How to Create a One-Page Business Plan
Author: Paul D. McDonald, MBA
I shared the idea of this article with a friend from business school. ""Is this even possible? Create a one-page business plan?"" We had an entire course for MBA school called ""Business Planning Seminar"" that required us to team up in groups of three to five to write a business plan over the course of the term. Everyone, including us, turned in a business plan of at least forty or fifty pages.
I'm not talking about a business plan that you turn over to investors or bankers. I'm talking about a real business plan--one that you can actually implement. What most people think of as a ""business plan"" is really a highly-detailed business sales pitch. A true business plan is something that you can look at every day and follow. That means it needs to be short. In his book Selling the Dream, Guy Kawasaki calls these ""evangelism plans"" because you are ""evangelizing"" your cause.
Okay, they're the same thing.
Long Mission Statements
First thing you need is a mission statement. Have you ever looked at some organizations mission statements? Just look at this example that I found on the web for the National Weather Service:
""The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community. ""
This is one of the shorter mission statements I found! While it is nice and certainly all ideas contained are good ideas, it's just too darned complex--and there is no emotion involved.
Want to have some fun? Go to the ""Dilbert Mission Statement Generator"" and play around. You'd be surprised how similar some of their ""joke"" mission statements are to real-world mission statements you can find in annual reports and on corporate plaques around the world. http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/games/career/bin/ms.cgi
Guy Kawasaki was very simple in his method. Have a short mission statement supported by a few objectives and each of those objectives are supported by a few strategies. Write it up in outline form and you have a business plan that you can use right away. I could explain more, but it would be much easier to just show some examples.
SAMPLE: National Weather Service (my version)
Mission: Let people know what the weather will be Objectives 1. Provide fast and accurate forecasts that affect US and US territories 2. Protect life and property and the enhancement of the national economy 3. Record and retain historical weather information for public use
Strategies for Objective 1 1. Weather forecasts 2. Hydrologic forecasts 3. Climate forecasts
Strategies for Objective 2 1. Have an easy-to-understand system of communication of severe weather warnings 2. Ensure that the system is prompt and reliable when it is needed 3. Communicate the use of the system to everyone
Strategies for Objective 3 1. Work with other government agencies, the private sector, the public, and global community 2. Create a method of storing and managing the data 3. Provide training for the use and understanding of the data
Which do you like better, theirs or mine? Remember--I don't know anything about forecasting weather other than what I see on the news. Someone who understands weather could come up with a much better plan than I did using this format.
Sample: My business
Mission: Give time back to people so they can focus on what is important to them.
Objectives 1. Personally serve 100 ideal clients 2. Improve my ability to provide for my clients 3. Recruit and train new representatives to the cause
Strategies for Objective 1 1. Conduct personal values-based interviews 2. Use direct mail and personal networking to find prospects 3. Work with those who ""get it"" and refer out those who don't
Strategies for Objective 2 1. Training on products, skills, etc. 2. Seek new helpful services, products, and people 3. Passionately pursue client feedback
Strategies for Objective 3 1. After 75 ideal clients are located, begin searching for apprentices 2. Train the apprentices using new clients over the initial 100
Look, there's two simple business plans on one page! Yes, there could be more detail, and yes, maybe you look at them and don't quite understand or agree with every point... but you don't have to understand someone else's business plan--you only need to understand your own business plan.
Use these plans as a guide to begin working on your own one-page business plan--a plan you can actually implement and work on every single day.
About the author: Paul D. McDonald, MBA, is in business in Overland Park, Kansas. He specializes in Life Insurance, Annuities, and Long-Term Care Insurance. He welcomes contact at 1-877-711-1264 (phone or fax). He maintains several financial and business websites at http://seniorfinances.blogspot.com/, http://smallbizfinance.blogspot.com/, and http://small-biz-center.blogspot.com/.