one-page-business-plan

How to Write a One-Page Business Plan

A one-page business plan is a simple tool to clear your mind. It focuses on three questions: What core problem am I solving? Who are my potential key customers? Where do I find them? It helps define the problem, profile the key customer, and find the key distribution channel.

Why use a one-page business plan?

One of the issues of traditional business planning is about its complexity, which makes it hard to recognize its value. Indeed, a business plan should be a way to allow you to take action.

The main issue with traditional business planning though is that rather than make it easier to take actions, it makes it harder. Indeed, often too much planning can induce the so-called analysis paralysis.

A scenario in which draws a massive plan becomes an excuse not to act. Instead, a one-page business plan is just the opposite.

That is an exercise which aim is to draw in a page all the necessary elements your business model needs to get going — nothing more, nothing less.

It is vital to understand when it makes sense to use a traditional business plan instead.

Is the one-page business plan better than a conventional business plan?

It is important to remark that there isn’t the best way to draw a business plan. Between a traditional and one-page business plan, we can’t say that one is better than the other in all the situations.

They have different aims. The traditional business plan is extremely well suited for someone that is starting up a business that needs financing. The one-page business plan instead is tailored for someone that needs the necessary input to get the business started.

Therefore, if you will need other investors to chip into your business, a one-page business plan won’t do. Especially if you go through a more traditional way to get the financing, you will need a structured business plan.

On the other hand, if you need to understand whether your idea is actionable, you’re good with a one-page business plan!

Thus, we need to draw a line between venture capital vs. bootstrapped.

Venture capital vs. bootstrapped

In the business world, there are different schools of thought about what’s the best way to launch, run and grow a startup. It all depends on how you see the business world but also how the market is looking like in a particular historic context.

For instance, in a situation where venture capital firms have massive resources and the economy, in general, is in good health, it might be easier for startups to raise capital.

In that context, as an entrepreneur, it might make sense to ask for financing for your ventures. Therefore, a traditional business plan will help you go through that process.

Take the opposite scenario, where funding is scarce, and resources are not easy to find on the market. In that scenario, the so-called bootstrapped mode, or you grow your business it might make more sense. Thus, a one-page business model will do!

Once again, there isn’t the best way to do something. But instead, the way that suits you best, based on the context and how you believe business should work.

For instance, if you don’t want the interference of other people telling you how to run, and grow your business, venture capital is not for you and a one-page business plan is the best tool you can use for clarity of mind.

In the scenario, where you instead want to have a group of people supporting the growth of your business, and you’re also ready to take those interferences then a tradition business plan is the tool for you.

None will back you up without a proper business plan with a three to five years projections.

Many assumptions vs. a few assumptions

Another critical distinction between traditional business planning vs. the one-page business planning is the role of assumptions.

When you draw a traditional business plan, there are many assumptions on which the business plan is based on. However, one of the premises of the lean startup is just the opposite.

You need to get outside and test those assumptions quickly. Indeed, with the one-page business plan, you do just the opposite. Get to act as promptly as possible to check the assumptions you have about your business.

The one-page business plan will be changed over and over again in the course of bootstrapping your business until you’ll have found the market fit and get to the 10x phase of growth.

Key elements of the one-page business plan

What parts should you take into account for the one-page business plan?

There are a few questions you’ll need to address to understand the viability of your plan:

  • Did I identify a problem that other people are experiencing? 
  • Is this problem experienced by enough people to justify a business? 
  • What solution can I bring to those people? 
  • Would people be willing to pay to get that problem solved? 
  • Would I make enough margin to have a viable business? 
  • Why would those people pick my solution? 
  • Do I need a team to deliver this solution? 
  • Do I need money or can I bootstrap it? 

Start with the end in mind until you get to the action plan

One of the primary pitfalls of a business plan is usually too much planning and fancy numbers and no vision at all. Indeed, one of the key ingredients to be able to achieve massive results is a bold vision.

The bold vision doesn’t mean you have to start a business to leave a legacy behind. Instead, that can also be a vision to dominate the market in a specific niche.

The vision is about what you want your business to become when it grows up; how it will need to be.

Once you have that you need to set a mission statement, the mission statement is actionable, and it starts from the vision, but it sets it in motion in the here and now.

Within your mission, you’ll need to set a few key objectives you want to achieve. You don’t need a list of dozens of items. A list of the first few objectives and steps would do.

What do you need to achieve those objectives? How much financial resources? Do you need a team? Do you need tools? List them up to understand what resources they require.

With a vision, a mission statement and the objectives in place, that is when you need an action plan. A set of things to do in the short-term to achieve those objectives you prefigured.

One-page business plan in action

business-model
A business model is a framework for finding a systematic way to unlock long-term value for an organization while delivering value to customers and capturing value through monetization strategies. A business model is a holistic framework to understand, design, and test your business assumptions in the marketplace.

Once you understand the context you can map on a single page the kind of business you want to build. You don’t need complex tools or business plans (unless you’re going to ask for investments, in that case, you need a solid business plan and a pitch deck).

Instead, a piece of paper with some key elements of how you want your business to look like will do.

You can map three key elements initially:

one-page-business-plan
A one-page business plan is a simple tool to clear your mind. It focuses on three questions: What core problem am I solving? Who are my potential key customers? Where do I find them? It helps define the problem, profile the key customer, and find the key distribution channel.
  • What core problem am I solving? (problem definition)
  • Who are my potential key customers? (customer profiling)
  • Where can I find them? (distribution)

Your turn now!

Related Business Concepts

Innovation Theory

innovation-theory
The innovation loop is a methodology/framework derived from the Bell Labs, which produced innovation at scale throughout the 20th century. They learned how to leverage a hybrid innovation management model based on science, invention, engineering, and manufacturing at scale. By leveraging individual genius, creativity, and small/large groups.

Business Competition

business-competition
In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Business Scaling

business-scaling
Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Disruptive Innovation

disruptive-innovation
Disruptive innovation as a term was first described by Clayton M. Christensen, an American academic and business consultant whom The Economist called “the most influential management thinker of his time.” Disruptive innovation describes the process by which a product or service takes hold at the bottom of a market and eventually displaces established competitors, products, firms, or alliances.

Innovation Funnel

innovation-funnel
An innovation funnel is a tool or process ensuring only the best ideas are executed. In a metaphorical sense, the funnel screens innovative ideas for viability so that only the best products, processes, or business models are launched to the market. An innovation funnel provides a framework for the screening and testing of innovative ideas for viability.

Four-Step Innovation Process

four-step-innovation-process
A four-step innovation process is a simple tool that businesses can use to drive consistent innovation. The four-step innovation process was created by David Weiss and Claude Legrand as a means of encouraging sustainable innovation within an organization. The process helps businesses solve complex problems with creative ideas instead of relying on low-impact, quick-fix solutions.

History of Innovation

innovation
Innovation in the modern sense is about coming up with solutions to defined or not defined problems that can create a new world. Breakthrough innovations might try to solve in a whole new way, well-defined problems. Business innovation might start by finding solutions to well-defined problems by continuously improving on them.

Read also: Business Strategy, Examples, Case Studies, And Tools

Read Next: Lean CanvasAgile Project ManagementScrumMVPVTDF.

The FourWeekMBA Business Strategy Toolbox

Tech Business Model Framework

business-model-template
A tech business model is made of four main components: value model (value propositions, missionvision), technological model (R&D management), distribution model (sales and marketing organizational structure), and financial model (revenue modeling, cost structure, profitability and cash generation/management). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build a solid tech business model.

Blockchain Business Model Framework

vbde-framework
A Blockchain Business Model according to the FourWeekMBA framework is made of four main components: Value Model (Core Philosophy, Core Values and Value Propositions for the key stakeholders), Blockchain Model (Protocol Rules, Network Shape and Applications Layer/Ecosystem), Distribution Model (the key channels amplifying the protocol and its communities), and the Economic Model (the dynamics/incentives through which protocol players make money). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build and analyze a solid Blockchain Business Model.

Business Competition

business-competition
In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Technological Modeling

technological-modeling
Technological modeling is a discipline to provide the basis for companies to sustain innovation, thus developing incremental products. While also looking at breakthrough innovative products that can pave the way for long-term success. In a sort of Barbell Strategy, technological modeling suggests having a two-sided approach, on the one hand, to keep sustaining continuous innovation as a core part of the business model. On the other hand, it places bets on future developments that have the potential to break through and take a leap forward.

Transitional Business Models

transitional-business-models
A transitional business model is used by companies to enter a market (usually a niche) to gain initial traction and prove the idea is sound. The transitional business model helps the company secure the needed capital while having a reality check. It helps shape the long-term vision and a scalable business model.

Minimum Viable Audience

minimum-viable-audience
The minimum viable audience (MVA) represents the smallest possible audience that can sustain your business as you get it started from a microniche (the smallest subset of a market). The main aspect of the MVA is to zoom into existing markets to find those people which needs are unmet by existing players.

Business Scaling

business-scaling
Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Market Expansion

market-expansion
The market expansion consists in providing a product or service to a broader portion of an existing market or perhaps expanding that market. Or yet, market expansions can be about creating a whole new market. At each step, as a result, a company scales together with the market covered.

Speed-Reversibility

decision-making-matrix

Growth Matrix

growth-strategies
In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Revenue Streams

revenue-streams-model-matrix
In the FourWeekMBA Revenue Streams Matrix, revenue streams are classified according to the kind of interactions the business has with its key customers. The first dimension is the “Frequency” of interaction with the key customer. As the second dimension, there is the “Ownership” of the interaction with the key customer.

Revenue Model

revenue-model-patterns
Revenue model patterns are a way for companies to monetize their business models. A revenue model pattern is a crucial building block of a business model because it informs how the company will generate short-term financial resources to invest back into the business. Thus, the way a company makes money will also influence its overall business model.

Methodologies & Frameworks

Business Models Case Studies

Startup Resources

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