Your Full Guide on How to Write a SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis is one of those tools that you'll come across in any field. For example, it's used to define a product's competitive advantage, create a strategic plan for a business, and gain insights into consumer behavior.
But it's not just businesses that benefit from this technique. Personal SWOT analysis helps people plan their careers in the most optimal way possible, too.
As versatile as it is, SWOT analysis is not at all complicated. That's why its adoption rate is through the roof. And that's why you should learn how to take advantage of it, whether for an assignment or not.
To help you out with that, let's rely on our rich writing services experience and use it to break down in detail:
- What a SWOT analysis is;
- How it's applied in business strategies and marketing efforts;
- How to use the SWOT framework for any task;
- 4 real-world SWOT analysis examples.
What Is SWOT Analysis, Exactly?
Any SWOT analysis template contains four sections, presented in a two-by-two matrix:
- Strengths – your inherent qualities, resources, or skills that set you apart from the rest;
- Weaknesses – whatever is or may be stopping you or the business from performing well;
- Opportunities – external factors that you can use to your advantage to become more competitive;
- Threats – external factors that may harm your performance in the short or long run.
Internal and External Factors in SWOT Analysis
Each section represents a list of factors. These sections can be grouped into two broader categories: internal and external factors.
Internal factors – Strengths and Weaknesses in the first row – are inherent to you or the company. However, you can also do something about them if need be. Think of your skills as a professional if you're working on a personal SWOT analysis, for example.
External factors – Opportunities and Threats in the second row – aren't under your personal or the company's control. But they have an impact on you or the business, nonetheless. Once-in-a-lifetime pandemics, inflation, or industry trends are good examples here.
Positive vs Negative Factors
Another way to think about the SWOT matrix is by juxtaposing negative and positive factors:
- Strengths and Opportunities can help you or the company achieve your goal or succeed at a project. So, they represent positive factors.
- Weaknesses and Threats can negatively impact your progress and have to be mitigated. They're negative factors.
Why is SWOT Analysis Important?
Now that the question ‘What is a SWOT Analysis?’ is answered, you must have several others on your mind. So let's answer them one by one.
Who Should Do a SWOT Analysis?
Businesses of all sizes and in all industries can benefit from SWOT analyses. So, whether you're a prospective entrepreneur, a small business owner, or a C-level executive, this technique will be a useful arrow in your quiver.
You can also benefit from conducting a personal SWOT analysis. It would be best if you did it when looking for a job or facing a major life decision.
Why Should You Do a SWOT Analysis?
At its core, SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique. It's meant to help you organize all the factors. That, in turn, enables you to gain key insights into where you stand and how you can move from point A to point B.
How does it help you in strategic planning, exactly? The SWOT matrix shows you:
- Which strengths you should maximize and emphasize;
- Which weaknesses you should minimize and keep at bay;
- Which opportunities you can take advantage of;
- Which threats you should look out for and counter.
All of this leads to one outcome: better, more informed decision-making. Plus, SWOT analysis is notorious for challenging your assumptions as long as everyone involved is straightforward and honest in their answers.
What Can SWOT Framework Be Used For?
Now, let's talk about real-life practical applications of this technique. Here are three SWOT analysis examples:
- Choosing the business model for a new enterprise;
- Creating a break-even analysis and a business plan;
- Analyzing the company's quarterly and annual performance.
At a personal level, you can also conduct your own SWOT analysis to:
- Increase your chances of landing a job;
- Position yourself for getting a promotion;
- Understand what needs to change in your life in general.
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How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis in 8 Steps
SWOT analysis isn't complicated to conduct, and that's why they are so popular. Yet, it might be a wrong first impression.
A good SWOT analysis can take hours and should involve multiple people in a brainstorming session. It should also be as objective as possible – which can be harder to achieve than it seems.
So, how do you use a SWOT analysis – and get a quality result for your strategic decision-making process? Here's your step-by-step SWOT analysis example that you can use as a guide.
1. Determine Your Goal
Starting brainstorming without a goal means getting into the SWOT analysis blind. And your SWOT matrix will be useless – or misleading – in the long run.
For example, depending on your goal, the same factor can be a key strength or an irrelevant note. For example, if you aim to reach the 18-25 demographic in your marketing campaign, your active presence on TikTok will be a great asset. But if you need to find a way to attract more quality candidates in the hiring process, the TikTok presence will only help you a little.
So, zero in on what you want to achieve with this SWOT analysis. This can be a decision you or the company have to make – for example, whether to launch a certain product line. Your goal can also be to solve a certain problem or to create/reassess your strategy.
2. Do Your Research
Your research wouldn't be complete if you googled ‘What is a SWOT analysis?’ You'll need a lot of data during your brainstorming session. If you have it, you'll avoid guessing your company's or your own strengths or external threats related to your goal.
What Data to Look For
Your research should consist of two parts:
- Internal research. You'll need every piece of information on your or the company's performance to pinpoint the internal factors in SWOT analysis. That can include financial, sales, marketing, and other reports with key metrics.
- External research. Gather the data on your competitors, the market, the company's position and market share, and the industry as a whole. This data will be the basis for assessing your opportunities and threats.
There's one footnote, though. Depending on the goal, you'll need different data sets. So, focus on relevant data.
3. Pinpoint Your or Your Organization's Strengths
Now, it's time for the brainstorming session. If you're doing a SWOT analysis for a business, go with it: bring the right people to the table, virtual or not. It'll help you get a more objective, realistic, and complete matrix.
Start with the internal factors, namely your internal strengths: they're always easier to home in on.
Need a SWOT analysis example of a company's strengths? Here are five of them:
- Outstanding customer service with a high satisfaction rate;
- Strong financial performance;
- The first-mover advantage;
- Positive brand attributes;
- Strong technical expertise in the field.
5 Questions to Ask
Here are five questions to kick off your brainstorming and help you discover your company's strengths – or your own:
- What do you or the company do well?
- What are your strongest assets?
- Is there something only you or the company do?
- What is your competitive edge?
- What do customers appreciate about the company?
4. Zero in on Your or Your Company's Weaknesses
Now, it's time to move on to a more difficult part of assessing your internal factors: your weaknesses. Take a hard look at your or the business's performance and define what could be going better. Don't try to embellish the truth here!
Keep in mind: there are some weaknesses that you can eliminate and some others that you can only mitigate.
Looking for weaknesses SWOT analysis examples for students who run their businesses? Here are five of them:
- Poor brand recognition among the target audience;
- Suboptimal employee productivity;
- Limited resources, human or otherwise;
- Lack of intellectual property for key technologies;
- Long delivery times.
5 Questions to Ask
To explore your personal or business weaknesses, ask the following five questions:
- What do your competitors beat you at?
- What do customers complain about?
- What is holding back your or the company's success?
- What resources do you or the company lack?
- What are the gaps in your internal business processes?
5. Identify External Opportunities
Before you can exploit opportunities, you need to identify them in your SWOT analysis – and determine which ones are worth using, too.
For that, you'll need to turn to the external environment research you've done. Then, look at that data and pinpoint which trends or events you could take advantage of.
Need a SWOT analysis example or two here? Take a look at these three business opportunities:
- New markets emerging within the industry;
- New advertising channels rising to prominence;
- Particular customer needs that remain underserved.
4 Questions to Ask
If you don't know how to start zeroing in on opportunities, start with these four questions:
- Are there ways to gain useful resources you don't have or have little of?
- Are there any technological advancements that can help you mitigate your weaknesses?
- Are there any new or overlooked opportunities that you can exploit?
- How can the current economy or market trends be of use to you?
6. Home in on Potential Threats
Time to move on to the final part of a standard SWOT analysis: threats. These external trends and events can get in your way – or already are.
If you're working on a personal SWOT analysis, threats can include:
- High competition for the job you're after;
- Potential layoffs due to a financial crisis.
If you're conducting one for a large company or a small business, negative external factors can include:
- New emerging competitors, direct or indirect;
- New regulations that can entail considerable additional costs for the business;
- Unfavorable investment climate.
3 Questions to Ask
If you need a push in the right direction, here are three questions to help you zero in on the threats:
- Who are your competitors, and what is their market position?
- What is the state of the economy, industry, and market? Are they in decline?
- Are there any new regulations that can harm the business?
7. Review Your SWOT Analysis Matrix
Any college essay writer will tell you: having a good SWOT analysis right after brainstorming is impossible. You need to review every factor you've written down and edit the list. Leave only the elements that truly matter – and make them more specific if required.
3 Things to Pay Attention to
There are some common caveats that you can overlook if you need to be more careful during this step. Here are three of them to avoid:
- Factors that aren't specific enough – clarify or cross them out;
- Factors that aren't evidence-based – find proof or get rid of them;
- Factors that are over- or underestimated – have a fresh pair of eyes to look at the list.
8. Decide on the Solution
Once you've finished filling out and editing your SWOT analysis template, your work is only beginning. Now, you need to take your SWOT matrix and use your findings to find the solution to your key issue.
4 Questions to Pose
Here are four questions to guide you in your solution-seeking:
- How can you maximize your strengths? Which ones should be the top priority to boost?
- How can you mitigate or eliminate your weaknesses? Which ones should be taken care of first?
- Which opportunities should you take advantage of? Which ones will pay off the most?
- Which threats can do the most harm? How can you limit their impact?
4 SWOT Analysis Examples for Students
Need something more than just a SWOT analysis template? Let's see how this tool can be applied to practice with these four real-world SWOT analysis examples for students.
But if these sample SWOT analysis still don't help you, don't panic just yet. You can always buy essay online and let professionals worry about it. And no, it won't cost you a small fortune!
Amazon and Tesla Analysis
Apple and Personal SWOT Analysis
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