How to Write a Five-Year Business Plan

Male entrepreneur looking out into the distance considering the future and deciding if he needs a long-term plan.

Noah Parsons

15 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

Learn why the traditional way of writing a five-year business plan is often a waste of time and how to use a one-page plan instead for smarter, easier strategic planning to establish your long-term vision. 

In business, it can sometimes seem hard enough to predict what’s going to happen next month, let alone three or even five years from now. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan for the long term. After all, your vision for the future is what gets you out of bed in the morning and motivates your team. It’s those aspirations that drive you to keep innovating and figuring out how to grow.

  • What is a long-term plan?

A long-term or long-range business plan looks beyond the traditional 3-year planning window, focusing on what a business might look like 5 or even 10 years from now. A traditional 5-year business plan includes financial projections, business strategy, and roadmaps that stretch far into the future.

I’ll be honest with you, though—for most businesses, long-range business plans that stretch 5 and 10 years into the future are a waste of time. Anyone who’s seriously asking you for one doesn’t know what they’re doing and is wasting your time. Sorry if that offends some people, but it’s true.

However, there is still real value in looking at the long term. Just don’t invest the time in creating a lengthy version of your business plan with overly detailed metrics and milestones for the next five-plus years. No one knows the future and, more than likely, anything you write down now could be obsolete in the next year, next month, or even next week. 

That’s where long-term strategic planning comes in. A long-term business plan like this is different from a traditional business plan in that it’s lighter on the details and more focused on your strategic direction. It has less focus on financial forecasting and a greater focus on the big picture. 

Think of your long-term strategic plan as your aspirational vision for your business. It defines the ideal direction you’re aiming for but it’s not influencing your day-to-day or, potentially, even your monthly decision making. 

  • Are long-term business plans a waste of time?

No one knows the future. We’re all just taking the information that we have available today and making our best guesses about the future. Sometimes trends in a market are pretty clear and your guesses will be well-founded. Other times, you’re trying to look around a corner and hoping that your intuition about what comes next is correct.

Now, I’m not saying that thinking about the future is a waste of time. Entrepreneurs are always thinking about the future. They have to have some degree of faith and certainty about what customers are going to want in the future. Successful entrepreneurs do actually predict the future — they know what customers are going to want and when they’re going to want it.

Entrepreneurship is unpredictable 

Successful entrepreneurs are also often wrong. They make mistakes just like the rest of us. The difference between successful entrepreneurs and everyone else is that they don’t let mistakes slow them down. They learn from mistakes, adjust and try again. And again. And again. It’s not about being right all the time; it’s about having the perseverance to keep trying until you get it right. For example, James Dyson, inventor of the iconic vacuum cleaner, tried out 5,126 prototypes of his invention before he found a design that worked.

So, if thinking about the future isn’t a waste of time, why are 5-year business plans a waste of time? They’re a waste of time because they typically follow the same format as a traditional business plan, where you are asked to project sales, expenses, and cash flow 5 and 10 years into the future. 

Let’s be real. Sales and expense projections that far into the future are just wild guesses, especially for startups and new businesses. They’re guaranteed to be wrong and can’t be used for anything. You can’t (and shouldn’t) make decisions based on these guesses. They’re just fantasy. You hope you achieve massive year-over-year growth in sales, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. And, you shouldn’t make significant spending decisions today based on the hope of massive sales 10 years from now.

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  • Why write a long-term business plan?

So, what is the purpose of outlining a long-term plan? Here are a few key reasons why it’s still valuable to consider the future of your business without getting bogged down by the details.

Showcase your vision for investors

First, and especially important if you are raising money from investors, is your vision. Investors will want to know not only where you plan on being in a year, but where the business will be in five years. Do you anticipate launching new products or services? Will you expand internationally? Or will you find new markets to grow into? 

Set long-term goals for your business

Second, you’ll want to establish goals for yourself and your team. What kinds of high-level sales targets do you hope to achieve? How big is your company going to get overtime? These goals can be used to motivate your team and even help in the hiring process as you get up and running.

That said, you don’t want to overinvest in fleshing out all the details of a long-range plan. You don’t need to figure out exactly how your expansion will work years from now or exactly how much you’ll spend on office supplies five years from now. That’s really just a waste of time.

Instead, for long-range planning, think in broad terms. A good planning process means that you’re constantly revising and refining your business plan. You’ll add more specifics as you go, creating a detailed plan for the next 6-12 months and a broader, vague plan for the long term.

You have a long development time

Businesses with extremely long research and development timelines do make spending decisions now based on the hope of results years from now. For example, the pharmaceutical industry and medical device industry have to make these bets all the time. The R&D required to take a concept from idea to proven product with regulatory approval can take years for these industries, so long-range planning in these cases is a must. A handful of other industries also have similar development timelines, but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Your business is well-established and predictable 

Long-term, detailed planning can make more sense for businesses that are extremely well established and have long histories of consistent sales and expenses with predictable growth. But, even for those businesses, predictability means quite the opposite of stability. The chances that you’ll be disrupted in the marketplace by a new company, or the changing needs and desires of your customers, is extremely high. So, most likely, those long-range predictions of sales and profits are pretty useless.

  • What a 5-year plan should look like

With the exception of R&D-heavy businesses, most 5-year business plans should be more like vision statements than traditional business plans. They should explain your vision for the future, but skip the details of detailed sales projections and expense budgets. 

Your vision for your business should explain the types of products and services that you hope to offer in the future and the types of customers that you hope to serve. Your plan should outline who you plan to serve now and how you plan to expand if you are successful.

This kind of future vision creates a strategic roadmap. It’s not a fully detailed plan with sales forecasts and expense budgets, but a plan for getting started and then growing over time to reach your final destination.

For example, here’s a short-form version of what a long-term plan for Nike might have looked like if one had been written in the 1960s:

Nike will start by developing high-end track shoes for elite athletes. We’ll start with a focus on the North West of the US, but expand nationally as we develop brand recognition among track and field athletes. We will use sponsored athletes to spread the word about the quality and performance of our shoes. Once we have success in the track & field market segment, we believe that we will be able to successfully expand both beyond the US market and also branch out into other sports, with an initial focus on basketball.

Leadership and brand awareness in a sport such as basketball will enable us to cross over from the athlete market into the consumer market. This will lead to significant business growth in the consumer segment and allow for expansion into additional sports, fashion, and casual markets in addition to building a strong apparel brand.

Interestingly enough, Nike (to my knowledge) never wrote out a long-range business plan. They developed their plans as they grew, building the proverbial airplane as it took off.

But, if you have this kind of vision for your business, it’s useful to articulate it. Your employees will want to know what your vision is and your investors will want to know as well. They want to know that you, as an entrepreneur, are looking beyond tomorrow and into the future months and years ahead.

  • How to write a five-year business plan

Writing out your long-term vision for your business is a useful exercise. It can bring a sense of stability and solidify key performance indicators and broad milestones that drive your business. 

Developing a long-range business plan is really just an extension of your regular business planning process. A typical business plan covers the next one to three years, documenting your target market, marketing strategy, and product or service offerings for that time period. 

A five-year plan expands off of that initial strategy and discusses what your business might do in the years to come. However, as I’ve mentioned before, creating a fully detailed five-year business plan will be a waste of time. 

Here’s a quick guide to writing a business plan that looks further into the future without wasting your time:

1. Develop your one-page plan

As with all business planning, we recommend that you start with a one-page business plan. It provides a snapshot of what you’re hoping to achieve in the immediate term by outlining your core business strategy, target market, and business model.

A one-page plan is the foundation of all other planning because it’s the document that you’ll keep the most current. It’s also the easiest to update and share with business partners. You will typically highlight up to three years of revenue and profit goals as well as milestones that you hope to achieve in the near term.

Check out our guide to building your one-page plan and download a free template to get started.

2. Determine if you need a traditional business plan

Unlike a one-page business plan, a traditional business plan is more detailed and is typically written in long-form prose. A traditional business plan is usually 10-20 pages long and contains details about your product or service, summaries of the market research that you’ve conducted, and details about your competition. Read our complete guide to writing a business plan .

Companies that write traditional business plans typically have a “business plan event” where a complete business plan is required. Business plan events are usually part of the fundraising process. During fundraising, lenders and investors may ask to see a detailed plan and it’s important to be ready if that request comes up. 

But there are other good reasons to write a detailed business plan. A detailed plan forces you to think through the details of your business and how, exactly, you’re going to build your business. Detailed plans encourage you to think through your business strategy, your target market, and your competition carefully. A good business plan ensures that your strategy is complete and fleshed out, not just a collection of vague ideas.

A traditional business plan is also a good foundation for a long-term business plan and I recommend that you expand your lean business plan into a complete business plan if you intend to create plans for more than three years into the future.

3. Develop long-term goals and growth targets

As you work on your business plan, you’ll need to think about where you want to be in 5+ years. A good exercise is to envision what your business will look like. How many employees will you have? How many locations will you serve? Will you introduce new products and services? 

When you’ve envisioned where you want your business to be, it’s time to turn that vision into a set of goals that you’ll document in your business plan. Each section of your business plan will be expanded to highlight where you want to be in the future. For example, in your target market section, you will start by describing your initial target market. Then you’ll proceed to describe the markets that you hope to reach in 3-5 years.

To accompany your long-term goals, you’ll also need to establish revenue targets that you think you’ll need to meet to achieve your goals. It’s important to also think about the expenses you’re going to incur in order to grow your business. 

For long-range planning, I recommend thinking about your expenses in broad buckets such as “marketing” and “product development” without getting bogged down in too much detail. Think about what percentage of your sales you’ll spend on each of these broad buckets. For example, marketing spending might be 20% of sales. 

4. Develop a 3-5 year strategic plan

Your goals and growth targets are “what” you want to achieve. Your strategy is “how” you’re going to achieve it.

Use your business plan to document your strategy for growth. You might be expanding your product offering, expanding your market, or some combination of the two. You’ll need to think about exactly how this process will happen over the next 3-5 years. 

A good way to document your strategy is to use milestones. These are interim goals that you’ll set to mark your progress along the way to your larger goal. For example, you may have a goal to expand your business nationally from your initial regional presence. You probably won’t expand across the country all at once, though. Most likely, you’ll expand into certain regions one at a time and grow to have a national presence over time. Your strategy will be the order of the regions that you plan on expanding into and why you pick certain regions over others.

Your 3-5 year strategy may also include what’s called an “exit strategy”. This part of a business plan is often required if you’re raising money from investors. They’ll want to know how they’ll eventually get their money back. An “exit” can be the sale of your business or potentially going public. A typical exit strategy will identify potential acquirers for your business and will show that you’ve thought about how your business might be an attractive purchase.

5. Tie your long-term plan to your one-page plan

As your business grows, you can use your long-term business plan as your north star. Your guide for where you want to end up. Use those goals to steer your business in the right direction, making small course corrections as you need to. 

You’ll reflect those smaller course corrections in your one-page plan. Because it is a simple document and looks at the shorter term, it’s easier to update. The best way to do this is to set aside a small amount of time to review your plan once a month. You’ll review your financial forecast, your milestones, and your overall strategy. If things need to change, you can make those adjustments. Nothing ever goes exactly to plan, so it’s OK to make corrections as you go.

You may find that your long-term plan may also need corrections as you grow your business. You may learn things about your market that change your initial assumptions and impacts your long-range plan. This is perfectly normal. Once a quarter or so, zoom out and review your long-range plan. If you need to make corrections to your strategy and goals, that’s fine. Just keep your plan alive so that it gives you the guidance that you need over time. 

  • Vision setting is the purpose of long-term planning

Part of what makes entrepreneurs special is that they have a vision. They have dreams for where they want their business to go. A 5-year business plan should be about documenting that vision for the future and how your business will capitalize on that vision.

So, if someone asks you for your 5-year business plan. Don’t scramble to put together a sales forecast and budget for 5 years from now. Your best guess today will be obsolete tomorrow. Instead, focus on your vision and communicate that. 

Explain where you think your business is going and what you think the market is going to be like 5 years from now. Explain what you think customers are going to want and where trends are headed and how you’re going to be there to sell the solution to the problems that exist in 5 and 10 years. Just skip the invented forecasts and fantasy budgets.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Start your business plan with the #1 plan writing software. Create your plan with Liveplan today.

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[Updated 2023] How to Write a Five Year Business Plan [Best Templates Included]

[Updated 2023] How to Write a Five Year Business Plan [Best Templates Included]

Smriti Srivastava

author-user

Achieving a set of goals is challenging.

Maintaining the motivation and productivity to achieve business goals is even harder.

In the words of Yogi Berra, a big-league baseball player-turned-manager, “Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones, and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.”

This is why everyone in the industry — from an interviewer looking to hire top talent to an entrepreneur who accomplishes goals systematically — splits their business plan into five years. A five-year business plan not only extends a generous period to attain the set targets but at the same time keeps everyone on their toes, removing procrastination.

But writing a five-year business plan can get tedious, messy, and, sometimes, take forever to hit the right spot.

Therefore, this blog will cover the essential steps to help you write a tremendous five-year business plan.

Chronology of writing a spectacular five-year business plan

It is quite simple. You cannot achieve something great when you don’t know your priorities, objectives, ways, and timeframe to achieve those targets. It is essential to build a five-year plan for your business as well as the outcomes and expectations related to it.

But where do you start?

Here are the five sections you must include in your plan:

#1 A clear company introduction

A brief yet effective overview of your business, its market, team structure, roles and responsibilities, company offerings, and value proposition builds the foundation for your future endeavors. You use a company overview to set the right tone at the beginning of your business plan, as it serves as the base and a direction for your audience.

Related read: How to Create an Attention-Grabbing Company Introduction Slide in 10 Minutes

#2 vision and mission statement.

You have to ensure your employees, stakeholders, investors, and potential clients understand what your company is all about and what you stand for. Your vision and mission statement helps you with it. It enlightens the audience about your future plans - where you see your company in five years and the results you will work to achieve.

Related read: Top 10 Mission and Vision Statement Templates to Guide Your Organizational Culture

#3 target market and branding.

State who your company is looking to serve and why. Provide clarity on your target market based on psychographics and demographics. And do not forget to mention the size of your target market. You have to create a framework for making your brand visible exponentially and simultaneously create a lead generation and conversion strategy.

Related read: Top 30 PowerPoint Templates to Analyze Dominant Market Drivers

#4 product overview.

Set clear priorities based on the distinction between your primary and secondary products. You need to connect your branding around the product or service core to your company. This categorization will help you establish the revenue your products generate and the impacts they create. Further, it will help modify your plans accordingly.

Related read: Top 10 One-Page Product Overview PowerPoint Templates to Drive Sales

#5 swot analysis.

Measuring your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the industry can help you successfully dominate the market. Therefore, your five-year business plan must include regular and timely analysis of all your business operations. There is no better way to meet targets than keeping a check on one’s activities. It will help you focus on the proprietary system of your company.

Related read: Top 50 SWOT Analysis PowerPoint Templates Used by Professionals Worldwide

Templates to nail your business plan.

Often we have countless ideas to plan our way to a successful business. But as the day-to-day grind starts, it is easy to get distracted from the end goal and stray from the path leading to our intent. We look for a north star to point us directly to our mission. So we decided to make your life a bit easier by providing our readymade and editable five-year business plan templates. You can access them below. Dive in!

Template 1: Five Year Business Plan Roadmap Template

Help your team stay on track with your future business ambitions by taking the assistance of our invigorating PowerPoint template. This content-ready template helps you visualize your work plan and present your vision impactfully. You just need to click the download link to start customizing it.

Five Year Business Plan Roadmap PowerPoint Slides

Download this template

Template 2: Key Poniters for Five Year Business Plan

Use this business plan template that includes vital pointers such as setting clear goals and objectives, conducting market research and competitor analysis, developing a comprehensive marketing strategy, creating financial projections, and establishing a system for measuring progress and adjusting your plan accordingly. By following a structured template and considering these essential elements, you can create a plan that sets your organization up for long-term success.

Five Year Business Plan

Template 3: Five Year Roadmap Timeline for Business Plan

Employ this professionally curated template to improve the success rate of your business. This template helps you track the progress of all your operational activities without any hassle. Also, our color-coded template makes it easy to comprehend and follow. So download this adaptable template to start adding your data effortlessly.

Five Years Roadmap Timeline For Business Plan PowerPoint Slides

Template 4: Five-Year Business Plan Roadmap with Operations and Functions

You can utilize this template to articulate the workflow of your organization smoothly. This template allows you to write an attractive executive summary of your business operations and functions. Download the template and start assembling your key milestones immediately. Click the link below!

Five Years Business Plan Roadmap With Operations And Functions Templates

Template 5: Five Year Milestones Template

Outline the timeline for achieving future goals with the help of this template. Our experts have designed this PowerPoint template to help you summarize your vision, mission, targets, and timeframe in an easily accessible format. Grasp the attention of your employees and stakeholders right away by downloading this template.

Future Timeline Five Year Milestones PowerPoint Slides

Template 6: Five-Year Roadmap for Business Planning

A comprehensive plan of action displays confidence and foresightedness. Therefore, we have curated this content-specific template to help you create a strategic roadmap for your business goals. This template distributes the target phases based on yearly milestones, thereby making it easily understandable. Grab it now!

Five Years Roadmap To Start A Business With Planning PowerPoint Templates

Template 7: Five Year Business Plan with Roadmap

Take your business to the next level with this five-year business roadmap with checkpoints. It includes sections for sales, product, operations,  and targets set for different team members. It also includes timelines and checkpoints for processes and activities. Download this editable PowerPoint Slide now to streamline your business alignment.

Five Year Business Plan with Checklist

Template 8: Five Year Business Plan With Financial Projection

Make your future financial outcomes expectations loud and clear by using this PowerPoint template. Represent your business planning elements creatively by employing this template. You can even highlight your company’s ongoing functions and practices in a structured way with the assistance of our entirely adaptable PPT template.

Five Years Roadmap Business Plan With Financial Projection PPT Templates

Template 9: Five Year Business Plan Implementation Roadmap

The success rate of business plans hugely depends on the plan of action, and this editable five years roadmap of the organization rightly serves the purpose. Encapsulate all the information related to the project in a well-structured manner to obtain maximum efficiency by incorporating this stunning PowerPoint slide. State the critical deliverable, steps involved, time frame, workforce allocation, and lots more in an easy-to-understand manner by utilizing this pre-designed roadmap layout. Download now!

Implementing five year business plan

Template 10: Five Year Business Plan with Risk Status

Select this PowerPoint template to predict your future growth. Using this PPT template, you can assess potential risks that can stunt your business development in the coming years. Revamp your venture by utilizing this template as a guiding star. Download it and start with your strategic planning right away!

Business Plan Five Year Roadmap With Risk Status PowerPoint Templates

Having a strategic roadmap for handling your business operations and objectives is the only way to go. You cannot expect high profit and returns on investment without having a clear outline for the next five years of your business. With our stunning business plan ppt templates, you will definitely look confident, assertive, reliable, and foresighted.

FAQs on Five-Year Business Plan

How to write a five year business plan.

Here are some key steps to consider when writing your plan:

Define your mission and vision: Start by articulating your organization's purpose and long-term goals.

Conduct market research : Analyze your industry, identify trends, and understand your target audience.

Evaluate your competition: Analyze your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and determine how you can differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

Develop a marketing and sales strategy: Outline how you will reach and engage with your target audience and define your pricing strategy.

Create financial projections: Develop a comprehensive financial model that includes revenue and expense projections, as well as cash flow analysis.

Establish a system for measuring progress: Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track progress towards your goals, and create a plan for reviewing and updating your plan on a regular basis.

What is a good 5-year business plan?

A good 5-year business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines an organization's strategy for achieving its long-term goals. Here are some key elements to include in a good 5-year business plan:

Executive summary: Provide an overview of your organization's mission, vision, and goals, as well as a summary of the key elements of your plan.

Market analysis: Conduct thorough research to understand your industry, target audience, and competition.

Marketing and sales strategy: Outline how you will reach and engage with your target audience, and define your pricing strategy.

Financial projections: Develop a comprehensive financial model that includes revenue and expense projections, as well as cash flow analysis.

Organizational structure: Outline the roles and responsibilities of key personnel, and describe how your organization will be structured to achieve its goals.

Risk management: Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Performance metrics: Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track progress towards your goals, and create a plan for reviewing and updating your plan on a regular basis.

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How to write a 5-year business plan faster with the right tool

5 year business planning tool

Did you know that 70% of firms still in business after five years, have a strategic plan in place?

A business plan helps outline your goals and explains how you plan to achieve them and is crucial if you want to raise financing and plan your outlook for both the short and long-term future.

However, writing a five-year business plan can be a daunting task, especially when you're juggling numerous responsibilities as a small business owner.

Incorporating the right tools into your strategy makes a creating 5-year business plan a breeze while ensuring accuracy and thoroughness.

In this guide, we'll cover what a five-year business plan is, why you need to write one, what tool you should use and the content that should be included!

Ready? Let's get started!

In this guide:

What is a 5-year business plan?

Why is a 5-year business plan crucial for business success, how does a 5-year business plan differ from a 3-year business plan, is a 5-year business plan right for you, how to write a 5-year business plan efficiently, 5-year business plan templates and examples, why you shouldn't be using excel and word to write a 5-year business plan, how do i write a 5-year business plan in practice, how to make sure your 5-year business plan stays relevant.

It follows the same structure as most other business plans. It contains all of the key sections from the executive summary to the financial statements.

A 5-year business plan serves as a roadmap for your company's future, guiding strategic decisions and ensuring alignment with your long-term goals.

In today's dynamic business landscape, having a clear and comprehensive plan in place is essential for navigating uncertainties and capitalizing on opportunities.

Consider a small manufacturing business seeking to invest in new equipment and technology to enhance production capabilities.

Without a 5-year plan outlining growth targets, market analysis, and financial projections, the company may struggle to secure funding or make informed investment decisions.

By developing a strategic roadmap that extends five years into the future, the business can anticipate challenges, capitalize on emerging trends, and adapt to evolving market conditions.

Furthermore, a 5-year business plan provides a framework for accountability and performance measurement. For instance, a construction and real estate company embarking on a major development project can use the plan to track progress against milestones, monitor expenses, and evaluate the project's overall feasibility.

By regularly revisiting and updating the plan, the company can ensure its strategies remain relevant and aligned with its overarching objectives.

Now that we've highlighted the importance of a 5-year plan, let's compare it to its shorter-term counterpart, the 3-year business plan.

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The key difference is that those financials are projected for 5 years instead of 3 years. This means that the business is providing a long(er) term outlook.

It also means that sections detailing the actions planned - such as business strategy, sales & marketing plan and milestones - have to be written in greater depth because a lot more will be implemented in a 5-year business plan (vs. a 3-year business plan).

Business plans can be highly volatile tools, especially for startups. If a business plan turns out to be inaccurate at the end of year one, it is likely that the following years will follow suit.

In essence, the further you plan into the future, the less certainty you have. This means that 5-year business plans tend to be higher level than 3-year business plans given that it’s difficult to accurately predict what might happen after year 3.

Because of the uncertainty regarding long-term projections we just explained in the section above, 5-year business plans tend to be quite rare.

As a rule of thumb, they are mostly useful in the following situations:

  • When the business is highly predictable
  • When the business is in transition

Highly predictable businesses

Some businesses are predictable with a high level of certainty and can therefore afford to take a long(er) term view.

This usually applies to businesses with the following characteristics:

  • They have limited competition: monopolies or oligopolies
  • They sell products or services with limited substitution options

Infrastructure companies are the perfect example of this. If you are the only water provider or train operator in the region and have been given a 10 years concession, you can comfortably project your financials over longer periods.

business plan: five year

Businesses in transition

5-year business plans are also useful for businesses that want to model a transition from one state to another.

Good examples of this are when there is a one-off important change in the business, or a high level of inertia:

  • The business is expected to go through a phase of reorganization or restructuring, after acquiring another business, or because it needs to shut down a division which is no longer competitive, for example
  • The business is investing in a capital-intensive project that will take time before yielding a return on investment. If constructing a new factory takes two years before the business can benefit from the increased production capacity, for example
  • There is inertia in the sales cycle. If the business is launching a new product marketed to big corporations with an expected 12-18 months sales cycle, for example

As you can see from above, 5-year business plans are often overkill for startups or small “brick and mortar” businesses such as retail shops and restaurants.

Now let’s look at how you should write your 5-year business plan, the benefits of doing so, the tools you can use to help you and the factors to consider when selecting a business plan software.

Need inspiration for your business plan?

The Business Plan Shop has dozens of business plan templates that you can use to get a clear idea of what a complete business plan looks like.

The Business Plan Shop's Business Plan Templates

Use software to write a 5-year business plan

Utilizing business planning software offers numerous advantages for small business owners embarking on the journey of creating a 5-year business plan.

These tools are specifically designed to simplify the planning process, saving you time and effort whilst helping you avoid silly errors along the way.

By leveraging business planning software, you can access pre-built templates that contain industry-specific financial models and forecasting tools. This allows you to focus on refining your growth strategy rather than starting from scratch.

Now, let’s take a further look at how these tools allow you to streamline the process of writing a business plan.

How these tools simplify the planning process

Using an online business planning software such as the one offered by The Business Plan Shop is the most efficient and modern way to write a five-year business plan.

An online business planning software streamlines the process because:

  • You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
  • You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
  • You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
  • You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
  • You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
  • You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
  • You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
  • You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck

If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here .

5-year business plan example cover page

Above is an example of how a cover page and table of contents look like on The Business Plan Shop's online business planning software.

What to consider when choosing a business plan software

Now, let's explore key factors to consider when choosing the right business planning software to facilitate your 5-year business plan:

  • Compatibility with 5-year planning: Ensure that the software you choose supports the creation and management of 5-year business plans, allowing you to set long-term goals, forecast financials, and track progress over an extended period.
  • Ease of use: Look for software with an intuitive interface and user-friendly features that make it easy for small business owners to navigate and utilize effectively without extensive training or technical expertise.
  • Customization options: Evaluate the software's ability to tailor templates, and forecasting models to your specific business needs and industry requirements. Seek solutions that allow for flexibility and customization, enabling you to adapt the plan to changing market conditions and internal priorities.
  • Integration capabilities: Assess whether the software integrates seamlessly with other tools, such as accounting software. Integration ensures consistency and accuracy across your business operations, streamlining data management and decision-making. The Business Plan Shop offers integration with QuickBooks and Xero.
  • Cost and scalability: Consider the pricing structure and scalability of the software, ensuring it aligns with your budget and growth trajectory. For example, The Business Plan Shop offers flexible pricing plans based on your business size and needs, with options to upgrade or downgrade as your business evolves.

Most of the business plan templates offered by The Business Plan Shop are examples of three-year business plans.

However, since there isn't any fundamental difference between a three-year and five-year business plan, you can use one of our templates to help structure your own plan (simply increase the number of years to 5 in the settings and adjust your forecast accordingly).

5-year business plan templates: multiple sectors from hospitality to retail

When considering using a tool like Word or Excel to craft a 5-year business plan, it is important to be aware of the drawbacks.

Though both programs may offer some basic formatting and calculations, they are not tailored for creating business plans.

Using Excel can be risky due to potential errors in data entry as a consequence of inputting data manually. A single mistake could lead to financial statements being inaccurate and with hundreds of lines of data, you might struggle to locate where the mistake was made.

Investors are likely to frown upon the use of Excel when creating a forecast for this reason, and it's unlikely that they would trust your numbers unless you have a background in accounting or finance.

Even if you do have a background in finance. With Excel, you'll need to compute key formulas yourself, which means that modelling complex elements is likely to be frustrating. Modelling D&A tables, advanced payment terms, or variable interest rate loans in the financial forecast are good examples of this.

If you're using Word to write up your business plan, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the details that must be included. And unlike The Business Plan Shop, which offers you structured templates for each section of your plan, with Word there are no examples or instructions to guide you either.

Following a set structure makes it much easier to write a five-year business plan - which is why we've broken it down into simple questions and sections for you to follow!

How do you set 5-year business (growth) goals?

When writing a 5-year business plan, it's important to set achievable goals within that timeframe. Looking back at previous business performance can offer indications as to what your team can achieve with the resources they have at their disposal.

Be sure to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) objectives: there's no point in saying that you want to open 10 new stores within the next five years, if you know that's virtually impossible.

Similarly, an increase in customer satisfaction by itself is not a measurable goal and would need to lead to greater customer retention and repeat purchases for it to be quantified in numerical terms.

Remember that your goals are likely to shift as time goes by and you might want to make small changes to them. Whilst it's good to be specific, there's no need to mention every single aspect of your strategy in the business plan. You are trying to impress stakeholders such as investors, not bore them with the details!

Need a solid financial forecast?

The Business Plan Shop does the maths for you. Simply enter your revenues, costs and investments. Click save and our online tool builds a three-way forecast for you instantly.

Screenshot from The Business Plan Shop's Financial Forecasting Software

What is the content of a 5-year business plan?

A 5-year business plan is composed of 7 main sections, let's have a look at each of them.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is arguably the most important part of your business plan. It provides readers (such as banks and investors) a rundown of your business as a whole.

You should explain what type of business you are, what goods or services you sell and to whom, forecasted revenues and profitability in the next five years, as well as the amount of financing that is required (if any).

Remember that this is the first section of your business plan. Keep it short and snappy to persuade stakeholders such as investors to continue reading.

Company Overview

The company overview section of a five-year business plan usually covers three key areas:

  • Structure and Ownership
  • Business Location
  • Management team

You should start by summarising how your business is funded to date and who owns it (be sure to state shareholder names and percentage ownership if it is equity funded). Plus, you should declare what type of legal structure you've chosen (sole trader, limited company, partnership, etc.).

Then give an overview of the location(s) of your business Simply explain where you chose to set up your business(es) and why you chose that particular area(s) - strong transport links and parking facilities, large footfall of potential customers nearby are two such examples.

Finally, you should introduce the management team. This part is particularly important to demonstrate to investors that your management team has the necessary skills and experience to run the business successfully.

Market analysis

This is likely to be the lengthiest section of your 5-year business plan. In general, the market analysis should include the following sections:

  • Demographics and segmentation
  • Target market
  • Competition
  • Barriers at entry

Demographics are essential for understanding who is likely to be interested in purchasing your products or services. Segmenting demographics further can also provide insight into what types of goods customers prefer and the price that they are willing to pay for them.

This section can also help you understand any upcoming trends in the market that are likely to affect your strategy within the next five years.

Then comes the target market part, where you will explain which segments are targeted by your business and how you meet their needs.

For example, if you were running a wellness spa, your target market could be women aged between 20 and 45 who work full-time and are looking to relax and de-stress after their workday and on the weekends. They might be drawn to your salon because of your high-quality customer service and convenient opening times.

five year business plan: market analysis section

It's also important to explain who your business will be competing against in the local market. Think about direct and indirect competition so that you can devise strategies to gain an edge over them. 

The next part of your market analysis will be to detail potential barriers to entry. Barriers to entry are best defined as any hurdles that prevent competing firms from entering the market and stealing your hard-earned market shares. A large investment in R&D or production capacities would be good examples.

Finally, you should state what regulations are already in place in the market and how you plan to abide by them. Examples of such regulations include The Data Protection Act (prominent for businesses with a website) and health and safety regulations.

Products and services

The products and services section of your 5-year business plan should include detailed descriptions of all the products and/or services that your business offers.

For example, if you run a coffee shop, you should detail the ingredients used, such as the type of milk, flavourings, and toppings available. The reader will want to understand what makes your coffee unique from other businesses in this competitive market.

You could also list any offers that customers can obtain (coffee and cake deals for example). You might also have delivery options available or loyalty programmes for customers who purchase multiple drinks over time.

It may also be useful to explain how you intend to keep up with current trends by introducing new flavours and seasonal beverages throughout the year (pumpkin flavour during Halloween for example).

Including these details in your 5-year business plan helps paint a clear picture for potential investors about what they can expect now and in the future.

Strategy Section

This section should outline the pricing strategy, marketing plan, milestones to be achieved, as well as any risks and mitigants associated with your venture.

You should explain how you charge for your goods and services, why you chose to price them at that level, and how they compare with prices charged by your competition.

In your marketing plan, you could outline how you plan to implement a set strategy to attract and retain customers.

Your business milestones are important because they summarise what your goals are and where you want to be in five years' time. For an existing business, it might look like this:

  • In year one: open a second store in the region
  • In year two: go national with another 5 new stores in major cities
  • From year three to five: open 10 new stores each year to reach a network of 37 stores

Finally, talk about the risks and mitigants that could affect your business within the next five years. Try to cover major risks such as changes in the competitive environment, new regulations, key staff leaving, etc.

Operations Section

In your five-year business plan operations section, you should outline any staff that you've recruited (or plan to recruit), the qualifications & experience they hold and their responsibilities.

Your business might employ more staff as time goes on (perhaps as you obtain a stronger cash flow position in year 3 of the business plan). Be sure to state any future recruitment plans.

Talk about the suppliers that you've chosen to work with and the reason for picking them over others.

Finally, you should state any key assets required for the business to operate such as leases, patents, or specialized equipment.

For any business plan, the financial section is crucial. Your five-year business plan should contain a full set of financial statements: a balance sheet, a profit & loss statement and a cash flow statement.

Below is an example of how five-year forecasted revenues might look like for one of your product or service. This chart was created using The Business Plan Shop's 5-year financial forecasting software .

The Business Plan Shop's financial forecasting software: five-year revenue analysis chart

Obtaining inputs from key stakeholders before writing your 5-year business plan

To help ensure that your business plan is accurate, it should ideally be written by your management team (one or more managers who are responsible for overall strategy and the day-to-day running of the business).

It's also important to obtain input from key staff members. For example, the head of sales should help build the sales forecast because they are the one responsible for executing the sales strategy.

How many pages does a 5-year business plan have?

Like most business plans, there's no specific number of pages that yours must have. A good rule of thumb, however, is to keep it between 15 and 35 pages.

As long as you've covered all of the key sections, ranging from the executive summary to the financial projections, your five-year business plan should be good to go!

Remember, quality is more important than quantity.

Writing a comprehensive business plan takes time, to get a return on investment at this time, you need to actually use and maintain your plan.

To do so, you will want to regularly compare your actuals (actual data from your accounting software) with your financial projections to check you are on track to deliver the plan.

Then you will want to adjust your forecast and plan as time goes by so that your plan stays current and your business can maintain clear visibility of its future cash flows.

If you used The Business Plan Shop to create your forecast, this is easy to do as actuals vs. forecast tracking is built-in our solution:

five year business plan: actuals vs. forecast

In simple terms, creating a 5-year business plan means plotting out where you want your business to go over the next five years. This involves setting goals, predicting what the market will be like, and estimating how much money you'll make.

Planning for the long term helps you prepare for challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and stay on track toward your goals.

Using business planning software makes this whole process faster and easier. It comes with ready-made templates, tools for working together with others, and ways to connect with other software you might use. This makes it simpler to organize information and make decisions.

These tools give small business owners the ability to make detailed plans that match up with their big-picture goals. It helps keep things clear, focused, and ready to adapt to whatever changes come your way in the business world.

That's it for now, we hope this article has helped you better understand how to write a 5-year business plan.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions related to business planning or our solution.

Also on The Business Plan Shop

  • How to do a market analysis for a business plan?
  • Business plan vs budget: what's the difference?
  • How to choose the best business plan software for you?
  • 69 mistakes to avoid in your business plan
  • Business plan steps: everything you need to know
  • Practical examples of a business plan outline

Guillaume Le Brouster

Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd

Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.

Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.

Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.

Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.

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Five-year business plan: why you need one and how to write it

What is a five-year business plan, do you actually need a five-year business plan, who is a five-year business plan for, how to write a five-year business plan, five business plan tips from anthony rose, final thoughts, kaylin sullivan.

Many founders roll their eyes at the idea of forecasting the growth of their business for the next five years. However, having a clear plan that sets out your ambitious yet realistic growth targets can help get investors on board.

In this article, we’ll reveal why you need to write a five-year business plan with tips from Anthony Rose, SeedLegals’ CEO and serial entrepreneur.

A five-year business plan gives an overview of what a business does, what it intends to do and how it plans to do it.

It includes everything from vision statements to market research, strategic planning and financial forecasts. The five-year plan helps prospective investors get an idea of whether they feel a business has long term potential.

Founders and investors both know that a five-year business plan includes some artistic licence. You don’t know exactly how things are going to go. Things can take longer than you expect and the economic landscape can shift overnight.

However, there’s still plenty of value in a five-year business plan. If you get your numbers right, you can use the business plan to show investors why they should invest in you and how they could see a return on their time and money.

Your five-year plan is also necessary if you’re applying for SEIS/EIS Advance Assurance . HMRC needs to see a three or five-year business plan in your pitch deck so they can be confident that you actually plan to grow the business.

In the startup space, a five-year business plan is especially useful for founders and investors.

It helps founders strategise how their business is going to work and shows investors how they might get a return on their investment.

Founders can use the business plan to align on the direction of travel with other senior members of the team.

Investors see the five-year business plan as a measure of the market opportunity for the business. If the opportunity looks good, investors are more likely to want to get involved.

It’s a good idea to create two versions of your business plan: a detailed version and a compact general overview.

A detailed plan that covers all aspects of your business can help you gain clarity and refine your goals.

Once you’re clear on what you want to do, the general overview shows investors what your plans are in a digestible way.

What to include in your detailed five-year business plan

The purpose of your five-year plan is to explain the who, what, why and, most importantly, the how behind your company’s plans. The detailed version of your plan should include:

  • A description of your business
  • Long-term goals
  • Short-term goals
  • A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • A competitor analysis
  • Details on who your customers are
  • What your products and services are and their pricing
  • Details on the management team you have and need
  • A spreadsheet that details all your company’s financials
  • A financial forecast including a line graph depicting growth in revenue
  • Investment you require

Once you have that, you can condense it into a general overview.

What to include in your general overview

Creating a general overview helps you to convey the most important information about your business in a concise manner.

When dealing with investors, your time is limited. No investor wants to go through a 20-page business plan. They want to cut to the chase, and founders need to be prepared to accommodate them.

Based on feedback from founders who’ve been through funding rounds themselves, we recommend that you condense your detailed five-year plan into the following:

  • A one-page executive summary
  • A SWOT analysis
  • A line graph showing your revenue growth forecast over 5 years
  • A spreadsheet that breaks down all the financials behind that line graph including profit and loss, expenditure and revenue

Your pitch deck for investors should include the line graph, SWOT analysis and executive summary. HMRC will also want to see this info when you apply for SEIS/EIS.

In your pitch, you’ll need to describe your business and point out your business goals, but you don’t need to include all of the finer details from your in-depth business plan at this stage. The financials spreadsheet doesn’t need to be in your pitch deck. It’s only for later on when you meet with investors.

It’s worth having a look at some pitch deck examples for inspiration.

What to include in your line graph

The purpose of the graph is to depict your projected growth in revenue at a glance.

The number of years you show depends on your business’ initial growth rate. If it’s going to take a few years before you generate revenue because you have complex product development to do, you’ll want to forecast far enough into the future to show when the exponential growth happens.

The graph should include:

  • Profit forecast over X number of years
  • Loss forecast over X number of years

What to include in your financials spreadsheet

This is your opportunity to break down every financial detail behind what’s depicted in the line graph. Your spreadsheet should include:

  • All your business costs
  • Your revenue projections
  • Market size
  • Cost of acquiring customers

The more information the better. This is what you’re going to present to investors once they’ve expressed interest in your pitch.

What you present will be a significant factor in whether they invest in you or not. Here’s an idea of what your spreadsheet might look like.

Image source: Brixx

SeedLegals CEO Anthony Rose has been through a fair amount of funding rounds and seen hundreds of pitch decks himself. In the video below, he offers his insights on “The art of the five-year business plan”.

We’ve put Anthony’s thoughts from the video into a written breakdown below to help you digest the information. 

1. Show the potential for ROI

Showing your ambition goes beyond an inspiring vision statement. It’s about creating hype through numbers – the real, grounded kind of hype that makes investors feel excited and confident that the goals can be achieved.

A five-year business plan that’s going to close investments needs to show the founder’s ambitions to grow the business exponentially. The investor is going to want to see that making this investment is worth their while.

Many founders are satisfied with a modest approach. The fact that they can create a good, profitable business that will add value to its market and pay the salaries and bills that need to be paid is what makes them happy.

But an investor might see it as a “hobby business” if you’re not ambitious enough. Your five-year business plan needs to include financial projections that show a steady, exponential increase in your revenue (which means the same for their ROI).

An investor is going to want to see a massive return on investment. In five years they’re going to want to see a 10x or a 50x return on the investment to make it worthwhile, given the risks involved. Anthony Rose Co-founder & CEO, SeedLegals

2. Don’t overpromise

The key here is to get your five-year number just right. Your graph should show a steady increase in revenue, but not at an unachievable rate.

If you’re not delivering on the numbers you projected at the get-go, you’ll have unhappy investors and a lot of changes to make. You will most likely have trouble getting investors on board in the first place if you’re projecting growth at a statistically unlikely rate.

Seeing that founders can run the numbers is an important measure for investors. If the numbers aren’t connecting from one year to the next, or you appear to be losing money altogether, investors aren’t going to have a whole lot of faith in you running your business well.

3. Use the unicorn formula

Before we dive into the formula, it will help to know that a company is classified as a unicorn if it is valued at US$1 billion or more (around £800 million).

The unicorn formula is the growth pathway to becoming a unicorn company, and it goes like this: triple, triple, triple, double, double.

So what does that mean for your five-year business plan? It means that if you can create a graph projecting financial growth at a rate of tripling year-on-year revenue for three years and doubling it for two, you’re on a good, steady growth path towards becoming a unicorn.

At a rate of 10x revenue for your valuation, reaching that (roughly) £100 million in revenue after five years would classify your company as a unicorn.

Not every company intends to become a unicorn, however, so how does this apply if that’s you? Well, the golden nugget in this formula is the rate of growth it suggests. It’s ambitious and steady, which will appeal to investors. So even if you’re not aiming for a unicorn valuation, applying the formula to your financial forecasting will still be beneficial.

The line graph below depicts a hypothetical business’s revenue according to the unicorn formula rate. It’s the shape of the line that’s important here – this is the shape of a healthy growth rate.

4. Spreadsheet the numbers

We covered this in the section on how to write a five-year business plan, so make sure you read and re-read that section. In case you missed it, though, we’ll reiterate the point here.

The most important part of your meetings with investors is presenting a robust breakdown of your company’s financials. Make sure you keep an up-to-date spreadsheet that details current and future income and expenditure.

5. Be honest about where you are now

Be fully transparent about where your business’s revenue is now. Don’t allow for disparity between what is displayed in the graph on your pitch deck and the revenue your business is making today.

Make sure your financial forecasting is up-to-date and begins with where you stand currently. Make sure you update it regularly so you remain confident and transparent whenever you meet with investors.

The five-year business plan still has value. It will help with procuring investment and getting your SEIS/EIS Advance Assurance from HMRC.

The key takeaway is to get your financials just right. Show ambition, grow steadily and be transparent. First-hand advice from people who have been there and done that is extremely valuable, so turn to expert input for help.

At SeedLegals, we have a team of experts who can help you with all the nuances involved in starting and growing your business, so hit the chat button to get in touch. We’ll be happy to guide you and answer any questions.

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How to Write a 5-Year Business Plan: A Guide to Creating a Good Business Future

Jenna Bunnell

Learning how to write an effective five-year business plan helps you manage, and optimize your business operations for the better.

business plan 5 year projections

Jenna Bunnell

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted multi line phone system for small business that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives.

To run and grow a successful business, planning is crucial. 

A typical business plan covers the next one to three years and details your target audience, marketing strategy, and products or services for that time period. A five-year business plan expands on this premise, and predicts what your business might do in the next five years. 

Learning how to write an effective five-year business plan helps you manage, and optimize your business operations for the better. Without a firm business plan, you risk straying from your intended course. 

Establishing a long-term plan determines your business’s priorities and aspirations, including several important milestones. A long-term business ensures you are improving business time management skills. 

To get cracking with developing your ideal five-year business plan, follow this simple guide to success.  ​​​​​​​

Why Create a 5-Year Business Plan?

Suppose you implement a robust five-year business plan at some point in your business’s lifetime. In that case, it will provide valuable insight into how your business is likely to fare over the coming years. 

In addition to long-term business insights, your business plan helps with:

An important part of your business plan is thorough market research, and measuring what your competitors are doing. Conducting this analysis allows you to make strategic decisions about moving your business forward. 

Strategic Planning

The creation of your five-year business plan solidifies the ideas you have for your business, and what you need in place to see those ideas come to fruition. 

Partnerships

If you can envision future collaboration opportunities, your five-year business plan is a great resource for other companies to learn about your business, and decide if they want to go into partnership with you. 

A strategic five-year business plan helps you encourage data-driven business growth in the long-term, and assists with decisions about the company’s future. Businesses that create long-term business plans are good at strategic thinking and prepared for potential obstacles their companies may face. 

business plan 5 year projections

What Should a 5-Year Business Plan Include?

A traditional five-year business plan should include business strategies, financial projections, competitive analysis, SWOT analysis, and future roadmaps. In essence, your five-year business plan should detail your business's direction, what you think your industry will look like in five years, trend predictions, and how your business will solve your target audience’s problems.   

Your five-year business plan will probably include the following aspects; however, it may vary slightly from this outline:

  • Executive Summary. A brief description of your business, and its goals. 
  • Business Description. Where does your business operate, and what does it do?
  • Management Team. The people who run your business.
  • Products and Services. A description of your business’s offerings.  
  • SWOT Analysis. Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats concerning your business. 
  • Target Audience. Who buys from your business, and are there potential new audiences you want to reach?
  • Competitive Analysis. Who are your competitors, and how does your business compare to them?
  • Market Analysis. How does your business meet the needs of its customers?
  • Marketing and Sales Plan. Plans for brand awareness, and increasing sales. 
  • Financials. Profit and loss statements, and future financial projections. 
  • Conclusion. An overall summary of your five-year business plan. 

How to Write a 5-Year Business Plan

Let’s look at the outline above in detail, to uncover what to include in each section. 

Executive Summary 

Write your executive summary with your business’s overview, and mission statement. Concise mission statements that reflect your business’s goals and objectives are ideal, such as these from famous brands:

“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive, and successful.” LinkedIn “To help people worldwide plan and have the perfect trip.” Trip Advisor 

Consider writing your business’s executive summary after completing the other sections, as this element of your plan should be a complete rundown of your business. 

business plan 5 year projections

Business Description

This section contains all the essential information about your business, including your goals, target customers, business structure, and future restructuring plans to align with objectives. Consider why your business exists, your hopes for your business’s future, and its values to fill out this section. 

Management Team

Include a brief description of your management team’s job responsibilities, skills, and how they fit into your business. Your team can act as your business’s USP, especially if they bring unique talents to the table. 

Products and Services

A detailed description of your business’s products and services, including benefits, features, and supplier information if relevant. List potential new services or products in the early planning stages, how much revenue you plan to make from them, and how they will serve your target audience. 

SWOT Analysis

Focus on your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential threats. For example, strengths may include your business’s exemplary customer service. A weakness might be that you need to optimize resource scheduling . Opportunities are areas your business can explore to scale up, and threats can include opposition problems or changes in your industry. 

Target Audience

Describe your current target audience, and any potential new audiences your business plans to expand to reach. Segment your customers into demographics, behavior patterns, values, and level of education if appropriate to your business. Doing this helps readers of your five-year business plan further understand how your business plans to grow.  

business plan 5 year projections

Competitive Analysis

Your business plan should include information about who your competitors are, and, where your business sits compared to them. For example, SaaS businesses would conduct cloud call center software comparison research to understand the competitive landscape. Finish off with details about your competitors’ strengths, and weaknesses in this section. Competitive analysis helps you understand areas your business can win over your competitors. If their social media platforms show that their overall customer service is underperforming, you can make strides to elevate your customer service efforts, and overtake them in this area. 

Market Analysis

Research your market and write your findings, incorporating statistics, and relevant data. This area of your business plan should focus on where your business is positioned currently in the market, and your predictions for future market changes regarding your business’s strategies. Think about how big the current market is for your products or services, and this should create ideas for future product developments. 

Marketing and Sales Plan 

You need an overall plan for marketing your business’s offerings to your target audience. Include information about digital marketing plans, and opportunities to increase your brand’s reach. If you plan to explore the benefits of local phone numbers to level up your sales team’s capabilities, add this information as part of your marketing plan. 

Include details about your sales strategy, involving future staff required to meet your business’s goals. Information about sales targets is helpful in this section of your business plan.  

Financials 

Prepare a financial report demonstrating your business’s financial projections over the next five years. Your report must include anticipated revenue based on market, and competitor research. 

Conclusion 

Illustrate the key points within your five-year business plan in a neat summary. This section should reassure potential investors that your business is viable, and has solid plans for growth. 

business plan 5 year projections

Develop Long-term Growth Targets

While creating your five-year business plan, always have in mind where you envision your business in five years.

When writing your long-term business plan, the following questions are helpful:

  • How many customers do you predict to gain in the next five years?
  • What do you need to put in place to achieve that customer number?
  • Do you need to consider shopify alternatives ?
  • How much does your business need to earn in year three to be on track?
  • Do you need to hire new staff members? If so, how many?
  • Will you change your business location?
  • Will you need to open up different locations for your business operations?
  • Will you introduce new products or services?

Consider setting milestones for the course of your five-year business plan, as this approach is often easier to manage. 

Say your business plans to dabble in the affiliate marketing world. Investigate drop shipping vs affiliate marketing approaches to ascertain which marketing method is most beneficial for your business. Then set a milestone to join a set number of affiliate marketing programs by a specific date, review your results, and move upwards from there.  

Making a Good Business Future 

Your five-year business plan will require amendments over time. And that’s perfectly normal. As your business grows and changes, you’ll learn new things about your business’s industry, and need to alter your roadmap accordingly. 

An effective five-year business plan serves to convince investors that your business is worth investing in. It also ensures that your business moves in the right, and planned direction. 

By creating a five-year business plan now, your business stands the best chance of success for the next five years, and the future. 

Jenna Bunnell

About the author

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted multi line phone system for small business that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna Bunnell also published articles for domains such as Attention Insight and Traffit . Check out her LinkedIn profile.

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6 types of business plans, effective communication skills used in public relations & marketing.

  • How to Create Effective Business Plans
  • How to Write a 3-Year Business Forecast

A 5-year business plan will help you manage your company and seek loans or investment money. This term is familiar to most commercial loan officers and small business investors. Learning how to write an effective five year business plan helps you manage better and improves your chances of receiving the loans or investment dollars you need to succeed.

You should thoroughly understand business plan components and your company to complete a winning blueprint for success. Below are several points to consider when writing an effective 5-year business plan.

Design Your Strategic Plan

Design your strategic plan. Combine your goals with your vision for your company. Decide on the best strategies – e-commerce, retail locations, business-to-business, business-to-consumers or combinations thereof – to reach your business objectives. These will be the benchmarks for your five-year business plan

Prepare an Executive Summary

Prepare an executive summary. This section outlines your goals, objectives, strategies and your expertise in achieving the results you project. When seeking loans or investment, this is the most critical section of your business plan. You have limited time to impress a loan officer or investor, both of whom read many business plans daily. Make it brief, "hard hitting" and highly focused on achievement.

Introduce Your Management Team

Display the talent of your management team. Like a resume – only more interesting – management team biographies increase the credibility of your executive summary and all projections that follow. If you are a one-person management team, be sure to emphasize all your skills.

For example, if you are strong in technology and accounting, be sure to mention your marketing, customer relations and operations skills. If you're going to "outsource" these functions, explain how you plan to use other experts and whom you're considering.

Describe Products or Services

Describe the products or services you offer, in detail. In a five-year business plan, you should convince the reader that your products/services are marketable now and will continue to be popular in the coming years. Clearly state sound reasons that your products are currently viable and how you will react to future challenges in the market.

Create Financial Projections

Create financial projections for the next five years. Include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow estimates. For years one and two, show Income and cash flow Statements on a monthly basis. You can use quarterly projections for years three through five. If your starting a small business, you can estimate your balance sheet on a semi-annual basis because you probably expect few major changes.

Things You Will Need

Valid business idea

Popular product or service

Calculator or PC

Accounting statement knowledge

Write a detailed "narrative" to explain and support your financial projections. Keep your plan thorough, but clear. Exotic, colorful graphs or other additions are unnecessary in most cases. Anticipate and prepare answers for questions that may come from readers. Spend more time researching and studying your market than writing the plan.

Don't fill your plan with unnecessary or subjective text or numbers. Readers want you to stay "on point" and focused. Never exaggerate or dramatically overestimate financial results. Your plan quickly loses credibility.

  • Planware.org: Characteristics of Business Plans
  • Forbes: trategic Plan Template: What To Include In Yours
  • Stirling.gov.uk: Stirling Council Five-year Business Plan
  • Business Plan Checklist
  • Write a detailed "narrative" to explain and support your financial projections.
  • Keep your plan thorough, but clear. Exotic, colorful graphs or other additions are unnecessary in most cases.
  • Anticipate and prepare answers for questions that may come from readers.
  • Spend more time researching and studying your market than writing the plan.
  • Don't fill your plan with unnecessary or subjective text or numbers. Readers want you to stay "on point" and focused.
  • Never exaggerate or dramatically overestimate financial results. Your plan quickly loses credibility.

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business plan 5 year projections

Small Business Trends

How to create a business plan: examples & free template.

This is the ultimate guide to creating a comprehensive and effective plan to start a business . In today’s dynamic business landscape, having a well-crafted business plan is an important first step to securing funding, attracting partners, and navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.

This guide has been designed to help you create a winning plan that stands out in the ever-evolving marketplace. U sing real-world examples and a free downloadable template, it will walk you through each step of the process.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or launching your very first startup, the guide will give you the insights, tools, and confidence you need to create a solid foundation for your business.

Table of Contents

How to Write a Business Plan

Embarking on the journey of creating a successful business requires a solid foundation, and a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone. Here is the process of writing a comprehensive business plan and the main parts of a winning business plan . From setting objectives to conducting market research, this guide will have everything you need.

Executive Summary

business plan

The Executive Summary serves as the gateway to your business plan, offering a snapshot of your venture’s core aspects. This section should captivate and inform, succinctly summarizing the essence of your plan.

It’s crucial to include a clear mission statement, a brief description of your primary products or services, an overview of your target market, and key financial projections or achievements.

Think of it as an elevator pitch in written form: it should be compelling enough to engage potential investors or stakeholders and provide them with a clear understanding of what your business is about, its goals, and why it’s a promising investment.

Example: EcoTech is a technology company specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable products designed to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste. Our mission is to create innovative solutions that contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.

Our target market includes environmentally conscious consumers and businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We project a 200% increase in revenue within the first three years of operation.

Overview and Business Objectives

business plan

In the Overview and Business Objectives section, outline your business’s core goals and the strategic approaches you plan to use to achieve them. This section should set forth clear, specific objectives that are attainable and time-bound, providing a roadmap for your business’s growth and success.

It’s important to detail how these objectives align with your company’s overall mission and vision. Discuss the milestones you aim to achieve and the timeframe you’ve set for these accomplishments.

This part of the plan demonstrates to investors and stakeholders your vision for growth and the practical steps you’ll take to get there.

Example: EcoTech’s primary objective is to become a market leader in sustainable technology products within the next five years. Our key objectives include:

  • Introducing three new products within the first two years of operation.
  • Achieving annual revenue growth of 30%.
  • Expanding our customer base to over 10,000 clients by the end of the third year.

Company Description

business plan

The Company Description section is your opportunity to delve into the details of your business. Provide a comprehensive overview that includes your company’s history, its mission statement, and its vision for the future.

Highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) – what makes your business stand out in the market. Explain the problems your company solves and how it benefits your customers.

Include information about the company’s founders, their expertise, and why they are suited to lead the business to success. This section should paint a vivid picture of your business, its values, and its place in the industry.

Example: EcoTech is committed to developing cutting-edge sustainable technology products that benefit both the environment and our customers. Our unique combination of innovative solutions and eco-friendly design sets us apart from the competition. We envision a future where technology and sustainability go hand in hand, leading to a greener planet.

Define Your Target Market

business plan

Defining Your Target Market is critical for tailoring your business strategy effectively. This section should describe your ideal customer base in detail, including demographic information (such as age, gender, income level, and location) and psychographic data (like interests, values, and lifestyle).

Elucidate on the specific needs or pain points of your target audience and how your product or service addresses these. This information will help you know your target market and develop targeted marketing strategies.

Example: Our target market comprises environmentally conscious consumers and businesses looking for innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. Our ideal customers are those who prioritize sustainability and are willing to invest in eco-friendly products.

Market Analysis

business plan

The Market Analysis section requires thorough research and a keen understanding of the industry. It involves examining the current trends within your industry, understanding the needs and preferences of your customers, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

This analysis will enable you to spot market opportunities and anticipate potential challenges. Include data and statistics to back up your claims, and use graphs or charts to illustrate market trends.

This section should demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of the market in which you operate and that your business is well-positioned to capitalize on its opportunities.

Example: The market for eco-friendly technology products has experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated annual growth rate of 10%. As consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, the demand for sustainable solutions continues to rise.

Our research indicates a gap in the market for high-quality, innovative eco-friendly technology products that cater to both individual and business clients.

SWOT Analysis

business plan

A SWOT analysis in your business plan offers a comprehensive examination of your company’s internal and external factors. By assessing Strengths, you showcase what your business does best and where your capabilities lie.

Weaknesses involve an honest introspection of areas where your business may be lacking or could improve. Opportunities can be external factors that your business could capitalize on, such as market gaps or emerging trends.

Threats include external challenges your business may face, like competition or market changes. This analysis is crucial for strategic planning, as it helps in recognizing and leveraging your strengths, addressing weaknesses, seizing opportunities, and preparing for potential threats.

Including a SWOT analysis demonstrates to stakeholders that you have a balanced and realistic understanding of your business in its operational context.

  • Innovative and eco-friendly product offerings.
  • Strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
  • Skilled and experienced team with expertise in technology and sustainability.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited brand recognition compared to established competitors.
  • Reliance on third-party manufacturers for product development.

Opportunities:

  • Growing consumer interest in sustainable products.
  • Partnerships with environmentally-focused organizations and influencers.
  • Expansion into international markets.
  • Intense competition from established technology companies.
  • Regulatory changes could impact the sustainable technology market.

Competitive Analysis

business plan

In this section, you’ll analyze your competitors in-depth, examining their products, services, market positioning, and pricing strategies. Understanding your competition allows you to identify gaps in the market and tailor your offerings to outperform them.

By conducting a thorough competitive analysis, you can gain insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to develop strategies to differentiate your business and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Example: Key competitors include:

GreenTech: A well-known brand offering eco-friendly technology products, but with a narrower focus on energy-saving devices.

EarthSolutions: A direct competitor specializing in sustainable technology, but with a limited product range and higher prices.

By offering a diverse product portfolio, competitive pricing, and continuous innovation, we believe we can capture a significant share of the growing sustainable technology market.

Organization and Management Team

business plan

Provide an overview of your company’s organizational structure, including key roles and responsibilities. Introduce your management team, highlighting their expertise and experience to demonstrate that your team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.

Showcasing your team’s background, skills, and accomplishments instills confidence in investors and other stakeholders, proving that your business has the leadership and talent necessary to achieve its objectives and manage growth effectively.

Example: EcoTech’s organizational structure comprises the following key roles: CEO, CTO, CFO, Sales Director, Marketing Director, and R&D Manager. Our management team has extensive experience in technology, sustainability, and business development, ensuring that we are well-equipped to execute our business plan successfully.

Products and Services Offered

business plan

Describe the products or services your business offers, focusing on their unique features and benefits. Explain how your offerings solve customer pain points and why they will choose your products or services over the competition.

This section should emphasize the value you provide to customers, demonstrating that your business has a deep understanding of customer needs and is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions that address those needs and set your company apart from competitors.

Example: EcoTech offers a range of eco-friendly technology products, including energy-efficient lighting solutions, solar chargers, and smart home devices that optimize energy usage. Our products are designed to help customers reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

business plan

In this section, articulate your comprehensive strategy for reaching your target market and driving sales. Detail the specific marketing channels you plan to use, such as social media, email marketing, SEO, or traditional advertising.

Describe the nature of your advertising campaigns and promotional activities, explaining how they will capture the attention of your target audience and convey the value of your products or services. Outline your sales strategy, including your sales process, team structure, and sales targets.

Discuss how these marketing and sales efforts will work together to attract and retain customers, generate leads, and ultimately contribute to achieving your business’s revenue goals.

This section is critical to convey to investors and stakeholders that you have a well-thought-out approach to market your business effectively and drive sales growth.

Example: Our marketing strategy includes digital advertising, content marketing, social media promotion, and influencer partnerships. We will also attend trade shows and conferences to showcase our products and connect with potential clients. Our sales strategy involves both direct sales and partnerships with retail stores, as well as online sales through our website and e-commerce platforms.

Logistics and Operations Plan

business plan

The Logistics and Operations Plan is a critical component that outlines the inner workings of your business. It encompasses the management of your supply chain, detailing how you acquire raw materials and manage vendor relationships.

Inventory control is another crucial aspect, where you explain strategies for inventory management to ensure efficiency and reduce wastage. The section should also describe your production processes, emphasizing scalability and adaptability to meet changing market demands.

Quality control measures are essential to maintain product standards and customer satisfaction. This plan assures investors and stakeholders of your operational competency and readiness to meet business demands.

Highlighting your commitment to operational efficiency and customer satisfaction underlines your business’s capability to maintain smooth, effective operations even as it scales.

Example: EcoTech partners with reliable third-party manufacturers to produce our eco-friendly technology products. Our operations involve maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, ensuring quality control, and managing inventory.

We also prioritize efficient distribution through various channels, including online platforms and retail partners, to deliver products to our customers in a timely manner.

Financial Projections Plan

business plan

In the Financial Projections Plan, lay out a clear and realistic financial future for your business. This should include detailed projections for revenue, costs, and profitability over the next three to five years.

Ground these projections in solid assumptions based on your market analysis, industry benchmarks, and realistic growth scenarios. Break down revenue streams and include an analysis of the cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and potential investments.

This section should also discuss your break-even analysis, cash flow projections, and any assumptions about external funding requirements.

By presenting a thorough and data-backed financial forecast, you instill confidence in potential investors and lenders, showcasing your business’s potential for profitability and financial stability.

This forward-looking financial plan is crucial for demonstrating that you have a firm grasp of the financial nuances of your business and are prepared to manage its financial health effectively.

Example: Over the next three years, we expect to see significant growth in revenue, driven by new product launches and market expansion. Our financial projections include:

  • Year 1: $1.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $200,000.
  • Year 2: $3 million in revenue, with a net profit of $500,000.
  • Year 3: $4.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $1 million.

These projections are based on realistic market analysis, growth rates, and product pricing.

Income Statement

business plan

The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement, provides a summary of your company’s revenues and expenses over a specified period. It helps you track your business’s financial performance and identify trends, ensuring you stay on track to achieve your financial goals.

Regularly reviewing and analyzing your income statement allows you to monitor the health of your business, evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize profitability and growth.

Example: The income statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

  • Revenue: $1,500,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold: $800,000
  • Gross Profit: $700,000
  • Operating Expenses: $450,000
  • Net Income: $250,000

This statement highlights our company’s profitability and overall financial health during the first year of operation.

Cash Flow Statement

business plan

A cash flow statement is a crucial part of a financial business plan that shows the inflows and outflows of cash within your business. It helps you monitor your company’s liquidity, ensuring you have enough cash on hand to cover operating expenses, pay debts, and invest in growth opportunities.

By including a cash flow statement in your business plan, you demonstrate your ability to manage your company’s finances effectively.

Example:  The cash flow statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

Operating Activities:

  • Depreciation: $10,000
  • Changes in Working Capital: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Operating Activities: $210,000

Investing Activities:

  •  Capital Expenditures: -$100,000
  • Net Cash from Investing Activities: -$100,000

Financing Activities:

  • Proceeds from Loans: $150,000
  • Loan Repayments: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Financing Activities: $100,000
  • Net Increase in Cash: $210,000

This statement demonstrates EcoTech’s ability to generate positive cash flow from operations, maintain sufficient liquidity, and invest in growth opportunities.

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

business plan

1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively.

2. Conduct thorough research: Before writing your business plan, gather as much information as possible about your industry, competitors, and target market. Use reliable sources and industry reports to inform your analysis and make data-driven decisions.

3. Set realistic goals: Your business plan should outline achievable objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Setting realistic goals demonstrates your understanding of the market and increases the likelihood of success.

4. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP): Clearly articulate what sets your business apart from the competition. Emphasize your USP throughout your business plan to showcase your company’s value and potential for success.

5. Be flexible and adaptable: A business plan is a living document that should evolve as your business grows and changes. Be prepared to update and revise your plan as you gather new information and learn from your experiences.

6. Use visuals to enhance understanding: Include charts, graphs, and other visuals to help convey complex data and ideas. Visuals can make your business plan more engaging and easier to digest, especially for those who prefer visual learning.

7. Seek feedback from trusted sources: Share your business plan with mentors, industry experts, or colleagues and ask for their feedback. Their insights can help you identify areas for improvement and strengthen your plan before presenting it to potential investors or partners.

FREE Business Plan Template

To help you get started on your business plan, we have created a template that includes all the essential components discussed in the “How to Write a Business Plan” section. This easy-to-use template will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you don’t miss any critical details.

The template is divided into the following sections:

  • Mission statement
  • Business Overview
  • Key products or services
  • Target market
  • Financial highlights
  • Company goals
  • Strategies to achieve goals
  • Measurable, time-bound objectives
  • Company History
  • Mission and vision
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Pain points
  • Industry trends
  • Customer needs
  • Competitor strengths and weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Competitor products and services
  • Market positioning
  • Pricing strategies
  • Organizational structure
  • Key roles and responsibilities
  • Management team backgrounds
  • Product or service features
  • Competitive advantages
  • Marketing channels
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • Sales strategies
  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Production processes
  • Quality control measures
  • Projected revenue
  • Assumptions
  • Cash inflows
  • Cash outflows
  • Net cash flow

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a strategic document that outlines an organization’s goals, objectives, and the steps required to achieve them. It serves as a roadmap as you start a business , guiding the company’s direction and growth while identifying potential obstacles and opportunities.

Typically, a business plan covers areas such as market analysis, financial projections, marketing strategies, and organizational structure. It not only helps in securing funding from investors and lenders but also provides clarity and focus to the management team.

A well-crafted business plan is a very important part of your business startup checklist because it fosters informed decision-making and long-term success.

business plan

Why You Should Write a Business Plan

Understanding the importance of a business plan in today’s competitive environment is crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are five compelling reasons to write a business plan:

  • Attract Investors and Secure Funding : A well-written business plan demonstrates your venture’s potential and profitability, making it easier to attract investors and secure the necessary funding for growth and development. It provides a detailed overview of your business model, target market, financial projections, and growth strategies, instilling confidence in potential investors and lenders that your company is a worthy investment.
  • Clarify Business Objectives and Strategies : Crafting a business plan forces you to think critically about your goals and the strategies you’ll employ to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for success. This process helps you refine your vision and prioritize the most critical objectives, ensuring that your efforts are focused on achieving the desired results.
  • Identify Potential Risks and Opportunities : Analyzing the market, competition, and industry trends within your business plan helps identify potential risks and uncover untapped opportunities for growth and expansion. This insight enables you to develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities, positioning your business for long-term success.
  • Improve Decision-Making : A business plan serves as a reference point so you can make informed decisions that align with your company’s overall objectives and long-term vision. By consistently referring to your plan and adjusting it as needed, you can ensure that your business remains on track and adapts to changes in the market, industry, or internal operations.
  • Foster Team Alignment and Communication : A shared business plan helps ensure that all team members are on the same page, promoting clear communication, collaboration, and a unified approach to achieving the company’s goals. By involving your team in the planning process and regularly reviewing the plan together, you can foster a sense of ownership, commitment, and accountability that drives success.

What are the Different Types of Business Plans?

In today’s fast-paced business world, having a well-structured roadmap is more important than ever. A traditional business plan provides a comprehensive overview of your company’s goals and strategies, helping you make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. There are various types of business plans, each designed to suit different needs and purposes. Let’s explore the main types:

  • Startup Business Plan: Tailored for new ventures, a startup business plan outlines the company’s mission, objectives, target market, competition, marketing strategies, and financial projections. It helps entrepreneurs clarify their vision, secure funding from investors, and create a roadmap for their business’s future. Additionally, this plan identifies potential challenges and opportunities, which are crucial for making informed decisions and adapting to changing market conditions.
  • Internal Business Plan: This type of plan is intended for internal use, focusing on strategies, milestones, deadlines, and resource allocation. It serves as a management tool for guiding the company’s growth, evaluating its progress, and ensuring that all departments are aligned with the overall vision. The internal business plan also helps identify areas of improvement, fosters collaboration among team members, and provides a reference point for measuring performance.
  • Strategic Business Plan: A strategic business plan outlines long-term goals and the steps to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for the company’s direction. It typically includes a SWOT analysis, market research, and competitive analysis. This plan allows businesses to align their resources with their objectives, anticipate changes in the market, and develop contingency plans. By focusing on the big picture, a strategic business plan fosters long-term success and stability.
  • Feasibility Business Plan: This plan is designed to assess the viability of a business idea, examining factors such as market demand, competition, and financial projections. It is often used to decide whether or not to pursue a particular venture. By conducting a thorough feasibility analysis, entrepreneurs can avoid investing time and resources into an unviable business concept. This plan also helps refine the business idea, identify potential obstacles, and determine the necessary resources for success.
  • Growth Business Plan: Also known as an expansion plan, a growth business plan focuses on strategies for scaling up an existing business. It includes market analysis, new product or service offerings, and financial projections to support expansion plans. This type of plan is essential for businesses looking to enter new markets, increase their customer base, or launch new products or services. By outlining clear growth strategies, the plan helps ensure that expansion efforts are well-coordinated and sustainable.
  • Operational Business Plan: This type of plan outlines the company’s day-to-day operations, detailing the processes, procedures, and organizational structure. It is an essential tool for managing resources, streamlining workflows, and ensuring smooth operations. The operational business plan also helps identify inefficiencies, implement best practices, and establish a strong foundation for future growth. By providing a clear understanding of daily operations, this plan enables businesses to optimize their resources and enhance productivity.
  • Lean Business Plan: A lean business plan is a simplified, agile version of a traditional plan, focusing on key elements such as value proposition, customer segments, revenue streams, and cost structure. It is perfect for startups looking for a flexible, adaptable planning approach. The lean business plan allows for rapid iteration and continuous improvement, enabling businesses to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions. This streamlined approach is particularly beneficial for businesses in fast-paced or uncertain industries.
  • One-Page Business Plan: As the name suggests, a one-page business plan is a concise summary of your company’s key objectives, strategies, and milestones. It serves as a quick reference guide and is ideal for pitching to potential investors or partners. This plan helps keep teams focused on essential goals and priorities, fosters clear communication, and provides a snapshot of the company’s progress. While not as comprehensive as other plans, a one-page business plan is an effective tool for maintaining clarity and direction.
  • Nonprofit Business Plan: Specifically designed for nonprofit organizations, this plan outlines the mission, goals, target audience, fundraising strategies, and budget allocation. It helps secure grants and donations while ensuring the organization stays on track with its objectives. The nonprofit business plan also helps attract volunteers, board members, and community support. By demonstrating the organization’s impact and plans for the future, this plan is essential for maintaining transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability within the nonprofit sector.
  • Franchise Business Plan: For entrepreneurs seeking to open a franchise, this type of plan focuses on the franchisor’s requirements, as well as the franchisee’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is crucial for securing a franchise agreement and ensuring the business’s success within the franchise system. This plan outlines the franchisee’s commitment to brand standards, marketing efforts, and operational procedures, while also addressing local market conditions and opportunities. By creating a solid franchise business plan, entrepreneurs can demonstrate their ability to effectively manage and grow their franchise, increasing the likelihood of a successful partnership with the franchisor.

Using Business Plan Software

business plan

Creating a comprehensive business plan can be intimidating, but business plan software can streamline the process and help you produce a professional document. These tools offer a number of benefits, including guided step-by-step instructions, financial projections, and industry-specific templates. Here are the top 5 business plan software options available to help you craft a great business plan.

1. LivePlan

LivePlan is a popular choice for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features. It offers over 500 sample plans, financial forecasting tools, and the ability to track your progress against key performance indicators. With LivePlan, you can create visually appealing, professional business plans that will impress investors and stakeholders.

2. Upmetrics

Upmetrics provides a simple and intuitive platform for creating a well-structured business plan. It features customizable templates, financial forecasting tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing you to work with team members and advisors. Upmetrics also offers a library of resources to guide you through the business planning process.

Bizplan is designed to simplify the business planning process with a drag-and-drop builder and modular sections. It offers financial forecasting tools, progress tracking, and a visually appealing interface. With Bizplan, you can create a business plan that is both easy to understand and visually engaging.

Enloop is a robust business plan software that automatically generates a tailored plan based on your inputs. It provides industry-specific templates, financial forecasting, and a unique performance score that updates as you make changes to your plan. Enloop also offers a free version, making it accessible for businesses on a budget.

5. Tarkenton GoSmallBiz

Developed by NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, GoSmallBiz is tailored for small businesses and startups. It features a guided business plan builder, customizable templates, and financial projection tools. GoSmallBiz also offers additional resources, such as CRM tools and legal document templates, to support your business beyond the planning stage.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a good business plan.

A good business plan is a well-researched, clear, and concise document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, target market, competitive advantages, and financial projections. It should be adaptable to change and provide a roadmap for achieving success.

What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?

The three main purposes of a business plan are to guide the company’s strategy, attract investment, and evaluate performance against objectives. Here’s a closer look at each of these:

  • It outlines the company’s purpose and core values to ensure that all activities align with its mission and vision.
  • It provides an in-depth analysis of the market, including trends, customer needs, and competition, helping the company tailor its products and services to meet market demands.
  • It defines the company’s marketing and sales strategies, guiding how the company will attract and retain customers.
  • It describes the company’s organizational structure and management team, outlining roles and responsibilities to ensure effective operation and leadership.
  • It sets measurable, time-bound objectives, allowing the company to plan its activities effectively and make strategic decisions to achieve these goals.
  • It provides a comprehensive overview of the company and its business model, demonstrating its uniqueness and potential for success.
  • It presents the company’s financial projections, showing its potential for profitability and return on investment.
  • It demonstrates the company’s understanding of the market, including its target customers and competition, convincing investors that the company is capable of gaining a significant market share.
  • It showcases the management team’s expertise and experience, instilling confidence in investors that the team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.
  • It establishes clear, measurable objectives that serve as performance benchmarks.
  • It provides a basis for regular performance reviews, allowing the company to monitor its progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • It enables the company to assess the effectiveness of its strategies and make adjustments as needed to achieve its objectives.
  • It helps the company identify potential risks and challenges, enabling it to develop contingency plans and manage risks effectively.
  • It provides a mechanism for evaluating the company’s financial performance, including revenue, expenses, profitability, and cash flow.

Can I write a business plan by myself?

Yes, you can write a business plan by yourself, but it can be helpful to consult with mentors, colleagues, or industry experts to gather feedback and insights. There are also many creative business plan templates and business plan examples available online, including those above.

We also have examples for specific industries, including a using food truck business plan , salon business plan , farm business plan , daycare business plan , and restaurant business plan .

Is it possible to create a one-page business plan?

Yes, a one-page business plan is a condensed version that highlights the most essential elements, including the company’s mission, target market, unique selling proposition, and financial goals.

How long should a business plan be?

A typical business plan ranges from 20 to 50 pages, but the length may vary depending on the complexity and needs of the business.

What is a business plan outline?

A business plan outline is a structured framework that organizes the content of a business plan into sections, such as the executive summary, company description, market analysis, and financial projections.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

The five most common business plan mistakes include inadequate research, unrealistic financial projections, lack of focus on the unique selling proposition, poor organization and structure, and failure to update the plan as circumstances change.

What questions should be asked in a business plan?

A business plan should address questions such as: What problem does the business solve? Who is the specific target market ? What is the unique selling proposition? What are the company’s objectives? How will it achieve those objectives?

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan focuses on the overall vision, goals, and tactics of a company, while a strategic plan outlines the specific strategies, action steps, and performance measures necessary to achieve the company’s objectives.

How is business planning for a nonprofit different?

Nonprofit business planning focuses on the organization’s mission, social impact, and resource management, rather than profit generation. The financial section typically includes funding sources, expenses, and projected budgets for programs and operations.

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How to Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Growthink Business Plan Financial Projections

Financial projections, also known as financial models, are forecasts of your company’s expected financial performance, typically over the next 5 years.

Over the past 25+ years, we’ve created financial projections for thousands of startups and existing businesses. In doing so, we’ve found 3 key reasons why financial projections are important:

  • They help you determine the viability of your new business ideas and/or your need to make modifications to them. For instance, if your initial financial projections show your business idea isn’t profitable, you’ll know that changes are needed (e.g., raising prices, serving new markets, figuring out how to reduce costs, etc.) to make it viable.
  • They are crucial for raising funding. Lenders will always review your financial projections to ensure you can comfortably repay any loans they issue you. Equity investors will nearly always review your projections in determining whether they can achieve their desired return on their investment in your business.
  • They help keep your business financially on track by giving you goals. For instance, if your financial projections state your company should generate 100 new clients this year, and the year is halfway done and you’re only at 30 clients, you’ll know you need to readjust your strategy to achieve your goals.

In the remainder of this article, you’ll learn more about financial projections, how to complete them, and how to incorporate them in your business plan.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template Here to Quickly & Easily Complete Your Business Plan & Financial Projections

What are Financial Projections?

Financial projections are forecasts or estimations of your company’s future revenues and expenses, serving as a crucial part of business planning. To complete them you must develop multiple assumptions with regards to items like future sales volumes, employee headcount and the cost of supplies and other expenses. Financial projections help you create better strategies to grow your business.

Your financial projections will be the most analyzed part of your business plan by investors and/or banks. While never a precise prediction of future performance, an excellent financial model outlines the core assumptions of your business and helps you and others evaluate capital requirements, risks involved, and rewards that successful execution will deliver.

Having a solid framework in place also will help you compare your performance to the financial projections and evaluate how your business is progressing. If your performance is behind your projections, you will have a framework in place to assess the effects of lowering costs, increasing prices, or even reimagining your model. In the happy case that you exceed your business projections, you can use your framework to plan for accelerated growth, new hires, or additional expansion investments.

Hence, the use of financial projections is multi-fold and crucial for the success of any business. Your financial projections should include three core financial statements – the income statement, the cash flow statement, and the balance sheet. The following section explains each statement in detail.

Necessary Financial Statements

The three financial statements are the income statement, the cash flow statement, and the balance sheet. You will learn how to create each one in detail below.  

Income Statement Projection

The projected income statement is also referred to as a profit and loss statement and showcases your business’s revenues and expenses for a specific period.

To create an income statement, you first will need to chart out a sales forecast by taking realistic estimates of units sold and multiplying them by price per unit to arrive at a total sales number. Then, estimate the cost of these units and multiply them by the number of units to get the cost of sales. Finally, calculate your gross margin by subtracting the cost of sales from your sales.

Once you have calculated your gross margin, deduct items like wages, rent, marketing costs, and other expenses that you plan to pay to facilitate your business’s operations. The resulting total represents your projected operating income, which is a critical business metric.

Plan to create an income statement monthly until your projected break-even, or the point at which future revenues outpace total expenses, and you reflect operating profit. From there, annual income statements will suffice.

Sample Income Statement

Consider a sample income statement for a retail store below:

Cash Flow Projection

As the name indicates, a cash flow statement shows the cash flowing in and out of your business. The cash flow statement incorporates cash from business operations and includes cash inflows and outflows from investment and financing activities to deliver a holistic cash picture of your company.

Investment activities include purchasing land or equipment or research & development activities that aren’t necessarily part of daily operations. Cash movements due to financing activities include cash flowing in a business through investors and/or banks and cash flowing out due to debt repayment or distributions made to shareholders.

You should total all these three components of a cash flow projection for any specified period to arrive at a total ending cash balance. Constructing solid cash flow projections will ensure you anticipate capital needs to carry the business to a place of sustainable operations.

Sample Cash Flow Statement

Below is a simple cash flow statement for the same retail store:

Balance Sheet Projection

A balance sheet shows your company’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity for a certain period and provides a snapshot in time of your business performance. Assets include things of value that the business owns, such as inventory, capital, and land. Liabilities, on the other hand, are legally bound commitments like payables for goods or services rendered and debt. Finally, owner’s equity refers to the amount that is remaining once liabilities are paid off. Assets must total – or balance – liabilities and equity.

Your startup financial documents should include annual balance sheets that show the changing balance of assets, liabilities, and equity as the business progresses. Ideally, that progression shows a reduction in liabilities and an increase in equity over time.

While constructing these varied business projections, remember to be flexible. You likely will need to go back and forth between the different financial statements since working on one will necessitate changes to the others.

Sample Balance Sheet

Below is a simple balance sheet for the retail store:

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How to Create Financial Projections

When it comes to financial forecasting, simplicity is key. Your financial projections do not have to be overly sophisticated and complicated to impress, and convoluted projections likely will have the opposite effect on potential investors. Keep your tables and graphs simple and fill them with credible data that inspires confidence in your plan and vision. The below tips will help bolster your financial projections.  

Create a List of Assumptions

Your financial projections should be tied to a list of assumptions. For example, one assumption will be the initial monthly cash sales you achieve. Another assumption will be your monthly growth rate. As you can imagine, changing either of these assumptions will significantly impact your financial projections.

As a result, tie your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements to your assumptions. That way, if you change your assumptions, all of your financial projections automatically update.

Below are the key assumptions to include in your financial model:

For EACH essential product or service you offer:

  • What is the number of units you expect to sell each month?
  • What is your expected monthly sales growth rate?
  • What is the average price that you will charge per product or service unit sold?
  • How much do you expect to raise your prices each year?
  • How much does it cost you to produce or deliver each unit sold?
  • How much (if at all) do you expect your direct product costs to grow each year?

For EACH subscription/membership, you offer:

  • What is the monthly/quarterly/annual price of your membership?
  • How many members do you have now, or how many members do you expect to gain in the first month/quarter/year?
  • What is your projected monthly/quarterly/annual growth rate in the number of members?
  • What is your projected monthly/quarterly/annual member churn (the percentage of members that will cancel each month/quarter/year)?
  • What is the average monthly/quarterly/annual direct cost to serve each member (if applicable)?

Cost Assumptions

  • What is your monthly salary? What is the annual growth rate in your salary?
  • What is your monthly salary for the rest of your team? What is the expected annual growth rate in your team’s salaries?
  • What is your initial monthly marketing expense? What is the expected annual growth rate in your marketing expense?
  • What is your initial monthly rent + utility expense? What is the expected annual growth rate in your rent + utility expense?
  • What is your initial monthly insurance expense? What is the expected annual growth rate in your insurance expense?
  • What is your initial monthly office supplies expense? What is the expected annual growth rate in your office supplies expense?
  • What is your initial monthly cost for “other” expenses? What is the expected annual growth rate in your “other” expenses?

Capital Expenditures, Funding, Tax, and Balance Sheet Items

  • How much money do you need for Capital Expenditures in your first year  (to buy computers, desks, equipment, space build-out, etc.)?
  • How much other funding do you need right now?
  • What percent of the funding will be financed by Debt (versus equity)?
  • What Corporate Tax Rate would you like to apply to company profits?
  • What is your Current Liabilities Turnover (in the number of days)?
  • What are your Current Assets, excluding cash (in the number of days)?
  • What is your Depreciation rate?
  • What is your Amortization number of Years?
  • What is the number of years in which your debt (loan) must be paid back?
  • What is your Debt Payback interest rate?

Create Two Financial Projection Scenarios

It would be best if you used your assumptions to create two sets of financial projections that exhibit two very different scenarios. One is your best-case scenario, and the other is your worst-case. Investors are usually very interested in how a business plan will play out in both these scenarios, allowing them to better analyze the robustness and potential profitability of a business.  

Conduct a Ratio Analysis

Gain an understanding of average industry financial ratios, including operating ratios, profitability ratios, return on investment ratios, and the like. You can then compare your own estimates with these existing ratios to evaluate costs you may have overlooked or find historical financial data to support your projected performance. This ratio analysis helps ensure your financial projections are neither excessively optimistic nor excessively pessimistic.  

Be Realistic

It is easy to get carried away when dealing with estimates and you end up with very optimistic financial projections that will feel untenable to an objective audience. Investors are quick to notice and question inflated figures. Rather than excite investors, such scenarios will compromise your legitimacy.  

Create Multi-Year Financial Projections

The first year of your financial projections should be presented on a granular, monthly basis. For subsequent years, annual projections will suffice. It is advised to have three- or five-year projections ready when you start courting investors. Since your plan needs to be succinct, you can add yearly projections as appendices to your main plan.

You should now know how to create financial projections for your business plan. In addition to creating your full projections as their own document, you will need to insert your financial projections into your plan. In your executive summary, Insert your topline projections, that is, just your sales, gross margins, recurring expenses, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), and net income). In the financial plan section of your plan, insert your key assumptions and a little more detail than your topline projections. Include your full financial model in the appendix of your plan.

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How to make financial projections for business.

How to Make Financial Projections for Business

Writing a solid business plan should be the first step for any business owner looking to create a successful business. 

As a small business owner, you will want to get the attention of investors, partners, or potential highly skilled employees. It is, therefore, important to have a realistic financial forecast incorporated into your business plan. 

We’ll break down a financial projection and how to utilize it to give your business the best start possible.

Key Takeaways

Accurate financial projections are essential for businesses to succeed. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about creating financial projections for your business. Here’s what you need to know about financial projections:

  • A financial projection is a group of financial statements that are used to forecast future performance
  • Creating financial projections can break down into 5 simple steps: sales projections, expense projections, balance sheet projections, income statement projections, and cash flow projections
  • Financial projections can offer huge benefits to your business, including helping with forecasting future performance, ensuring steady cash flow, and planning key moves around the growth of the business

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is a Financial Projection?

How to Create a Financial Projection

What goes into a financial projection, what are financial projections used for.

Financial Projections Advantages

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Financial Projection?

A financial projection is essentially a set of financial statements . These statements will forecast future revenues and expenses. 

Any projection includes your cash inflows and outlays, your general income, and your balance sheet. 

They are perfect for showing bankers and investors how you plan to repay business loans. They also show what you intend to do with your money and how you expect your business to grow. 

Most projections are for the first 3-5 years of business, but some include a 10-year forecast too.

Either way, you will need to develop a short and mid-term projection broken down month by month. 

As you are just starting out with your business, you won’t be expected to provide exact details. Most financial projections are rough guesses. But they should also be educated guesses based on market trends, research, and looking at similar businesses. 

It’s incredibly important for financial statements to be realistic. Most investors will be able to spot a fanciful projection from a mile away. 

In general, most people would prefer to be given realistic projections, even if they’re not as impressive.

Today's Numbers Tomorrow's Growth

Financial projections are created to help business owners gain insight into the future of their company’s financials. 

The question is, how to create financial projections? For business plan purposes, it’s important that you follow the best practices of financial projection closely. This will ensure you get accurate insight, which is vital for existing businesses and new business startups alike.

Here are the steps for creating accurate financial projections for your business.

1. Start With A Sales Projection

For starters, you’ll need to project how much your business will make in sales. If you’re creating a sales forecast for an existing business, you’ll have past performance records to project your next period. Past data can provide useful information for your financial projection, such as if your sales do better in one season than another.

Be sure also to consider external factors, such as the economy at large, the potential for added tariffs and taxes in the future, supply chain issues, or industry downturns. 

The process is almost the same for new businesses, only without past data to refer to. Business startups will need to do more research on their industry to gain insight into potential future sales.

2. Create Your Expense Projection

Next, create an expense projection for your business. In a sense, this is an easier task than a sales projection since it seems simpler to predict your own behaviors than your customers. However, it’s vital that you expect the unexpected.

Optimism is great, but the worst-case scenario must be considered and accounted for in your expense projection. From accidents in the workplace to natural disasters, rising trade prices, to unexpected supply disruptions, you need to consider these large expenses in your projection. 

Something always comes up, so we suggest you add a 10-15% margin on your expense projection.

3. Create Your Balance Sheet Projection

A balance sheet projection is used to get a clear look at your business’s financial position related to assets, liabilities , and equity, giving you a more holistic view of the company’s overall financial health. 

For startup businesses, this can prove to be a lot of work since you won’t have existing records of past performance to pull from. This will need to be factored into your industry research to create an accurate financial projection.

For existing businesses, it will be more straightforward. Use your past and current balance sheets to predict your business’s position in the next 1-3 years. If you use a cloud-based, online accounting software with the feature to generate balance sheets, such as the one offered by FreshBooks, you’ll be able to quickly create balance sheets for your financial projection within the app.

Click here to learn more about the features of FreshBooks accounting software.

FreshBooks accounting software

4. Make Your Income Statement Projection

Next up, create an income statement projection. An income statement is used to declare the net income of a business after all expenses have been made. In other words, it states the profits of a business.

For currently operating businesses, you can use your past income statements and the changes between them to create accurate predictions for the next 1-3 years. You can also use accounting software to generate your income statements automatically. 

You’ll need to work on rough estimates for new businesses or those still in the planning phase. It’s vital that you stay realistic and do your utmost to create an accurate, good-faith projection of future income. 

5. Finally, Create Your Cash Flow Projection

Last but not least is to generate your projected cash flow statement. A cash flow projection forecasts the movement of all money to and from your business. It’s intertwined with a business’s balance sheet and income statement, which is no different when creating projections. 

If your business has been operating for six months or more, you can create a fairly accurate cash flow projection with your past cash flow financial statements. For new businesses, you’ll need to factor in this step of creating a financial forecast when doing your industry research. 

It needs to include five elements to ensure an accurate, useful financial forecast for your business. These financial statements come together to provide greater insight into the projected future of a business’s financial health. These include:

Income Statement

A standard income statement summarizes your company’s revenues and expenses over a period. This is normally done either quarterly or annually.

The income statement is where you will do the bulk of your forecasting. 

On any income statement, you’re likely to find the following:

  • Revenue: Your revenue earned through sales. 
  • Expenses: The amount you’ve spent, including your product costs and your overheads.
  • Pre-Tax Earnings: This is your income before you’ve paid tax.
  • Net Income: The total revenues minus your total expenses. 

Net income is the most important number. If the number is positive, then you’re earning a profit, if it’s negative, it means your expenses outweigh your revenue and you’re making a loss. 

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will show any potential investor whether you are a good credit risk. It also shows them if you can successfully repay any loans you are granted.

You can break a cash flow statement into three parts:

  • Cash Revenues: An overview of your calculated cash sales for a given time period. 
  • Cash Disbursements: You list all the cash expenditures you expect to pay.
  • Net Cash Revenue: Take the cash revenues minus your cash disbursements.

cash flow statement

Balance Sheet

Your balance sheet will show your business’s net worth at a given time.

A balance sheet is split up into three different sections:

  • Assets: An asset is a tangible object of value that your company owns. It could be things like stock or property such as warehouses or offices. 
  • Liabilities: These are any debts your business owes.
  • Equity: Your equity is the summary of your assets minus your liabilities.

Balance Sheet

Looking for an easy-to-use yet capable online accounting software? FreshBooks accounting software is a cloud-based solution that makes financial projections simple. With countless financial reporting features and detailed guides on creating accurate financial forecasts, FreshBooks can help you gain the insight you need to let your business thrive. Click here to give FreshBooks a try for free.

FreshBooks accounting software features

Financial projections have many uses for current business owners and startup entrepreneurs. Provided your financial forecasting follows the best practices for an accurate projection, your data will be used for:

  • Internal planning and budgeting – Your finances will be the main factor in whether or not you’ll be able to execute your business plan to completion. Financial projections allow you to make it happen.
  • Attracting investors and securing funding – Whether you’re receiving financing from bank loans, investors, or both, an accurate projection will be essential in receiving the funds you need.
  • Evaluating business performance and identifying areas for improvement – Financial projections help you keep track of your business’s financial health, allowing you to plan ahead and avoid unwelcome surprises.
  • Making strategic business decisions – Timing is important in business, especially when it comes to major expenditures (new product rollouts, large-scale marketing, expansion, etc.). Financial projections allow you to make an informed strategy for these big decisions.

Financial Projections Advantages 

Creating clear financial projections for your business startup or existing company has countless benefits. Focusing on creating (and maintaining) good financial forecasting for your business will:

  • Help you make vital financial decisions for the business in the future
  • Help you plan and strategize for growth and expansion
  • Demonstrate to bankers how you will repay your loans 
  • Demonstrate to investors how you will repay financing
  • Identify your most essential financing needs in the future
  • Assist in fine-tuning your pricing
  • Be helpful when strategizing your production plan
  • Be a useful tool for planning your major expenditures strategically
  • Help you keep an eye on your cash flow for the future

Put Your Books On Autopilot

Your financial forecast is an essential part of your business plan, whether you’re still in the early startup phases or already running an established business. However, it’s vital that you follow the best practices laid out above to ensure you receive the full benefits of comprehensive financial forecasting.  

If you’re looking for a useful tool to save time on the administrative tasks of financial forecasting, FreshBooks can help. With the ability to instantly generate the reports you need and get a birds-eye-view of your business’s past performance and overall financial help, it will be easier to create useful financial projections that provide insight into your financial future. 

FAQs on Financial Projections

More questions about financial forecasting, projections, and how these processes fit into your business plan? Here are some frequently asked questions by business owners.

Why are financial projections important?

Financial projections allow you to gain insight into your business’s economic trajectory. This helps business owners make financial decisions, secure funding, and more. Additionally, financial projections provide early warning of roadblocks and challenges that may lay ahead for the company, making it easier to plan for a clear course of action.

What is an example of a financial projection?

A projection is an overall look at a business’s forecasted performance. It’s made up of several different statements and reports, such as a cash flow statement, income statement, profit and loss statement, and sales statement. You can find free templates and examples of many of these reports via FreshBooks. Click here to view our selection of accounting templates.

Are financial forecasts and financial projections the same?

Technically, there is a difference between forecasting and projections, though many use the terms interchangeably. Financial forecasting often refers to shorter-term (<1 year) predictions of financial performance, while financial projections usually focus on a larger time scale (2-3 years).

What is the most widely used method for financial forecasting?

The most common method of accurate forecasting is the straight-line forecasting method. It’s most often used for projecting the growth of a business’s revenue growth over a set period. If you notice that your records indicate a 4% growth of revenue per year for five years running, it would be reasonable to assume that this will continue year-over-year. 

What is the purpose of a financial projection?

Projection aims to get deeper, more nuanced insight into a business’s financial health and viability. It allows business owners to anticipate expenses and profit growth, giving them the tools to secure funding and loans and strategize major business decisions. It’s an essential accounting process that all business owners should prioritize in their business plans.

business plan 5 year projections

Michelle Alexander, CPA

About the author

Michelle Alexander is a CPA and implementation consultant for Artificial Intelligence-powered financial risk discovery technology. She has a Master's of Professional Accounting from the University of Saskatchewan, and has worked in external audit compliance and various finance roles for Government and Big 4. In her spare time you’ll find her traveling the world, shopping for antique jewelry, and painting watercolour floral arrangements.

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Five-Year Financial Forecast & Projections: Why They Matter

by Jerry Vance | Feb 24, 2020 | Business Growth , Financial Forecasting , Financial Strategy , General Business

Two Business People Working on Five Year Financial Forecast Together

If your company is preparing to raise capital or if you are currently writing a business plan, you may be getting ready to build your 5-year financial forecast. It can be intimidating to plan this far into the future—as well as knowing what kind of projections to make.

However, when used properly, a five-year financial forecast can become a great asset to your business, not only to raise money, but to help you understand and build your business.

Many businesses build a 3- or 5-year forecast when they first write their business plan, but few look at this forecast again after its written. A 5-year forecast is an essential tool not only for new businesses but for growing businesses of all sizes as well.

In this article, we discuss what a 5-year forecast is, why a financial forecast is important, and whether your company needs a financial forecast.

What is a 5 Year Forecast?

A 5-year forecast is an educated projection of your company’s financial performance over the next five years. It specifically details projected revenues, costs, expenses, cash flows (including any projected capital raises), and owner equity, as well as projecting sales growth and margins.

A 5-year forecast is much different from typical accounting and historical financials. Accounting reports past financial performance while a five-year financial forecast predicts future financial performance.

This 5-year forecast is an important document for potential investors who want to see how capital will be used to grow the company and lenders who are analyzing loan risk—but it is also an essential document for management to understand your business and plan for successful growth. A five-year forecast can help educate business decisions (such as hiring, R&D, marketing, capital raises, and more), making it a key tool in strategically growing your business.

Why is a Financial Forecast Important?

A financial forecast is important because it takes the guesswork out of your company’s growth. A well-written financial forecast uses your company’s historical performance, existing assets, market demographics, and industry trends for realistic projections. This means your financial forecast isn’t just a performance meant to impress investors; it is a realistic blueprint for optimal business growth.

  • Informs financial decisions. Financial decisions that are made based on a financial forecast are more informed since you have projections for how a given expense will impact the company down the line. This means you have a better basis of judgment to say “yes” or “no” to potential purchases, hires, or shifts of focus in sales or R&D.
  • Reduces wasted spend. A financial forecast helps reduce wasted spend since it helps you conscientiously ensure your expenses are driving company growth.
  • Helps identify issues.  A well-written and well-researched financial forecast becomes a baseline for your business performance. If numbers aren’t hitting your projections, it can be an early indicator of a potential threat or issue, allowing you to more quickly respond and recover.
  • Informs hiring decisions.  A financial forecast can also help you make important hiring decisions. It will give you a better look at metrics such as customer lifetime value (and whether an additional service rep could reduce customer churn), sales volume (and how much an added sales rep could contribute to revenues),
  • Keep a better eye on vendor contracts. Sometimes expenses with vendors can rise without the company taking notice. A financial forecast helps keep track of these relationships and more quickly spot inconsistencies or opportunities for improvement.
  • Improves cash flow. More than any other benefit, a financial forecast will help improve cash flow. This is because you can more strategically align expenses with income while reducing wasted spend to ensure your cash reserves never fall too low.

Who Needs a Five-Year Forecast?

Many companies are under the impression a forecast is only necessary when you’re raising capital or if you are writing an initial business plan. However, businesses of all sizes and stages of growth can benefit from a five-year forecast. Not only can a five-year forecast help improve your cash flow and reduce waste, but it also increases your ability to achieve your goals more quickly.

Think of a five-year forecast as a map or blueprint. It guides your company from where you are now to where you want to go. This guide helps to reduce mistakes and streamline your path for improved success.

A five-year forecast should not be written and then stashed away in a filing cabinet; it should become a living document that is revisited monthly or quarterly. At Preferred CFO, the five-year forecasts we create for our clients are updated monthly and become a rolling monthly forecast as well, to give you the most accurate view into the future and to help you grow your business with confidence.

How Can We Help?

Would you like more information about financial forecasting, or would you like to work with one of our outsourced CFOs to design a financial forecast for your company? Reach out, and one of our CFOs will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

About the author

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  • Building Your Business
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  • Business Plans

Writing a Business Plan—Financial Projections

Spell out your financial forecast in dollars and sense

Creating financial projections for your startup is both an art and a science. Although investors want to see cold, hard numbers, it can be difficult to predict your financial performance three years down the road, especially if you are still raising seed money. Regardless, short- and medium-term financial projections are a required part of your business plan if you want serious attention from investors.

The financial section of your business plan should include a sales forecast , expenses budget , cash flow statement , balance sheet , and a profit and loss statement . Be sure to follow the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board , a private-sector organization responsible for setting financial accounting and reporting standards in the U.S. If financial reporting is new territory for you, have an accountant review your projections.

Sales Forecast

As a startup business, you do not have past results to review, which can make forecasting sales difficult. It can be done, though, if you have a good understanding of the market you are entering and industry trends as a whole. In fact, sales forecasts based on a solid understanding of industry and market trends will show potential investors that you've done your homework and your forecast is more than just guesswork.

In practical terms, your forecast should be broken down by monthly sales with entries showing which units are being sold, their price points, and how many you expect to sell. When getting into the second year of your business plan and beyond, it's acceptable to reduce the forecast to quarterly sales. In fact, that's the case for most items in your business plan.

Expenses Budget

What you're selling has to cost something, and this budget is where you need to show your expenses. These include the cost to your business of the units being sold in addition to overhead. It's a good idea to break down your expenses by fixed costs and variable costs. For example, certain expenses will be the same or close to the same every month, including rent, insurance, and others. Some costs likely will vary month by month such as advertising or seasonal sales help.

Cash Flow Statement

As with your sales forecast, cash flow statements for a startup require doing some homework since you do not have historical data to use as a reference. This statement, in short, breaks down how much cash is coming into your business on a monthly basis vs. how much is going out. By using your sales forecasts and your expenses budget, you can estimate your cash flow intelligently.

Keep in mind that revenue often will trail sales, depending on the type of business you are operating. For example, if you have contracts with clients, they may not be paying for items they purchase until the month following delivery. Some clients may carry balances 60 or 90 days beyond delivery. You need to account for this lag when calculating exactly when you expect to see your revenue.

Profit and Loss Statement

Your P&L statement should take the information from your sales projections, expenses budget, and cash flow statement to project how much you expect in profits or losses through the three years included in your business plan. You should have a figure for each individual year as well as a figure for the full three-year period.

Balance Sheet

You provide a breakdown of all of your assets and liabilities in the balances sheet. Many of these assets and liabilities are items that go beyond monthly sales and expenses. For example, any property, equipment, or unsold inventory you own is an asset with a value that can be assigned to it. The same goes for outstanding invoices owed to you that have not been paid. Even though you don't have the cash in hand, you can count those invoices as assets. The amount you owe on a business loan or the amount you owe others on invoices you've not paid would count as liabilities. The balance is the difference between the value of everything you own vs. the value of everything you owe.

Break-Even Projection

If you've done a good job projecting your sales and expenses and inputting the numbers into a spreadsheet, you should be able to identify a date when your business breaks even—in other words, the date when you become profitable, with more money coming in than going out. As a startup business, this is not expected to happen overnight, but potential investors want to see that you have a date in mind and that you can support that projection with the numbers you've supplied in the financial section of your business plan.

Additional Tips

When putting together your financial projections, keep some general tips in mind:

  • Get comfortable with spreadsheet software if you aren't already. It is the starting point for all financial projections and offers flexibility, allowing you to quickly change assumptions or weigh alternative scenarios. Microsoft Excel is the most common, and chances are you already have it on your computer. You can also buy special software packages to help with financial projections.
  • Prepare a five-year projection . Don’t include this one in the business plan, since the further into the future you project, the harder it is to predict. However, have the projection available in case an investor asks for it.
  • Offer two scenarios only . Investors will want to see a best-case and worst-case scenario, but don’t inundate your business plan with myriad medium-case scenarios. They likely will just cause confusion.
  • Be reasonable and clear . As mentioned before, financial forecasting is as much art as science. You’ll have to assume certain things, such as your revenue growth, how your raw material and administrative costs will grow, and how effective you’ll be at collecting on accounts receivable. It’s best to be realistic in your projections as you try to recruit investors. If your industry is going through a contraction period and you’re projecting revenue growth of 20 percent a month, expect investors to see red flags.

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Business Plan Financial Projections: How To Create Accurate Targets

  • Written by Keith Murphy
  • 16 min read

Business Plan Financial Projections

Small businesses and startups have a lot riding on their ability to create effective and accurate financial projections as part of their business plan. Solid financials are a strong enticement for investors, after all, and can help new businesses chart a course that will take them beyond the legendendarily difficult first year and into a productive and profitable future.

But the need for business owners to look ahead in order to secure funding, increase profits, and make intelligent financial decisions doesn’t end when startups become full-fledged businesses—and business plan financial projections aren’t just for startups. Existing businesses can also put them to good use by harvesting insights from their existing financial statements and creating sales projections and other financial forecasts that guide and improve their ongoing business planning.

What Are Business Plan Financial Projections?

Successful companies plan ahead, looking as best they can into the near and distant future to chart a course to growth, innovation, and competitive strength. Financial projections, both as part of an initial business plan and as part of ongoing business planning, use a company’s financial statements to help business owners forecast their upcoming expenses and revenue in a strategically useful way.

Most businesses use two types of financial projections:

  • Short-term projections are broken down by month and generally cover the coming 12 months. They provide a guide companies can use to monitor and adjust their financial activity to set and hit targets for the financial year. In the first year, short-term projections will be entirely estimated, but in subsequent years, historical data can be used to help fine-tune them for greater accuracy and strategic utility.
  • Long-term projections are focused on the coming three to five years and are generally used to secure investment (both initial and ongoing), provide a strategic roadmap for the company’s growth, or both.

For startups, creating financial projections is part of their initial business plan. Providing financial forecasts banks and potential investors can use to determine the financial viability of a business is key to obtaining financing and investments needed to get the business off the ground.

For existing businesses—for whom an initial business plan has evolved into business planning—financial projections are useful in attracting investors who want to see clear estimates for upcoming revenue, expenses, and potential growth. They’re also helpful in securing loans and lines of credit from financial institutions for the same reason. And even if you’re not trying to get funding or investments, financial projections provide a useful framework for building budgets focused on growth and competitive advantage.

So whether you’re a small business owner, an aspiring tycoon starting a new business, or part of the financial team at a well-established corporation, what matters most is viewing financial projections as a living, breathing reference tool that can help you plan and budget for growth in a realistic way while still setting aspirational goals for your business.

Financial projections, both as part of an initial business plan and as part of ongoing business planning, use a company’s financial statements to help business owners forecast their upcoming expenses and revenue in a strategically useful way.

Financial Projections: Core Components

Whether you’re preparing them as part of your business plan or to enhance your business planning, you’ll need the same financial statements to prepare financial projections: an income statement, a cash-flow statement, and a balance sheet.

  • Income statements , sometimes called profit and loss statements , provide detailed information on your company’s revenue and expenses for a given period (e.g., a quarter, year, or multi-year period).
  • Cash flow statements provide a comprehensive view of cash flowing into and out of a business. They record all cash flow from operations, investment, and financing activities.
  • Balance sheets are used to showcase a company’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity for a specific period.

How to Create Financial Projections

The process of creating financial projections is the same whether you’re drafting a business plan or creating forecasts for an existing business. The primary difference is whether you’ll draw on your own research and expertise (a new business or startup business) or use historical data (existing businesses).

Keep in mind that while you’ll create the necessary documents separately, you’ll most likely finish them by consulting each of them as needed. For example, your sales forecast might change once you prepare your cash-flow statement. The best approach is to view each document as both its own piece of the financial projection puzzle and a reference for the others; this will help ensure you can assemble comprehensive and clear financial projections.

1. Start with a Sales Projection

A sales forecast is the first step in creating your income statement. You can start with a one, three, or five-year projection, but keep in mind that, without historical financial data, accuracy may decrease over time. It’s best to start with monthly income statements until you reach your projected break-even , which is the point at which revenue exceeds total operating expenses and you show a profit. Once you hit the break-even, you can transition to annual income statements.

Also, keep in mind factors outside of sales; market conditions, global environmental, political, and health concerns, sourcing challenges (including pricing changes and increased variable costs) and other business disruptors can put the kibosh on your carefully constructed forecasts if you leave them out of your considerations.

Start with a reasonable estimate of the units sold for the forecast period, and multiply them by the price per unit. This value is your total sales for the period.

Next, estimate the total cost of producing these units (i.e., the cost of goods sold , or COGS; sometimes called cost of sales ) by multiplying the per-unit cost by the number of units produced.

Deducting your COGS from your estimated sales yields your gross profit margin.

From the gross margin, subtract expenses such as wages, marketing costs, rent, and other operating expenses. The result is your projected operating income , or net income .

Using these figures, you can create an income statement:

2. Cash Flow Statement

Tracking your estimated cash inflows and outflows from investment and financing, combined with the cash generated by business operations, is the purpose of a cash flow projection .

Investment activities might include, for example, purchasing real estate or investing in research and development outside of daily operations.

Financing activities include cash inflows from investor funding or business loans, as well as cash outflows to repay debts or pay dividends to shareholders.

A reliable and accurate cash flow projection is essential to managing your working capital effectively and ensuring you have all the cash you need to cover your ongoing obligations while still having enough left to invest in growth and innovation or cover emergencies.

Drawing from our income statement, we can create a basic cash flow statement:

3. The Balance Sheet

Providing a “snapshot” of your businesses’ financial performance for a given period of time, the balance sheet contains your company’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity.

Assets include inventory, real estate, and capital, while liabilities represent financial obligations and include accounts payable, bank loans, and other debt.

Owner’s equity represents the amount remaining once liabilities have been paid.

Ideally, over time your company’s balance sheet will reflect your growth through a reduction of liabilities and an increase in owner’s equity.

We can complete our triumvirate of financial statements with a basic balance sheet:

Best Practices for Effective Financial Projections

Like a lot of other business processes, financial planning can be complex, time-consuming, and even frustrating if you’re still using manual workflows and paper documents or basic spreadsheet-style applications such as Microsoft Excel. You can get free templates for basic financial projections from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), but even templates can only take you so far.

Without a doubt, the best advantage you can give yourself in creating effective and accurate financial projections—whether they’re for the financial section of your business plan or simply part of your ongoing business planning—is to invest in comprehensive procure-to-pay (P2P) software such as Planergy.

In addition to helpful templates, best-in-class P2P software also provides a rich array of real-time data analysis, reporting, and forecasting tools that make it easy to transform historical data (or market research) into accurate forecasts. In addition, artificial intelligence and process automation make it easy to collect, organize, manage and share your data with all internal stakeholders, so everyone has the information they need to create the most useful and complete forecasts and projections possible.

Beyond investing in P2P software, you can also improve the quality and accuracy of your financial projections by:

  • Doing your homework. Invest in financial statement analysis and ratio analysis, with a focus not just on your own company, but your industry and the market in general. Learn the current ratios used for liquidity analysis, profitability, and debt and compare them to your own to get a more nuanced and useful understanding of how your company performs internally and within the context of the marketplace.
  • Keeping it real. It can be all too easy to get carried away with pie-in-the-sky optimism when forecasting the future of your business. Rose-colored glasses aren’t exclusive to startups and small businesses; over-inflated estimates can hobble even veteran organizations if they don’t practice good data discipline and temper their hopes with practical considerations. Focus on creating realistic, but positive, projections, and you won’t have to worry about investors or lenders glancing askance at your hard work.
  • Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. Run two scenarios when performing your financial projections: the best-case scenario where everything goes perfectly to plan, and a worse-case scenario where Murphy’s Law holds sway. While actual performance will undoubtedly fall somewhere in between the two, having an upper and lower boundary appeals to investors and lenders who are assessing your company’s financial viability.

Financial Projections Help You Reach Your Goals for Growth

From startups to global corporations, every business needs reliable tools for financial forecasting. Take the time to create well-researched, data-driven financial projections, and you’ll be well-equipped to attract investors, secure funding, and chart a course for greater profits, growth, and performance in today’s competitive marketplace.

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Home > Financial Projections Template Excel

Financial Projections Template Excel

This free 4 page Excel business plan financial projections template produces annual income statements, balance sheets and cash flow projections for a five year period for any business.

Financial Projections Template Download

What’s included in the financial projection template, 1. income statements.

The first page of the financial projection template shows income statements for the business for 5 years.

Income statement in a financial projections template

2. Balance Sheets

Balance sheet in a financial projections template

3. Cash Flow Statements

The third page provides the cash flow statements for 5 years.

Cash flow statement in a financial projections template

4. Ratios and Graphs

The final page of the financial projections template contains a selection of useful financial ratios for comparison purposes. In addition it shows revenue, net income, cash balance, and cumulative free cash flow by year in graph form for easy reference.

Ratios and graphs in a financial projection

How to use the Financial Projections Template

If you want to know how to use the financial projections template, then we recommend reading our How to Make Financial Projections post, which explains each step in detail.

More Financial Projections Templates and Calculators

Select a category from the menu to the right or chose one of the templates or calculators below.

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Financial projections are critical to the success of your business plan, particularly if the purpose is to raise finance.  Accordingly we have designed our financial projection for startup template to help you test your business idea and create a five year business plan financial projection.

The financial projection template will help you to carry out your own financial projections and test your business idea. Therefore simply amend the highlighted input elements to suit your purposes, and the financial projection template does the rest.

Alternatively, you can use our online calculator to provide a quick and easy way to test the feasibility of your business idea.

About the Author

Chartered accountant Michael Brown is the founder and CEO of Plan Projections. He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries. Michael has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a BSc from Loughborough University.

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Financial projections use existing or estimated financial data to forecast your business’s future income and expenses. They often include different scenarios to see how changes to one aspect of your finances (such as higher sales or lower operating expenses) might affect your profitability.

If you need to create financial projections for a startup or existing business, this free, downloadable template includes all the necessary tools.

What Are Financial Projections Used for?

Financial projections are an essential business planning tool for several reasons.

  • If you’re starting a business, financial projections help you plan your startup budget, assess when you expect the business to become profitable, and set benchmarks for achieving financial goals.
  • If you’re already in business, creating financial projections each year can help you set goals and stay on track.
  • When seeking outside financing, startups and existing businesses need financial projections to convince lenders and investors of the business’s growth potential.

What’s Included in Financial Projections?

This financial projections template pulls together several different financial documents, including:

  • Startup expenses
  • Payroll costs
  • Sales forecast
  • Operating expenses for the first 3 years of business
  • Cash flow statements for the first 3 years of business
  • Income statements for the first 3 years of business
  • Balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Financial ratios
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS), and
  • Amortization and depreciation for your business.

You can use this template to create the documents from scratch or pull in information from those you’ve already made. The template also includes diagnostic tools to test the numbers in your financial projections and ensure they are within reasonable ranges.

These areas are closely related, so as you work on your financial projections, you’ll find that changes to one element affect the others. You may want to include a best-case and worst-case scenario for all possibilities. Make sure you know the assumptions behind your financial projections and can explain them to others.

Startup business owners often wonder how to create financial projections for a business that doesn’t exist yet. Financial forecasts are continually educated guesses. To make yours as accurate as possible, do your homework and get help. Use the information you unearthed in researching your business plans, such as statistics from industry associations, data from government sources, and financials from similar businesses. An accountant with experience in your industry can help fine-tune your financial projections. So can business advisors such as SCORE mentors.

Once you complete your financial projections, don’t put them away and forget about them. Compare your projections to your financial statements regularly to see how well your business meets your expectations. If your projections turn out to be too optimistic or too pessimistic, make the necessary adjustments to make them more accurate.

*NOTE: The cells with formulas in this workbook are locked. If changes are needed, the unlock code is "1234." Please use caution when unlocking the spreadsheets. If you want to change a formula, we strongly recommend saving a copy of this spreadsheet under a different name before doing so. 

We recommend downloading the  Financial Projections Template Guide in English  or  Espanol .

Do you need help creating your financial projections? Take SCORE’s online course on-demand on financial projections or connect with a SCORE mentor  online or in your community today.

Simple Steps for Starting Your Business: Financial Projections In this online module, you'll learn the importance of financial planning, how to build your financial model, how to understand financial statements and more.

Business Planning & Financial Statements Template Gallery Download SCORE’s templates to help you plan for a new business startup or grow your existing business.

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Spreadsheet123 - The Ultimate Guide to The World of Excel

5-Year Financial Plan Template

Whether you are already running a business, or making plans to start one up, financial planning is a vital part of ensuring your success. Not knowing your expected income and expenditure will make it difficult to plan, and hard to find investors.

This 5-Year Financial Plan spreadsheet will make it easy for you to calculate profit and loss, view your balance sheet and cash flow projections, as well as calculate any loan payments you may have. Whilst the wording on this spreadsheet is focussed around products, it can just as easily be used for businesses who largely provide services to their customers.

5-Year Financial Plan Projection

5-Year Financial Plan Projection Screenshot

How to use Financial Plan

Model inputs.

Use the Model Inputs sheet to enter information about your business that will be used to model results seen on the other pages.

Forecasted Revenue

The forecasted revenue section allows you to estimate your revenue for 4 different products. Simply use the white boxes to enter the number of units you expect to sell, and the price you expect to sell them for, and the spreadsheet will calculate the total revenue for each product for the year. If you want to give your products names, simply type over the words "Product 1", "Product 2" etc. and these names will be carried through to the rest of the spreadsheet.

Cost of Goods Sold

Your margins are unlikely to be the same on all of your products, so the cost of goods sold allows you to enter your expected gross margin for each product into the white boxes in Column B. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate the annual cost of goods sold based on this information, along with your forecasted revenue.

Annual Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

As the cost of annual maintenance, repair and overhaul is likely to increase each year, you will need to enter a percentage factor on your capital equipment in the white box in Column B. This will be used to calculate your operating expenses in the profit and loss sheet.

Asset Depreciation

Use the white box to enter the number of years you expect your assets to depreciate over. This may vary greatly from business to business, as assets in some sectors depreciate much more quickly than they do in others.

In most parts of the world, you will have to pay income on your earnings. Enter the annual tax rate that applies to your circumstances in the white box in Column B. If you have to pay any other taxes, these can be entered later on the Profit and Loss sheet.

Although you cannot be certain of the level of inflation, you will still need to try and plan for it when coming up with a 5-year financial plan. The International Monetary Fund provide forecasts for a number of countries, so is a good place to look if you are unsure what to enter here. Simply enter your inflation rate in the white box.

Product Price Increase

As a consumer, you are no doubt aware that the price of products goes up over time. Enter a number in the white box to show the expected annual price increase of your products to enable the spreadsheet to calculate income in future years. If you are unsure what to put here, increasing your product price in line with inflation is a good starting point. If your business is just starting out, you may be able to command higher prices for your products or services as the years go on, as you build up brand recognition and a good reputation.

The funding section allows you to enter information about your business loan. To use this section, simply fill in the three white boxes representing the amount of the loan, the annual interest rate and the term of the loan in months - for example, 12 for 1 year, 24 for 2 years, 36 for 3 years, 48 for 4 years, or 60 for a 5 year loan.

Profit and loss

This sheet calculates your profit and loss for each year over a 5 year period. The profit and loss assumptions, along with income, are automatically calculated using information entered in the model inputs sheet.

Non-Operation Income

You may have, or be expecting some income in addition to your operating income. These can be entered manually in the white cells in Column B for Year 1, Column C for Year 2 and so on. There are pre-entered categories for rental, lost income and loss (or gain) on the sale of assets, as well as an additional row where you can enter your own non-operation income.

Operating Expenses

Some parts of this are already filled in based on information you put on the Model Inputs, for example, depreciation, maintenance and interest on long-term debt. Years 2-5 are also filled in for you across all categories based on the inflation information entered in the Model Inputs sheet. You therefore only need to enter your Sales and Marketing, Insurance, Payroll and Payroll Tax, Property Taxes, Utilities, Administration Fees and any Other Expenses into the white cells in Column B for Year 1.

Non-recurring Expenses

This section is for entering any expenses that you will not be paying on an annual basis. The Unexpected Expenses row allows you to enter a contingency for unexpected expenses, whilst the Other Expenses row allows you to enter any other one off expenses you may be expecting to make, for example the purchase of new equipment part way into your 5 year plan.

Income Tax is filled in based on the information you enter into the model inputs. Depending on where your business is based, you may find yourself having to pay other taxes. These can be entered in the Other Tax row. You can rename this row by typing over the "Other Tax (specify)" text.

Balance Sheet

The annual balances for Years 1-5 are, in most cases, filled in for you, based on the information you have entered on the Model Inputs sheet and in the Initial Balance column of the Balance Sheet column itself. This makes it very easy to use.

Current Assets

This is where you can enter the value of any of your current assets, with spaces to enter information about Cash and Short-term Investments, Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Prepaid Expenses and Deferred Income Tax. At the bottom of this section is a space for you to enter any other current assets you may have that do not fall into any of these categories.

Property and Equipment

Depending on the nature of your business, you may have assets such as Buildings, Land, Capital Improvements and Machinery. Enter the value of these assets into Column B, and these values will be copied over to each of the 5 years of the plan. The depreciation information entered into the Model Inputs sheet will be used to calculate the depreciation expenses, which allows a total for property and equipment to be calculated automatically.

Other Assets

This section is for entering information on any assets that don't fit in the other sections. These could be Goodwill Payments, Deferred Income Tax, Long-term Investments, Deposits, or any Other long-term assets. Enter the information into Column B, and it will be carried across to the yearly columns automatically.

Current Liabilities

As well as assets, your business is likely to have liabilities. There are spaces to enter Accounts Payable, Accrued Expenses, Notes Payable and Short-term Debt, Capital Leases and Other current liabilities. Just leave blank any rows where you do not have any liabilities, and the totals will be calculated for you.

Your long-term debt/loan information will have already been entered in the Model Inputs sheet, so the only thing to do here is to enter any other long-term debt. Unlike much of the rest of the Balance Sheet, you can manually enter different amounts for each year, as you may, for example, be expecting to take on another loan to purchase some new equipment in Year 3 as your business expands.

Other Liabilities

Use this section to enter any liabilities not covered by the pre-defined labels. You can amend the text in Column A, in order to specify the liabilities, and then enter the cost of these liabilities in Column B.

Your business is likely to have some equity, and this can be entered into this section. You can fill out the Owner's Equity, Paid-in Capital and Preferred Equity in Column B. Your retained earnings are automatically calculated based on the Profit and Loss sheet.

Much of the information on the cash flow sheet is based on calculations in the Balance Sheet. It is important to plan your cash flow carefully, so that you know what funds you will have available to buy new stock and equipment.

Operating Activities

Much of this section is automatically filled in based on your balance sheet. There are only three rows to fill out, which are Amortization, Other Liabilities and Other Operating Cash Flow. You only need to fill out the white boxes in Column B for Year 1, as these values will automatically be carried over into subsequent years for you.

Investing Activities

Your capital expenditures and sale of fixed assets will be automatically populated if you have filled out the relevant sections of the Balance Sheet. They will be blank if they do not apply. As investing activities can vary year on year, you will need to fill out any investment activities for each of the 5 years in the appropriate columns for Acquisition of Business, and any Other Investing Cash Flow items.

Financing Activities

The long-term debt/financing row will be pre-filled based on the loan information previously entered. Use Column B to fill out your Preferred Stock, Total Cash Dividends Paid, Common Stock and Other Financing Cash Flow items for Year 1. This information will automatically carried over to Years 2-5.

Loan Payment Calculator

There is nothing to enter on this sheet, as it is for information only. Whether or not you already have a loan, or are using this spreadsheet as a part of a business plan to help you obtain one, it allows you to easily see how much you will be paying each month, showing how much you are paying off your loan, and how much you are paying in interest. This will allow you to get an idea of whether or not you can afford to borrow a bit extra, if you feel it would allow you to push your business into higher places, or whether you need to shop around for a better interest rate or adjust the loan term in order to afford the loan payments.

Related Templates

Restaurant Profit and Loss Statement

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China’s economy expands by a surprisingly strong pace in the first quarter of 2024

A worker operates machines at a texile factory in Nantong, in eastern China's Jiangsu province on September 14, 2023. (Photo by AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

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China’s economy grew stronger than expected at the start of this year, mainly thanks to robust growth in high-tech manufacturing.

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.3% in the first quarter from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. That beat the estimate of 4.6% growth from a Reuters poll of economists. It also marked an acceleration from the 5.2% growth in the previous three months.

“The Chinese economy got off to a good start in the first quarter … laying a good foundation for achieving the goals for the whole year,” said Sheng Laiyun, a spokesperson for the NBS, at a press conference in Beijing accompanying the data release.

But he acknowledged that “the foundation for economic stability and improvement is not yet solid.”

Industrial production jumped 6.1% in the first quarter from a year ago, boosted by strong growth in high-tech manufacturing.

In particular, the production of 3D printing equipment, charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and electronic components all surged about 40% compared to a year earlier.

An employee working at an energy-saving materials firms in Zibo, eastern China

Related article China’s new factory data shows a bright start to the year

Last month, an official survey showed China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) expanded for the first time in six months. The Caixin/S&P manufacturing PMI, a privately run survey, also hit its strongest reading in more than a year, as overseas demand picked up.

China has set an annual growth target of around 5% for 2024, which many analysts considered ambitious, as consumer and business confidence remains weak and the real estate sector is mired in a prolonged downturn.

The authorities have cut interest rates this year to boost bank lending and speed up central government spending to support infrastructure investment.

“The economy appears within reach to meet the official target of ‘around 5%’ GDP growth in 2024,” Frederic Neumann, chief Asia economist for HSBC, told CNN.

Tuesday’s data showed that retail sales grew 4.7% in the January-to-March period, boosted by spending in sports and entertainment activities, cigarettes and alcohol, as well as catering services.

Investment in fixed assets — such as factories, roads and power grids — increased 4.5% during the same period.

Mismatch in the economy

But there are plenty of concerns still.

“There’s a growing mismatch in China’s economy; manufacturers are doing the heavy lifting, while households sit on the sidelines,” said Harry Murphy Cruise, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Much of the good news in manufacturing comes from China’s “new three” industries: EVs, solar panels and batteries.

“Officials have spent big to support these strategic industries, and are reaping the rewards as production takes off and exports — particularly for EVs — surge amid a broader pullback in global demand,” Cruise said.

But the strategy isn’t without risks.

There is growing angst in the United States and European Union that China’s overcapacity in these areas is flooding global markets and hindering their domestic industries.

Comments by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on her visit to China last week highlight America’s willingness to intervene with tariffs, if it deems them necessary.

“Were that to occur, China’s manufacturing bright spot would be dampened,” Cruise said.

Property and consumption woes

The property market is also a major drag.

Property investment slumped 9.5% in the first quarter from a year ago, according to NBS data. New property sales slid 27.6% during the same period.

Separately, new home prices in 70 cities fell 2% in March from a year earlier, which was faster than February’s 1.3% drop, according to Goldman Sachs’ calculation based on the NBS’ latest data release.

“The property market’s woes are continuing,” Cruise said.

The embattled property market is weighing on consumer spending, as 70% of Chinese household wealth is tied to real estate.

Weak job prospects and economic uncertainty are also holding back household spending.

In March, retail sales growth slowed to 3.1% from 5.5% in February.

According to the NBS data, household confidence for employment and income is near “the historical bottom,” which dragged down retail sales in March because demand had been released during the Lunar New Year holidays that took place weeks earlier, said Chaoping Zhu, Shanghai-based global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

Foreign investors losing confidence

Confidence in the world’s second largest economy among foreign investors, who had helped power growth during China’s boom days, also remains weak.

The growth in first-quarter investment came mainly from state-owned enterprises, which spent 7.8% more than a year ago. Investment by the private sector increased by just 0.5%.

As for foreign companies, their investment in the country plunged by 10.4% in the first three months.

Beijing has made reviving economic growth its top priority for this year and has renewed its efforts to woo foreign investors.

On Tuesday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing and called on the two countries to boost trade and “deepen cooperation” on machine manufacturing, autos and artificial intelligence as complaints from the EU grow about the proliferation of Chinese products.

A day before, Scholz said Germany welcomed imports of Chinese cars but warned against dumping, overproduction and intellectual property infringements, according to Reuters.

Last month, Xi met with more than a dozen US CEOs and academics in Beijing and invited them to “continue to invest in China.” He expressed confidence that the country will maintain a healthy and sustainable growth in the coming months.

China’s economy grew 5.2% in 2023. While this expansion marked a significant pick-up compared to 2022, when it grew by just 3% amid intense coronavirus lockdowns and disruption, it was still one of the country’s economic worst performances in over three decades.

Foreign direct investment in China has slumped in recent months as a combination of slower growth, regulatory crackdowns, onerous national security legislation and questions about the country’s long-term prospects have shaken confidence in the world’s second biggest economy.

“The strong first-quarter growth figure goes a long way in achieving China’s ‘around 5%’ target for the year. But medium-term growth prospects hinge on broadening the economy’s growth drivers,” Cruise said.

“If the officials can’t convince households to loosen the purse strings, the economy risks having too many eggs in one basket.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Marc Stewart, Kristie Lu Stout, and Wayne Chang contributed to reporting.

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Inflation Was Hotter Than Expected in March, Unwelcome News for the Fed

The surprisingly stubborn reading raised doubts about when — and even whether — the Federal Reserve will be able to start cutting interest rates this year.

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business plan 5 year projections

+3.8% excluding

food and energy

+3.5% in March

Jeanna Smialek

By Jeanna Smialek

A closely watched measure of inflation remained stronger than expected in March, worrying news for Federal Reserve officials who have become increasingly concerned that their progress on lowering price increases might be stalling.

The surprisingly stubborn inflation reading raised doubts among economists about when — and even whether — the Fed will be able to start cutting interest rates this year.

The Consumer Price Index climbed 3.8 percent on an annual basis after stripping out food and fuel prices, which economists do in order to get a better sense of the underlying inflation trend. That “core” index was stronger than the 3.7 percent increase economists had expected, and unchanged from 3.8 percent in February. The monthly reading was also stronger than what economists had forecast.

Counting in food and fuel, the inflation measure climbed 3.5 percent in March from a year earlier, up from 3.2 percent in February and faster than what economists anticipated. A rise in gas prices contributed to that inflation number.

This week’s inflation figures come at a critical juncture for the Fed. Central bankers have been hoping to confirm that warmer-than-expected inflation figures at the start of the year were just a seasonal quirk, not evidence that inflation is getting stuck well above the 2 percent target. Wednesday’s report offers little comfort that the quick early 2024 readings have not lasted.

“It is what it is: It’s a stronger-than-expected number, and it’s showing that those price pressures are strong across goods and services,” said Blerina Uruci, chief U.S. economist at T. Rowe Price. “It’s problematic for the Fed. I don’t see how they can justify a June cut with this strong data.”

Policymakers have made it clear in recent months that they want to see further evidence that inflation is cooling before they cut interest rates. Fed officials raised borrowing costs to 5.3 percent in 2022 and mid-2023, which they think is high enough to meaningfully weigh on the economy. Central bankers forecast in March that they would cut interest rates three times this year.

But Fed officials do not want to cut rates before they are confident inflation is on track to return to normal. Lowering borrowing costs too early or too much would risk allowing price increases to pick back up. And if households and businesses come to expect inflation to remain slightly higher, officials worry that could make it even harder to stamp out down the road.

That threat of lingering inflation has become a more serious concern for policymakers since the start of the year. Inflation flatlined in January and February after months of steady declines, raising some alarm at the Fed and among forecasters. Going into the year, investors expected the Fed to cut rates sharply in 2024 — perhaps five or six times, to about 4 percent — but have steadily dialed back those expectations .

Stocks dropped sharply after the inflation release as investors further pared back their expectations for lower rates. Following the report, market pricing suggested that many investors now expect just one or two cuts his year.

The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite each closed nearly 1 percent lower on Wednesday. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, was down nearly 3 percent.

Investors would like to see lower interest rates, which tend to bolster prices for assets like stocks. But the Fed might struggle to explain why it is cutting rates at the current moment: Not only is inflation showing signs of getting stuck well above the central bank’s target, but the economy is growing at a fairly rapid pace and employers are hiring at a robust clip.

In short, the Fed’s policies do not appear to have pushed America to the brink of a recession — and in fact, there are signs that they may not be having as much of an effect as policymakers had expected when it comes to growth.

While the Fed officially targets Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation , a separate measure, the Consumer Price Index report released on Wednesday comes out earlier and includes data that feeds into the other metric. That makes it a closely watched signal of how price pressures are shaping up.

The inflation report’s details offered little reason to dismiss the gauge’s continued stubbornness as a fluke. They showed that housing inflation remains firm, auto insurance costs picked up at a rapid pace and apparel prices climbed.

business plan 5 year projections

Monthly changes in March

Motor vehicle insurance

Gasoline (all types)

Motor vehicle repair

Hospital services

Meats, poultry, fish, eggs

Electricity

All items excl. food and energy

Tobacco products

Rent of primary residence

Nonalcoholic beverages

Food away from home

Medical care commodities

Fruits, vegetables

Alcoholic beverages

Physicians’ services

Piped utility gas service

Dairy products

New vehicles

Airline fares

Cereals, bakery products

Used cars, trucks

business plan 5 year projections

Motor vehicle maintenance and repair

Meats, poultry, fish and eggs

All items excluding food and energy

Tobacco and smoking products

Nonalcoholic beverages and materials

Fruits and vegetables

Dairy and related products

Cereals and bakery products

Used cars and trucks

In a development that is likely to be especially notable for Fed officials, a measure of services inflation contributed to the pickup in annual inflation. Policymakers watch those prices closely, because they can reflect the strength of the underlying economy and because they tend to persist over time.

The question, increasingly, is whether Fed officials can cut interest rates at all this year in a world where inflation appears to be flatlining.

Ms. Uruci said that with every month inflation stays stubborn, the Fed may need to see more convincing evidence — and a more sustained return to deceleration — to feel confident that price increases are genuinely coming under control.

Kathy Bostjancic, Nationwide’s chief economist, predicted that rate cuts could now be delayed to this autumn, if they happen in 2024 at all.

“We now think September, if they start to cut rates, is more likely than July,” Ms. Bostjancic said. The new report “shakes the confidence that inflation is on this downward trend.”

If the Fed does not cut rates soon, the election could make the start of reductions more politically fraught. Central bankers are independent of the White House and typically insist that they do not make policy with an eye on the political calendar.

Still, cutting in the months just before the election could put policymakers under a partisan spotlight : Former President Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has already painted possible rate cuts as a political ploy to help Democrats. Lower rates tend to help incumbents, since they bolster the economy.

But the current economic moment is a politically complicated one.

Consumers dislike rapidly rising prices, and inflation has been dogging President Biden’s approval ratings for months. That said, consumers have become less concerned about them in recent months as the pace of inflation has come down from its peak in 2022.

At the same time, some Americans are chafing against high interest rates, the medicine the Fed uses to cure rapid inflation because they make it more expensive to borrow to buy a house or make other large purchases.

Mr. Biden has struck a concerned tone about high prices and tough housing affordability conditions in recent months, while pinning at least some of the blame for recent rapid inflation on corporations.

He reiterated that message on Wednesday, while saying that he still expects to see rate cuts this year. Mr. Biden’s comments amounted to a forecast rather than a prescription, but they were unusual coming from a White House that usually avoids talking about Fed policy out of respect for the central bank’s independence.

“We have dramatically reduced inflation down from 9 percent to close to 3 percent,” Mr. Biden also noted.

Jeanna Smialek covers the Federal Reserve and the economy for The Times from Washington. More about Jeanna Smialek

UK set to grow less than expected this year as IMF revises forecasts down

According to the IMF, inflation in the British economy will remain at about 2.5% for the rest of this year but fall towards the Bank of England's target of 2% next year.

business plan 5 year projections

Business reporter @taaffems

Tuesday 16 April 2024 15:59, UK

business plan 5 year projections

The UK economy is going to grow less than expected this year - with the International Monetary Fund warning the country will remain the second worst performer in the G7.

Newly revised forecasts indicate the UK's gross domestic product will expand by just 0.5% in 2024 - a slight downgrade from previous estimates in January - compared with global growth of 3.2%.

However, UK GDP is tipped to increase by 1.5% in 2025 - making it the third-best performer among G7 nations - as households recover following a prolonged cost of living crisis.

Follow latest: Financial markets take Middle East escalation in their stride

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In February, the UK inflation rate fell to 3.4%. The Bank of England is targeting 2%.

When looked at per head - with output split across the UK's population - GDP flatlines, with no growth at all for 2024 and 1.1% in 2025.

This metric gives a better sense of living standards and how the economy feels for individuals by adjusting for the UK's growing population with record legal immigration flows .

More on Uk Economy

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A whiff of wishful thinking about Hunt's declaration of economic 'soft landing'

Jeremy Hunt reacts to news that UK inflation is down to 3..4%

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insists UK's economy has 'turned corner' - telling public to 'stick to plan' for 'better times'

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Inflation falls - but what might it mean for interest rates?

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According to the IMF, the global economy has been "remarkably resilient" over the past two years - but the escalating conflict in the Middle East could push up food and energy prices around the world.

Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the IMF's director of research, said: "Yet, despite many gloomy predictions, the world avoided a recession, the banking system proved largely resilient, and major emerging market economies did not suffer sudden stops."

The IMF believes lower-income countries would be harder hit if food, energy and transport prices rose.

While negative risks include a slow recovery of China's troubled property sector, economists believe the outlook could be improved if elections being held around the world lead to tax cuts and a short-term boost to activity.

Attendees walk inside an atrium at the 2022 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Overall, global output is expected to grow by 3.2% this year - an 0.1 percentage point rise from its previous report in January.

Both the Conservative government and Labour opposition have staked their successes on a growing economy.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made economic growth one of his five key priorities at the start of 2023 - but the UK entered a recession late last year.

Labour is hoping more growth will allow for greater tax takes and generate money to fund increased public service spending.

It has adopted the same rules on borrowing as the Tories and said it will not grow debt.

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A HM Treasury spokesperson said: "The forecast for growth in the medium term is optimistic, but like all our peers, the UK's growth in the short term has been impacted by higher interest rates, with Germany, France and Italy all experiencing larger downgrades than the UK.

"Today's report shows we are winning the battle against high inflation, with the IMF forecasting that it will fall much faster than previously expected.

"With inflation falling, wages rising, and the economy turning a corner, we have been able to lower taxes for 29 million people, as part of our plan to reward work and grow the economy."

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Beware risks of voter giveaways to public finances, countries facing elections told

IMF says reduction in national insurance may have made cutting UK national debt more difficult

The International Monetary Fund has issued a strong warning to Britain and other countries facing elections this year to avoid voter giveaways that might pose risks to their public finances.

In its half-yearly fiscal monitor, the IMF said the reduction in national insurance contributions (NICs) announced by Jeremy Hunt in his budget last month may have already made cutting the UK’s national debt more difficult.

There is speculation Hunt might announce further tax cuts ahead of an autumn election but the fiscal monitor makes it clear this would be against the advice of IMF officials.

The Washington-based fund’s analysis showed the national debt as a share of the economy’s annual output – the debt-to-GDP ratio – rising steadily in every year between now and the end of the 2020s – from 92.9% in 2024 to 98% in 2029.

The IMF said the decision to spend £10bn on a 2% reduction in NICs was a “significant cut” and while in part funded by “well-conceived” tax increases “could worsen the debt trajectory in the medium term”.

Hunt said he was able to cut taxes without breaking his rules for the public finances because the independent Office for Budget Responsibility was pencilling in a small drop in the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio in the fifth year of its forecast.

Responding to the IMF’s warning about pre-election tax cuts, the chancellor defended his decision to cut national insurance by 2% in last month’s budget.

“The IMF have recognised and given credit to the government for the difficult decisions we have taken to get the public finances in order,” he told reporters in Washington on Wednesday night. “It was possible to make significant tax cuts in a responsible way that doesn’t increase borrowing.”

The OBR calculates its debt figures in a slightly different way from the IMF but both organisations say there has been a marked deterioration as a result of the support provided by the government to the economy during the coronavirus pandemic and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The IMF also expects only a gradual improvement in the UK’s annual fiscal balance – the gap between public spending and state revenues. Having hit a record 13.1% of GDP in 2020, the deficit will fall to 4.6% of GDP this year but then decline only gently to 3.4% of GDP by 2029.

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In a blog accompanying the fiscal monitor, fund officials said that, rather than contemplating tax cuts, most governments should instead be focused on rebuilding their public finances so that they were in a position to respond to further unexpected shocks.

“The record number of elections being held across the world in 2024 represents a salient risk with regard to fiscal consolidation prospects for the year,” the blog said.

According to the IMF, 88 economies or economic areas are holding elections this year – including Bangladesh, Brazil, the EU, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and US – representing more than half of the world population and 55% of global GDP.

“Deficits in election years tend to exceed forecasts by 0.4 percentage points of GDP, compared with non-election years. In this great election year, governments should exercise fiscal restraint to preserve sound public finances,” the blog said.

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • European Union
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School of Business graduate program surges in top rankings

A U.S. News & World Report methodology change rewards schools for job placement, graduate earnings

business plan 5 year projections

The UC Riverside School of Business increased 20 positions in a U.S. News & World Report 2024 graduate school ranking released this week. UCR’s business school was the benefactor of a methodology change this year that places greater emphasis on post-graduation earnings and how quickly graduates found jobs.

The School of Business’ Master of Business Administration program ranked No. 90 on the business school list, released Tuesday, April 9. Though 506 accredited institutions were canvassed, only 124 U.S. graduate-level business programs provided sufficient information on post-graduation earnings and job placements to merit inclusion on the U.S. News list.

“The school’s ascent in the rankings is a testament to its strategic initiatives, such as the expansion of its facilities and the enhancement of its academic offerings, which align with the evolving demands of the global business landscape,” said Rami Zwick, associate dean of graduate programs for the School of Business.

The rankings released this week are based in part on reputational surveys sent to more than 15,000 academics and industry professionals, including corporate recruiters. In the surveys, deans, program directors, and senior faculty are asked to judge the academic quality of a program.

In addition to the surveys, scoring factors selectivity — gauged by graduate exam test scores; undergraduate GPA, and acceptance rate. About half of the score is based on a change this year that places greater emphasis on earnings — assessing post-graduate salaries by profession — and successful job placement. The revised job placement metric rewards business schools when their graduates get jobs quickly — either when they graduate or within three months of graduation.

Separately, the business school’s part-time MBA program was ranked No. 73, an increase of three positions from the past year. That ranking was among 269 universities.

In fall 2024, the School of Business will mark the 55th anniversary of its founding and the 30th anniversary of the A. Gary Anderson School of Management with the opening of a new 63,400-square-foot academic building .

UCR’s School of Education was ranked No. 86 out of 237 positions in the graduate school rankings, which considered only doctoral-level education programs. Last year, the school ranked No. 80.

The education rank is based on research expenditures; assessments by education-school and graduate-school deans and by professionals including recruiters and school superintendents; total degrees awarded; student-faculty ratio; faculty awards; and selectivity, measured by acceptance rates.

U.S. News this week postponed publication of its rankings for medical and graduate engineering programs after some universities questioned the rankings methodology for those programs.

U.S. News & World Report, the standard-bearer among college rankings, publishes its anticipated undergraduate rankings every fall. In the most recent rankings, released in fall 2023, UCR climbed 13 positions to No. 76 overall among U.S. private and public universities. UCR was ranked No. 2 nationally in social mobility, which considers the degree to which a university elevates its graduates to a higher standard of living. 

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