If you’ve been putting off writing your business plan, you’re not alone. Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task, and it’s an easy one to avoid.
But it doesn’t have to be. An easy way to start your business plan is with just one page.
There’s really not any difference between a “one-page business plan” and a good executive summary. The only real possible difference is the that the “one-page plan” must absolutely fit on one page in a font that most people can still read, while a traditional executive summary can extend to two or three pages.
Investors don’t have lots of time to read and one page can get the idea of your business across quickly and succinctly. It’s actually a very good exercise to trim down your business plan to the absolute minimum—it forces you to trim needless words and communicate your business idea clearly, with minimal clutter.
Whether you want to call it a one-page business plan, an executive summary, or an elevator pitch, it should contain the following:
- Customer Problem
- Your Solution
- Business Model (how you make money)
- Target Market (who is your customer and how many of them are there)
- Competitive Advantage
- Management Team
- Financial Summary
- Funding Required
If you feel like you have writer’s block, or you don’t know where to start, I have a couple of suggestions. First, LivePlan’s pitch feature: Just answer the questions it asks and click “Publish”, and you’ll have a professionally-designed, one-page business plan that is easy to share and covers everything an investor wants to know. Another good option is to follow my colleague Caroline Cummings’ advice and write your business plan like it’s a series of tweets (seriously, it works).
The content of your plan (or pitch) is by far the most important thing. Think carefully about what you are trying to communicate. Too many companies spend time focusing on presentation and graphical display of their plans when what they are saying and how they are saying it is really the most critical aspect of it all. Don’t get me wrong—you don’t want to have an ugly presentation. But focus on the content, because it’s more important than anything else.
Remember: The executive summary (or pitch, or one-page business plan) is usually your introductory communication with investors, so it will be your first impression. Investors will use this document to get an understanding of your communication skills as well as your ability to think critically about your business. You should spend more time on this part of your plan than on any other section.