A friend recently asked me whether it was really necessary to prepare a Business Plan. She had been in business for three years and had never once written down anything vaguely strategic – not even a simple business plan. My answer to this question is a resounding “YES!”. How can you improve or build your business if you don’t have written down how to achieve it?
I know that there are many people out there that would freak out at the thought of having to sit down and actually write a thorough Business Plan.
So I started to research various versions of a one page business plans that would please the astute planners of the world, but also cater for the non-planners. I was unable to find anything suitable, so I have come up with my own suggestion. And it really is one page. You can download by subscribing to Meld News from our blog.
Reasons for a Plan
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
A few of the benefits of preparing even a simple business plan include:
Providing you with a defined and researched path to follow
Ensuring you follow a structure to reach your goal
Helping you identify opportunities you weren’t already aware of
Articulating competitor information
Defining your target market – which is especially important when compiling your content strategy (yes, you need one of these too!)
Highlighting possible risks and provide solutions
Providing a base from which to analyse results
Elements of a One Page Business Plan
The one page business plan can be broken into five main areas.
1. The Business
Product – What is it that you are selling? Think about the unique benefits your product or service will bring to the end user.
Structure – Are you a sole trader, partner, company or another legal structure? Make sure you do your research to determine which structure is the right one for you.
2. The Future
Vision Statement – It is extremely important to articulate this as it drives everything you do. It’s the overarching reason why you’ve started in this crazy world of business ownership. It should be succinct and meaningful.
Goals – What are the five main things that you want to achieve? There is plenty of information out there on goal setting. Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
3. The Market
Target market – describe exactly who this includes. Think about the usual components such as gender, age or demographics. Also consider what they like to do, where they hang out and internet usage.
Marketing – how will you start this activity? Options include things like letter box drop, social media, internet, newsletters, website or word of mouth.
4. The Finances
Charges – As an example, will you charge your customers upfront, include delivery fees, hourly service rates or provide a discount for bulk purchases?
Costs – Focus on upfront and known ongoing costs. This will give you a good idea of whether you need to seek finance (and hence prepare a more thorough business plan) or if you can personally provide the capital required.
Revenue – What is the amount of revenue you require to consider this a viable business?
5. The Action Plan
List the next six actions that you need to take, as well as a deadline for completion, to get your business moving forward. Examples may include build a website, design a logo or register for an Australian Business Number (ABN).
Whilst I thoroughly advocate a well thought out and strategic business plan, I understand that not everyone has the time or resources to complete one. You may need to consider paying for one, especially if you need to source finance to start or build your business. As a start, download this one page business plan template and see how you go.