How to Develop a 1 Page Business Plan
There is an old saying in marketing and advertising. That saying, “Keep it simple, stupid,” is meant to convey that messaging about your brand should be concisely and simply delivered, for maximum comprehension and retention by prospective customers.
In business planning, the same advice applies. Yes, by keeping it simple, you can effectively deliver a quality business plan. These days, businesses change on a dime, just as technology does. Extensive, highly detailed and vast plans are not as flexible or fluid as today’s environment might dictate for your fledgling venture. Gone are those days of the 100 page business plan. Shorter is more impactful, portable and applicable to today’s business mindset. Besides, if you keep things simple, your reader will be more engaged and more enthusiastic about your brand’s future.
How is a One Page Business Plan Better?
Business planning phases used to require months of research, writing, rewriting, editing and revision. Those headaches are largely gone, thanks to one page plan acceptability. There are many other advantages to having a one-page business plan. Those include:
- The plan details are easier to update as your business changes
- Included information is more easily absorbed with clarity by readers
- More concise documents help generate enthusiasm, not boredom
- In being brief, you are better preparing yourself for “elevator pitches” and even more fine-tuned branding statements
- Shorter plans equal shorter planning time and greater planning affordability
- Your team will be more familiar with company objectives and market position
- Goals are clearer and strategies toward those goals are easier to develop
- Shorter planning time and less paperwork translate to more time toward action and progress
The Structure of Your One Page Plan
Below is a simple approach to a one page business plan. While it may vary slightly depending upon the type of business you are developing, this template is a good starting point:
1. Company Purpose
The Company Purpose is the place where you communicate what your company is about, who your customer is, the problem your brand solves and, in essence, why it should exist in brief form. These claims as part of your vision should be factual and realistic, while engaging and magnetic. You want to “sell” the reader on your company’s purpose, but not oversell or over think your value into a realm of fantasy. This is like an extended elevator pitch for your company.
2. Business Offerings
In the Company Purpose, you clarified that you have a solution to a customer want or need. How is that customer want or need provided for? How does your brand solve the customer “problem?” What indication do you have from initial tests, sales, discussions or focus groups, which reflect your prospective customers will want and use what you will sell? Do you have any sales to date? Talk about your product and what is going to make it succeed in the market, why it will succeed and what makes it different, great, competitive or progressive. Again, stick to reality and do not get caught up on fantasy.
3. Why and How Your Company Can Deliver
What makes your company the right one for delivery of this product or service? What innovative approach do you have? Are there secret ingredients, technologies or circumstances of the company which provide for competitive positioning on the market?
For example, if you are building a home buyer’s real estate application, you know there are dozens already available with loyal users. Simply positioning yourself as a “better home buying app” will not impress anyone. What makes your application better? If your app is different in that it matches home buyers to neighborhoods where people with the same interests, hobbies and children’s ages live, that is your “secret sauce.” That is the attribute which will entice people to use your product versus all of the others, and that is your selling point.
4. Your Experience
Whether you are a one-man-band or a group of people working together with common dreams, provide some biographical information as it applies to your business. For each of the company leaders or as a team, detail brief information about industry experience, business knowledge, technological capabilities, marketing talent and other applicable attributes positioning the company toward success. Because this is a one page plan, keep it short but impactful, so the reader will believe your talents, or those of the group, are the right ones to push your dream to reality.
5. Financial Growth
The financial aspect of business planning is the least favored portion for writers, as it can be the most laden with anxiety and frustration. It is difficult to fully project your business success for three to five years, but this is a necessary evil toward optimal growth and focus on your company’s goals, whether or not you are seeking financing or investors. Whatever your growth expectations are, keep them reasonable and in line with industry norms, competitive expectations and the market, in general. You may write this section in terms of dollars and cents, or you can choose to specify growth by number of users, clients, subscribers or other metric.
One Page, Two Page, Three Page, Four
While this is commonly referred to as a “one page” business plan, it is actually a summary. This type of brief used to be called the Executive Summary of a business plan. It generally provided an overview of all of the information included in greater detail on following pages. These days, such a summary followed by detail is seen as a redundancy. A “one page” business plan may actually end up being two, three, five, or more pages. The idea behind a one page plan is to simply pare back business planning to necessity and concise depiction of the company’s vision, solution, market orientation and expectations for success. Regardless of whether the outcome is more than one page, by developing a shorter plan you are enabling greater fluidity in revision and fine tuning of that plan as business growth and market changes dictate.
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