For many businesses, a five-year strategic plan is an important document because it outlines what a company hopes to achieve within that amount of time. Restricting the plan to a five-year time frame is useful because it encourages a company to set solid goals and milestones that it must meet for success.

Because a business plan is a complex document, it includes several sections that describe how a company can assess its performance for this purpose. Often a five-year strategic plan template is used.

Parts of a Business Plan

A five-year business plan consists of at least 13 parts. The plan begins with an executive summary that summarizes the rest of the document. The plan then transitions into a brief description of the business before progressing into the details of the plan. Next, the plan contains your company mission statement, which explains what your business hopes to achieve.

After this introductory section comes a detailed SWOT analysis that outlines the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis is a particularly critical part of any business plan because it identifies where a company is strongest and its areas of greatest vulnerability.

A statement of immediate long-term goals comes next along with specifics about how to measure whether those goals are met. Measurements take the form of key performance indicators (KPIs).

A company's business plan should also include a description of the audience that it's targeting, a marketing plan detailing how to appeal to that audience and a competitive analysis that describes the advantage the company has over its competitors.

Rounding out the plan is a description of the team at the core of the business’s operations, an operations plan specifying goals that the organization needs to meet to be successful and financial projections that describe at what point the organization is profitable.

Performing a SWOT

A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis (SWOT) is a key part of a business plan. SWOT analyses are developed by businesses throughout their life cycles to identify opportunities for growth and also the threats that exist to its success.

A SWOT analysis begins with the creation of an objective that a company must meet, and all four aspects of the analysis provide insights into how that objective can be met.

Strengths are listed first and describe what the company does best. Then, weaknesses are listed that describe where the company is underperforming. Strengths and weaknesses can be identified from objective data detailing the company’s performance as well as from subjective, anecdotal stories about the company’s performance.

Aim for at least three major strengths and three major weaknesses.

Opportunities describe where a company can improve its performance and enhance its strengths. Finally, threats to the company’s performance are detailed. Threats could include anything from a new competitor entering the market to legislation that may affect negatively the company’s performance.

Typical 5-Year Goals

For most companies, a five-year goal is one that has multiple steps that must be taken along the way. Some of these steps will lead to significant milestones along the way. If a company wants to build a new headquarters, that would be a five-year goal. If a company wants to create a new product, along with all the marketing materials and launch activities, that could well be a five-year goal.

The important thing to remember is that there must be milestones along the way. These are vital because if one is missed, it will signal management that the success of the entire five-year plan is in jeopardy.