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3 min read

Build your business' long-term strategy

Congratulations! Your business is up and running! What’s next for you?

The startup phase is similar for everybody—from idea to opening—but after that point, your business takes on a life of its own. It becomes less about having checkboxes to tick off in the future and more about figuring out how to slowly steer your company in the desired direction. This is where building your business strategy comes in. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Building a five-year plan 

A five-year plan keeps you goal-focused and allows potential investors to know what you're about.

Your plan is shaped by your ultimate goal. How close is your business to being able to support that objective, and what is it lacking? How will you manage time and resources to get there?

Concepts to include in your five-year plan:

  • Company description, products and pricing
  • Mission statement
  • Short- and long-term goals, with deadlines
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis
  • Who your competitors and customers are
  • Industry analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Job positions and team members
  • Financial information and revenue projections
  • Investments you’ll need

Continue learning about yourself and your business, both the strengths and limitations. Maybe your goals have shifted, which can dictate the future direction of your company. After owning a business for five or so years, you've likely changed as a person and may find yourself at a different place in life than you were at the outset—be open to new values and goals that emerge from these changes.

Continue to update your business plan as you and your business evolve.

Market changes

One of the most significant changes over a few years is usually the market. Business owners tend to change products, demographics, pricing or marketing to match these shifts. Are you still serving the appropriate market? Are you in the right places, saying the right things for the market that you're targeting? 

Measuring success

Look at your key performance indicators, like sales growth, website traffic and profit margins.

The tell-tale figures of success are your net and gross margins. They allow you to easily see if you’re profiting and how you compare to industry competitors.

Ultimately, it comes back to your goals: how do you personally define success?

Take time to enjoy it

Appreciate how far you’ve come. In the hustle of entrepreneurial life, it’s easy to forget to enjoy the stability you’ve created in your company. Take an inventory of your personal life and re-evaluate why you decided to start a business. This allows you to return to the initial intention you set for yourself and your business, and see if that’s aligned with the present moment. 

Allow your business to run without you

Sometimes entrepreneurs are scared to take their hands off their company—even if the right people and processes are in place. You might still want to be involved, but maybe checking in a few times a month is more aligned with your personal and business goals, rather than being present every day.

If you hired the right people, free yourself up to do the parts you enjoy, dive into business strategy or take a break once in a while to avoid burnout. 

Grow your support network

Build up a community of supportive people outside your company who you can count on—especially other entrepreneurs. On the business side, it’s helpful to ask for their perspectives when facing a challenge or a decision. On the personal side, it's nice to have people who understand the entrepreneur lifestyle.

Conclusion: continually evaluate

As your business journey goes on, continually evaluate, take a personal inventory and compare this to your original goals.

Ask yourself if your business looks like what you envisioned. If it is, let yourself get into the steady stage and enjoy it. If it's not—even though it might be financially steady—what's missing?

Bonus tip from an ATB team member: boil down your values to six words on a card that you can fit in your wallet. If you're ever in a situation where you’re not sure you’re on the right path, this can be a quick reference to see if it aligns with these values.

Thank you for picking up this guide and for choosing ATB to be a part of your business' journey. To keep learning, check out our business resources page for entrepreneurs who are running and growing their business. 

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