one page business plan template

one page business plan template

Creating an Effective One Page Business Plan

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1. Introduction

The company CEO may have a look in his eyes and a fire in his belly, but a solid plan is not simply laid off on the nearest desk at hand. A plan is the foothold to a mountain climber; he must see the step he will take before it takes place. With a well-researched and well-written business plan, he can ascend to the summit and even higher. A business plan is a compass for making significant decisions. It defines the business, identifies the goals, and serves as the company’s resume. The business plan will affect a company’s financing and credit.

Desiring to start a business, many misconstrue the importance of knowing their stuff and putting their business quest second only to a thoroughly researched and ably written business plan. And, in today’s cluttered marketplace, this could lead to wrong thinking and a lack of substantial research or due diligence. The result is well known: the business fails, runs out of money, is not profitable, leading to a flustered life savings, and eventually the business collapses under its own ignorance.

2. Defining Your Business Goals

The best way to define your goals is to give yourself a target; a finish line to work towards. A popular method for this is setting SMART objectives, an acronym for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. An example of a SMART objective is a small consultancy business giving them the goal “Our goal is to become the leading provider of consultancy services to the energy industry in Western Australia, increasing company revenue to $1.6m by 2014”. This objective is specific as to what the company wants to achieve, it is measurable in both revenue and status of leading provider, it is achievable, it is relevant to what the company is doing now, and it is time-bound to be achieved in 4 years.

Defining your business goals is essential for you to “get a vision” of what you want to achieve. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or you have a staff of 50, knowing exactly what you want to accomplish will give you something to work towards and prevent your business from turning into a never-ending job. The biggest error many entrepreneurs make is starting a business without a clear and defined goal. A new business with no clear goal can often be tempted to take the path of least resistance – which may or may not be the most profitable. Without a clear goal, there will be no way to measure your success. For example, there is a big difference between someone running a business because they want an income to support their lifestyle, and someone who has a goal of generating a certain level of income so they can sell their business and retire in 5 years.

3. Identifying Target Customers and Market Analysis

After identifying your target market, a market analysis is conducted to examine the whole market, with special focus on the target market. This is to ensure that the organization can use its resources to effectively satisfy the market in order to achieve a competitive advantage. The market analysis process begins with an examination of the external environment which includes an industry analysis; assessing the industry’s current situation and outlook for the future. The aim is to evaluate if the industry is worth investing resources into and is a viable opportunity. The industry analysis is followed by an analysis of the competitors and their strategies. A competitor is anybody who has the capability of taking a share of your market, in small businesses this could be the owner of the business next door. Failure to consider and counter the actions of competitors may lead to costly mistakes.

Identifying your target customer is crucial for structuring your marketing efforts to the consumer who is mostly likely to buy your product. This step will save you time and money in the long run. If you don’t have a good idea of who your target customer is, don’t skip this step. Essentially you are not excluding any market! A common mistake made is by thinking that exclusion of any market through targeting a specific segment will be detrimental. In fact it will make your marketing campaigns much more efficient and effective. When identifying a target market for a product it is important to define it by certain criteria (e.g. age, socio-economic status, geography).

One of the main components of any business is determining its target customer. The absence of a target customer will generally indicate a lack of need for the product. Your target customer is a specific segment of the market you have identified as a focus for your product or service. This could be a niche market such as “young professional females aged 24-30” for an online clothing store, or a specific demographic “mothers of children aged 5-12” for a product that teaches children how to read.

4. Developing Strategies and Action Plans

The development of strategies and action plans provides the next step to take the written document of the business plan and translate it into action by establishing a way to measure progress and success. This is the time when the business owner and the rest of the key members of the business must sit down and map out a plan that specifies how to achieve the identified goals and objectives. This will involve prioritizing the various strategies and determining which are to be implemented when. These are broad general statements of the things the business wants to achieve or the services the business wants to provide. After deciding what the business will look like, the business owner will then start to identify the various means to get there. These could be an attempt to capture a certain part of the market or to achieve financial success. Measures are set to quantify the degree of success in reaching the stated goals. This would involve setting specific numerical objectives and targets such as the desired sales volume or the targeted income. Finally, action plans will be developed which are a timetable for when the steps to reach the goals are to be taken with concrete statements of the activities to put the strategies into action. At this point, it is often useful to employ consultants or experts to provide help and guidance. They can be hired to provide specific services or to act as coaches and facilitators over a period of time. At any rate, it is important to get commitment and participation from everyone involved.

5. Evaluating and Monitoring Progress

3. If things are going well, do not ignore them; focus on the KSF’s which have been rated green to ascertain why this is the case. Duplication of success in a particular area can be a smart way of improving overall performance. For example, the publisher may discover that his problem with identifying reader needs is at odds with an apparent ability to design and style articles which are well received when compared to other newspapers. This may lead to a decision to steer towards changing the product offering, an area which has potential.

2. Rate yourself or your team on each KSF using a simple ‘red, amber, green’ traffic light system. This will provide a visual representation of where things are going well and where they are not. For example, the newspaper publisher’s ability to develop new product offerings might be rated as red because of a recurring difficulty in identifying reader needs. This is a clear indicator that things are not going to plan in this area.

1. Setting up a mechanism to assess how you are doing is vital to successful implementation. This is frequently overlooked on the assumption that things are going to plan. The identification of ‘key success factors’ at the outset of your One Page Plan will make this an easier task. KSF’s are the critical factors that will determine your success or failure in achieving your objectives. For example, for a local newspaper publisher, a key success factor might be ‘the ability to develop a series of new and attractive product offerings in a short period of time’.

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