How useful would it be to have a blueprint for turning your business dream into a reality?
A readily available guide you could turn to for customer and competitor information, marketing tactics, and problem-solving.
And, imagine how wonderful it would be if you understood every aspect of your business’s route to success, and could elevator pitch it whenever anyone asked you “so, tell me about your idea”?
That’s precisely what you’ll find in this post. You’ll learn why you need, and how to write a one-page business plan.
Let’s dive in!
One-Page Plan Vs. a Traditional Plan
One’s a lean, fast, elevator pitch business plan; the other’s an overweight 50-page slugger.
Which do you need?
Here’s a breakdown of both:
The traditional plan
A hefty document that can be anything from 30-50 pages long.
Businesses use them to outline every detail about their forecasted success, covering raw goods costs, sales, market evaluations – threats and opportunities, gross and net profit expectations, etc.
You know the saying, “it takes money to make money”? Well, a traditional business plan is essential for obtaining funding from a financial organization.
But, the one-page plan is ideal for those not seeking financing, and it will give you a perfect blueprint if your business should require financial support down the line.
The one-page plan
A no bull**** business plan that helps you structure your thoughts in a precise, positive way.
It’s an outline of your overall business concept, enabling you to communicate your idea to partners, suppliers, family, and friends.
And, there are other benefits too! We’ll look at those next.
Benefits of a one-page plan
A one-page business plan lets you map out your ideas and put your goals on paper.
Think of it as a template to refer to if you get a little lost about the ins and outs of your business. It’ll give you something tangible to believe in, and you can use it to get others to believe in you, too.
Benefit #1 – Encourages you to focus and formulate your thoughts into an elevator-style pitch, enabling others to understand your idea.
Benefit #2 – Makes you see the bigger picture by cutting the fluff, and provides you with a content guide for moving forward.
Benefit #3 – Identifies your strengths and weaknesses, your USP (unique selling point), and any external and internal marketing factors you’ll need to implement–like who your target audience are, your competitors, suppliers, most lucrative sales platforms, etc.
The best part? You can complete one in under an hour!
So, now that you know how a one-page business plan can help you, let’s learn how to create one that’s suited to your business.
How to Write a One-Page Business Plan
When writing your one-page business plan, you need a structured outline to ensure you cover all the elements required for turning your business idea into a reality.
Your plan should look similar to this:
- The problem your product needs to solve
- The solution (how you’ll solve it)
- A competitive product analysis
- Your business model (how you’ll make money)
- Your customers
- Your competitors
- Your UVP
- Marketing strategy
- Forecasted costs and profits
That sounds like a lot to fit on one page–but it’s more than possible.
And the more research you do, the shorter and more precise your answers will be, which is your goal with a one-page business plan: Quick, concise, informative answers.
Next, I’ll break each stage down for you, and add some tips on how to research the necessary information:
1. Outline the problem
The secret to a successful business is identifying and solving your customers’ pain points.
Real consumer pain-points are not “wouldn’t-it-be-nice-to-have-a-particular-product-or service”; they’re real-life problems that require the “I-have-to-have-it-products-or-services” that people can’t live without.
Once you’ve identified your target audience’s pain points, you’re in a position to tell consumers how you’ll solve them (we’ll look at that next).
Pain-point resource tips:
- Look at your competition: What claims do they make to support how they’re solving pain points? These are their solutions, specific products or services, and USPs (unique selling points) that they’re highlighting.
- Check out online reviews: Understand your customers’ perspectives by looking at their reviews. For honest ones, check out review websites like TrustPilot; Amazon can also be a helpful resource, just don’t believe everything you read.
- Survey your customers: Admittedly, surveying customers you don’t have is impossible; however, some here are some tools you can use even if you have a new product or service.
Once you’ve collected their pain points, look for a route cause, a common denominator throughout your market. When you find it, put it in your plan.
Next, write down the solution:
2. Describe your solution
The solution is your product or service, and how they can solve your audience’s pain points.
If your answer is opaque, you have a problem. The solution is often your USP, which, in other words, are the magic beans that make you better than your competition and what you’ll use to convince consumers to choose you.
But don’t panic if your solution isn’t clear, because at this early stage, it can work to your advantage. Review your product or service, find how you can inject a UVP, and make any necessary changes before bringing them to market.
This brings us nicely to the next stage of your plan:
3. List the products or services you will offer
How does your product or service compare to your competitors?
You need the answer to be sure you can compete with them. You’ll find the information required by running a competitive product analysis.
This is an evaluation of your competitors’ products, and it provides an exact comparison to your own.
Your analysis might include product dimensions, functionality, fragility, and price points. Once you have the answers, you’ll have a better idea of your position in your marketplace, or if you can compete at all!
OK, next is what I like to call a “napkin evaluation”. It only takes a minute, and if researched correctly, it’ll fit on a napkin:
4. Business model (how you will make money)
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is; if they don’t turn a profit, you don’t have a viable business.
So, save yourself future financial woes by being brutally honest with yourself at this stage, and don’t let your heart rule your head.
It’s about your bottom line.
To work your business model out, consider elements like product costs and sales fees.
Include product production, testing, packaging, shipping, and sales costs. (If you’re importing, find product price points on Alibaba.com and obtain free shipping quotes)
Now add Nexus state taxes and any others, then accountancy fees (don’t skip this step, as they’re not cheap)!
Finally, research your competition and establish a common price point for your product or service within your market. After that, it’s simple math. Profit or loss, put it on your business plan.
5. Identify your target market
Identifying your target market, also known as your SOM (Service Obtainable Market), is crucially essential for finding the consumers you’re confident you can reach and are proven to be interested in your product.
To help define your target market, create a buyer persona; this will provide you with the necessary and relevant information about your target audience.
Powerful tools to help you identify your target market:
- Google Analytics – Acquisition Tab
- Google Analytics – Audience Tab
- Google Consumer Barometer
- Facebook Business Page Insights
- Keyword Research
- Subreddit Forum Search
Your goal is to identify a micro audience that you can confidently advertise to, knowing you’ll get a return with them.
6. Identify your competitors
Like I’ve been saying, you can only compete with your competitors if you know them, what they’re offering, and how they’re marketing.
And, you find those out by running a competitor analysis.
Competitor analysis also identifies your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and informs you whether your product or service can compete.
It also tells you what marketing strategies they’re using, which platforms they’re advertising on, and the tactics they’re using to do it.
You can also discover which of your competitor’s marketing strategies are missing crucial opportunities, and then implement them to gain a competitive edge.
Keep this short and precise for your one-page business plan by focusing on your immediate competition.
Next, find your competitive advantage!
7. List your competitive advantages
A crucial element for your business’s success is to find your competitive advantage, also known as your UVP (unique value proposition).
Your UVP is a straight-to-the-point marketing statement about how you benefit your customers. In other words, this is the element that makes you unique within your market place.
To find yours, answer the following questions:
- Relevancy: How does your product or service solve your customers’ pain points or improve their situation?
- Quantified value: In what way do you deliver specific benefits?
- Differentiation: Why should your ideal customer buy from you and not from your competition?
If you’re with me until now, you’re doing great! But before you celebrate, you must evaluate your potential market size.
Allow me to explain:
8. Show the potential market size
A crucial step for all entrepreneurs is calculating their market size and the potential value to their startup business. Without this data, you can’t create a viable business plan, as it will be based on hope, not fact.
Your potential market size is the number of individuals in your marketplace that you can convert into potential buyers.
How to calculate your market size:
- Define your target market – Use the results from your competitor analysis, buyer personas, and market research to define it
- Use market research to assess interest in your product
- Calculate potential sales
For brick-and-mortar businesses, sometimes the traditional ways are the best!
For example, counting footfall: This requires time, patience, and a comfortable seat. You aim to calculate the quantity of traffic that passes through your prospective business’s front door.
A good tip is to use a wireless Wi-Fi people counter to do the hard work for you, but an analog counter will do the job.
Now, my favorite part: Putting your business in front of your customers.
9. Outline your marketing plan (how you will reach your audience)
Marketing plans and the strategies for implementing them require a lot of work. But at this point, you only want to identify one surefire tactic; you can spread your marketing net as your business expands.
Focus on the one way that your target audience uses to find and buy your product. It could be in-bound marketing, your website, a social media campaign, Amazon, or local advertising.
Your marketing plan is all about maximizing your efforts for the minimum financial input, and ensuring you make the most of that one opportunity before moving onto the next.
Now, your one-page business plan should also include how you operate; let’s find out why:
10. Provide an overview of operations
How you operate can also give you a competitive edge.
Write one or two sentences about the strongest part of your operations. Perhaps it’s your experience, a great sales team, exceptional customer service, your facilities, or maybe a leader in the market you’re partnering with.
Whatever competitive edge your operation provides, highlight it in your plan and then use it to your advantage.
Finally, no plan is complete without including finances:
11. Detail your financials
Finances differ in individual situations and are dependent upon what business model you’re using.
For instance, if you’re a service business, you probably won’t be investing large sums in initial stock, and you won’t need financial assistance.
However, it’s always wise to run a balance sheet and know your cash flow, as a lack of one is the number one reason businesses go bust.
For your one-page business plan, include the following:
- Profit and loss projections – These include gross profit margin, product costs, and sales costs
- General administration expenses
- Sales targets
- And of course, net profits
Over to you
Writing your one-page business plan isn’t about knowing all there is to know about business.
It’s about knowing your business.
And if you put the research in, you’ll find the answers you need.
Don’t be afraid to take it one step at a time. By the time you’re finished, you’ll no longer have to imagine how it would feel to have a guide that will turn your dream into a reality.