Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to develop a coherent model for small business principals to understand the strategic process and to be able to create and implement strategy for their own business. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Action research (AR) was undertaken to develop a system of questions, utilising the concepts developed in papers one to four of this series, especially the concepts that businesses are best understood as complex self-adapting systems rather than cybernetic systems. Findings ‐ A model was developed and implemented in approximately 260 businesses. The model utilised the ideas of the strategy scholars but took a Socratic approach rather than a more traditional prescriptive approach. A total of 11 questions were posited to the business principals in a seminar series. The questions were designed to initiate a process of thinking about the business that was both deep and rich enough to allow the phenomena of emergence to occur. Practical implications ‐ Hamel has suggested that the strategy discipline should be embarrassed by the fact that a subject that is the cornerstone of an entire discipline has no theory of strategy creation. Mintzberg suggests that strategy emerges but provided no mechanism for this process. In this paper the development of a series of questions is described that will allow for the creation of an environment for emergent strategic processes to occur and small business principals create their own strategies. Originality/value ‐ Small business principals can now create their own business strategies without the need to understand the wide and often conflicting theories of the strategic process that is found in the strategy literature.