A business plan is essential for every entrepreneur, but if it’s your first time approaching one, it can feel daunting. Business owners will argue both sides of the coin when it comes to how long a plan should be, but usually a one-page business plan can cover all your needs at the beginning and get you organized enough to get started.
Don’t worry — you can’t go wrong starting with a one-page plan and adding onto it from there. As your business grows (and if you ever need capital) you’ll certainly add to it down the road. Just remember that right now, the worst business plan is the one you never bother to write. Don’t let analysis paralysis keep you from getting started.
Here are five easy steps to a one-page business plan:
1. Start with your vision. Begin the plan by thinking of the end. You have to communicate up front where you want to go with your business to set the tone for your plan. Do you want to grow this business to sell? Do you want the business to be a legacy that will last your lifetime? What’s the big vision for the end goal? It’s important to start with the end in mind. Your vision should summarize that well.
2. Formalize your mission statement. You know what your vision is, now you need to describe what you’re going to do to accomplish that vision in a brief, accessible way. This is the statement that you’ll want to display somewhere you (and your staff, if you have one) can see to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day.
3. List your objectives. Think of your objectives as the bullet points of deliverables you plan to achieve. For example, “dominate at least 10 percent of the market of my niche by 2016,” or HR objectives such as “hire one full-time graphic designer by year’s end.” These should be the big goals you want to achieve with a timeframe attached to them.
4. Form your strategies. Your strategies describe how you plan to achieve your objectives. What’s the marketing plan? Sales strategy? Will you devote your time to research and development? What are the overarching strategies you will follow to achieve your objectives?
5. Create an action plan. You have the objective, you’ve decided on a strategy, now what actionable steps will you take to make sure your business maintains the momentum to achieve your objectives and reach the manifestation of your big vision? These should be short-term actions and daily tasks — things that you can start doing now to work toward the end goal.
Tackling a business plan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simplify the process and start today by following these five easy steps to a one-page business plan.