Whether you are a founder opening a startup or a small business owner looking to take your operation to the next level, the question you will hear most frequently from advisors is “Do you have a business plan?”
Sounds good in theory right? Problem is in a small business there are a thousand things to do and many are so urgent you can’t ignore them. Business plans, conversely, are important but not really urgent.
Let’s say you carve out time to do a plan. Many business plans run to 30 or 40 pages or more. Few small business owners have the time to write something that detailed or pay regular attention to it even if completed. The primary benefit of a business plan is to serve as a guide and tracking tool for execution against objectives. Often the plan simply sits on a shelf gathering dust until a year later when you decide it’s time to plan again.
Many businesses have adopted what is known as the “One Page Business Plan”. It is the boiled down essence of a business plan into an easily scan able and trackable piece. The document addresses all the key factors a leader needs to keep top of mind to govern daily activity, focusing on those things that will guide you to success while reminding you of obstacles and threats that could derail your business. It serves as a communication tool with your whole team to aid in tracking planned activities and monitoring results.
The title “One Page Business Plan” is a bit deceptive. There is a great deal of work that goes into the development and ultimately the distillation of the plan. The same amount of thinking and discussion that goes into a 30-40 page business plan is undertaken, though there are books and exercises available to help streamline the process. The difference is that all that planning is then distilled into an easily consumable document. The most important thing is to make your business plan accessible so that the strategies and objectives that you lay out in the document are transparent to everyone. By distilling the plan into the key points on one page and making them easily trackable, you also increase the likelihood of completion and enable accountability. Clarity of purpose aids in getting your team all on the same page, quite literally. The one page business plan has grown in popularity with entrepreneurs lately and likely for obvious reasons
If you need a blueprint on how to write a one page plan Jim Horan has written a very useful and practical book on the subject. YouTube also has many tutorials available on how to put a plan together. And there are even templates out there that will guide you on what to include in the one page plan.
Whether your startup is merely an idea taking shape or a business already launched, a one page business plan in an invaluable tool to shape your thinking and to share with employees and other stake holders to help you communicate your vision and to describe your path to success with all whom you share it.