Are you looking for a SWOT analysis template?

A SWOT analysis is a vital part of every business. Check out this SWOT template and guide to speed you through the process and to an effective document that will help your business throughout its lifecycle. 

The What, Why & When Of SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

It’s an essential for many stages in your business. Shaping up a SWOT analysis template is a foundational step in thinking through any potential business idea. It’s really step one in validating a potential business. 

This process will also help you think through many critical elements for developing a strong product, brand, marketing campaigns, and business model. This will come in handy along your journey to help guide decisions and evaluate pivots and new initiatives.

Aside from your own internal use, the four-quadrant grid graphic you’ll display as the output of your analysis will be expected by potential lenders, partners, and investors. Once created this will also be a valuable document for any outsourced team members and agencies used for marketing, advertising, content production, design, and PR. 

You’ll include your SWOT analysis template in your business plan and pitch deck.

Preparing For Your SWOT Analysis

As with everything else in your business, this is worth preparing for. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. Yet, doing some real research and collecting real data is better than pure brainstorming. 

Here you’ll particularly want to conduct competitor research for:

  • Pricing comparisons
  • Capital
  • Funding and valuation
  • Branding and brand recognition
  • Customer happiness
  • Profitability
  • Marketing, including visibility and rankings

While it can be very tempting to do your own research and compilation as an entrepreneur or small founding team, you can unwittingly be a victim of your own bias and assumptions. You may benefit from having some third party help in this process to ensure more accurate findings.

When it comes to fundraising keep in mind that storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

SWOT TEMPLATE

Fill in the SWOT analysis template by asking where you are at in each of these areas. Displaying just four to five bullet points for each category is sufficient. Don’t overdo it or you will lose focus and it will become too distracting for potential investors. You want to highlight your strengths, show you’ve done your research. 

Strengths

What are your strengths? This is really important. It is where you will focus and what will make you stand out. It is why people will do business with you and invest in your company.

What are your top four competitive advantages? Be specific. Try to give tangible examples that are at least 10x improvements on all other options in the market. Can you deliver faster? Cheaper? Better quality? More profitably?

Weaknesses 

Being real is one of the key ingredients of tackling with flying colors this SWOT analysis template. You have weaknesses and competitive disadvantages. Every company does. Ignoring them and failing to list them will be considered a major weakness. One you might not recover from.

Perhaps you aren’t well funded, yet. Maybe other brands have been in this industry longer and are better capitalized. You may not have a large marketing budget or sales team. You could be brand new to the market. What are your current limitations? All of these things can be overcome with time and a new round of funding

You may also find interesting the video below where I cover in detail how rounds of financing work for startups.

Opportunities

What has the process of SWOT analysis and competitive market research revealed about opportunities?

Where are the gaps your competitors are leaving in the marketplace? Who is being underserved? Which customers are being left unhappy, and why?

How big are these opportunities? What niches are open? What is your available angle for standing out, getting ahead, and creating a moat around your business? 

Again, try to give tangible examples. Like “there are X million customers left unserved in this industry, who have said they would pay Y for this product, and this space is expected to be growing by Z millions of potential users per year through 2030.”

Threats

What potential future threats could negatively impact your business, create more challenges, or alter existing plans and projections. This is a very important aspect of the SWOT analysis template.

Common factors to consider here include:

  • The threat of copycat startups
  • Larger competitors moving in after they see your success
  • Legal risks
  • New or existing regulations
  • Rising costs and inflation
  • Extreme events like pandemic viruses, travel restrictions, unrest and weather
  • Political changes
  • Changing trends
  • Economic cycles and crashes
  • Changes in consumer behavior

The Value Of Second Opinions

The SWOT analysis template is not a complex document, but it is an important one.

One of the biggest risks to completing a strong analysis and document is bias and being too close to your own project. You can have tunnel vision, and that essential buoyant optimism can blind you sometimes. You also have a ton to do as an entrepreneur. Meaning you can rush this and just try to validate your own assumptions. 

Before finding this out during a live pitch to really important investors and blowing it, it is very much worth getting a second opinion.

Run your filled in SWOT template by your consultants and advisors, fundraising team, marketing, and strategy team members. What do they see? What do they see you’ve missed in terms of competitors? What do they think you missed in highlighting the great strengths and opportunities you have? What about the language you are conveying this in?

Summary

Use this SWOT analysis template to run your SWOT analysis and strengthen your business idea and all of the elements that make it a real business. Use it to boost your odds of getting funding and to more skillfully navigate the market after getting funded.

 

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