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The traditions of business don’t always serve the modern entrepreneur. When you think of a business plan, you probably think of a 100-page document that is filled with graphs and charts, delineates all of the prudent, financial aspects of your business, and would impress investors or lenders.
Those heavy-handed plans are still important in a funding round because no one will give you money if they don’t see the potential to make their investment back. But – what if you’re not quite there yet? There’s no need to build out a bulky, overly-detailed business plan at the early stages of your business or before you’ve launched.
The Benefits of a One-Page Business Plan
One-page business plans are a great thing to have whether you’re pre-launch, mid-launch, just-launched or even if you’ve got an existing business that’s in need of a refocus. When you create your one-pager, you’ll be able to:
Cover the basics.
When you create a one-page business plan, you have to be minimalistic about what to include, so you make sure that you’ve got the high-level basics covered.
Drill down your dreams.
You can’t include every wild idea on your one-page business plan. The smaller space forces you to appraise your dreams and find the most realistic, lucrative starting point.
Get the birds-eye view.
Your one-page business plan is a fantastic dashboard as you launch and grow your business – it becomes a checklist against which to measure your progress.
Know your gaps.
Likewise, as you’re getting that B.E.V. of your business, you can make sure that any gaps are addressed. Not clear on your marketing? Not set on pricing? Now you know what to work on next.
Outline something bigger.
The one-pager functions as a fantastic jumping-off point if you want to hardline a larger plan. Use each of these sections to outline a deeper or more elaborate plan, anytime!
During the planning phase, a long-haul launch, or -honestly- any time in the journey of your business, it’s important to reconnect. Think of this one-page business plan as your manifesto.
How to Create a One-page Business Plan: Important Sections
The What + Why + Who
In the first section, you’ll focus on things like what you sell, who you target, and why it matters to you. This section will be a fragmented version of your elevator pitch and will make sure you have a clear concept from the start. The goal here is to be brief, succinct, and focused – you can break out the particulars later on.
The Problem + Solution
Here is where you will want to outline the problem you’re solving for customers. Dig deep on this one and really try to get into their head. Think about what issues they face on a daily basis that you will address with your products and services. What keeps them up at night? Get succinct in nailing down the most important problem, and then devise your solution. How will you be the answer to their prayers? These will become powerful statements in your future messaging.
The Competition + Differentiation
Now it’s time to include some brief details about the main competitors in your space. What is their specialty? What do people love them for? Understanding what others are doing in the market will help you make more informed decisions about how to differentiate. What are you going to better? What gaps can you fill? How will you stand out amongst the crowd?
The Income + Expenses
This section of the template is focused on how you will price your products or services, the plan for invoicing, e-commerce, or how else you’ll get paid, and other avenues for adding value and profit to your concept. As you dream about the million ways that YOU can give your skills to the world, it can be easy to forget that owning a business is (partially) about financial stability and independence. It’s also easy to assume you’ll get rich quick if you own a business. This is the section where you’ll get real with yourself. After mapping out your business model (AKA, how you will make money), include a list of estimated expenses and what your monthly overhead looks like. Know your numbers!
Your Marketing + Sales
How will you let the world know that you exist? Where can you find and reach out to the target customers you identified? How will you try to earn good reviews or referrals? Where will you build your reputation and disperse your message? What channels can you leverage to make sales fast? These aren’t necessarily quick answers. Do your research and get a good grasp on exactly how you plan to bring customers through the door.
Your Team + Partners
Who do you need to pull in to make your dream a reality? We all know that we can’t build a business on our own. So sit down and determine who you’re going to need to hire first in order to bring this vision to life. Of course, to start they will likely be part-time freelancers or contractors. This is still good to understand and visualize, so you know whom to bring in when the time is right. When it comes to partners, these can be vendors, suppliers or any other business that will help you produce and deliver your offerings.
Your Timeline + Milestones
In this last section, consider a realistic timeframe you are aiming to achieve. Do you want to launch in 3 months? 1 year? If you are building a business in your free time, it’s still vital to set a schedule for yourself. (This is the secret to productivity!) You will also want to think about how you will you measure the success of your business. What milestones do you want to hit? Obviously revenue is important but can you set benchmarks of success by # of sales, # of buyers, traffic to your site, or other mini-measures of success before you’re profitable? How will you know you’re headed in the right direction? This is an important benchmark to come back and connect to as you make future decisions for your business.
How will you use your one-page business plan?
Once you’ve filled out the template, spend a little time thinking about what you’ve just created. What did you learn? Were there any red flags that came out of this exercise? What did this exercise inspire you to work on next? Set a date with yourself at intervals – weekly? monthly – to return to this business plan and check in.
Want some help getting these sections in place?
Download my One Page Business Plan template below and start filling it out.
Then check out my Office Hours call for this month!