You have an idea for a new product that you can’t wait to introduce to the market. Or maybe you’re ready to take your freelancing career to a new level by launching your own business. Maybe your situation is a little different, and you’re ready to trade in your 9-to-5 to become your own boss.
Whether you have the next big invention or you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, starting your own business always requires one important detail: a business plan. A business plan works as a blueprint or roadmap for the success of your business.
Does hearing the words “business plan” conjure images of a huge stack of papers filled with graphs, charts, and every single detail of your business? Don’t break out into a sweat just yet. There’s good news: your business plan can be just one page. Yes, you read that correctly.
While there are certainly more complex business plans that you may need to explore at a later time (or perhaps not at all, depending on your business structure), many businesses can get started with a single-page business plan. In this post, we’re going to take a look at why you might pursue a one-page business plan. We’ll break down what you should include in your plan, discuss situations where you may need a more detailed plan, and even share a template that can help you get started.
If creating a business plan seems intimidating, keep reading and we’ll show you how easy it is to get started.
What Is A One-Page Business Plan?
It should come as no surprise that a one-page business plan is exactly what it sounds like: an overview of your business that fits on a single page. This document is used to convey your business idea succinctly, as well as give a brief outline of your goals and how you will reach those goals.
The terms “one-page business plan” and “lean business plan” are often used interchangeably. These two types of business plans aren’t exactly the same. A lean business plan is a more condensed version of a fully detailed business plan and typically uses bullet points and short summaries. A lean business plan may be longer than just one page. On the other hand, a one-page business plan must fit on one page and be written in a legible font size. No 4 point font allowed!
An executive summary is a similar document, but it’s not exactly the same. Many detailed business plans include an executive summary, or it can stand alone. An executive summary provides key details about your business and is usually written out in sentences instead of bullet points. A well-written executive summary may also take up two to three pages.
For this post, though, we are focusing solely on the one-page business plan, when it’s appropriate to use (and when it’s not), and what should always be included. Let’s start off with the basic structure.
The Basic Structure
- Business Overview
- Target Market
- Your Competition
- Financial Summary
- Marketing Strategy
Remember, keep everything clear and concise to fit all relevant information on a single page. A good rule of thumb is to keep each section to one or two sentences or bullet points.
Should You Use A One-Page Business Plan?
Every business — no matter how big or small — should have a business plan, and a one-page plan is a great place to start. This plan should help provide a basic overview of your business in its early stages. A one-page business plan is one of the best ways to map out the goals for your business and how you plan to reach these goals.
A condensed business plan can also be used to pitch your business idea to potential investors, partners, or customers. While you may need a full business plan later (more on that in a minute), your one-page plan serves as an excellent introduction to your business.
Writing a one-page business plan may also help you when crafting a lengthier plan further down the road. Because a one-page plan must be concise, writing yours should assist you to clearly convey your thoughts and cut down on unnecessary and lengthy wording.
However, there are times when a one-page business plan just won’t do the job. If you have a very complicated business idea or multiple partners, for example, a condensed plan won’t work for you.
If you’re seeking capital for your business, a formal business plan is a more appropriate choice. Banks typically require a formal business plan when applying for a loan. You may also be required to submit a formal business plan for other types of business funding, including Small Business Administration loans, grants, and startup loans.
What You Need To Create A One-Page Business Plan
Ready to get started on your business plan? Before you start tapping away at your laptop, map out everything you need first to make the process quicker and easier. Remember the basic structure we discussed earlier? Let’s break down each section so you know exactly what to include.
In this section, you should first state the problem that you have identified. Then, you will give a brief description of how your business will solve that problem. In other words, what product or service do you offer that will fulfill a need in the market?
Remember, you’re limited on space, so it’s important to get directly to the point without being too generic. You want to make a statement that shows how your business stands out from the rest.
For this section, you really need to sit down and think about your objectives for your new business endeavor. These objectives should be a list of the goals you have in starting your business or selling your product or service. Every business has different objectives, so think about what’s most important for you. Do you want to be your own boss? Do you want to provide outstanding service in an industry where service is lacking? Have you set a revenue goal?
Think about short-term and long-term goals for your business and jot your ideas down. Your objectives should be clear, concise, and arranged in a bulleted list.
This section is used to outline the specific things that qualify you to be a successful business owner. This could include your educational background, industry experience, work history, or even your own experiences as a customer that led to your business idea.
Having a resume on hand can make this section easier. It’s also a good idea to have a resume ready for when you seek funding in the future, as some lenders require this as part of their documentation requirements.
In this section, you will provide information about your target market. Who will be your customers? What are the needs of these customers?
More specifically, focus on the following:
- Will you sell your product/service to consumers or businesses?
- What is your key demographic? Consider factors including age, income, and lifestyle.
- Why do these customers need your product/service?
- Why should customers buy from you?
To answer these questions, you have to do your research. There are a number of ways to do this, but the internet will be your greatest resource. You can use the internet to create surveys, check out industry studies, and do your due diligence on comparable businesses.
The only drawback is that serious market research costs money that most startups don’t have. For now, keep it simple. As your business grows and you develop a formal business plan, you can explore investing money in your research. For now, focus on free and low-cost methods for learning about your target market.
This section focuses on your competitors — who is your competition? Consider comparable products, services, and/or businesses that offer something similar to what you offer. Do they have any competitive advantages? Perhaps most importantly, what advantages do you provide? What do you offer customers that would make them choose your business, product, or service?
For this section, you can use the market research from the previous section. Again, you want to keep it simple here, but as your business expands and you create a more comprehensive business plan, you may need to invest money in additional market research.
Now, let’s talk numbers. In your financial summary, there are several important numbers that need to be listed. The first is your startup costs. If you haven’t launched your business yet, you may not have exact figures — after all, you always have to expect the unexpected — but make sure to do your research to get solid estimates.
You will also need to figure out ongoing costs to operate your business. This could include a lease or mortgage, marketing expenses, hiring and training employees, payroll, insurance, and other expenses.
Finally, the last number you need for this section is your revenue. How is your business going to be profitable? What are you going to charge for your product or service? How many customers would you need to meet your revenue goals? You may already have an idea in mind, but you can research comparable products or services to make sure your pricing remains low enough to be competitive but high enough to bring in a profit. If your business is currently in operations, you can review your bank statements and other financial documentation.
By this point, you should know how much revenue you need to be profitable. Now, it’s time to think about how to get that revenue by writing down your marketing strategy.
Remember, this is a one-page plan, so you don’t have to list out every single detail. If you plan to grow your business, this is something you will need to explore further in the future. For now, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The first thing to figure out is your budget. There are lots of free and paid marketing tools available. As a new business, start with free and low-cost marketing methods until you figure out what works. Once you’ve had a chance to test out different strategies, you can always invest more in the future. Don’t forget to add this estimate into your business costs.
Next, consider what your competitors or similar businesses within the industry are doing. In your eyes, which methods have been successful … and which have been total flops? You also want to think outside of the box here. While it’s certainly okay to do things your competitors are doing (such as advertising on social media), you also want to come up with unique ideas that make you stand out from the competition.
One-Page Business Plan Template [Download]
With everything involved with launching your own business, even something as simple as creating a one-page business plan can be completely overwhelming. If you don’t know where to begin, don’t worry — we have you covered. Check out our one-page business page template.
Get Our One-Page Business Plan
This easy-to-use template can help you get started on the right track. With our template and the tips in this post, you’ll be able to create a professional one-page business plan in no time!
You’ve Created Your Business Plan. Now What?
Congratulations! You’ve created your one-page business plan. Now, it’s time to put that business plan to use.
If you haven’t yet launched your business, you can use your business plan as a road map to get started. You have your goals in place, you’ve started to calculate your expenses, and you know how much money your business needs to make to be profitable and successful. It’s time to take the first step toward reaching these goals and getting your business off the ground.
You can also use your business plan to pitch your business idea to investors or partners. However, be aware that a formal business plan is often needed when seeking capital (i.e. getting a bank loan). Remember, this one-page plan is a great starting point that can give you practice in clearly and succinctly communicating your ideas.
Ready to get started? Check out the following resources for more help in launching your business:
- Small Business Startup Loans: Your 8 Best Options
- SBA Loans For Startups: Types, Terms & How To Apply
- How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Business?
- Everything You Need To Know About Small Business Payroll
- How Health Insurance Works For Businesses With One Employee
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