From past errors I have learned that selling too early and then watching a company continue to do well for several years afterwards can be very frustrating. Especially if the decision to sell was not based on solid reasons.

The best returns come from sticking with growing businesses for the long term.

Here are five companies which I have invested in and plan to hold for the next five years or more:

XERO FPO NZX (ASX: XRO)

Shares in the cloud accounting software company have been volatile since listing. However, the business itself has been continuing to report strong growth in customer numbers and has gained traction in key markets such as the US and the UK.

Xero is closing in on 1 million subscribers and has it sights set on $1 billion in annual revenues. As a well-managed company which is constantly innovating and already offering what many say is the best product on the market, it is on track for solid long-term performance.

Freelancer Ltd (ASX: FLN)

Freelancer is the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace with around 20 million users worldwide.

It is now cash flow positive, and results for the 6 months to 30 June released yesterday showed solid growth with net revenue up 56%.

Freelancer estimates that there are up to 160 million jobs worldwide which could be performed remotely, and the trend is heading in that direction. As a leading network for connecting businesses with employees globally, it is well positioned to benefit.

WiseTech Global Ltd (ASX: WTC)

WiseTech has been a strong performer since listing in April this year. It has developed cloud-based software for supply chain management. WiseTech has around 6,000 customers and its technology is central to the operations of many of the world’s largest logistics companies.

Some brokers maintain price targets as much as 15% higher than the current price of $5.28. I am comfortable holding WiseTech as a long-term investment, however, I would be reluctant to purchase at the current price and would wait for a pullback.

Touchcorp Ltd (ASX: TCH)

Touchcorp provides software payment solutions for companies such as 7-Eleven and Optus.

Shares were up nearly 15% yesterday and have been a strong recent performer after a series of broker upgrades and several new agreements were announced.

An investment in Touchcorp also provides exposure to another interesting fintech company, Afterpay Holdings Ltd (ASX: AFY), which it owns around 30% of.

In my view, Touchcorp has the potentially for substantial growth in the next five years, and I plan to continue to hold.

Nearmap Ltd (ASX: NEA)

Nearmap has recently announced good results in relation to its ‘HyperCamera2’ aerial mapping technology. It has also reported solid sales growth in Australia and the US.

There have been some wild swings in the share price, however, it is pretty much back where it was 12 months ago.

Nearmap is not without its risks, the primary one being competition. However, I consider it has a strong chance of substantial growth in the next five years, and the current price of 48 cents represents a good entry point for long-term investors.

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Motley Fool contributor Matthew Bugden has shares in Xero, Freelancer, WiseTech Global, Touchcorp and Nearmap. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of TOUCHCORP FPO, WiseTech Global, and Xero. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.