SWOT Analysis: Definition, Template, Examples for Businesses [2021 Guide]
There is a time when everyone has to make important decisions that require them to put a lot of thought into it. If you are a business decision-maker, you will have to make more critical decisions for your business. It’s essential to consider different relevant factors to make your decisions the wisest and most objective. The more important the decisions are, the more careful you need to be.
If you’re cracking your heads in a mess and trying to figure out a final decision, it’ll be challenging to come up with the best decisions or solutions. Fortunately, there is a method that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your decision-making process: SWOT analysis. We’ll talk about SWOT analysis in more detail so that you can understand and use it to make better decisions for your business.
Table of Contents
- What is SWOT Analysis?
- Why would you use a SWOT analysis?
- SWOT analysis template for businesses
- SWOT analysis templates for specific types of businesses
- SWOT analysis examples you can learn from
- Put on the action after you complete your SWOT analysis!
What is SWOT Analysis?
SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used to identify your business’s access to these four aspects, also known as external and internal factors of your business. A SWOT analysis is an incredibly simple but powerful tool to help you build on your business strategy, whether you are running a startup or guiding an existing company.
In a SWOT analysis, you’re going to determine and define your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your business - things that happen within your company. You can control and change these factors, such as your personnel, property, location, etc.
Unlike strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats are external factors or things that are going on outside your organization. You can’t control or change these factors but can take advantage of the opportunities to protect your business from the threats and make profits.
In more detail, opportunities are factors that your business could exploit to their advantage and gain a competitive advantage, such as an increase in demand for your products or a cutdown in tariffs for the goods you export to a specific market. Threats are unfavorable situations and factors that can potentially harm your business, such as your competitors, rising costs of raw materials, even the weather, etc. A SWOT analysis is displayed in a simple two-by-two grid.
If you take time to do a SWOT analysis, you’ll know what you already have, what you are lacking, and then be able to eliminate the hazards and reduce the chance of failure. A SWOT analysis will tell you where you currently stand, who you are rather than tell actional outcomes. So you need to acknowledge what your SWOT analysis presents and the actions you need to take next to solve the original problems that make you do a SWOT analysis.
Why would you use a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a simple business framework, but it’s extremely useful for analyzing your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s an intuitive way to build on what you do well, what you’re lacking, determine what you need to improve to minimize risks, and make the most significant advantage of success opportunities. Suppose you’re still not sure about your business. In that case, a SWOT analysis will enable you to get visibility on your business’s current status, understand and measure the overall performance of your business.
In more detail, if you need to analyze both external and internal factors affecting your business’s performance to understand every aspect of your business that helps you make better strategic planning and decision-making. A SWOT analysis can help you define opportunities that your business could take advantage of to make greater profits. By identifying the opportunities, you can predict what you can do to stay ahead of the competition and make your business different.
Identifying threats enables you to know external factors that may cause your business problems, such as the emerging new competitors or your existing competitors’ new campaigns. If you know these threats in advance, you’ll be more prepared with ways to counteract them.
When doing a SWOT analysis, you will have to dig deeper into every aspect of your business. This process helps you identify individual issues more easily. Individual issues that your business holds can be staffing issues, operational efficiency, financial resources, or business culture and image, which is difficult to address when you only just observe your business with an overall look.
SWOT analysis template for businesses
Every business and organization has its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so that a business SWOT analysis can differ in different circumstances. However, every company has to begin with a four-box SWOT analysis matrix, illustrated by a table with four factors: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
So your first and foremost thing to do is to draw up a four-box SWOT analysis matrix.
You need to do more than just answer some basic questions below to complete your SWOT analysis. The most important thing is to know your business by understanding it in the nitty-gritty.
Here is a standard four-box SWOT analysis matrix:
Who should make a SWOT analysis?
For a SWOT analysis to be effective, the company leaders need to be deeply involved. However, it’s good to ask opinions from people with different perspectives on your company, from sales, marketing, customer service to technology or manufacturing. It would be best to select and gather people who can present and assess your business from different angles to venture great objective opinions. Everyone should have a seat at the table and build on an in-depth and comprehensive business SWOT analysis. Some innovative companies even collect their customers’ unique voice and add them to the mix, which is better for generating customer-centric solutions in the future.
For the best results of a SWOT analysis, you can answer the following questions to know ways to flesh out your SWOT matrix box. Choose the questions that you can exploit their potential the most to figure out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Questions that can help inspire your analysis
- What business processes that you’ve done are successful?
- What are your assets?
- What invisible assets do you have in your teams, such as skills, knowledge, network, and reputation?
- What physical assets do you own, such as property, locations, equipment, technology, and personnel?
- What competitive advantages do you have over your competitors?
- How is your business different from others?
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- What things do your customers say that you do well?
- What expertise do you lack?
- What tangible assets that your company needs, such as cash, machinery, equipment, or machinery?
- What areas of your business need to be improved?
- In which aspects your product or service needs to be improved?
- Are your store locations good enough for your success and competitive advantage?
- How much debt does your company have?
- What complaints do your customers say about you?
- Are your profit margins lower than your competitors?
- In which business process your business is actually doing better than your competitors?
- Are there any trends or upcoming events that your company can take advantage of and benefit from?
- Are there any changes in the marketplace that impact your business positively?
- Do your competitors have any weaknesses that you can take advantage of?
- Are there any offers that you couldn’t provide your customers, but could offer now?
- Is the demand for your products or services is increasing due to the changes in the worldwide marketplace?
- Can you win the competition over your competitors by offering customers something they can’t?
- Is there anyone who can possibly become your competitor?
- How changes in the regulations severely impact your business?
- How is your business affected if the suppliers or manufacturers run out of the materials?
- What happens if external factors such as natural disasters, disease, or even army conflict?
- Are your competitors launching a new product or campaign that directly competes with yours?
- Is your website or operating system on the brink of being attacked anytime?
- Are your employees happy and satisfied? Are they easily poached by another company, especially your competitors?
The afore-mentioned questions are just suggestions for you to make a comprehensive SWOT analysis. If you want your SWOT analysis to be more specific to your business, it would be best to compile the opinions and thoughts of people from different parts of your company. You will get the chance to discover something that might be hidden from your business. You can also listen to your customers to know what they think about you. This requires you to build rapport with both your customers and your employees.
A standard structure of a SWOT analysis can be used by businesses of all types. However, SWOT analysis can be more specific and diverse in templates to suit different businesses in different fields and purposes. The following section will introduce some basic SWOT analysis templates that are separately used for different purposes of a business, such as marketing, consultant, nonprofit, eCommerce, retail, etc. Ask yourself relevant questions in each part of the template to figure out your final SWOT analysis.
Let’s delve deeper into it!
SWOT analysis templates for specific types of businesses
Marketing SWOT analysis template
To develop a better marketing plan, you should conduct a SWOT analysis for your product and service. Through this analysis, you will know what your products or services can make you different from your competitors, then identify what you can do better than them to find the best way to market your products.
A SWOT analysis template for marketing:
|- What advantages do you have to realize your marketing goal?
- What tool do you have or can use at your fingertips to help you reach your marketing goal?
- How is your brand awareness?
- How is your brand exposure?
- How well your audience or targeted customers know about you and your products?
|- Is your product price higher than your competitors?
- What limitations related to technology, people, or expertise may prevent you from achieving your marketing goal?
- What improvements could you make?
- What’s not going so well right now?
|- What strategies or tactics are your competitors not using?
- What new trends could you utilize to promote your products or services?
- Is there any change in the market that can boost your marketing efforts?
|- What market conditions and changes may prevent you from achieving your marketing goal?
- What are your competitors currently doing better than you?
- Are your competitors going to deploy a marketing campaign that could harm your marketing efforts?
Retail SWOT analysis template
If you are running an existing retail business, you will often use a SWOT analysis to evaluate your business. Like other SWOT analysis, a retail SWOT analysis is a detailed look at the retailer’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. After identifying and analyzing all the factors in the SWOT analysis, retailers need to know how to utilize this analysis for developing effective marketing strategies and making better critical business decisions.
A SWOT analysis template for retail businesses:
|- Are you offering a cheaper wholesale price than your key competitors?
- Are you providing more unique and high-quality products compared to other retailers?
- Do you already solidify yourself as a qualified and prestigious retailer in the marketplace?
|- Do you lack identity or have a weak brand image in the marketplace?
- Is your product much more expensive than other retailers?
- Are your products not unique and appealing enough to set your business apart from other retailers?
|- Is there anything that your customers stick out for that you currently do not offer, but could?
- Can you increase your market share and expand your retail business by purchasing another small retailer?
- How can a decrease in the costs of materials and shipments positively affect your business?
|- Is there any signal that shows a decrease in customers’ demand for your products?
- How can changes in customer shopping habits negatively impact your business?
- Does the development of online shopping affect your bricks-and-mortars retail business?
Online business SWOT analysis template
An in-depth SWOT analysis will help you identify critical factors that affect your online business, draw on strengths, minimize weaknesses, leverage opportunities, and counteract threats.
A SWOT analysis template for online business:
|- Do you have your own business strategy?
- Are you offering competitive pricing compared to your key competitors?
- Are you providing quality products and services?
- Is your website designed to be visual-catchy, responsive, and user-friendly?
|- Are you offering a higher shipping cost than your competitors?
- Is your supplier not capable enough to provide a consistent stock for your products?
|- Can you expand your business to the global market?
- Does mobility help you reach more customers?
- Can technology advance help you grow your business?
|- How can unexpected changes or updates in regulations and Laws cause disadvantages for your business?
- What happens if your customers leave bad reviews about your products or services?
Nonprofit SWOT analysis template
Nonprofit organizations can use SWOT analysis to make better strategic decisions for their critical plans. A SWOT analysis is a great way to identify if your nonprofit organization fits into the market, which needs to be improved to maximize its impact on the community to successfully implement fundraising strategies successfully.
A SWOT analysis template for nonprofit organizations:
|- What service do you take the most confidence in?
- Do you solidify your nonprofit to provide great support to the community?
- How many years of expert insights do you have?
- How large is your donor base?
- What great does your nonprofit organization contribute to the community?
|- Don’t you have a large online presence?
- What limitations prevent your nonprofit from growing?
- What things do your competitors do better than you?
- What makes your nonprofit organizations not be able to set a clear, unique selling proposition?
|- Do you have fewer competitors in your area?
- Is there an emerging need for your products or services?
- Do you have a good online presence?
- Are there any potential businesses or organizations that you can build on partnerships with?
|- Are there any emerging competitors in your area?
- What happens if there are changes in the regulatory environment?
- How bad media or online assumption affect your nonprofit organization?
Startup SWOT analysis template
A SWOT analysis will help a startup identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With this critical information, startups with few experiences will take a realistic look at their current conditions in the marketplace and define the opportunities and threats that they may overlook. And then make informed decisions about their marketing and other vital aspects of their new businesses. A SWOT analysis will help you know how to capitalize on opportunities by utilizing your strengths.
Covid 19 pandemic is devastating small to large businesses. It’s time for you to evaluate your startup success with an in-depth SWOT analysis.
A SWOT analysis template for startups:
|- What business processes do you do the best?
- What assets do you have in your company?
- Which asset you have is the strongest?
- How skilled and qualified is your workforce?
- What good your customers say about you?
|- What skill and knowledge does your workforce lack?
- Do you have a limited budget?
- Is your customer base too low?
- What things do your competitors do better than you?
- In which areas your competitors have a competitive advantage over you?
|- How can you turn your strengths and weaknesses into opportunities?
- What current trends can you draw on?
- What improvements can you make now that has not been done before?
- Can you utilize online shopping to make a big move for your business?
- Which businesses or investors can support you or become your partners?
|- Is there any running or emerging competitors to your business?
- If you have suppliers, can they provide you with products on time and always ensure the product quality and quantity?
What changes in the marketplace and customer shopping habits can become a significant threat to your business?
Suppose you are going to launch your business with a new product. It’s good to conduct a SWOT analysis that helps you decide if you should introduce this product to your range.
Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis that you can learn from:
|- Excellent sales staff with strong knowledge of your new products
- A good relationship with customers
- Great brand awareness built online
- Successful marketing strategies
|- Problems with cash flow
- High rental costs
- Weak communication with customers
- Lack of skillful and professional workforce
|- Products with lower price than existing products on the market
- Have a great online presence to target customers
- Rising customer demand for products
|- Product is similar to the competitors
- Competitors strengthen their products by deploying new advertising campaigns
- The economic downturn makes shopping habits change; people spend less, and demand decreases
Consultant SWOT analysis template
By conducting a SWOT analysis, consultant businesses can discover unique selling points for their services. You can also use SWOT analysis to analyze your clients’ cases and situations to identify the best solutions for them.
A SWOT analysis template for consulting firms:
|- What does your consulting firm do well? Which is the best
- How skilled and experienced is your workforce?
- How many years of services does your company have?
- Is your customer base large?
- Do you already build a great reputation for your consulting business?
- Are your consultants have a great reputation in the market?
|- What your competitors offer that you don’t?
- Is your location ideal enough?
- Is your customer base small?
- What skills and knowledge does your workforce lack?
- Are you providing fewer services than your competitors’?
- Do you have a small client list?
|- Are there any trends in consulting services that you can leverage?
- Can you take advantage of the Internet and new technology to maximize the speed and effectiveness of your services?
- Are there any certifications that you can achieve to increase your qualification and prestige?
- What services can you offer now due to customers’ high demand that you haven’t done before?
|- How running and merging consulting businesses affect your business growth?
- Do the new changes and modifications related to the legislation make your operations harder?
- Are your employees happy and supported? Can they easily poached by other firms?
- Is there any signal showing that the demand for your services is decreasing?
SWOT analysis examples you can learn from
Let’s take a look at the real SWOT analysis of different big companies. These SWOT analysis are not officially released by the companies. After researching thoroughly these companies to understand their business operations in 2020 and refer to the evaluations and assessments of experts, I draw on these SWOT analysis to provide you with a more realistic look at a business SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis of Coca Cola in 2020:
|- Dominant market share in the beverage industry
- Strong brand identity
- Diversified product portfolio
- Great brand association and reliable customer loyalty
- A strong supply chain system
|- Aggressive competition with Pepsi
- Product diversification
- Health concerns
|- Create new products and diversify its segment
- Step on the processed food market
- Build on presence in developing countries
- Utilize advanced supply chain system
- No plastic waste
|- Excessive direct and indirect competition from emerging beverage companies
- Water usage controversy
- Packaging controversy
- Pollution concerns in many countries
- Covid 19 and future pandemics
About Coca-Cola’s strengths, the Coca-Cola Company is a key global player that holds a large market share in the beverage industry. In 2019, Coca-Cola’s US. market share takes up 43.7% along with its biggest component - Pepsi, control the market share of the carbonated soft drink (CSD) industry.
Besides the dominant market share, Coca-Cola also has a unique and strong brand identity. Its soft drinks rank the most-selling drinks in history and have the presence in over 200 nations in the world. People worldwide recognize and engrave Coca-Cola’s brand image of its red and white color. The brand earns a solid reputation for soft drinks and has built a long-standing loyal customer base. What’s more, Coca-Cola has been strengthening its relationship with suppliers and distributors worldwide to solidify its strong supply chain system.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s weakness significantly falls in its aggressive competition with Pepsi, product diversification, and health concerns. It’s reported that Pepsi-Co had a market cap of $188.6 billion as of May 2020, while Coca-Cola had a market cap of $185.8 billion. While Pepsi has a wide variety of products besides its soft drinks, Coca-Cola remains a low product diversification.
Therefore, the first opportunity of Coca-Cola is to expand its product range and market share in the health and food segments just like Pepsi. Developing and hot weather countries still open to the Coca-Cola products; it’s a great opportunity for the company to build on its presence in these countries, such as developing Southeast Asia countries and Africa.
One of the biggest threats to the Coca-Cola Company is its direct and indirect competition from emerging beverage companies. These companies have a high chance to dominate the local market, which can threaten the global penetration of Coca-Cola.
SWOT analysis of Amazon in 2020:
|- Strong brand name
- Brand evaluation
- Large merchandise selection number of third-party sellers
- Operational synergies
- Largest Cloud technology
- Impressive growth in sales and revenue
- Global distributions network
|- Low-profit margins in few areas
- Limited brick-and-mortar presence
- Limited penetration in developing international market
- Overdependence on distributors
- The appearance of fake and imitated goods on the platform
|- Grow distribution network and pick up international locations
- Expanding physical stores
- In-house production
|- Regulatory threats
- Aggressive competition with online and offline retail firms
- Attacks from cybercrime
Without a doubt, Amazon is the trailblazer of the eCommerce industry, accounted for 37.5% of all U.S. online retail sales in 2019, using its strengths and opportunities to continue hitting a peak despite the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This market-share leader has a strong brand name, great brand equity, and a large merchandise selection number of third-party sellers. However, some weaknesses of Amazon have held back its development, such as limited brick-and-mortar presence, limited penetration in developing international markets, or overdependence on distributors. For example, the company owns very limited physical stores, which sometimes hinders to stimulate customers to buy things not sellable online.
Amazon still has a lot of opportunities to win back its strong competitive advantages in more areas and gain significant market share in 2021 by growing its international distribution network, expanding physical stores, or focusing on product diversification. The company also needs to prepare to counteract growing threats like the negative impact of regulatory changes, aggressive competition with emerging online retail platforms, or cybercrime.
SWOT analysis of Apple in 2020:
|- A most valuable and recognizable brand
- Top technology
- Globally iconic
- Product and service diversification
- Vast product ecosystem
- Brand of choice
- Most loyal customer base
|- High priced products and services
- Limited advertisements and promotions
- Incompatibility with other software
- Allegations of user tracking
|- Expansion of qualified professionals in the team
- Consistent customer growth
- Expansion of the distribution network
- Smart wearable technology
- Expand music streaming services
- Utilize artificial intelligence
|- Inconsistent manufacturing and supply chain due to the Covid 19 pandemic
- Counterfeit products
Growing competition with other tech giants
- Limited market penetration
Apple, Inc. is one of the most successful companies in the world. The most valuable and recognizable brand has been providing robust technology products making it globally iconic. By innovating and adapting to top-notch technology, Apple has grown exponentially in terms of products and services and build one of the most loyal customer bases.
However, Apple only penetrates on a limited segment due to its high priced products. Only medium and high-income consumers can afford Apple products. This somehow limits its reach to potential customer groups out there. Apple’s products are mainly incompatible with other software that users need due to the consistent development of products running on the iOS operation system.
Apple is backed by a team of many highly qualified professionals. If Apple can expand and strengthen this team, the company can continuously create and seize new opportunities. The company also needs to acknowledge significant threats that can cause problems. For example, Apply relies much on China for its manufacturing and supply chain, which are sustainably stagnant because of the Covid 19 outbreak.
SWOT analysis of Zara in 2020:
|- Highly efficient manufacturing and distribution
- Strong global presence
- Sensitive to new fashion trends
- Expansive physical stores
- Strong supply chain
|- Limited advertising and promotions
- Reliance on physical stores
- No specialization and limited uniqueness in products
|- Expansion of retail stores
- Leverage artificial intelligence in online shopping for a better customer experience
|- Competitiveness from other brands
- The increase in prices of materials and labor
- Legal and political regulation
Zara is one of the biggest clothing brands in the world. The company has the most number of fashion retail stores in the world. With involved strategy and management practices in running the supply chain, Zara remains the highest efficiency in manufacturing and distribution, guaranteeing fast delivery to any location in the world.
Despite the fact that Zara’s limited advertising restricts its promotions and the reliance on physical stores creates a lot of disadvantages for the company in the lockdown time this year, opportunities are still waiting for it to grasp. Both the expansion of retail stores and leveraging the online market will help the company increase its customer base and attain a higher proposition in the marketplace.
Zara also has to counteract threats from its competitors - clothing brands like H&M, Mango, Vero Moda, etc. The rising costs of materials and labor could also hinder Zara from manufacturing and distributing their products consistently.
Read more: PEST Analysis
Put on the action after you complete your SWOT analysis!
SWOT analysis can be applied in different cases in life. You can do a personal SWOT analysis to help you evaluate your personal growth and have a better plan for your future. SWOT analysis plays a more pivotal role in your business in helping you know who you are and what you can do to strengthen your business.
One final tip that I want to mention is that don’t focus too much on your competitors. Instead, think more about things that may hold your company back personally, which you can immediately change and have more chance to win back. I hope you find this article helpful and can conduct an excellent SWOT analysis for your business. Thanks for reading!