A template for a simple plan to impress investors and consolidate your business idea
Whether you are setting up a one-person limited company or trying to start a multi-million dollar enterprise, a business plan is crucial. Plans allow you to:
- See the constituent parts of your business
- See what you’ve missed in the initial inception of your business idea
- Research business projects in depth
- think critically about your business idea
- Keep all the information in one place
At MachFast we believe that whatever your enterprise, you should write a traditional business plan. A one-page business plan will not suffice when trying to impress financial institutions or potential investors. Similarly, a one-page business plan won’t completely outline your own knowledge of your business.
Despite this, there are many advantages to creating a one-page plan. It is certainly helpful to create one of these on top of an in-depth business plan or even as a precursor to an in depth plan.
What are the benefits of a one-page business plan?
- When forming a business, a one-page plan forces you to think critically about your idea, encouraging you to refine and understand your idea to its atomic level..
- Being one page, you can’t beat around the bush. This brevity further refines your idea.
- Usually written just after the inception of your business idea, a one-page plan can be expanded upon into a far more detailed plan.
- Allows prospective partners and investors to quickly understand your idea. Serves as an enhanced elevator pitch.
- Should be clear and easy to understand, gripping your target audience and encouraging them to act.
- It’s maneuverable. You can get it in front of the right people quickly and efficiently: email, handout, powerpoint.
How to Create a One-page Plan
Your plan needs to address several basic questions:
- What are you selling?
- What is the need for your product or service?
- Who is your competition?
- How will you differentiate yourself in the marketplace?
- How will you make a profit? (e.g. Sales versus expenses)
- What are your anticipated business expenses?
- How will you market your business?
- How will you get started?
We go into more detail into the reasons for asking these questions and what the right questions to ask are in our blog Top 10 Business Plan Questions.
In a one page plan you will want to hone in on an area, depending on your situation. For example, if you are using the one-page plan to find and impress investors, show them what will make your business successful. However, if you are writing the plan just after the inception of your idea, it would be better to focus on questions such as: what are you selling?, who is your competition?, how will you differentiate yourself in the marketplace?.
One-page Plan Template
This section should contain your business idea.
What are you building?
Where do you see this business in x years? What are your objectives? For example:
How do you plan to grow the business and to what degree? For example, will you hire employees, open up branch outlets or take the business public?
Where do you eventually see the business going? Will you always be in charge of the business or will you sell it, for example?
Hone in on what your unique selling proposition is. Don’t worry about the macro market information in this short plan. This short plan style works best when you focus on understanding the market you are aiming for. This will include things such as your market demographics.
Don’t talk too much about how you will differentiate your product yet.
Write no more than two or three sentences about:
You will want to keep your answers short. This will help pinpoint precisely what your competitors strengths and weaknesses are. In a larger plan, you will go into more detail about how to use your understanding of your competitor, for example, how to use their suppliers.
A helpful guide to researching your competitors is our blog Top 10 Tips and Tricks for Researching your Competitors.
Answer how you intend to achieve your vision.
Here you will need to be very concise about why your business is going to be different to your competitors’ businesses. The difficulty behind clarifying your business strategy in a few sentences will give you a much clearer idea of what you are doing.
If you can’t write down your strategy in a few sentences, think about whether your business strategy makes sense and is easy to execute.
Remember to focus on why your unique selling proposition will matter to customers and to your audience. This has to be painfully clear and succinct: it lies at the heart of whether your business will sink or float in a competitive market.
Products and Services
What services will you provide?
Write a sentence or two on:
Don’t go into too much detail. Remember this is a plan to conglomerate your ideas and show to future investors, for example. Again, you want to be talking about what you bring into the market.
You will want to talk about how you will differentiate your product. Remember, price is rarely a differentiative factor on its own.
You may want to talk about how much you’ll be charging for your product/service. In a similar vein, you might want to conduct a break-even analysis and other pricing strategies to formulate the price of your product/service.
Again, don’t make this too long, or save it for the “financials” section.
Marketing and Sales
Write a brief (2 sentence) passage one one of these:
Focus on the method that will drive the most results, i.e. most customers, most visits to a website, most sales. Even if you are planning on multiple marketing and sales strategies, keep the less effective strategies for a longer plan.
You may want to spend a bit of time on what marketing materials will be used and whether you’ll use sales promotional methods, such as pricing discounts, for new customers.
Referral to our blog on 10 Technology Solutions for a more Profitable and Productive Small Business reveals that often you will be better off with less marketing materials. Greater use of technology will allow for a cheaper strategy, a shorter plan, and, as a result, a clearer strategy too.
Again, write a brief passage on a couple of the following; focus on the most relevant operation for your enterprise:
Answer questions such as, which areas of your operations will give you a competitive advantage? Playing to your strengths in a concise and focused manner will make the most of this brief style of plan.
It cannot be stressed enough that you should make sure what you pick is a genuine differentiator for your enterprise.
Here you can also include operational needs, such as equipment or specific jobs. This will give a function to your potential partners or investors. It may even highlight an area which you need to solve.
Almost solely focus on profit and loss projection in this section.
Only include, if necessary:
Otherwise, include these in a separate document.
You’ll almost assuredly have to go into far more than one page of detail when discussing financials with a potential investor or other financial institution. However, you still need to keep this section simple in this plan.
With most of these topics in this plan, if you are handing them out to investors for example, you should be able to go into more depth when being asked questions. This is where making an in depth business plan is crucial.
Highlight in this section:
You are likely not to need a balance sheet or cash flow information. But, it is important to recognise that if you are using your one-page plan to promote your enterprise, you should have this information available when being questioned.
Did you find this helpful? If so, we have more advice for small business owners like you at MachFast blogs.