In a SWOT Analysis, threats are written in the bottom right quadrant. They highlight the external threats that you or your organization need to address to meet your goals.
Examples of threats for a personal SWOT analysis might include increased competition, lack of support, or language barriers. Threat examples for businesses could include economic downturns, increased taxes, or losing key staff.
SWOT Analysis Threat Examples for Students and Individuals
Lack of training, loss of job, loss of car, lose my house, need to get a second job.
- I may come to a point where there isn’t sufficient training for me if I need it to achieve milestones and goals.
- I may lose my job which will seriously interfere in my ability to achieve my goals.
- I may lose my car, such as if I can’t make payments of get in a car crash, which will impede me from getting to school and work.
- I may have to get a second job to pay my bills which will take up a lot of time and potentially stop me from meeting my goals.
- I may lose my rental property if my landlord decides to sell which will interrupt the pursuit of my goals for a while.
Failing exams, harder than anticipated, increasing competition, increasing prices, increasing costs of tuition.
- My course may be harder than I anticipated which may mean I might fail some exams that will set me back.
- My job may be harder than I anticipated which could set me back and take up too much time.
- It’s possible that there will be increasing competition for getting into internships, courses, or interviews.
- There could be increasing prices for products, housing, or other resources that I need to buy to achieve my goals.
- It’s possible that there might be increasing costs of tuition that will set me back. It might mean I have to delay a semester of college.
Closing transport routes, closing degree program, changing timetable, computer problems, bad weather.
- I worry that public transport routes might close. I rely on public transit to get to the library, school, and my job.
- If not enough other students sign up for my degree, they might shut down my degree program which would leave me unable to graduate.
- My boss might change my timetable for completion which would put a lot of pressure on me to meet my goals.
- There are often computer problems that pop up that people don’t predict that might cause delays.
- Bad weather conditions at important moments, such as a snow day on the day of my final exams, could interfere with everything.
Lack of support, health problems, children taking priority, economic inflation.
- It is possible that there will be a lack of support from my teacher next semester which could set me back.
- It is possible that there will be a lack of support from my new boss which could prevent me from progressing and achieving promotions at the timetable I expect.
- There may be unexpected health problems that could set me back in meeting my goals.
- I have children and if they get sick or have other needs I will have to put everything down to help them because they are the most important thing.
- Inflation in the economy may increase the cost of living and put pressure on my lifestyle.
Shifting goalposts of success, caring for elderly parents, low social capital.
- At some point, it’s possible that I will come across frustration or lack of support from family, especially if it takes too long for me to meet my goals.
- I may rely on friends for emotional support and it’s possible that there could be a lack of support from my friends as well.
- My new teacher might have different standards to my old teacher so I will have to re-address my goals based on the shifting goalposts.
- I currently have uncertain living conditions including an uncertain relationship situation and a crowded house.
- I may have to care for elderly parents in the near future that may take up a lot of time and be a distraction from the goals listed in this SWOT analysis.
Changing priorities, team members quitting, job relocation.
- New and better opportunities that could supplant this current one may come along and make this goal a secondary priority.
- This goal is a team goal and team members may quit which will make it much harder to achieve the goal.
- A goal related to a research project always risks participants withdrawing from the study part-way through.
- My partner may get a job relocation which will mean we will have to more and reassess our goals.
Discrimination, scholarship money, advisors quitting.
- I worry that I might face discrimination when striving for this goal. This is a common threat listed when a goal is related to applying for a job.
- I am currently in the country on a visa and I worry that if the visa does not renew then I will have to return to my country of birth.
- My scholarship might run out which could mean I’ll run out of money and be unable to complete my studies.
- I may not get approval from the ethics committee for my preferred thesis topic which will be a huge setback.
- My advisor might quit halfway through this project which will throw everything into disarray.
Changing financial situation, library closure.
- My family and I may have a changing financial situation that will make us have to reassess all of my goals.
- A possible library closure and refurbishment on the horizon may set me back as I rely heavily on the library for resources and study space.
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SWOT Analysis Threat Examples for Businesses and Organizations
Economic recession, employees quitting, losing clients, declining media attention.
- An economic recession could set our business back and prevent us from achieving our goals.
- We cannot control employees quitting which can cause a brain drain from our business and we will lose a lot of institutional knowledge.
- We worry that clients might lose interest in our services and stop hiring us.
- We are aware that declining media attention could take the wind out of our sails and decrease profit or growth.
- Lack of investors in the future might decrease our ability to grow as fast as we would like.
Losing investors, changing headquarters, technology redundancy, new taxes.
- We could foresee that some of our reliable investors will stop investing which may slow down our growth.
- We may need to move our headquarters and production sites if the owners decide to sell or renovate.
- There is potential for technology redundancy if some of our software providers roll out updated products and stop providing support for our current versions of the products.
- There’s a chance that technology will break which will come at significant costs and cause delays.
- There may be new taxes coming into effect that might cause our prices to increase.
Changed plans from your boss, ending contracts, inconsistent suppliers, new competitors.
- There may be company changes and changes in direction from higher-ups which may force us to shelve our current projects and goals.
- Contracts with suppliers will be ending soon and we will need to re-negotiate the contracts effectively in order to prevent problems.
- There may be inconsistencies with suppliers such as delays and items going out of stock.
- It is possible that suppliers may raise prices which will cause us to blow out our budgets.
- We could foresee new competitors entering the market which could decrease our market share and disrupt our goals.
Decreasing market interest, labor disputes, lack of talent to hire.
- Market trends showing there may be a decrease in interest in our products over time which may interfere with our goals.
- We are aware that a new product will cause ours to become redundant. We will have to continually roll out updates to stay relevant.
- Potential labor disputes could cause production delays and serious financial costs to the business.
- It’s possible that our next hiring round will end up with no talent to hire to bring in new knowledge and replace natural attrition of our current workforce.
- We do not have control over the quality of products from our suppliers that we rely on to run our business. If those products lose quality, our product quality may also decrease.
Defective products, negative publicity, changing customer requirements.
- We may be faced with lack of approval from our bosses for several of our project ideas.
- If we purchase or create defective products our timelines will be delayed.
- We don’t have direct control over some negative publicity such as bad Google reviews that could prevent people from working with us.
- If our customers’ needs change then we will have to react. Surveying our customers regularly will be necessary.
- Changing consumer preferences such as shifts to our competitors or preferences for using products on different platforms may harm our market share.
Legal problems, changing social media landscape, IT problems, regulations.
- It’s possible that we may face legal disputes such as disputes over contracts or trademarks that could set us back.
- Changing social media and search algorithms may force us to pivot. For example, a new social media platform may come out and we will have to pivot to that platform to stay relevant.
- IT security threats such as hacks on our software may cause some serious setbacks.
- New regulations in our industry may prevent us from following some of our current practices or require us to implement new, costly, and bureaucratic interventions.
- While we try to only hire the best staff, there is a chance that staff incompetence could set us back and even cause bad product reviews if our support staff aren’t effective.
Competitors headhunting, public infrastructure failure, market disruptions, brand confusion.
- It’s possible that our competitors could headhunt our employees which would lead to a brain drain and even lead to leaking of our company’s secrets.
- If there is public infrastructure failure, such as road closures or internet breakdowns, then our products may not get to market in time.
- It’s possible that new companies could come in with new products that could cause market disruptions and displace our position in the market.
- We may be the victims of our own success if we help to solve our customers’ problems so they don’t need to buy from us anymore.
- We worry that some other brands might cause brand confusion in their marketing campaigns.
The Four Components of a SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and costs. A SWOT matrix has four quarters and is drawn as a box. By filling in the SWOT matrix, you can brainstorm about your current situation and make a strategic plan for the future.
- Strengths are internal factors (meaning factors about you) that could help you acheive your goals. This includes both personal strengths and the strengths of your company or organization.
- Weaknesses are internal factors (factors about you) that could get in the way of you achieving your goals. This includes both personal weaknesses and the weaknesses of your company or organization.
- Opportunities are external factors (factors that you can’t influence and aren’t about you directly) that could help you to achieve your goals. Look for opportunities on the horizon that may or may not come to fruition.
- Threats are external factors (factors that you can’t influence and aren’t about you directly) that you need to be aware of in case they get in the way of achieving your goals. Knowing these threats on the horizon will mean you can minimize their effects of avoid them altogether.
SWOT Analysis Sample
Goal: Write down what your goal is.
– What do you do well (in relation to your goal)?
– What study skills do you currently have?
– What academic writing and research skills do you currently have?
– What workforce skills do you currently have?
– What soft skills do you currently have?
– What hard skills do you currently have?
– What do you think you’re not very good at (in relation to your goal)?
– What do you struggle with when studying?
– What are your weaknesses in regards to academic writing and researching?
– What workforce readiness skills do you lack?
– What soft skills do you lack?
– What hard skills do you lack?
– Are there upcoming seminars, classes, or lectures that can help you improve?
– Do you have access to resources to help you improve?
– Do you have access to people or friends who can help you out?
– What contextual factors might get in the way of your goals?
– What obstacles can you predict that might interfere with your plans?
– What factors out of your direct control might interfere with your plans?
– What resources do you lack that might cause problems?
Example SWOT Analysis for Apple
Goal: To maintain and grow market share in the technology industry.
– Biggest brand recognition in the world.
– Seen as the brand for creative people.
– Excellent range of products.
– Seen as an expensive alternative to competitors.
– Our products become redundant after a few years so we always need to roll out new product lines.
– There aren’t many more markets for us to break into.
– New product lines can be rolled out.
– New technologies can be integrated into new iterations of our products.
– We can hire new talent with a very high amount of money set aside for hiring.
– Market interruptions from new brands with new ideas.
– Supply chain issues could occur during times of global uncertainty.
– Inflation may cause people to stop spending on consumer electronics.
You can also read our full article on completed personal SWOT analysis examples.
Albert Humphery: The Inventor of the SWOT Analysis
The first-ever SWOT analysis was created by Albert Humphrey in the 1960s. Humphrey created the SWOT analysis matrix when he was working at the Stanford Research Institute to help people brainstorm about how to plan for their goals. A SWOT Analysis looks at your preparedness to meet your goals by exploring the following four categories:
- Strengths: Internal factors that are positives. See more strengths examples for a SWOT analysis.
- Weaknesses: Internal factors that are negatives. See more weakness examples for a SWOT analysis.
- Opportunities: External factors that are positives. See more opportunities examples for a SWOT analysis.
- Threats: External factors that are negatives.
Everyone’s SWOT analysis will be different. You could use the above examples of opportunities for a SWOT analysis to stimulate thinking about opportunities for your own SWOT matrix. If you choose to take some of the above examples, pick and choose ones that really resonate with you and are truthful reflections of opportunities that could realistically fit into your goals.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]