As a small business operator, it’s easy to be focused on the day-to-day and short-term outlook. But in order to sustain and swell growth it’s essential to develop a long-term strategic plan. A 5-year business plan is an essential outline and road map for growing SMBs. Be sure to include these elements as you’re developing your plan:
- The Executive Summary – This provides a broad summary of the plan. That way investors and other stakeholders can easily digest the content that comes after.
- The Elevator Pitch – This is similar to the executive summary but more focused on what makes the business unique and viable. It is intended to provide a snapshot of an SMB’s five-year potential delivered in a succinct and enticing way.
- SWOT Analysis – Analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) helps SMBs forecast the oncoming ups and downs. The analysis is invaluable when deciding what new projects to invest in or staff to hire. It’s just as important to evaluate risk. That way your SMB is able to insulate itself, by getting a small business insurance online quote, for instance.
- Goals – The plan should include both five-year goals and goals for each one-year period along the way. As much as possible, the goals should be linked to clear metrics. Include things like dates, performance benchmarks, quotas, deadlines, and other measurable markers.
- KPIs – Similar to the previous point, SMBs must understand what key performance indicators are most important. It is easy to track performance either too intensely or not intensely enough. The five-year plan must highlight the KPIs that will guide performance evaluation.
- Target Consumers – Strategies are designed to help SMBs retain existing customers and recruit more. That requires understanding who those customers are on a demographic level. That information is later used to create marketing strategies and evolve products/services.
- Market Analysis – Understanding competitors is just as important. This section does not have to be comprehensive. However, it should highlight the driving forces in the industry. Within that context, it should also illustrate competitive advantages and disadvantages for the SMB. The goal is to understand how broader forces will affect individual strategic decisions.
- Marketing Plan – The five-year plan does not have to include a full marketing plan. But it should touch on the SMBs marketing goals, challenges, and opportunities. There should be enough detail to explain how the SMB plans to inform, attract, and retain customers across marketing channels.
- Staffing Plan – The right team is instrumental to strategy. Use this section to describe who the SMB plans to recruit and how they plan to do it. Support staff like human resources and maintenance crews should also be factored in.
- Operations Plan – Over the next 5 years it may be necessary to move to larger facilities, buy new equipment, or shift to new markets. Outline what is necessary and when so that a lack of resources does not put the brakes on growth.
Creating a five-year business plan with the necessary depth and detail is no small task. But it’s absolutely worth the time and labor because it allows SMBs to act with confidence, flexibility, and agility. Don’t just plan for the future. Take control of how you get there.