5 free competitor analysis templates for small businesses

Competitor analysis is an important first step for new businesses. Here are our top free templates to beat your rivals or learn from the very best.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

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Competitor analysis is a fundamental aspect of a startup's strategic planning. To beat your rivals, you first need to understand who you’re running against as well as the right template to get started.

Results from competitor analysis (also known as a competitive analysis) can determine key aspects of your business plan. This includes: the type of product inventory you stock, an identified audience demographic, and your core market strategy.

But competitor analysis requires careful organisation. Fail to capture the correct information at this stage, and you could cause your business to stumble and fall. Having a competitor analysis template helps to avoid such mistakes.

Our experts have spent more than 20 years helping people to launch or grow their startups. This guide will go through the best free competitor analysis templates, helping you to plan your research and, ultimately, grow your market share.

More on this: keep your business plan humming with our top small business project management systems

Best Competitor Analysis Templates 2023

  1. Wrike – best for team collaboration
  2. monday.com – best for data visualisation
  3. Smartsheet – best for data interpretation
  4. Asana – best for customer research
  5. Confluence – best for printable format

Best competitor analysis templates to use (+ examples)

Below, we’ve picked five example competitor analysis templates from brands such as Wrike, monday.com, Smartsheet, and more. All of these user-friendly frameworks are available as a free trial or are completely free.

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, helping build a competitor profile to monitor everything from customer behaviour to marketing trends.

We’ve also picked out great competitor analysis templates that make things easy for your market research, thanks to their 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.

1. Competitor analysis template: Wrike (best for team collaboration)

Wrike's user-centric, simple design makes for a smooth and intuitive experience for newbies, and the platform's free competitor analysis template scored highly in our testing for usability.

Based on our knowledge and understanding of small businesses, we think the Wrike template for competitor analysis is ideal for teams with more than five employees looking to grow the business. It's has the gentlest learning curve and lots of tools for working together as a team.

Results from our user testing:

  • Wrike’s clean, easily navigable layout lends itself well to multiple assignees working at the same time.
  • We particularly liked the Wrike feature called ‘Stream’ which provides a feed of all the project updates. Under each update you can leave a comment, so any notable findings can be easily highlighted.
  • Wrike's Folders made it easy to categorise competitors eg. as primary or secondary, or new to market.
  • Wrike’s free plan permits unlimited guests. We were able to invite external collaborators to view or edit it.

2. Competitor analysis template: monday.com (best for data visualisation)

competitor analysis template free monday.com

monday.com’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.

The example competitor analysis template is completely free to use, although it is only available as part of the platforms 14-day free trial. After this, users will need to pay £7 per month to maintain access to all of monday's benefits.

Results from our user testing:

  • Tasks are cleverly colour-coded as either red (there’s an issue), orange (there’s a threat), and green (there’s an opportunity) so we could easily see market opportunities as they emerged.
  • We were able to input custom fields to highlight industry-specific features among rivals, as shown in the example competitor analysis template above.
  • monday.com was excellent for customisation. We could add widgets to measure bespoke metrics about rivals and, thanks to a recent monday.com update, rebrand webforms to help with audience research.
  • It took us just one minute to get set up. monday.com makes things doubly simple by opening a pop-up which prompts you to add teammates and specify their permissions immediately.

3. Competitor analysis template: Smartsheet (best for interpreting data)

Smartsheet competitor analysis template

Smartsheet is a powerful, spreadsheet-based tool that specialises in translating sophisticated data into legible graphs. Its example competitor analysis template is great for projects that need lots of analytics. For example, if you're carrying out competitor analysis for SEO and trawling through large internet statistics.

SMEs that want a detailed breakdown of specialist or emerging industries, such as insurance firms, will find Smartsheet's high-level overview especially valuable.

Results from our user testing:

  • Using Smartsheet, we were able to turn any metric in our sheet into multiple chart formats in just a few clicks, including Gantt charts and spreadsheets.
  • Smartsheet's wide library of third-party add-ons meant we could integrate the app with many systems that our team already used, such as Google Calendar for organising quick, ad-hoc meetings.
  • Using ‘Conversations' (an instant messenger-style feature) we were able to directly communicate with other team members on the project to update them on an interesting bit of competitor information.
  • Setup took around 2 minutes for us to get all of our accounts loaded and ready to go. That makes Smartsheet the slowest platform on this list, but still fairly quick overall.

🚨 Unlike Wrike, Smartsheet only offers a free 14-day trial. You’ll need to pay to access the template once this has run out.

4. User research template: Asana (best for customer research)

Asana customer survey template

User surveys are commonly employed during competitor audits to find out what customers think about rival products and services. The example competitor analysis template above is Asana’s user research template. It is a good way to collate this information and set a benchmark for your business.

We recommend the Asana template to consumer-facing firms carrying out audience research and surveys. Using Asana, any feedback forms or files we uploaded were added to a large, shared files tab – a useful feature that monday.com, Wrike, and Smartsheet, all lack.

Results from our user testing:

  • The Asana template let us tag respondent feedback as either negative and positive, allowing us to easily monitor and evaluate consumer reactions.
  • The platform integrates with Google Forms. We were able to funnel questionnaire submissions directly into Asana’s user research template, saving us time and effort.
  • The Asana calendar view let us plan around each other's schedules as well as see every step in the upcoming research process.
  • Like monday.com, setup took around 1 minute. We had all of our accounts loaded and ready to go in this time – handy for getting started quickly and without losing momentum.

5. Competitive analysis template: Confluence (best for printable format)

Confluence competitor analysis template

Some entrepreneurs detest working with spreadsheets and prefer to use a word document format they can type into directly to record their competitor analysis. If this is you, you may prefer to store each competitor profile as a designated PDF file using the example Confluence competitor analysis template.

One thing we really like about using this PDF template is that it allows you to go more in-depth and write a long-form profile on each competitor. For this reason, we recommend Confluence for less-competitive sectors, such as setting up a bakery on a small high street and only have a few local firms to contend with.

Results from our user testing:

  • As well as a ‘key points’ section that lists a brief description of a business, the template caters for longer-form commentary. We found this extra room is ideal to record notes and observations, such as a rival's current market share.
  • Confluence's ‘Page Versioning' feature is very handy for seeing what changes colleagues have made to a profile. We were able to track and view the history of changes to each page, and even revert to an old document if we preferred.
  • Once we'd downloaded the template, setup time was very quick. However, it was harder to make edits through Confluence than with monday.com or Wrike, as the former's template is entirely predetermined and not very customisable.

What is competitive analysis?

Competitive analysis is a type of market research. It involves researching other businesses to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and apply those learnings to establish a business strategy.

Startups often use competitive analysis to find their niche before entering the market. But it's worth noting that existing business owners should also engage in competitor analysis to stay on top of new market trends. Everyone is doing it – in fact, competitor analysis is also a well-known tactic for investors to see if a firm is worth backing.

You may find that a rival is appealing to a wider demographic than your own audience. By working out why this is, you could easily switch tactics and emulate the competitor to grow your customer base.

How did we find the best competitor analysis templates?

We've been advising small business users on the top business tools in the UK for over 20 years. As part of our stringent research methodology, we use a combination of user testing and independent analysis to ensure that all of our results are accurate and updated for startups in 2023.

We recently scored the top 11 best project management (PM) systems across specific metrics, including cost, usability, and feature set. We then used this data to evaluate for many types of project plans, including competitor analysis.

How did we test the platforms?

Using the findings from our PM market analysis, we matched this information against five key considerations which we know are fundamental for thorough and accurate competitor analysis. These are:

  • Collaboration features (for allocating responsibilities to project team members)
  • Data visualisation (for reviewing your results and sharing them with stakeholders)
  • Data organisation (for breaking down large-scale datasets)
  • File sharing features (for sharing qualitative data, such as surveys)
  • Format (some small business owners that they prefer a word document format)

Finally, we chose the top five competitor analysis templates according to how well they performed against these five asks during user testing. The results are:

1. Wrike
2. monday.com
3. Smartsheet
4. Asana
5. Confluence

What is the best competitor analysis template?

Overall, Wrike has the best free competitor analysis template. Those who are looking to grow their business – particularly as the market is preparing for a recession – will find Wrike a top choice for team working and building a simple, legible competitor profile.

Get started with ranking and reviewing your business rivals straight away. Download the free Wrike competitor analysis template today to find a gap in the market and stay one step ahead of your competitors.

How to write a competitive analysis: 5 step guide

Below, we'll go through how to write a competitor analysis report in five simple and easy-to-perform steps.

1. Deciding on your competitors
2. Downloading a template

3. Gathering your research
4. Using SWOT analysis
5. Writing a competitor analysis report

1. Decide on your competitors

The first step to writing a competitor analysis template is to figure out who your competitors are. How many you choose will depend on your market, but we'd recommend no fewer than three to ensure your findings are valuable and informed.

You will need to conduct some preliminary research before you decide on your final list of competitors. Look through local business listings or social media tags as a starting point. Competitors can be split into three groups. These are:

  • Direct competitors (businesses that offer similar products and services and target the same customers in the geographic area that your business serves)
  • Secondary/indirect competitors (businesses that offer different products and services, but are in your same general category eg. a cake shop and a chocolate shop are both food companies)
  • Substitute competitors (businesses that offer different products and services but target the same customers in your geographic area)

2. Download a template

It’s important to follow a clear, preset structure during your project planning. This will help you to remain focused on your strategy once the research begins. That's why, 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.

Using a competitor analysis template means you 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.

3. Gather your data

Next, fill the template with the information you dig up. Key fields to focus on include:

  • Product offering — are these premium or low-cost? Are they unique to the market?
  • Pricing — including shipping costs and special offers
  • Sales tactics and channels — including social media pages and sales process
  • Marketing — including recent advertising campaigns and audience engagement
  • Management — including both leadership team and stakeholders
  • Financials — can you find revenue or sales information online?
  • Partnerships — which suppliers do they work with? How long for?

4. Use SWOT analysis

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 with the benchmark set by rivals?

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.

5. Write a competitor analysis report

All your hard work is done. Now, it's time to compile everything you've learnt into an easy-to-read document so that you, your team members, and any relevant stakeholders can see what you've uncovered.

Section 1: Start with a section on industry and market trends to demonstrate how well you know the challenges and opportunities in your sector. This might also add further context to your competitor profiles.

Section 2: Next, offer a brief overview of each competitor profile and their product/service offering. You may also want to deep dive into certain marketing areas, like audience demographic, here.

Section 3: Finally, summarise your findings and explain how they will inform your business plan. For example, you might identify a discount or deal that has boosted a competitor's online following, and consider imitating the same idea.

How we test project management software for small businesses

We tested 14 project management software to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, customer support, features, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to small UK-based businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in five main categories of investigation and nine subcategories – in fact, we covered 51 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs of our Startups.co.uk readers.

Our main testing categories for project management software are:

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular project management provider. Also, the market position and reputation a project management tool holds.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities offered by the project management solution, such as task management and team collaboration.

Customer Support: the assistance and resources provided by the project management solution provider to users, such as phone support and email or chat support.

Usability Testing: we get people just like you to test out the products to focus on evaluating the ease of use and user experience of the project management solution.

Cost Factors: the financial considerations associated with using a project management solution, including licensing fees, subscription plans, and storage and user limit.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

Competitive analysis FAQs
  • Which tool is best for competitor analysis?
    Wrike is the best tool for competitor analysis. Competitor analysis requires a lot of resource to get right. Wrike's simple layout is great for team working so that none of your findings get lost, while unlimited guests can also be invited to add comments or feedback on a rival.
  • How do I create a competitor analysis template?
    Choose a project management software tool, like Wrike or monday.com, to download a ready-made, customisable competitor analysis template. Then begin populating it with information about your rivals to build a complete competitor profile.
  • How do you write a competitive analysis?
    Look at a competitor’s social media pages and websites (as well as third-party review sites) to build a complete profile of their business. Input all of the data into an easy-to-manage template, listing basic details about your rivals (name, age, location) as well as detailed intelligence on their sales, marketing, and operational strategy.
  • What is the first step of competitor analysis?
    You need to first identify your competitors. Ask your existing consumers who else they go to for a product or service that is the same as or similar to yours. Then work out if your competitor is an indirect (they offer different products or services but target the same market) or direct (they provide the same product or service) rival.
  • What is the purpose of a competitive analysis template?
    Competitor analysis templates can be used to map out who your competitors are, as well as key information about how they operate. Businesses should then use this information to set yourself apart and improve your market share.
  • How often should I conduct a competitive analysis?
    Ideally, thorough competitive analysis should be carried out on a quarterly basis — even better is a shorter examination on a monthly basis. That way, you can keep an eye on your competitors and react quickly if they suddenly start gaining traction in the market.
  • How can I ensure that my competitive analysis is accurate and thorough?
    SWOT analysis is the best way to capture all of your competitor's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You should also look at your competitor's website presence, product offering, marketing strategy, and online following. This comprehensive approach will ensure you end up with a fully rounded report into how your competitor is performing, and find the niche that will set your brand apart.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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