Planning is an integral part of any business, but if often scares people off. What they think when it comes to the phrase business plan is thick and formal document with a lot of analysis and research data.
Personally, I hate that kind of plan too.
I tend to avoid it if I could. As a freelancer or small business owner, you don’t have to be involved in that in your business plan. As long as it allows you to reach your goal, you should care less about the format.
Of course, if your plan is going to be read and reviewed by other people beyond your team, you have no choice but to play by the rule.
Why Do It Differently!
Let’s get it straight.
A comprehensive business plan can be useful to your business but if there is no real need for that kind of plan, why create one?
The last thing you want from a marketing plan is that the marketing group — or yourself personally — neglect it and proceed with what they think is important.
Note: A lot of things appears urgent but not critical. They don’t move your business closer to the goal. And they appear on a daily basis.
A few other reasons why small business owners may prefer more concise format — as in one-page business plan — are:
1. They don’t know how to write a full business plan.
2. They don’t have the time to take all the necessary steps to do it.
3. They are too busy to put their effort into writing a full business plan.
A one-page business plan can be a great alternative to a full business plan. It still covers important areas every business should focus on to succeed.
What’s in the One-Page Business Plan?
A one-page business plan consists of 5 different components. They are just the big picture on how and where you want to take your business.
1. Company Vision
What do you want your company to be?
I find it useful it you focus on the first 3-5 years instead of the usual 7-10 years. It is too unpredictable. It’s true, business plan changes, but I find it’s less useful if it is highly inaccurate.
2. Company Mission (Goals).
How will you achieve the vision?
What do you provide to your target market?
Both vision and mission are the catalysts and mantras for action.
The last thing you want are long-winding statements that no one can remember. What’s the difference between both?
A mission statement concerns what an organization is all about and a vision statement is what the organization wants to become.
3. Business and Financial Objectives
What must you accomplish after one to three years?
It may not be possible to plan beyond that. However, it is necessary to take your best shot and do it anyway so you have some ballpark figure to follow.
It may not be highly accurate especially if you don’t base the estimate on real-life data.
4. Marketing Strategies
How will you reach your prospective customers?
What strategies will you use to grow your business? In general, this is the answer to the question about how you want to achieve your business mission and goals?
5. Project Plans
What specific actions — derived from the marketing strategies above — do you need to take to achieve your mission and vision?
Put an estimate deadline on each of the project plan so you know where to focus on your effort first.
In order to achieve the goal on time, you need to keep the date in mind when creating more detailed plans per project.
The business plan is just a plan. After you have a plan in place, you need to translate into actionable steps to get it done. This could be doing it yourself or outsourcing the tasks to others.
Here’s how I do it. Pick a plan that is closest to deadline. Use project management software or another piece of paper to follow the usual steps to turn it into steps and actionable tasks.
All of the plans in the list should be medium to large projects. (A project is business work that needs one or more steps to accomplish.) Otherwise it should not be there.
What to do with the tasks? Put them into your time or action management system and get them done.
Once a while, perhaps every quarter, you should review your business plan and make adjustment as necessary. A business plan should be flexible. By using the one-page business plan, you can change it as often as you like.
Print it out and tape it on the wall. Being able to see it every day is one of the most important catalyst to accomplish what you’ve planned.
Let us know how your one page business plan looks like!