliminating hazards that would otherwise catch you unawares.
Essentially, the results yielded from a SWOT analysis can help you stay ahead of the competition, leverage advantages and improve internal processes.
By sitting down and considering the four key elements a SWOT analysis requires, you enable a unique opportunity to gain greater insight into how your business operates.
How to conduct a SWOT analysis
There is no set way you must conduct your SWOT. However, there are a number of factors you should consider.
Many people find using a SWOT template from the get-go makes the whole process smoother.
Collaboration is key to a successful SWOT analysis. This can be done via an informal approach such as collaborative brainstorming around a table. You should select people from various aspects of your company as those in customer service will have different insights to those in product development, for example.
It’s also recommended to allow everyone involved independent thought, as to prevent group bias and allow everyone from every department or area have the chance to provide their thoughts. This could simply be providing a time frame for staff to fill out a form or send an email. Fundamentally, a successful SWOT analysis incorporates all insights so that nothing is overlooked or forgotten.
When considering the threats and opportunities for your business, it is important to analyse data for external factors such as market trends.
You should consider several key aspects when analysing market trends such as government policies, as they control most free markets, alongside supply and demand.
Some questions to ask include:
- Are people wanting your product or service?
- How are your competitors doing in the current market?
- What do investors and other financial experts expect to happen in the near future?
By considering market trends, you can stay relevant and up-to-date, whilst also listening and responding to consumers wants and needs. Thus, ensuring a more successful product or service. If you ignore or overlook market trends, you could be setting yourself up for some potential threats in the future.
We’ve taken a look at how to approach each area of SWOT with examples of questions to ask so you can put together the most effective analysis.
To consider your company's strengths you should ask yourself: what does your business do well? How are you distinguished from competitors? What makes your brand, product or service unique?
Think of the advantages your business has, paying particular attention to your core values, internal processes and staff. Other things to consider as strengths are customer loyalty and brand recognition. Ultimately, when analysing the strengths of your business you are looking for what makes you different from the rest.
Key questions to consider:
- What do others perceive as your strengths?
- When competitors or consumers think of your business, what would they say are your strong points?
- What makes your brand, product or service unique?
- Why would people invest in your service or buy your product?
The key to successfully assessing your weaknesses is honesty. Like strengths, weaknesses are the internal frameworks within your organisation. What could you improve? What have you discovered in the past that your company tends to struggle with? Looking at previous experiences and data can be useful when analysing your company’s weaker points. What hasn’t worked well in the past?
Again, you should focus on how your company is perceived from the outside as this can help you think about it from a new angle.
Brainstorm anything that stands in the way of your business performing to its optimum potential. By spending the time to identify all your shortcomings, you can then prepare and strategize to tackle these and prevent potential issues arising.
Key questions to consider:
- What do competitors think your weaknesses are?
- What do they have that you don’t?
- What have you discovered in the past that your company tends to struggle with?
- What areas don’t run efficiently?
Now’s time to switch focus to external factors. Opportunities arise from various situations, this could be the market or technology, for example. In order to be successful and become a leader in your market, you must seize opportunities and exploit any opportunity that may emerge. No opening or possibility is too small, if you see something that can benefit your business, service or product, you should capitalise on it.
Responses to the latest events, consumer behaviour and societal changes can all contribute to potential opportunities. In terms of your SWOT, an opportunity is an external factor that can positively help your business. You’re looking for outside advantages when analysing your business.
Key questions to consider:
- Where is the market or demand growing?
- What would more budget allow you to do?
- How can the listed strengths be turned into opportunities and grown even further?
- How can the listed weaknesses lead to growth?
- Is there a need in the market that isn’t being met?
The opposite of an advantageous external factor is a threat. Any outside influences that could negatively impact your business. Potential threats could be anything from regulations and competitors to costs and labour. It’s important to identify threats as you can then plan action against them or avoid them. Many external elements can just easily be a threat as they can be an opportunity, it all depends on what falls in your favour.
Take market trends for example, if there’s a rise in consumers spending and investing in your product or service - what an opportunity to capitalise on this! If your business is dropping in popularity and demand is dwindling, this is then a threat. Do you have the resources if any threats arise? Planning for threats is to arm yourself and ensure you’re equipped to handle anything that may be thrown your way.
Key question to consider:
- What would happen if there was a decrease in budget?
- Could any of the weaknesses prevent you from meeting your goals?
- Are there any current trends that pose a threat to success?
- Are your competitors changing their approach or improving their process?
How to use your SWOT analysis
Now you’ve done your SWOT, but the hard work isn’t over yet. We now need to turn your analysis into actionable strategies. A key part of this process is to combine the four areas, for example, you’ve identified your strengths, how can you utilise these to take advantage of the opportunities?
Similarly, how can you minimize your weaknesses to avoid potential threats? Can any opportunities help you improve your weaknesses? You’re essentially going from four separate categories to blending them in pairs, to create strategies and plans of action for your business to maximise success.
The advantages of a SWOT analysis template
A professional SWOT template can help you for a number of reasons. Firstly, a SWOT analysis should be carried out regularly, usually every 6-12 months. This is because external and internal factors are frequently changing - just take 2020 for example!
It’s also recommended to conduct a SWOT analysis whenever you are implementing new business strategies or proposals and they can be used alongside other analytical techniques to improve pitches and more.
Having a range of SWOT templates on hand is ideal as you can simply download them whenever you need or want to conduct a new analysis.
Secondly, rather than use up your time physically creating the SWOT, you can get straight to the research, data collection and discussion.
With a SWOT analysis template from My Product Roadmap, you simply need to fill in the table with information tailored to your company. Our range of SWOT templates are easy to edit and available in a range of colours, formats and styles. Explore our SWOT analysis templates today and find PowerPoint slides that are clear and professional.
SWOT Analysis Examples
You know what a SWOT analysis is, but what does it look like and how should you present it to key people in your company?
The most common presentation is a table with quadrants for each element. Strengths and weaknesses are usually listed first, followed by opportunities and threats. Let’s take a look at some SWOT examples available at My Product Roadmap:
This competitive SWOT template presents the four quadrants as expected, but what sets it apart is how the cells are interlinked as jigsaw pieces.
It’s important when conducting a SWOT analysis to not only identify the four elements, but to consider how they affect each other. Your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities are not stand-alone factors, they can influence and rely on each other.
This SWOT template clearly demonstrates this and is useful for any business who wants to visually show this.
In order to keep your presentation engaging, informative icons are a simple way to illustrate information.
This SWOT template does just that. With the four quadrants headed by large icons, you can clearly see what your SWOT is about and thus so can your audience. The SWOT analysis then proceeds to delve further into each quadrant with more textual information.
For those wanting a SWOT analysis that has equal weight of icons and written content, this template is for you. The first slide shows the quadrants we have come to associate with any SWOT analysis, but this template takes that one step further.
You have ample room to list your initial key points, then the following slides offer space to go into more depth. Whilst still benefiting from eye-catching colours and infographics.