SWOT analysis is a simple technique that can drive actual results, even with pen and paper.
Businesses use SWOT analysis to evaluate and improve their business strategy. No matter the size or industry, all strategic teams can benefit from running a SWOT analysis regularly.
In this guide, we’ll explore a few SWOT analysis examples that will help you create your own with ease. But first, we’ll need to look at the basics of a SWOT analysis and how this tool can impact your business performance.
A SWOT analysis categorizes aspects of your business – like its strengths and weaknesses – into a simple grid. It can help you identify how well something is performing and what to change if it isn’t. Since the information is presented in an easy-to-read grid, SWOT analyses are quick and straightforward assessments.
SWOT is an acronym for:
- Strengths: Strengths are things your business already does well, the unique resources your team possesses, or any advantages you may have over your competitors. You can decide these internally with your team.
- Weaknesses: Weaknesses are areas where your business could improve, where you could use a boost in resources, or areas where your competitors are doing better than you. You’ll also decide these internally with your team.
Opportunities: Opportunities are areas you can take advantage of now. These could be new resources available to you right now, any trends, or any strengths you’ve yet to adopt into your strategy. Like threats, opportunities are “external factors” because they are outside of your control.
Threats: Threats are anything that could negatively impact your business from the outside or any obstacles your business currently faces. You can usually get a sense of your business’s threats or competition when you run any market analysis.
SWOT analysis assesses these four aspects to judge the performance of your business or project. You’ll need to be objective about each of these aspects to get the most out of your SWOT analysis.
The SWOT technique was initially developed to assess business performance, but teams now use it to evaluate personal growth, business strategy, or project management.
It is still most commonly used by businesses to determine if their business or marketing initiatives are working and why. Companies can also anticipate any possible challenges or market competition and create preemptive or reactive strategies to address any market gaps.
Your SWOT matrix should have four quadrants: one for strengths, another for weaknesses, another for opportunities, and the final one for threats. They all represent a different aspect of your objective.
The strength section of your SWOT analysis is for the things your business already does well. Remember, strengths are internal, so they happen within your business, and you have control over them.
You can also use data to help you determine your business strengths. For example, use sales data to determine which products or services are most popular or a market analysis tool to understand how you measure up against your competitors.
- What do you think you do well?
- What do others see as your strengths?
- What is unique about you?
Examples of strengths for SWOT analysis include:
- The people in your business or on your team
- The skills or departments in your business
- Your products and intellectual property
- Your unique selling proposition
The weaknesses section of your SWOT analysis is for the areas your business could improve in or lose to your competitors. Again, your weaknesses are internal to your business, so you have some degree of control over them.
- Where do you think you can improve?
- Where have others suggested improvement?
- Where do you have less knowledge or resources?
Examples of weaknesses for SWOT analysis include:
- The size of your business
- Production costs
- Technology and systems
Your SWOT analysis opportunities section is for strategies or resources you can currently use as a business. Opportunities are not controllable by you, as they are external to your business.
- What opportunities are open to you?
- What trends can you take advantage of?
- How can your strengths help you to find opportunities?
Examples of SWOT analysis opportunities include:
- Lack of competition
- Workload vs. staff
- Untapped markets
The threats section of your SWOT analysis is for the potential issues or challenges you could face as a business. Again, threats are external factors, so they are things happening outside of your business or yourself. They aren’t controllable, but you can actively plan for them.
You can also consult any competitor or brand monitoring tools you may have to understand better any threats your brand currently faces.
- What is your competition doing?
- What implications could your weaknesses have?
- What are your immediate threats?
Examples of threats in SWOT analysis include:
- Competitor activity
- Staff turnover
- Customer service
- Negative press
Anyone can do a SWOT analysis – it doesn’t require specialized tools or even niche data. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen.
Conducting a SWOT analysis works best with a team, so you’ll have various ideas and suggestions. Doing so can also help keep your analysis objective.
To that end, it is good practice to involve a diverse group of voices in your business to get the truest data possible.
1. Set an objective: Before you start, decide what you want to evaluate with your SWOT analysis. Even if you’re already sure, check whether you’re specific enough about your objective. Write your aim at the top of the page.
2. Draw your grid: Underneath your title, you can draw your SWOT matrix (also known as a SWOT grid or SWOT chart.). It should be a 2×2 grid with four quadrants. This grid is essential as it distinguishes the four sections of your SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.
3. Gather your data: If you are in a group, now is the time to float ideas to fill in each of the 4 sections of your SWOT matrix. Every time someone identifies a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat, you should write it in the relevant quadrant. Each thing you write might not have equal importance but will have some insight into your overall objective.
With these 3 steps, you’ll have completed your SWOT analysis.
As we mentioned earlier, you can use SWOT analysis in all kinds of business scenarios. If you’re feeling a little stuck, you can review our SWOT analysis examples:
In marketing, a SWOT analysis is a standard part of a project review or a competitor analysis. Strengths and weaknesses in a marketing SWOT analysis affect aspects like delivery time, mobile-friendly website, review rating, product quality, or market share.
You should be working on your strengths while improving or avoiding areas where you are weak. You can use your opportunities or threats in your strategies for growth.
Creating a SWOT grid can help eCommerce businesses evaluate current business strategies and plan for future ones. It’s beneficial when starting up your business or when you experience rapid growth.
Weaknesses and strengths in an eCommerce SWOT analysis are aspects of your business like delivery time, product range, website performance, checkout process. You should consider your customer reviews as these can give you insight into the things your business does well and things it could improve on.
Sometimes reviews can highlight some opportunities for your business too. These could be things like new payment methods that your customers prefer or potential promotions you could offer to your returning customers.
Lastly, your threats for your eCommerce SWOT analysis are aspects that could negatively affect your growth, like competitor activity, regulatory changes, or production costs.
You can do a host of SEO-related SWOT analyses for eCommerce with our SEO toolkit Competitive Research tools. Try the Domain Overview tool (which grants insights into any domain’s traffc), or the Organic Research tool (which lets you see a domain’s organic traffic.)
You can also use the Keyword Gap tool to identify any keyword opportunities you can take advantage of or any gaps you can improve.
As a B2B business, development involves being aware of your branding message and how your customers respond to it. SWOT analysis can help you to identify all of these aspects and more.
The strengths and weaknesses in a B2B SWOT example include parts of your business like distribution, network, brand perception, and your team. Each could be a strength if you do it well or a weakness if you find you’re unequipped or could do better.
Your opportunities could come from your weaknesses – for example, you could grow your team, expand into new markets, or invest in new technology. Your threats are likely to be centered around your competitors but could include external factors like rising charges.
You can also use a SWOT analysis with your team or individual on your team to assess their performance.
The strengths and weaknesses in a personal SWOT example should include aspects of the individual conducive to the business and those that are not. For example, are you a fast worker, but your attention to detail is lacking? Or are you able to manage a team well, but your communication skills could improve?
The opportunities section of your SWOT analysis should include upcoming events or things that you can use to your advantage. They could be things like a better commute route to get to work earlier, working from home so you can concentrate better, or a new laptop so you can work better.
Threats in a personal SWOT analysis should be treated with objectivity but can include individual external factors (like moving homes) that could impact your work. They are not necessarily unavoidable either, but you should be as honest as you can about them to build a recovery plan into your strategy.
Lastly, let’s consider a real-life example of SWOT analysis for BMW in the UK. This SWOT analysis would have arisen as part of an annual business review to ensure the company is growing in line with its target in the UK.
Strengths for BMW SWOT Example would include:
- Brand recognition
- High-quality products
- Strong, global ecosystem
- Large distribution network
- New hybrid & electric range
Weakness for BMW SWOT example include:
- Product price
- Limited variation in the product range
- Labour and part cost
Increasing company debt
Opportunities for BMW SWOT example:
- Technology advancement
- New ranges
- Increase in demand for sustainable cars
- VW Diesel emissions scandal
- New Top Gear series with potential for features
Threats for BMW SWOT example:
- Technology like electric battery limitations
- Brexit import implications
- Increasing competition in electric and performance car space
- Drop-in demand due to COVID
- Increasing government regulations
To get the most from your SWOT analysis, you should take a moment to look for any similarities or trends between items of each quadrant. You might find that you can draw connections between your strengths and opportunities or your weaknesses and threats.
Once you have drawn out and filled in your 2×2 grid SWOT analysis, you can expand it using the TOWS technique.
The TOWS matrix approach is designed to help you create strategies based on your SWOT. It means that you can actively integrate your SWOT analysis with your plan to improve its outcome.
To use the TOWS technique in your SWOT analysis matrix, you’ll need to add another 4 quadrants. You will end up with quadrants for:
- S/O strategies (ideas to utilize your strengths and opportunities)
- W/O strategies (ideas to overcome your weakness by using opportunities)
- S/T strategies (ideas to use your strengths to overcome your threats)
- W/T strategies (ideas to avoid your weakness and threats)
PEST analysis is another assessment tool used to consider the impact of external factors on your business, project, or individuals.
PEST analysis stands for:
- Political factors
- Economic factors
- Social factors
- Technological factors
Incorporating a PEST analysis into your SWOT can help you plan further ahead by considering factors beyond your control but can still impact your business.
A SWOT analysis can help you identify, anticipate and address the advantages of and obstacles to your business or project. When creating a useful SWOT grid, there are many business factors to consider, so feel free to involve your team and include any relevant data you may have when evaluating your business.
With time, you’ll clearly understand where your business shines and where it could use the most improvement. Be patient, stay objective, and keep it simple!