When undertaking a traditional strategic planning process, debating future direction, or assessing existing opportunities for the organization, a board or management team can rely on a SWOT analysis for help. During the analysis, the team lists and assesses the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, often on a matrix. Each of these controlling forces prompts the team to consider factors that might easily be overlooked as it shapes the future of the organization. This process provides insights to the organization’s internal and external positioning, examining internal and external elements that must be factored into future decision making. It prohibits the organization from becoming too insular and functioning without proper feedback.
This example also illustrates how threats can become opportunities (and vice versa). The limitation of tin cans (which aren't biodegradable) creates an opportunity for leadership in developing biodegradable containers. There are several formats you can use to do a SWOT analysis, including a basic SWOT form that you can use to prompt analysis, but whatever format you use, don't be surprised if your strengths and weaknesses don't precisely match up to your opportunities and threats. You might need to refine, or you might need to simply look at the facts longer, or from a different angle. Your chart, list or table will certainly reveal patterns.
You may use our SWOT examples as a guide to indicate what your SWOT might look like but please do not build a plan based on these examples without validating their accuracy for your business in your region of the world.
The first of our SWOT analysis examples is for a retail business, the business was established by a entrepreneur stocks brand name clothing imported from manufacturers around the world. The business currently only stocks 3 brands of men’s clothing, pitched at the 18 to 28 single young adult.