Business plans can be long and complex, but they don’t have to be. In fact, a one-page business plan can often be better and more powerful than a traditional plan. Writing a one-page plan is also a useful exercise because it forces you to think critically about your business and get right to the point of what you’re doing.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create a standard business plan. You should. But a one-page plan does have some advantages a standard plan doesn’t have.
The one-page business plan:
– Enables prospective investors and partners to quickly understand your business idea. Serves as a type of pitch document for your business, much like a beefed-up elevator pitch.
– Serves as a type of pitch document for your business, much like a beefed-up elevator pitch.
– Offers an approachable way to get your business plan in front of the right people in the form of a single sheet of paper, a single PowerPoint slide or a simple copy-and-paste email.
– Delivers a powerfully succinct message, enabling you to grab your audience’s attention and spur them to action.
– Forces you to condense your thoughts and explain yourself clearly. There’s no room to fudge or hide behind a torrent of words and numbers.
So, what do you need in your one-page plan? It’ll follow the same basic structure as a standard business plan but with certain aspects highlighted and others either shortened or omitted. We’ll take this piece by piece, focusing on the elements of a traditional business plan that you should also include in a one-page plan.
Include a couple of sentences about:
• Primary target market segment
• Customers in target market
• Customer needs in target market
In your one-page plan, you need to focus almost exclusively on the segment of the market you plan to target. Leave the macro market information for a standard plan. Describe your market niche, keeping in mind that the more specific the target market, the better.
Also, save a few words for how you plan to differentiate your product when going after your target customer base (and note for the record that price is rarely an effective differentiator on its own).
Write no more than two or three sentences about:
• Competitive products/services
• Threats and risks
In your shorter plan, zero in on answering a few questions: Which products and services are most competitive to yours? Where will your product or service have the greatest opportunities? Where will you face the most serious threat? Remember to keep your answers short and to the point.
Focus a couple of sentences on:
• Key competitive capabilities
• Key competitive weaknesses
This where the brevity of a one-page plan becomes both difficult and useful. What you need to do here is crystalize why your business is going to be different from that of your competitors. It will be difficult to shave this section down into just a few sentences, but by doing so you’ll not only have a clearer idea of what you’re doing (and whether or not it makes sense), you’ll also potentially have a great elevator pitch.
Remember to focus on why your differentiation will matter to customers and to your audience. This has to be painfully clear and succinct. If it isn’t, rethink and do it again—or rethink your whole business model.
Products and Services
Write a sentence or two on:
• Positioning of products/services
• Competitive evaluation of products/services
Here again, you’ll want to lay off detailed descriptions and focus on differentiation. (That’s really a combination of “positioning” and “competitive evaluation.”) The point here is not get into deep technical detail—there’s no room for that—but to talk about what you’re bringing to market that nobody else is.
Marketing and Sales
Write a sentence or two on ONE of these, whichever is stronger:
• Marketing strategy
• Sales tactics
In your shorter plan, you’ll need to practice some discipline and focus on the one marketing or sales method that’ll be your calling card. Don’t scatter-shoot too much, even if you’re planning a multi-pronged approach; focus the bread-and-butter effort that’s going to drive the most results. Is it publicity? A top-notch sales force? Inbound marketing via the Internet? Describe what you’re going to do and—more importantly—how it’s going to generate revenue.
Write one or two sentences about ONE or TWO of the following, whichever is strongest or most relevant:
• Key personnel
• Organizational structure
• Human resources plan
• Product/service delivery
• Customer service/support
Take a look here at what might not necessarily be obvious. What are one or two things about your operations that will give you a competitive advantage? Great employees? Truly exceptional customer service? A state-of-the-art facility? Talk about those things. Again, play to your strengths, and stay focused. Just make sure that whatever it is will be a genuine differentiator for your business.