SWOT Analysis Guide (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A SWOT analysis can help professionals assess themselves or different elements within a business. The analysis helps them make the best, most informed decisions. In this article, we explain what a SWOT analysis is and why it is useful. We also show you how to perform a SWOT analysis with a SWOT analysis example.

What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis assesses strengths, weaknesses, objectives and threats. You can use a SWOT analysis to evaluate a variety of business elements, such as:

  • A product or service

  • A business department

  • A business proposal

  • An entire business

  • Your performance as an employee

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, while objectives and threats are external factors. Individuals or businesses can change or affect internal factors. External factors are usually beyond the person or business's control. Strengths and objectives are both positive factors, while weaknesses and threats are negative.

SWOT factors

Considering all these types of factors helps you make the best decisions:

  • Strengths

  • Weaknesses

  • Opportunities

  • Threats

Strengths

This aspect notes the advantages of business assets. A SWOT analysis can help you build on your own or your company's strengths. SWOT analysis strengths examples could include:

  • A loyal workforce

  • High-traffic branches

  • Successful marketing strategies

  • Innovative leadership

Weaknesses

This part considers the negative elements of a business. Identifying weaknesses helps you minimise any issues and become stronger. Weaknesses in SWOT analysis examples could include:

  • Track record of missing deadlines

  • High rental costs

  • Outdated market research

  • Cash flow concerns

Opportunities

This section notes external positive prospects. Knowing what possibilities exist helps you seize available opportunities. SWOT analysis of external opportunities examples could include:

  • Brand or product more affordable, more eco-friendly or locally produced than the competition

  • Customer demand for products or services

  • A peak buying period approaching

  • Investors interested in supporting products overseas

Threats

This factor considers elements that could put you, a business or its assets at risk. Once you understand the threats, you can make plans to counteract them. This approach minimises the risk of threats. SWOT analysis threats examples could include:

  • Competitors with similar products

  • A competitor launching a major marketing campaign

  • New competitors entering the market

  • An economic downturn

Why do businesses use SWOT analyses?

Many businesses use SWOT analyses for strategic planning. They are a popular choice because they provide a versatile framework for analysis. Any organisation, regardless of its industry or size, can use a SWOT analysis.

SWOT analyses can explain the positive and negative forces inside and outside businesses. This information helps organisations build on positives and reduce the impact of negatives. It can also highlight areas for improvement. For example, it can teach businesses about product weaknesses and inefficient company practices.

A SWOT analysis can help you decide the merit of any business goal. For example, your organisation may want to diversify its products. A SWOT analysis can help you determine whether this is the right decision. You might use a SWOT analysis when:

  • Hiring a new employee

  • Designing and launching a new product

  • Reviewing an employee, team or department

  • Assessing a market or customer base

  • Analysing company products, services and practices

  • Deciding where to put company resources

Why do professionals use SWOT analyses?

Many professionals also use SWOT analyses to assess their own performance. Performing a SWOT analysis encourages you to think about the factors you can change and those beyond your control. It also promotes honest self-reflection. The information you get from a SWOT analysis can help you become a better employee. It can also suggest the right steps for your career. You might do a personal SWOT analysis when:

  • Conducting a personal performance evaluation

  • Deciding whether to advance your career

  • Deciding whether to change roles or industries

How to perform a SWOT analysis

Following a proven process will help you conduct an effective SWOT analysis. Complete these steps chronologically to perform your SWOT analysis:

  1. Define your subject. Your subject definition should be clear and specific. Defining the subject of your SWOT analysis will help you stay focused. When you know what you are writing about, you will know which points are relevant and which are not. These relevant details will help you know your subject better. Good subjects for SWOT analysis include: Readiness for a managerial role, third-quarter performance of sales team or the effectiveness of a social media campaign.

  2. Create a SWOT analysis framework. A SWOT framework is a large box divided into four equal squares. You could draw it on a notepad or whiteboard. You could also create it in a word processor document or spreadsheet. Label the top-left square “Strengths.” Label the top-right square “Weaknesses.” Label the bottom-left square “Opportunities.” Label the bottom-right square “Threats.”

  3. List points relevant to each square. You might focus on one square at a time or find it easier to list points when you think of them. You could complete this step on your own or with your team. Working as a team can be beneficial as your team members will have different ideas from your own. Their views can create a more comprehensive SWOT analysis.

  4. Make your conclusions. Analyse your points and decide what they tell you. Write down your conclusions and use them to inform your next steps. For example, your SWOT analysis might suggest a new product would launch favourably. You could then take steps to develop and launch the product. If you were analysing yourself, you might decide you have the skills to advance in your career. You could then start promoting your skills and applying for new roles.

Keep your completed SWOT analysis and revisit it a few months to a year later. This evaluation process will remind you of the plans you made. Assess whether you followed through on your plans and their outcomes. For example, perhaps you noted disorganisation as a personal weakness. You may have planned to write to-do lists to improve yourself. If you are not yet in the habit of writing to-do lists, you could make a greater effort to start.

SWOT analysis examples

Viewing a swot analysis template example can help you understand how to create your own. Our SWOT analysis examples only contain three bullet points. However, detailed swot analysis examples should contain all the points that are relevant for analysis.

Personal SWOT analysis example: Readiness for a managerial role

Strengths

  • Graduated with a bachelor's degree in business studies

  • Have good people skills

  • Have good problem-solving skills

Weaknesses

  • Often disorganised

  • Feel stressed near deadlines

  • Only worked in the current position for two years

Opportunities

  • Can study Masters of Business Administration online

  • Current manager considering retirement

  • The industry has an aging workforce

Threats

  • Have limited money for study

  • There is a competitive market for managers

  • Health condition makes me regularly take time away from work

Conclusions

After assessing the SWOT analysis, I think I could make a great manager. However, I think I should take some steps before applying for managerial jobs. These steps include:

  • Use scheduling apps to become more organised.

  • Join a yoga class to handle stress better.

  • Ask my manager to mentor me before they retire.

  • Apply for a loan through the SA-HELP program, which will cover my student services and amenities fee for an online MBA study. The government will also give me a FEE-HELP loan to cover the cost of my tuition. The institution takes the loan repayments from my pay at a manageable rate.

  • Graduate with my MBA.

  • Resolve my health condition so I can improve my attendance and performance.

Once I take these steps, I will have worked longer at my current role. The experience I gain and my new degree will make me an even better candidate when I apply for management jobs.

Business SWOT analysis example: Third-quarter performance of sales team

Strengths

  • Knowledgeable sales staff with 4+ years' experience with the company

  • Exceeded quarter target by 7%

  • Reduced call times by one minute, on average, for greater productivity

Weaknesses

  • Consistent lower sales on Mondays

  • Staff report feeling pressure to reach quotas

  • Reliance on cold calling as no business development team

Opportunities

  • Competitor products are typically more expensive

  • Market research shows increased brand awareness

  • Foreign investors showing interest in partner deals

Threats

  • The market leader has twice the market share of our company

  • New competitor launching in the market

  • Shoppers increasingly shopping online

Conclusions

After assessing the SWOT analysis, we think our sales team is performing well. However, we can still make improvements. We think our company should:

  • Establish a business development team. This will create new opportunities for our sales team. This should help them work more effectively and reduce stress levels.

  • Start the week with a motivational Monday meeting. This could improve productivity on Mondays and build morale.

  • Develop a new marketing campaign. We could promote ourselves as “The reliable choice you can afford.” This should narrow the gap between the leader and our sales and reduce the impact of a new brand.

  • Establish an online store. This will maximise sales from shoppers that prefer purchasing online.

We believe all these steps will help us improve on these sales results in future quarters.

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