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Develop a 3 to 5 Year Strategic Business Plan to Scale Up Your Business

The Five-Step Process to Create Your 3 Year Strategic Business Plan

3-5 Year Strategic Plan to Reach Your BHAG

Your 3-5 Year Strategic Plan can be viewed as a base camp on the way to the summit of your long term goal.  This can be used as a tool to align your company around a common purpose and closes the strategy execution gap.   The summit is your BHAG (or Big Hairy Audacious Goal) which is typically measured 10 to 20 years in the future, which can feel like a lifetime in today's business environment.  Your goal here is to set your Targets and identify the Strategic Growth Initiatives (Winning Moves) and Scaling Initiatives (Winning Moves for Profit) you’ll need to develop in order to hit those Targets and move in the direction of achieving your BHAG.  

Typically, you will determine your 3-5 year strategic business plan as part of your Annual Planning session, which will include your goals and objective for the year as well as outlining opportunities and threats facing your company.  We also have a great blog post on how to facilitate a strategic planning session to get the return on investment from your planning session.  We also have a great virtual strategic planning post that provides great tips on running a virtual planning session.

Get The Three Year Stragegic Planning Chapter from Rhythm


Step 1 - Set 3 Year Strategic Plan KPIs

Set 3-year strategic targets to define success before you start

Examples of the types of Targets and KPI dashboards you will want to consider include the following:

  • Revenue
  • Profit (EBITDA)
  • Revenue/Employee
  • Market Cap
  • Cash Flow

You can add or subtract from this list to include the Targets that are most meaningful to your business.  

The one Target that should apply for all businesses is Revenue. We challenge you to set a Revenue Target that will allow you to 2X your business over the next 3-5 years.

  • If you believe you can grow at a rate of 15% per year, then you will achieve the 2X mark in 5 years.
  • If you believe you can grow at a rate of 25%, then you will achieve the 2X mark in 3 years.

Be sure to include the year you that believe you will hit those Revenue Targets so that you can hold each other accountable.  Strong 3 year strategic plans help you grow revenue and stay competitive and not caught up in the short term day to day management of your company.  Download our 3 year strategic growth initiatives template.

Download Our Free 3 Year Strategic Planning Template

Step 2 - Determine Strategic Winning Moves for Revenue

Think of strategic revenue growth initiatives that can double your top line

Winning Moves are strategic growth initiatives and actions that enable you to double your revenue (2x) within 3-5 years. These winning moves are often the base camps in the client's quest to reach the summit of Everest in order to achieve their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).

3-5 Year strategic plans do not come from Eureka moments. They are developed over time when you dedicate yourself to a Think Rhythm and should be reviewed every year at your Annual Planning Session.  These 3-year strategic business plans help your company grow and sharpen your competitive advantage.  It is this business strategy that sets you apart from the competition.

Watch the video to find out how winning moves help you grow with purpose and achieve your long-term goals or download our free Winning Moves Tool to help you double your revenue with the proven Rhythm Systems process.

3 year plan

Step 3 - Determine Strategic Winning Moves for Profit

Determine strategic profit initiatives to increase productivity

These are the strategic capabilities you’ll need to develop in order to support your growth and reach your 3-5 year Targets. These are usually operational in nature or related to your infrastructure and help you while scaling up. Some examples of Winning Moves for Profit include the following:

  • Leadership & talent growth
  • New operating systems
  • Opening more locations or a second office

These will be very specific to your company’s needs, vision statement and BHAG.

You cannot grow your business by cutting costs. It is important to have clear Winning Moves in order to better focus your team on revenue growth to help grow the top line.

At a high level, Winning Moves are your company’s leading indicator of future revenue growth and financial health. Conversely, lack of Winning Moves is the leading indicator that you will hit the growth ceiling and stall. You cannot cut costs to get growth.


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Step 4: Four Step Process to Determine Your Winning Moves for Revenue

Choose the right strategic growth initiatives with our template to get you started

Step 4.1: Brainstorm Winning Moves

Start by brainstorming a comprehensive list of at least 20 potential ways your team can think of to increase revenue. Some ideas to jump-start the revenue brainstorming process are the following:

  • What's my competition not willing to do?
  • What do our customers hate but have to put up with?
  • Do I have an asset or diamond in my backyard?
  • What's the biggest barrier to entry for my prospects and how can I remove it?
  • Are there opportunities to consider through partnership, acquisition or joint venture?
  • What are some big ideas or opportunities we have discussed in the past, but not acted on?


Step 4.2: Vote on the Top 5-8

Have the team consider each idea and vote on the top three they recommend investing time and energy in considering. Choose the top 5-8 ideas with the most votes.


Step 4.3: Evaluate & Rank Top 5-8 Ideas

Evaluate and rank each of the top 5-8 ideas based on two scales, Revenue Impact, and Ease.

  • Revenue Impact - On a scale of 1-10, what is the potential impact this move could have on revenue? A score of 10 would indicate that this move alone could more than double your current revenue.
  • Easy to do - On a scale of 1-10, how easy would it be to get this done? A score of 10 would indicate that it would be very easy to execute because you already have all the expertise and resources necessary, and it's synergistic with your other activities.

A chart to see the impact on your revenue growth


Step 4.4: Choose Your 1-3 Winning Moves

Select the few Winning Moves you want to include in your 3-5 year plan. Decide what to say yes to and what to say no to. Classify each idea:

  • Winning Move for Revenue= part of 3-5 year plan; revenue growth
  • Winning Move for Profit= part of 3-5 year plan; infrastructure, scalability, and efficiency,
  • Idea Bench = Later, other Moves are more important
  • Dead = Stop, losing move

These are the steps to identify the 1-3 Winning Moves you want to include in your 3-5 year plan. Now you're ready to begin the process of developing and implementing them.  You may be interested in our blog post that includes a SlideShare to help you get started to develop Winning Moves to double your revenue.

Download Our Free 3 Year Strategic Planning Template

Step 5 - Five Steps to Advance Your Winning Moves

How to execute your strategic initiatives to achieve your goals

5 Steps necessary to advance your winning moves


Step 5.1: Name Your Strategic Winning Moves

Name each winning move idea uniquely in order to communicate the idea clearly with your team. Naming your winning move should intensify team focus and sell the idea internally and externally.  Make sure that all team members are aware of the 3-year strategic plan name, how it fits into the overall company strategy and their role in delivering it.


Step 5.2: Find the “Who”

The right “who” can accelerate your progress. This is often referred to as your target market.  Ask these questions to find the “who”:

  • Who has the most experience and expertise for this Winning Move?
  • Do we have the resources or need help?
  • How does this impact cost, hiring, etc.?


Step 5.3: Develop the 3-5 Year Revenue Growth Projections

Winning Moves must bring you revenue growth. What is your revenue projection for the next three to five years?  What are your financial projections?  What products and services does your target market need from you and how much revenue can you generate from it? 


Step 5.4: Identify & Test Your Assumptions

Identify the assumptions leading you to believe the Revenue Impact and Ease rankings are accurate. Have the team document up to 5 assumptions they are making on each idea, then allow time to use data and experience to test those assumptions. This process aids to develop Winning Moves based on facts instead of emotion.  You need to visit these assumptions at least every 90 days and make adjustments as needed.  Strategy planning is a continuous process, not an event so make sure that you continue to put in the work.

Ask these questions before jumping in to execute your 3-5 year strategic growth initiative:

  • What are my top 5 assumptions on why this move will work?
  • What are the key obstacles to overcome?
  • What deal breakers must we validate before jumping in?
  • Are there any government policies and regulations to consider?
  • What trends are we banking on for success?
  • Do they align with our mission and vision?
  • What strategic objective does this help advance?
  • Do you need to make any adjustments to your mission statement?
  • Have we done a complete SWOT analysis?
  • What can your management team deliver?
  • Will this make a positive impact on your balance sheet?

Step 5.5: Adjust and Test Again

Record the change or adjustment to make based on the real-world insights and learnings based on your key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with your 3-year strategic plan. As you begin to put these Winning Moves into action, it's important that you keep testing your assumptions, documenting learnings and making adjustments to the plan as you go along.  Visit our blog with 16 strategic planning tips to keep your strategic plan alive during the year.

Tips for Running a 3 Year Strategic Planning Session

Advice from the middle market experts

  • Your 3-5 Year Targets and your Sandbox are related. The key question to answer when determining your Sandbox is “what market will you dominate over the next 3-5 years?” So make sure your Sandbox is large enough to support your 3-5 year Targets but concise enough to give you focus and direction.
  • If your industry is growing faster than 25% per year, you will need to set a more aggressive Revenue Target. You never want to grow slower than your industry or you will be losing market share to your competition. If this is the case, you will need to set a target that is more than 2X your current revenue in 3 years.
  • Learn how to facilitate a strategic planning session to get the most of your investment.

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