SWOT Analysis: A Template, An Example, 4 Steps to Creating One, And How it Can Help Your Money Strategy

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Have you ever set out to pursue a goal but felt overwhelmed with the strategy part? What you need is a SWOT analysis. And don’t worry, we have a clear template and an example for you to follow. 

What is a SWOT analysis? 

Let’s start with the SWOT analysis definition. The SWOT analysis allows you to compare the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to any goal you can think of. They’re usually used for business but can be used in a multitude of other ways including your personal life and your personal finances. 

If you’re completing the SWOT analysis for your business, you could look at all the factors that could determine your competitive advantage (or the factors that could lead to your company’s downfall) and develop a strategy for how to proceed. 

Where Can the SWOT analysis be used?

The SWOT analysis is most commonly used in business, but I personally like to use it to build my investing portfolio. 

When it comes to your own personal finances, a SWOT analysis can help you be honest with your shortfalls and develop a strategy to build your wealth. 

You can also create a personal SWOT analysis to grow in your career or work towards other goals. 

SWOT analysis components 

When you’re working on your SWOT analysis, you’re looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

Generally, your strengths and weaknesses are within your control and guided by internal factors, whereas your opportunities and threats refer to external factors that may be out of your control. 

Strengths

In business

Where does your business stand out above the rest? What’s your competitive advantage? 

Do you have proprietary technology? A loyal customer base? Top-tier talent? Killer web presence? Unbeatable prices? 

List all of your business’s strengths and use them to hone your strategy moving forward. 

In personal finances

There are so many possible strengths when it comes to personal finances. 

For example, are you a good saver? Do you have a high earning potential? Do you have an edge when it comes to real estate investing (i.e. you can do your own renos or have “a guy”.) 

Professional and personal SWOT analysis

Your personal SWOT analysis will be related to your goals, and that’s different for everyone. You could look at factors like your education, professional opportunities within your organization, your skills, and your connections. 

Remember to focus on aspects that are within your circle of control. 

Weaknesses

In business

What keeps your business from reaching that next level? Where do you need to improve? 

Do you have too much debt or lack of capital? Not enough talent? A bananas variety of products? 

Looking at these weaknesses will help you figure out how to resolve them. 

In personal finances

Just like with your strengths, your weaknesses could include your income, your spending and expenses, your savings, and even your knowledge about handling finances. 

Luckily, all of these things are within your circle of control, and you can start to address your weaknesses as soon as you identify them. 

Professional and personal SWOT analysis 

Sometimes personal weaknesses are hard to face but doing this exercise will help you when you have a goal in mind and focus on things that are within your circle of control. 

For example, you may be eligible for a raise but you never got around to asking for one, or you’re just one course shy of being qualified for a better job but you’re putting it off until some other day. 

Addressing the little things that keep you from reaching your full potential will help you break through. 

Opportunities

In business

What are some external factors that could provide an advantage for your business? 

For example, has a competitor recently shut down – giving you an opportunity to take over their customer base and hire their employees? 

Staying aware of your opportunities will let you stay ahead of the game and grow your business. 

In personal finances

The financial opportunities I try to look out for include buying good investments “on sale.” For example, I bought my first rental property after the housing crisis, I saved up with that goal in mind and jumped on the opportunity. 

Other ways of being opportunistic could include positioning yourself for a promotion to become a higher earner, saving up for a downpayment, or finding a cheaper place to live. 

You should also get familiar investment opportunities like farmland investing or crowdfunded real estate even if you’re not ready to jump in. 

Professional and personal SWOT analysis

Opportunities are all around you. This part of the personal SWOT analysis should be fun. But don’t get too distracted – keep it relevant to your goals. 

These opportunities could involve education, upgrading your job, working on your skills (both professional and soft skills,) networking, and so much more! 

Threats 

In business

What are some external factors that could potentially hurt your business? 

For example, rising interest rates could spell trouble if your business is debt-heavy. 

Identifying potential threats will help you minimize their impact. 

In personal finances

Some threats that could come up in personal finances could involve changes in interest rates, unforeseen repairs (if you’re a real estate investor like me,) as well as big-picture events like recessions and hyperinflation. 

Being aware of threats will give you guidance on how to diversify your investments. 

Professional and personal SWOT analysis

It’s good to be aware of potential downfalls when it comes to your personal and professional life. Even if these are out of your control, it helps to be ahead of the game. 

Some “threats” could include having a non-recession-proof career or letting your skills become obsolete. 

Stay ahead of the curve by knowing what external factors could pose a threat to your personal or professional life. 

SWOT analysis template 

We wouldn’t leave you without a SWOT analysis template!

Get Your SWOT Template

Okay, it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s a customizable Google doc that’s easy to print to get you started! 

SWOT analysis example

There are tons of SWOT analysis examples for businesses! But since I’m a finance blogger, let’s focus on finances. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis for a real estate investment.

StrengthsWeaknesses
– High-income 
– Connections with credible property managers
– Own my home
– Lots of expenses
– Not enough cashflow No savings
OpportunitiesThreats
– Home could be sold for $1.5M
– Based on research, could get $1.5K/month by renting out basement 
– Could invest $10K in crowdfunded real estate or farmland
– Interest rates will be rising
– Home values could drop in the next year
– The company may be downsizing in the next year

I did my SWOT analysis. Now what? 

It’s not enough to just put some bullet points in a table. 

You have to develop a plan or a strategy based on what you’ve uncovered! Use these guiding questions 

  1. How can I use my strengths to maximize my potential 
  2. Which weaknesses are keeping me from reaching my full potential and how can I overcome them? 
  3. Which opportunities should I start preparing for to reach my goals?
  4. How can I best protect myself from potential threats

Using the example above, I would say: 

  • I should start nurturing my connections with property managers to help me with real estate investing or at least learn more about it. 
  • I could also use my high income or remortgage my home for investing.
  • I should assess my expenses so that I could save more for investing. 
  • I could possibly sell my home while the value is high and live in a cheaper town and invest the money. 
  • I could rent out my basement for extra cash flow. 
  • Once I have $10-20K I’ll invest in crowdfunded real estate or farmland. 
  • I should do these things before I potentially lose my job or the interest rates go up so that I’m not stuck. 

I won’t be able to take all of these actions, but I can narrow it down to what makes the most sense in terms of short-term and long-term goals. 

For example, I could make a plan to:

  1. Rent out my basement and use the money to invest in farmland or crowdfunded real estate. OR
  2. Move to a new city and use the funds I got from my pricey home to buy cheap real estate. OR 
  3. Position myself for a higher-earning job that won’t be downsized. 

Read more:
Farmland Investing | 5 reasons it’s the secret sauce for your portfolio and the easy way to invest
Best Crowdfunded Real Estate – Expert Comparison of Top eREITs

How to do a SWOT analysis

1 – Define your goal. 

Narrow down your main objective for your SWOT analysis. Having a main goal will help you remain focused on the individual elements – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – without going too broad. 

2 – Take the time to do your research and gather your information. 

Reflecting while doing a SWOT analysis can be hard for some, that’s why you need to take the time to look at all of your resources and information. Try to remain mindful of what’s in your control and what’s not. 

What’s in your control?

These are usually internal factors that you have the power to change. These factors will be jotted in the strengths and weaknesses sections of your SWOT analysis. 

What is out of your control?

These are the external factors that you can either harness or try to protect yourself against. These factors will be jotted down in the opportunities and threats sections. 

3 – Write down your ideas but stay focused on your goal. 

Start filling out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that you have just gathered. 

One piece of advice – stay focused on your main objective. If you started with analyzing your investment strategy but now you’re looking at cheap flights to Cancun as “opportunities,’ you’ve lost focus. 

4 – Develop your plan. 

We don’t complete a SWOT analysis just for fun. We use it to create a strategy to reach your full potential – whether that’s in business, finances, or just life. Look at each section and try to figure out:

  1. How can I use my strengths to maximize my potential 
  2. Which weaknesses are keeping me from reaching my full potential and how can I overcome them? 
  3. Which opportunities should I start preparing for to reach my goals?
  4. How can I best protect myself from potential threats

Not each point on your SWOT strategy plan will be priority number one, which is another reason it’s nice to have it laid out in front of you. 

SWOT analysis – final words 

The SWOT analysis is an awesome tool to be honest with yourself and develop a strategy, be it in business, finances, or your personal life. I hope these steps and the template helped you. Let me know what you think!


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