Thinking of buying an existing business? Here’s how to assess if it’s right for you.
Conducting a SWOT analysis periodically allows you to consider all of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as you fine-tune your business strategy.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis typically consists of a grid to help identify these important components.
- Strength – a positive, internal aspect of your business that’s within your control. A strength could be something that your business is great at, your team’s knowledge and experience, your access to credit or your intellectual property or location.
- Weakness – a negative, internal aspect of your business that’s within your control. A weakness might be uninterested staff, a lack of experience, a heavy debt, tax burden or obsolete technology.
- Opportunity – similar to strengths except they’re external, positive factors that could be leveraged to your business’s advantage. For example, an extended drought could be considered an opportunity if your business produces water-saving devices.
- Threat –similar to weaknesses except they’re external, negative factors that could harm your business. For example, the same extended drought could be considered a threat if your business sells thirsty tropical plants or turf.
The SWOT analysis template (PDF, 1MB) provides you with an easy way to break down an issue based on your business’s specific strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Use this template to analyse a single issue. We recommend identifying the issue and presenting it as a short, easy-to-understand sentence such as:
- Export widgets to Thailand.
- Print product labels in-house.
- License our products to third parties.
Once the issue being assessed has been defined, the SWOT analysis template can be used to consider various criteria – such as time, resources, quality control, business capability, competitors, market demand, political effects, partnerships, and legislative effects – along with any relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
We’ve already identified some of the most important criteria where businesses are either strong or weak along with criteria that may pose either an opportunity or a threat. These considerations should prompt you to think about your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as they relate to the issue being analysed. These prompts may surprise you, revealing insights you might not have considered otherwise.
After conducting your SWOT analysis, you’ll have a set of objective insights that you can use to make smarter strategic decisions.
How to use the SWOT analysis template
Using the SWOT analysis template is easy. Because it has editable fields, you’ll want to download and save the PDF file before opening it in Adobe Acrobat Pro or Reader (or a compatible program).
Open the document and define the issue that you’re assessing. Enter your issue in the ‘Issue being assessed’ field.
Read through the criteria to consider in the first row – which is for strengths and weaknesses. For each criterion, determine if your business is strong or weak.
Enter your strengths and weaknesses accordingly. If you can think of considerations not listed, by all means, enter any strengths or weaknesses your business has in those areas.
Read through the criteria to consider in the second row – which is for opportunities and threats. For each criterion, determine if an opportunity or threat exists. Again, if you think of any other external factors that could pose either an opportunity or threat, add them to your analysis.
Analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself:
- Are there any strengths that you’re underutilising?
- Do you have any weaknesses that you could easily fix?
Analyse your opportunities and threats. Ask yourself:
- Are there any opportunities you could use to your business’s advantage?
- Do your strengths support such a move?
- Will you need to strengthen your weaknesses in order to leverage an opportunity?
- How might the threats you’ve identified affect your business?
- What steps can you take to mitigate those threats?
- Is it possible to turn those threats into an opportunity?
Spending time analysing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a worthwhile activity that aids in decision-making and strategic planning.
Use our SWOT analysis template whenever you have a decision to make – or when you want to ensure your business is taking advantage of its strengths and opportunities while minimising its weaknesses and threats.