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Competition is a fundamental part of running a business. But, to beat your rivals, you first need to understand who you’re running against. That’s why doing a thorough competitor analysis is crucial, and there are some great competitor analysis templates available to help.
If done well, the results of a competitor analysis (also known as a competitive analysis) can determine key aspects of your business plan. For example, these could include the type of product inventory you stock, an identified audience demographic, and your core market strategy.
However, probably the most common mistake we see small business owners make during competitor analysis is insufficient planning and organisation. Fail to capture the correct information at this stage, and you could struggle to set your business up for success. A proper competitor analysis template can help you to avoid such mistakes.
Our experts have spent more than twenty years helping people to launch or grow their businesses. Below, we’ll go through the best free competitor analysis templates that will help you to plan your research and, ultimately, realise your unique advantage over the market.
More on this: keep your business plan humming with our top small business project management systems.
We’ve picked five great competitive analysis templates from brands such as Wrike, monday.com, Smartsheet and more. All of these user-friendly frameworks are available fully free, or as a free trial.
Most of the templates offer a table or spreadsheet-style format. Generally speaking, spreadsheets make it simpler to highlight patterns and trends in data in a visual way.
We’ve also picked out great competitor analysis templates that make things easy for your market research, thanks to simple customisation and generous data allowances.
All of the competitor analysis templates below are accessible and simple to use.
Some are free for life – provided you sign up to a basic level plan that suits solo business starters or very small teams. For larger teams, you may need to step up to a paid plan, but there are free trials to let you test the template first.
Best for team collaboration
Available with: free plan
Wrike’s template is perfectly set up for team working. Because of this, we think it’s best-suited to teams with more than five employees looking to grow their business.
Things are kept simple with Wrike’s clean, easily-navigable layout, which lends well to multiple assignees working at the same time.
Task comments is another useful feature for teams to work with. Employees can utilise this tool to leave feedback on the information gathered and point out any improvements that could be made to a table.
Wrike’s tables are based around Folders. As the above example shows, you can use Folders to categorise your competitors as Primary or Secondary, New to market, or a Potential rival.
Plus, Wrike’s free plan permits an unlimited number of users. You can sign up for free to download this great Wrike template – after that, you can invite others to view or edit it.
Best for data visualisation
Available with: free plan
Launching a business can leave you time poor. But monday’s simple, colour-coded format means even startups in particularly competitive industries can identify the strengths and weaknesses of hundreds of rivals in one quick look.
Tasks are stamped as either red (there’s an issue), orange (there’s a threat) and green (there’s an opportunity).
Customisation is another strong point for this customer analysis blueprint. You’re able to input custom fields, if you want to highlight industry-specific features amongst rivals.
monday.com users can even build custom templates. If you dislike certain features in the above, you’ll be able to tailor its design.
The best news? This template is completely free as part of the platform’s freemium plan. If you want to use your data to build another dashboard, such as a business plan, there’ll be no extra cost.
Best for interpreting data
Available with: free trial
Smartsheet is a powerful, spreadsheet-based project management tool that specialises in translating sophisticated data into comprehensible charts and graphs.
The platform can represent pretty much any data point within your research, so it is great for analytics.
Want to see the average length of time your competitors have been open? Smartsheet’s competitor analysis template will break this down for you with a Gantt chart.
Smartsheet only offers a free 14-day trial. You’ll need to pay to access the template once this has run out.
However, we recommend the platform as a smart organisational system that can make even the most complex datasets easy to dissect.
SMEs wanting a detailed breakdown of specialist or emerging industries — for example, insurance firms — will find Smartsheet’s high-level overview especially valuable.
Best for customer research
Available with: free plan
User surveys are commonly employed during competitor audits. Respondents are shown company assets, such as marketing materials, and asked to give their opinion on the product.
Asana’s user research template is a good way to collate this information.
The model filters each research session into one database that catalogues each individual’s observations and questions. Helpfully, Asana then lets you tag this feedback as either negative and positive.
Another bonus is that the platform integrates with Google Forms, so you can funnel questionnaire submissions directly into Asana’s user research template.
Furthermore, it’s all available with Asana Basic, the platform’s free plan.
If you’re conducting competitor analysis for brand-building purposes, we recommend this template from Asana to monitor and evaluate consumer reactions.
Best for printable format
Available with: free plan
Some entrepreneurs hate working with spreadsheets. Instead, you might prefer to store each competitor profile as a designated PDF file.
The Confluence competitor analysis template is unique in our list as the only model that does not use a spreadsheet format.
Following a ‘key points’ section that lists a brief description of a business, the template opens up for longer-form commentary.
This extra room is ideal for those that want the extra space to record insights and observations. Because of this, we recommend Confluence’s template for business owners in less-competitive spaces.
For example, if you’re setting up a bakery on a small high street and have only a few local firms to contend with.
Once you’ve confirmed a list of rival firms to investigate, your next step is to download a competitive analysis template.
We would heartily recommend any of the templates above, but there are plenty on the market — plus some ready-made ones in Excel or Google Sheets.
Why use a template? It’s important to follow a clear, preset structure during your project planning. This will help you to remain focused on your determined strategy once the research begins.
You also won’t need to waste half a day’s work building your own worksheet. Instead, your time can be spent interpreting the dataset to make important decisions about your business.
Next, fill the template with the information you dig up. Key fields to focus on include:
The final stage to writing a competitor analysis is SWOT analysis. This means using the above information to locate each company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Then, once your dataset is complete, you can sit down and consider your own strengths and weaknesses. How do they compare?
Knowing what will, or does, set your business apart from the rest of the market — and where it falls short of expectations — is the ultimate goal of carrying out competitive analysis.
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Helena “Len” Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.
Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.
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