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How to create a 3-year business plan

12 Min Read

3 year business plan template
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Writing a business plan?

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a skilled business owner, anticipating where your business will be in the next few years can be a challenging task.

That’s why it’s very important to have a strategic plan for the next three or even five years from now, which guides you to set big goals and ensures your business thrives in the competitive landscape.

If you feel like you need help or are unsure of how to create a 3-year business plan from scratch, we’re here to help you get started!

Explore our three-year business plan template that covers everything, from deciding on your long-term goals to figuring out how to reach them.

So, ready to begin? Let’s dive in and start by understanding what a 3-year plan is.

Why do you need a 3 year business plan?

Writing a solid business plan is one of the most crucial aspects of your entrepreneurial journey.

A 3-year business plan gives you a structural framework to think strategically about your company’s plans over the next few years. It helps you organize your business idea and guide your strategic decision-making.

The following are a few key reasons why it’s necessary to have an actionable business plan:

Highlights your long-term vision

A 3-year plan helps you articulate your long-term vision and define a set of strategic goals for your business over the next three years. This will allow you to stay focused on your objectives and manage your decision-making to navigate the complexities of your business landscape.

Increases investor’s confidence

If you’re looking for investors or stakeholders to fund your business expansion, a well-written 3-year plan is essential. It demonstrates your commitment to long-term growth and assures investors that your business will make profits. So, this will increase their confidence and trust in your long-term strategy.

Mitigates potential risks

Analyzing and identifying potential risks is the key aspect of any business. So, an actionable plan helps you develop strategies to mitigate those risks and ensure your business continuity. If there is economic volatility, regulatory transitions, or technical disruptions, a 3-year business plan helps you anticipate and prepare for business challenges.

Promotes strategic planning

A 3-year strategic business plan encourages you to think about the business and how to attain sustainable growth or success over the next few years. It also helps you make hiring decisions and predict future staffing needs. By identifying market trends, competitors, and internal capabilities, you can enhance strategies to capitalize on opportunities and reduce potential risks.

Now that you know why a business plan is beneficial, it’s time to understand what to include in a detailed 3-year plan.

What to include in a detailed three-year business plan

1. Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief introduction to your 3-year business plan and summarizes each component you will mention in the document.

Though it is the first section, it is written in the last as it provides a high-level overview of the complete business plan.

Since the executive summary is the introductory section of the plan, its primary goal is to quickly attract readers and convince them to delve further into the rest of your plan.

Here are a few details you may consider including in your executive summary:

  • A quick overview of your business idea and objectives
  • Your company’s vision statement
  • Industry analysis and market research
  • Sales and marketing strategy
  • Key performance indicators
  • Introduction of your management team
  • Financial forecasts for the next three years

Remember, you should keep your summary simple, concise, and compelling enough to build investors’ or readers’ trust.

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2. Business Overview

As its name indicates, the business overview section provides a detailed description of your company. It includes all the essential information, starting from a business idea to its long-term goals.

Since you’ll give a brief company description in the executive summary, this chapter would be an expansion on it, providing an in-depth understanding of your business.

So, this section makes it easier for readers or potential business partners to quickly comprehend the nature of your business, such as what your company does, who are the targeṭ customers, and how you plan to meet future objectives.

You may include all the following crucial elements in this section:

  • The type of small business you operate
  • A brief history or background details of your business
  • Achievements or milestones you’ve achieved
  • Business legal structure(s-corp, LLC, sole proprietorship, etc.)
  • Core values and mission statement
  • Short-term goals and long-term objectives

3. Market Analysis

Industry and market analysis is a detailed breakdown of the external business environment. It provides a thorough understanding of the specific industry or sector in which your business will operate. 

This section helps your readers or potential investors to easily understand the broader industry, target customers, direct & indirect competitors, emerging trends, and market demands.

Apart from that, it helps you and your team to analyze and identify the untapped key areas in the market and develop strategies to stand out from the competitors.

Here are some specific details you may include:

  • Market share and growth potential
  • Target market
  • Ideal customers along with their preferences
  • Key competitors
  • Current trends
  • Regulatory environment

4. Product and Services

In the product and services section, you may provide details of your product or service range, main features, pricing, and more. It helps you demonstrate the current capabilities of your business and highlight the USPs.

So, you may consider adding the below points in this section:

  • Product/service description 
  • Pricing details
  • Quality standards
  • Product line development plan

While you’re planning how to start your own business, you have to explore the market and determine how your offerings will encounter customer problems and satisfy their needs better than competitors.

5. Sales and Marketing Strategies

Your sales and marketing plan outlines the strategies you’ll use to reach the target audience and how you’ll bring more customers by promoting your products/services to them.

A well-written marketing plan will encourage you to create effective campaigns and simplify your marketing efforts while maintaining the marketing budget and maximizing return on investment.

Thus, you may describe a list of sales strategies and promotional tactics to attract new customers and retain existing ones. 

Here’s a list of key components you may include in this section:

  • Target audience
  • Marketing strategy
  • Sales approach
  • Sales and marketing goals
  • Customer retention program

6. Operations Plan

As you’ve mentioned your business goals in the previous sections, now it’s time to define how you’ll meet those goals.

In your operations plan, you’ll need to outline all the details of everyday business operations and activities. This will help you and your team to define responsibilities, daily tasks, and short-term goals you plan to achieve, keeping track of your future goals.

Well, here is some distinct information you should include in the operations plan:

  • Staffing and training
  • Operational process
  • Supply chain & Inventory management
  • Facilities and equipment

Note that your operations plan is a living document, you may adjust and update it as needed.

7. Management Team

A well-trained and experienced management team is crucial for driving your business ahead. 

So, highlight your business owners and key executives in this section, along with their roles & responsibilities, educational qualifications, industry experience, and how you plan to compensate them. 

It allows readers to easily understand your management team’s background, skills, and expertise that help you grow your company and make informed business decisions. 

The following information you may consider including in the management team section:

  • Company owner profile
  • Resume-styled summary of key members
  • Organizational structure
  • Compensation plan
  • Advisory board members

8. 3-year Financial Projections

A financial plan is the most crucial aspect of your three-year business plan, as potential investors or lenders want to know more about your business’s net profit margins.

It provides a detailed blueprint of your business’s 3-year financial reports broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year of operation and then annually. 

While creating an in-depth, strategic plan for the next 3-years, you’ll need to highlight all the below factors:

  • Revenue forecast
  • Operating costs
  • Profitability analysis
  • Cash flow projections
  • Break-even analysis
  • Business ratios

In addition, if you’re seeking a business loan or angel investor, you will need to summarize exactly how much money you need, how you plan to use those funds, and how you pay it back.

Well, having realistic financial forecasts at your hand can help you evaluate your business’s financial health and growth potential in the long run.

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Tips for creating a three-year business plan

Now that you understand what to include in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually create the document. Here are some tips for drafting a comprehensive three-year business plan.

This will help you prepare a business plan that serves its purpose and can be an easy reference for the years ahead.

1. Conduct potential market research

Conduct a thorough analysis of the market, competition, internal capabilities, and the current financial situation of your business before you finalize your three-year plan. Also, identify your strengths and address weaknesses. This helps you pinpoint potential risks and opportunities that impact your business and strategic decisions for the next few years.

2. Set realistic financial goals

While setting your business objectives, it’s important to define specific, measurable, and achievable goals that you can accomplish in the years ahead. Try to consider a few factors, such as marker conditions, emerging trends, and your business capabilities when setting revenue targets, profit margins, and other financial milestones. This will help you stay focused and motivated.

3. Demonstrate the potential for ROI

A 3-year plan should effectively show the investors and stakeholders that your business has the potential for return on investment(ROI). It will help you outline how your strategic initiatives will generate revenue and profitability over the next three years. So you can provide a clear opportunity for investment and support.

4. Develop contingency plans

Developing a contingency plan is crucial for the potential challenges that may arise over the next few years. You can consider several factors like economic downturns, supply chain disruptions, regulatory changes, or other unforeseen events. This will mitigate the impact of these risks and ensure that your business runs smoothly even in challenging circumstances.

5. Ensure clear communication

A detailed three-year plan allows entrepreneurs and business owners to clearly communicate their business goals, milestones, and strategies. So this will be easy to understand for all the stakeholders, including potential partners, investors, and employees. You can also use charts, graphs, and visuals to share intricate details and make your plan more compelling.

6. Review and update regularly

Once you have created the entire business plan, you should regularly schedule reviews to assess progress, update assumptions, and adjust strategies as needed. Since the business plan is a living document, it evolves over time based on new facts or varying business environments. By revising and updating your plan, you make sure that it will remain relevant and effective.

So, try to keep in mind these few factors while making a three-year business plan. Now, let’s move forward and explore several types of business plan templates.

Examples of 3-year business plan templates

As there are several types of 3-year business plan templates available, no two business owners prepare the same kind of 3-year plan.

This is so because the business plan template that works best for your company depends on the age of your business, objectives, and the purpose behind using the plan.

Here are a few examples that are tailored to different aspects of business planning:

Traditional three year business plan template

This kind of business plan template follows the standard format as you establish a new business or startup, define the target audience, and market your products/services. It includes lengthy sections about company overview, market analysis, sales and marketing strategy, or financial forecasting. So, this will provide a detailed plan for your business over the next 3 years.

Strategic plan for growth and expansion

When you’ve been running the business for a few years and thinking about expansion or growth, a strategic growth plan might be your choice. It will help you approach your growth strategically and provide the best opportunities to identify risks and techniques to mitigate them. So, this type of template helps align your business activities with long-term objectives.

Simple one-page plan

As the name suggests, it is a single-page business plan that helps you provide a high-level overview of your business to the partners, investors, or other stakeholders. Since it is shorter in length, it highlights the most crucial points, and even writing a one-page business plan can be much simpler and quicker compared to the traditional business plan.

Start preparing your business plan

Finally, with the help of details and resources provided in this guide, you’re well-equipped to start an exciting journey of preparing a successful 3-year business plan.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or a new business owner, you can consider using a business plan app like Upmetrics to streamline your business planning approach.

Upmetrics is a user-friendly platform that provides easy-to-follow guides, 400+ business plan examples, and AI support to create an actionable plan in manageable steps. It also helps you develop realistic financial projections if needed or when you feel stuck with a financial plan.

So, start writing your plan today and bring your vision to life!

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About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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