Management consultant looking for a new template for a SWOT analysis on his laptop.

SWOT analysis: templates, examples and best practice for your company

SWOT analysis is a crucial tool in strategic business planning, looking at both internal and external factors. Learn what the advantages and disadvantages are, how best to proceed and how a SWOT analysis template can help you implement it.

Let's start with a definition of SWOT analysis.

What does SWOT stand for?

SWOT stands for

  • Strengths - Strengths
  • Weaknesses - Weaknesses
  • Opportunities - chances
  • Threats - Risks

It is a way in which companies (internal) and their environment (external) can be analysed.

What is a SWOT analysis?

The SWOT analysis takes stock of a company or team in the form of a matrix. First, the internal strengths and weaknesses are considered and written down. For example, are there innovative products, is there a lack of know-how or manpower? Then the environment of the company or team is analysed. Now it's time to look at the opportunities and risks. What about further development, for example?

In the second step, you derive strategic recommendations for action from the stocktaking. What do you have to do when opportunities meet weaknesses or risks meet strengths?

Graphical representation of a SWOT matrix as a template for a SWOT analysis.

SWOT Analysis Template © r0b_ / adobe stock

Since both the environment and internal company factors are considered, the SWOT analysis is considered an important tool for strategic corporate planning.

To carry out a SWOT analysis

Teams usually meet in meetings to brainstorm on the four SWOT categories. All ideas are collected in a matrix. This can be done mind-map-like on a whiteboard, in a list like Excel or in a flexible table structure like SeaTable's SWOT analysis template.

But what belongs in the four categories?

Examples of the SWOT categories

In the four categories, analyse the current state of your company and the business environment. Proceed as follows:

Strengths: The strengths of a company are those characteristics that make it stand out from the competition. The SWOT analysis then includes, for example:

  • Innovative products
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Technological know-how

2. weaknesses(Weaknesses): Weaknesses represent the disadvantages of a company in general competition. For example:

  • Lack of know-how
  • Lack of investment power

3.opportunities: opportunities are factors in the business environment that represent advantages for the company. For example:

  • Trends in society
  • Legal regulations
  • Technological developments

4. risks(threats): Risks, on the other hand, are factors in the business environment that represent disadvantages or even dangers for the company. For example:

  • Changes in exchange rates
  • New competitors
  • Technological developments that will make the product redundant in the future

In addition, pay attention to the following tips when you carry out your SWOT analysis.

Tips for carrying out the SWOT analysis

When looking at the external factors in the SWOT analysis, keep in mind: it is about solving two problems. How can you keep up with market trends and how can you predict them? After all, you don't just want to swim along, you want to delight your customers.

Also choose a SWOT analysis template to make your work easier. The analysis starts with the choice of the right tool, in addition you should think about the composition of the appropriate team.

The stocktaking process is very time-consuming. Who can you release for the meetings? Furthermore, competences from different departments are needed. Which colleagues have an insight into the opportunities, weaknesses, strengths and risks of the company and business environment? Ideally, you should put together a team of ten employees.

A team talks about a new SWOT analysis template.

A team talks about a new SWOT analysis template © weedezign / adobe stock

Another tip: Be creative. Set up brainstorming sessions so that (new) ideas can be discussed in a playful way.

What strategies can you derive from the SWOT analysis?

The SWOT analysis results in four different directions. For this, you relate the strengths and weaknesses of your company to the opportunities and threats from the business environment:

  1. Expand (strengths-opportunities combination): Strengths increase the realisation of your opportunities. Look at which opportunities can be successfully exploited with which strengths of your company. Does it make sense to further expand certain business fields or product areas?
  2. Catching up (weakness-opportunity combination): Is there an opportunity that can only be realised if an internal weakness is compensated? Here your management has to make a decision: Should you invest in eliminating the weakness? This way you can use the opportunity afterwards.
  3. Hedging (strength-risk combination): When assessing risks, you should ask yourself which risks your company can counter with which strengths. Can a strength possibly also turn a risk into an opportunity if new business models or products can be realised through it?
  4. Avoid (weakness-risk combination): Where do weaknesses meet risks? Here you should be particularly careful. Consider how you could protect yourself from harm. Which activities, if any, should be avoided? Should you withdraw completely from a business field?

Now that you know what is achievable with the SWOT analysis, it is time for practical implementation.

Are there SWOT analysis templates?

The answer is yes. There is no shortage of templates for SWOT analysis. For example, you can find SWOT analysis templates for Excel, Word and similar programmes via Google search. The templates are arranged either as a list or in a matrix.

Here you can see an example of a SWOT template:

How the SeaTable SWOT analysis template works

If you would like to use SeaTable's SWOT analysis template to conduct your analysis, simply register for free on our website. In the template library you will find a SWOT analysis example with the corresponding template. Click on "Use template" and start with your analysis.

In the list you will find columns for the corresponding four categories of the SWOT inventory.

In the first column of the template you enter the fact you have found out. The next two columns help you to assign it to the individual SWOT categories. You first determine the origin of the fact (internal or external) and then the effect (positive or negative).

For example, in the "Positive" field, enter your strengths and external opportunities. In the "SWOT" field of the template, select which of the four categories each is. The column "Details" is for information about the factor.

Once you have entered all the information, you can switch from the main view to the "SWOT" view and look at your finished SWOT matrix.

You have the option of accessing the completed SWOT analysis or the SWOT analysis still to be edited in your account at any time.

Conclusion

With the SWOT analysis you determine where your company stands and formulate strategies for the future. You use the four categories of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and consider both internal and external factors.

A SWOT analysis template helps you to carry it out.

Register for free here to get started with your SWOT analysis. "

Image source Cover image: © everythingpossible/Adobe Stock

Ralf Dyllick-Brenzinger
Ralf Dyllick-Brenzinger is the founder and managing director of SeaTable. He is the strategic mastermind of SeaTable and the master of numbers. He loves his fiancée's cookies and a good bike ride.