Drafting a Quality Five-Year Growth Plan for Your Small Business

August 12, 2015


To construct a viable and hopefully successful business plan, a business must consider several key factors. From forecasting growth and anticipating debt, to clearly defining a mission statement for the enterprise, a solid five-year business plan is an essential stepping stone to eventually seeing lofty goals come to fruition.

Recognize the (Statistically-Proven) Power of the Plan

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are just under 30 million businesses operating in the United States at any given time. A commonly cited 2002 U.S. Commerce Department survey found an overall 80% failure rate on new business ventures. The study found that eight out of ten new businesses close their doors within their first five years.

Jonathan Goldhill, a small-business consultant and former economic development expert, says a solid business plan can make all the difference between success and failure. Goldhill is quoted in a Bloomberg article from the same year saying, “We studied firms that had developed a business plan at the outset, and found that 85% were still in business after three years.”

Innovate to Attract Investors

There are many ways a five-year growth plan can help a company or firm succeed. For example, investors want to know exactly what their funding will help facilitate. A smart plan will lead them by the hand into the future of the enterprise. Securing funding and attracting new buyers is essential to growth. Video marketing is one way to help express a business plan in an innovative, more visual way. According to Forbes, when given a choice concerning the same information, 59% of upper-tier decision makers would rather watch video than read text.

Be Concise and Accurate

Keep the plan tight. Growth comes as a natural successor to organization and clarity. Include specific goals and any fact-backed projections based on all available data and your vision for the future. Be realistic and honest about where the business is at the time the plan is being structured. Disclose all known variables. Is there debt? Address a plan of action to pay down the debt. Is there anticipated growth? Prove it, or at the very least support its likelihood.

Chart a Course

Charts and graphics can help liven up a text-heavy proposal or plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration says charts and graphs can be a smart way to highlight financial statistics in particular. These visual aids can help illustrate figures more effectively than the written word. Especially when presenting to investors or applying for other funding, use photographs, video, charts, tables, and anything else within reasonable boundaries that will help your plan stand out. PowerPoint is a fantastic tool for a business plan or funding proposal, but try to ensure that the presentation has some unique or interesting aspect.

Draft a Killer Executive Summary

After the business plan has come together into a finished product, it’s time to write a one-page cover sheet of sorts. The “executive summary” is at once an introduction and a review of all the points your reader is about to pour over. They (or you) can scan it before going through the plan and then refer to it after as a way to easily remember key points. This is one of the most crucial parts of any business or growth plan; it should be sleek, uncluttered and focused. The summary should be in outline order, walking the reader through the presentation or document step-by-step.

For a CEO or manager presenting to outside interests, a five-year growth plan handles the majority of your talking points for you. However, that point is the very reason to take special care that the plan represents the business in the most favorable light possible while adhering to the strictest ethical standards of disclosure. Keep the focus narrow, disclose everything ethics would dictate and use multimedia elements where possible to keep your audience engaged.

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