How to Write Your One Page Business Plan

By John Shufeldt
business plan

A business plan should do more than simply list details. The plan should also serve as a GPS or map used by a driver when traveling to an unfamiliar destination. It’s a playbook that specifies turn-by-turn directions, allowing you to navigate the twists and detours of an unpredictable journey.

That runs counter to the argument for a business plan that’s lengthy and detailed. If, as often happens, certain elements of a comprehensive plan are out the window once the business encounters marketplace realities, it just doesn’t make sense to devote time and resources to something doomed to be obsolete.

That’s one of the most compelling reasons for the one-page plan. Here you focus your thoughts and energies on a succinct summation of your business. In fact, you may spend the same amount of time thinking about a one-page plan as you would its lengthier version. Not only are you charged with keeping things tight, but you also still have to spend a good deal of time thinking about the same sorts of issues.

A one-page plan also allows you to pivot more effectively should that prove necessary. If, by chance, your idea doesn’t pan out initially, you haven’t invested time and sweat into a forty-page document that instantly becomes irrelevant.

Approach a one-page plan as you would an elevator pitch— albeit one in a tall building. It’s a great tool to help you get your ideas down on paper so that you and your colleagues can start iterating various ideas and strategies. The components of the plan are basically the same as those of a full business plan, but without inordinate discussion and detail. You’re simply focusing on the big picture.

The one-page plan should address:

  • Your Customers: Just who will be the primary target for your product or service? Offer a clear picture of who should find your idea appealing. Don’t be all things to all people.
  • Their Problem: This is the primary issue or problem that defines your target audience. If you don’t have a problem that needs to be addressed, then you don’t have a business.
  • Your Solution: How does your product or solution specifically address the problem? What solves or mitigates the problem experienced by your target audience? Anyone can point out a problem—an entrepreneur devises a solution.
  • Competitors: Who else is doing what you’re doing, or is at least attempting to? What about their product or service is ineffective or insufficient in solving your audience’s key problems?
  • What Distinguishes Your Product or Service: How is your product or service different from others? You should be at least ten times better than your competitors if you are not first to market.
  • The Team: Identify key members of your company. Point out credentials or relevant experiences that make them valuable.
  • Current Available Resources: What do you have in terms of resources that are already in place? This can include facilities, financial resources, and other elements.
  • What Resources You’ll Need: Additional financing, facilities, human resources, and other components necessary to further develop the business.
  • Simple Financial Forecast: This is a stripped-down prediction of how you expect the business to perform. This can include sales or revenue forecasts, expenses, assets and liabilities, and a break-even analysis. This can also offer an estimation of a “drop dead” date—that point in time when you decide whether to press on or drop completely (or shelve temporarily) the entire idea.

At the end of the day, a business plan is, simply, evidence that you have thought out your business and strategy. However, like plans for war that fall by the wayside when the first shots are fired, be prepared to modify your plan as circumstances change.

You can follow me on LinkedIn and read more about my book, Entrepreneur Rx, on my website.