How to make your 5 year business plan

We know that managing a small business is exhausting but it’s worth taking some time to think about the next few years – how will your business manage the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead? 

It’s evident that businesses that are able to adapt to new challenges, be it a financial crisis, an economic downturn or a natural disaster, are able to perform the best in the long term. Being adaptable means having a long-term strategy, anticipating challenges before they happen, and being able to keep your eye on the big goals when things get challenging.

So, if you’re a business owner looking to the future, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a good long-term plan.

It’s good to start by asking yourself where do you want your business to be in five years? What are your goals?

It could be that five years from now you see your business expanding into a new market, or setting up offices overseas or around the country. It could also be that you might like to retire or sell up your business to move on to your next venture.

Whatever the goal that you are working to, the great benefit of a long-term plan is that it lets you think through the issues that might stand in your way, and allows you to address them early.

For example, if in five years you are hoping to see your business expand into overseas markets, it’s important to know now what the market you are looking to expand into will look like in a few years.

Will there be a lot of competition? Will the local economy be struggling or booming? Will there be a lot of tax or compliance legislation that could make it difficult for you to get established and compete there?

Similarly, planning for growth even on the domestic front means coming to terms with potential future challenges.

For example, if over the next few years you would like to diversify the range of products and services your business is able to provide, will that mean taking on more staff?  What sort of human resources challenges would that throw up? Does your business have the expertise available to handle more complex staffing issues?

Write a plan – a thorough, honest assessment of the road to achieving your goals.

Having a passion for what you’re doing is very important. That will carry you through the late nights and the long weekends, though it’s not a substitute for a solid business plan. You need to go in with your eyes open, preparing an honest assessment of your objectives and how you will get there, including how to fund it throughout.

If the tumultuous last few years have taught us anything it’s that no plan is going to be 100 percent future proof, but when the unexpected happens, knowing where your business is going, what your goals are, and being able to navigate around the challenges you can see coming, will be a huge advantage.

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