SWOT Analysis

Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats

Find out more about SWOT,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.

SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you and the Threats you face.

Used in a business context, it helps you carve a sustainable niche in your market. Used in a personal context  , it helps you develop your career in a way that takes best advantage of your talents, abilities and opportunities.

This article looks at how to use SWOT in a business context. (Click here   to learn how to do a Personal SWOT Analysis  .

Business SWOT Analysis

What makes SWOT particularly powerful is that, with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are well-placed to exploit. And by understanding the weaknesses of your business, you can manage and eliminate threats that would otherwise catch you unawares.

More than this, by looking at yourself and your competitors using the SWOT framework, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors, so that you can compete successfully in your market.

How to Use the Tool

Originated by Albert S Humphrey in the 1960s, the tool is as useful now as it was then. You can use it in two ways – as a simple icebreaker helping people get together to "kick off" strategy formulation, or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool.


Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to your organization, while opportunities and threats generally relate to external factors. For this reason, SWOT is sometimes called Internal-External Analysis and the SWOT Matrix is sometimes called an IE Matrix.

To help you to carry out your analysis, download and print off our free worksheet, and write down answers to the following questions.


  • What advantages does your organization have?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't?
  • What do people in your market see as your strengths?
  • What factors mean that you "get the sale"?
  • What is your organization's Unique Selling Proposition   (USP)?

Consider your strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the point of view of your customers and people in your market.

Also, if you're having any difficulty identifying strengths, try writing down a list of your organization's characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!

When looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to your competitors. For example, if all of your competitors provide high quality products, then a high quality production process is not a strength in your organization's market, it's a necessity.


  • What could you improve?
  • What should you avoid?
  • What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
  • What factors lose you sales?

Again, consider this from an internal and external basis: Do other people seem to perceive weaknesses that you don't see? Are your competitors doing any better than you?

It's best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.


  • What good opportunities can you spot?
  • What interesting trends are you aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from such things as:

  • Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale.
  • Changes in government policy related to your field.
  • Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on.
  • Local events.


A useful approach when looking at opportunities is to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities. Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.


  • What obstacles do you face?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or services changing?
  • Is changing technology threatening your position?
  • Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
  • Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?


When looking at opportunities and threats, PEST Analysis   can help to ensure that you don't overlook external factors, such as new government regulations, or technological changes in your industry.

Further SWOT Tips

If you're using SWOT as a serious tool (rather than as a casual "warm up" for strategy formulation), make sure you're rigorous in the way you apply it:

  • Only accept precise, verifiable statements ("Cost advantage of $10/ton in sourcing raw material x", rather than "Good value for money").
  • Ruthlessly prune long lists of factors, and prioritize   them, so that you spend your time thinking about the most significant factors.
  • Make sure that options generated are carried through to later stages in the strategy formation process.
  • Apply it at the right level – for example, you might need to apply the tool at a product or product-line level, rather than at the much vaguer whole company level.
  • Use it in conjunction with other strategy tools (for example, USP Analysis   and Core Competence Analysis  ) so that you get a comprehensive picture of the situation you're dealing with.


You could also consider using the TOWS Matrix  . This is quite similar to SWOT in that it also focuses on the same four elements of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. But TOWS can be a helpful alternative because it emphasizes the external environment, while SWOT focuses on the internal environment.


A start-up small consultancy business might draw up the following SWOT Analysis:


  • We are able to respond very quickly as we have no red tape, and no need for higher management approval.
  • We are able to give really good customer care, as the current small amount of work means we have plenty of time to devote to customers.
  • Our lead consultant has strong reputation in the market.
  • We can change direction quickly if we find that our marketing is not working.
  • We have low overheads, so we can offer good value to customers.


  • Our company has little market presence or reputation.
  • We have a small staff, with a shallow skills base in many areas.
  • We are vulnerable to vital staff being sick, and leaving.
  • Our cash flow will be unreliable in the early stages.


  • Our business sector is expanding, with many future opportunities for success.
  • Local government wants to encourage local businesses.
  • Our competitors may be slow to adopt new technologies.


  • Developments in technology may change this market beyond our ability to adapt.
  • A small change in the focus of a large competitor might wipe out any market position we achieve.

As a result of their analysis, the consultancy may decide to specialize in rapid response, good value services to local businesses and local government.

Marketing would be in selected local publications to get the greatest possible market presence for a set advertising budget, and the consultancy should keep up-to-date with changes in technology where possible.

Key Points

SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.

It can be used to "kick off" strategy formulation, or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool. You can also use it to get an understanding of your competitors, which can give you the insights you need to craft a coherent and successful competitive position.

When carrying out your analysis, be realistic and rigorous. Apply it at the right level, and supplement it with other option-generation tools where appropriate.

Download Worksheet

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Comments (23)
  • Yolande wrote This week
    Hi mailmevishals

    The link to the worksheet is

    Mind Tools Team
  • Midgie wrote This week
    Hi Ferdie,
    I am not clear as to what more help or guidance you are looking for, in addition to the example we have provided in the article. If you are looking for more examples, one thought is to do a search online.

    If you are looking for some personal, one-to-one support, one thought is to come join the Mind Tools Club (link in upper right hand corner of page) and share the situation you are wanting to do the SWOT. You will receive input, ideas and suggestions from all our members to help you.

    Mind Tools Team
  • mailmevishals wrote This week
    can you share the link to download SWOT Analysis tool at mailmevishals@gmail.com
  • Ferdie wrote This month
    hello. can someone help me or guide in making a comprehensive swot analysis?
  • Yolande wrote This month
    Hi Ilya

    Go to our permissions page over here: http://www.mindtools.com/php/Permissions.php?e=rdqpermissionshelpdesk . If you scroll about halfway down the page, you will find the heading "Citation of Mind Tools Material". You will find the information you are looking for over there.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Ilya wrote This month
    Hello! Could you please help me? How is it possible to reference this article as I used it for my university assignment?
  • Yolande wrote This month
    Thanks Kwena - glad you enjoyed it.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Kwena wrote This month
    great article
  • Terence wrote Over a month ago
    SWOT Analysis
    In order to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of the GS Yuasa Corporation, and individual must understand what they are looking for. When evaluating the strengths of an organization, resources available to the company must be identified that enable them an advantage over their competitors (Pearce & Robinson, 2013). Next, weaknesses of the company must be identified and labeled as areas that they are unable to meet the customer’s needs (Pearce & Robinson, 2013). Additionally, the potential opportunities must be analyzed in order to show possible paths or roadblocks the company could face when introducing the new product or service. Lastly, situations that could pose a threat must be discussed. A threat could be anything major that could alter the current environment of the organization negatively (Pearce & Robinson, 2013).
    Economic, Legal, and Regulatory Forces
    While conducting a SWOT analysis, the GS Yuasa Corporation has evaluated the economic, legal, and regulatory forces that could have an effect on the new lighting system they are introducing to home owners. The economic factors that were taken into consideration were the direction of the economy in which the company operates, current economic trends, interest and inflation rates, and growth trends of the Gross National Product (GNP) (Pearce & Robinson, 2013). The legal and regulatory forces faced by the organization are defined by the political factors in which the company operates (Pearce & Robinson, 2013). These include tax programs, minimum wage legislation, and other actions aimed at protecting employees (Pearce & Robinson, 2013). “However, some political actions are designed to benefit and protect firms. Such actions include patent laws, government subsidies, and product research grants” (Pearce & Robinson, 2013).
    Adaptability of the Organization
    The GS Yuasa Corporation has proven itself numerous times over the years as a very adaptable organization. The organization has been successful in the production of batteries and lighting business all over the world ("Gs Yuasa", 2010). The product they are introducing will be no different. Today’s fast paced world is always looking for easier, more efficient ways to conduct business and the GS Yuasa Corporation has created a product that will do just that. Offering a new lighting system that allows the consumer to record information while it is fresh in their minds will benefit the consumer and the company’s relationship with them. The company is already well known all over the world and now they will be known throughout the home buying and owning community as well.

    Supply Chain of the New Division
    According to "Investopedia" (2015), “supply chain management is the streamlining of a business' supply-side activities to maximize customer value and to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.” The supply chain management within the new division will be a vital component to the success of offering the new product. How well an organization manages its supply chain can either benefit the company by eliminating unnecessary costs or hurt the organization if not done correctly. According to "Investopedia" (2015), “by managing the supply chain, companies are able to cut excess fat and provide products faster. This is done by keeping tighter control of internal inventories, internal production, distribution, sales and the inventories of the company's product purchasers.” The GS Yuasa Corporation has done very well over the years by doing just this. With the new division, the organization will implement the same procedures it has used in the past and modify them based on the needs of the customers and the company.
    Issues and Opportunities
    While conducting the SWOT analysis of the organizations capability to introduce the new lightning system, a few issues and opportunities were identified. The issues consisted of possible time delays when producing the new product and entering a market that they have never reached out to. The time delays that may be encountered will all be mitigated with the proper management of personnel and the supply chain. Also, the new consumers they are trying to build a relationship with may reject them. Effective marketing of the product will help in this area especially since the company is well known and respect for the products they already provide. Opportunities that were discussed include saving time and energy for home owners and also to improve their already good reputation throughout that community. They will be able to save the customers time and energy by providing a product that helps them remember activities they wish to accomplish after a busy work day by turning on the lights after returning home from work. As the product becomes popular, the reputation of the firm will grow throughout the community.
    SWOT Analysis Table

    A SWOT analysis must be conducted by an organization in order to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that may affect the company. When creating a new product or service, this is imperative to the success of the organization reaching its goals. Being aware of economic, legal and regulatory factors, knowledge of how well a company adapts to change, and making sure effective supply chain management are in place will aid in the execution of the organization’s success. Additionally, discussing potential issues and opportunities that the business may face and how to deal with them is an important part of the process.

    Great observations; let's see what feedback you get from others.

    Mind Tools Team
  • munenedomenic wrote Over a month ago
    awesome i,v used swot methodology to create a vivid manager.s training manual.
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