A one-page business plan contains five essential elements that come together to form a clear picture of what your company is all about, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there. This is a fluid document, one that is meant for you to use and to review on a regular basis. That means that although the core elements of the plan will stay the same, you will probably tweak and update the contents as your business grows and changes.
Vision You must begin with the end in mind. The vision section of your plan should start things off by describing what you're building in a high-level sense. Whether your goal is to dominate your market or simply be the best at what you do, this one- to three-sentence statement describes your primary objective. Think of it as the crystal ball that tells your company's future.
We stress throughout our book that vision is vitally important to every entrepreneur. If you were to write your plan to look like a pyramid, the vision section would sit at the top, supported by the other elements. Everything else you do is directed by what your vision statement describes. In fact, this becomes a useful tool in making business decisions, because each element should ultimately depend on the answer to one question: Does it support your vision?
Mission Your vision describes your efforts' end result, but your mission statement details the reason for your company's existence. It discusses in broad terms what you will do to accomplish your vision. Mission statements often describe levels of service or quality of product, which makes perfect sense. If your vision is to dominate your market, for example, your mission will be to provide the kind of products and services that will lead to that market domination. Remember, you're creating a one-page plan, so keep it descriptive enough to tell the story, but brief enough to make the point quickly.
Objectives This section supports your mission and vision by detailing the objectives that will lead to your achievement of what you wrote in those statements. You can do this simply by listing bullet points that state your business goals, such as, ''Hold a 15 percent market share by the end of this year,'' or ''Hire a full-time sales person by the beginning of the second quarter.'' Make your goals as specific as possible, and attach time frames to them. However, you shouldn't worry about providing too much detailed information in this section; just list end results. You aren't concerned with how you'll meet your objectives until the next section of your plan.
Strategies Your strategies describe how you plan to achieve the objectives you set in the previous section. Again, you're keeping this to one page, so it isn't necessary to go into great detail. Simply list bullet points that explain your plan for reaching your objectives. One might be, ''Build a strategic alliance with the Chamber of Commerce and other local business organizations to increase local visibility,'' or ''Maximize gross profit by utilizing co-op advertising with select vendors'' could be another. Notice that each example contains a statement—''Increase local visibility,'' and ''Maximize gross profit''—which can refer to specific objectives you set for your business in the previous section. The key is to tie each section of your plan to the piece before it in a way that allows you to drill down from your ultimate goal, all the way to the action items needed to get there, which brings us to the final section of your one-page business plan.
Action Plans It's a good idea to use bullet points in this section as well. Again, although there's no need to be overly descriptive, these items will have specific dates tied to them and offer more details than the bullet points in your strategies section. An example of an action plan might be: ''Negotiate bulk rate pricing with XYZ Manufacturing and have new pricing in place by March 15.'' An action plan like that could support a strategy of, ''Offer cut-rate pricing to all new customers,'' which might support an objective of, ''Increase market share by 5 percent by June,'' which could support a mission of, ''Offer customers the lowest price available,'' which might be in support of a vision that says, ''To be the number-one provider of (fill in your product or service here).'' You can clearly see how each piece of the plan supports those above it.
So there you have it—the one-page business plan. Unlike the kind of document you put together for investors and financial institutions, the one-page business plan is light, practical, and easy to review. It won't take you three months to put it together; it won't cost you a fortune; and the thought of creating it isn't enough to keep you from starting a business. You might even consider keeping it posted on the wall above your desk to remind you where you're headed and how you plan to get there.
Excerpted from Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs. Copyright (c) 2011 by Business Plus Media Group, LLC. Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.