A business plan is a highly important document you’ll need throughout your business lifecycle. It provides valuable information about your business’s financial and strategic objectives.
A one-page business plan is similar to a traditional business plan, but is more focused and concise.
In this guide, we’ll focus on understanding what a one-page business plan is and what it’s not. Reading this guide will help you create the document all on your own.
You’ll also be able to figure out when you should use a one-page business plan, what information should be included in the document, and how it can benefit you.
So, let’s get started.
What is a one-page business plan?
A one-page business plan is a document that summarizes your business key objectives and financials for the years to come.
It usually includes key financial metrics such as revenues, growth, measures of profitability and cash flow generation.
In addition, it also includes strategic information such as short and long-term goals, product or service details, market analysis, and key points of your go to market strategy.
Most people often confuse a one-page business plan with terms like lean business plan or executive summary. So, let’s look at some differences between these terms to gain a better understanding.
What’s the difference between a one-page business plan and an executive summary?
There isn’t much difference between these two. However, you need to know they are separate documents.
A one-page business plan is a standalone concise document that provides financial and strategic information about your business.
On the other hand, an executive summary is a section that is included in a traditional comprehensive business plan. The aim of an executive summary is to grab the reader’s attention. You can consider it a warm-up for the rest of the document.
What’s the difference between a one-page business plan and a lean business plan?
A lean business plan is another term for a one-page business plan. It was coined by industry professionals when the lean startup movement was gaining in popularity in the 2010s.
The lean startup movement is centered around a methodology for product development based on rapid iteration using customer feedback.
Following its rise in popularity, people tried to replicate the movement’s fame in other areas of business and started calling everything lean: lean business plan, lean marketing, lean canvas, etc.
What are the benefits of writing a one-page business plan?
A one-page business plan comes with a catch. By now, you’ve probably determined a one-page business plan can be thought of as a summary of a fully-fledged business plan.
The catch here is that you can’t really create a summary without having done the work you would do to create the entire document.
So even if the output fits on one page, you still need to think about the actions you plan to implement and ensure these actions have been allocated a realistic level of human and financial resources in your financial forecast
In that sense, the benefits of a one-page business plan are somewhat limited.
However, this doesn't mean such benefits should be overlooked at any cost. Some of the benefits of a one-page business plan include:
Getting a quick and clear overview of the business
A one-page business page includes valuable financial and strategic details about the business.
This means the document can be used to gain a quick and clear understanding of business operations, funding, and expected profitability.
This can be a useful tool to have when you need to onboard a new strategic advisor or key hire.
Streamlining communication of operations within the business
One of the CEO’s main responsibilities is to communicate and align stakeholders on the vision and direction of the business.
A one-page business plan can be used as an internal document to streamline strategic communication and make sure everyone is clear on the business’ objectives and direction of travel.
Making effective strategic decisions about business operations
Business decisions are effective when they align with the company’s goals and objectives.
It’s easy to arrive at chaos when decision-making is decentralized. For example, if your head of sales goes after the wrong type of customers without realizing it.
Referring to the one-page business plan before making important decisions can be a good way to ensure the plan gets delivered.
The one-page business plan can be used as a sanity check before making important decisions to ensure actions align with what is in the plan.
When should you use a one-page business plan?
So far, you’ve learned what a one-page business plan is, what it’s not, and how you can benefit from one. Now, let’s look at when you can or should use a one-page business plan.
A one-page business plan is often similar to other documents, such as an executive summary. Due to this, most people tend to think that it can be used for similar purposes. However, that might not be true.
Let’s have a look at when a one-page business plan can be used.
As a teaser to the complete business plan
A one-page business plan contains comprehensive and concise information about the business’s strategies, operations, and financials.
Therefore, it can be used as a teaser sent to potential investors or business partners to gauge interest before sending them a fully fledged business plan.
As an internal cheat sheet for the business
Your one-page business plan is not limited to external use. It contains information about the business operations and financial objectives.
Therefore, it can be used as a cheat sheet to ensure that daily business activities are aligned with such goals.
As an update to an existing business plan
Business goals, resources, and funding tend to change regularly and updating them in a full-fledged business plan can be a time-consuming task.
These changes can be made to a one-page business plan which then serves as an updated version of the original document.
When should you not use a one-page business plan?
You’ve probably determined that a one-page business plan is a flexible document with noteworthy benefits and can be used in multiple scenarios. However, you need to know that this document should not be used all the time.
A one-page business plan contains key highlights of a business’s strategic or financial details. However, It should not be used in cases where the reader may need to understand the context behind the information mentioned in the document.
Let’s have a look at some of these cases.
Securing finances for the business
The financial information included in a one-page business plan is just an overview of the strategic actions and estimations made in the original document.
Someone looking to invest in your business (or lend funds) will need to gain a clear understanding of your business, its market and competition, and the rationale behind your go to market strategy, and the way you run the business operations.
They will also need to understand how all of this translates into financial assumptions, and therefore, need more details than what is included in a one-page business plan.
Therefore, a one-page business plan shouldn’t be used to secure finances.
Assessing the viability of the business idea
The potential viability of the business depends on various factors such as funding, resource allocation, and market environment.
A one-page business plan contains an overview of each. However, detailed information about these factors are needed to see if a business can be successful.
Therefore, a one-page business plan is not suitable in such cases either.
One-page business plan template
A one-page business plan is divided into three sections. Each of these sections contains valuable information about the business. Such information can be used internally to make business decisions or externally, serving as a teaser to the complete plan.
Let’s look at the one-page business plan template below for a better understanding of what information should be included in each of these sections:
1. Business overview
This section aims to provide brief yet comprehensive details about the business. It helps the reader gain a better understanding of the business as a whole.
In this section, you should include the following:
- A presentation of what the company does.
- The legal structure of the company.
- Number of shareholders the company has.
- The location(s) from which the business operates.
- Brief details about the management team and operations.
2. Market overview
This section of the document provides information used to determine if there is a viable market for the company’s products and services.
When writing this section, you should include the following:
- Customer and competitor overview.
- Use case for the company’s products and services.
- Positioning details.
- Market size.
- Summary of the go to market strategy.
3. Financial highlights
This section includes information about your business's current and forecasted financials.
Some key financial insights you can add in this section include:
- Expected revenue growth.
- Profitability of the business.
- Cashflow details.
- Cash position and funding requirements
One-page business plan example
By now, you’ve learned what information should be included in each section of the one-page business plan. Now, let’s walk through an example showing what the document will generally look like once completed.
In this example, we’ll create a one-page business plan for a restaurant.
Established in December 2015, Example Company Ltd is a restaurant that provides packaged and dine-in meals at affordable prices.
Example Company Ltd is located at 1234 Some Street, Basingstoke. The restaurant is owned and operated by William C and Olivia C and has 7 employees.
William C is the majority shareholder, having 65% equity, he is in charge of its logistics and marketing operations. Olivia C, having 35% equity in the restaurant, oversees human resources and product quality.
The restaurant also employs two chefs, two cashiers, one waiter/cleaner, and two delivery personnel. Both William and Olivia C have worked in the restaurant industry prior to this venture and have a combined experience of 16 years.
The restaurant currently offers individual and combo meals to walk-in customers. The restaurant also gets frequent online orders and has been a proud partner of several local events.
The restaurant was founded upon the realization that residents of Some Street and other nearby areas are searching for quality meals at affordable prices.
The restaurant is being positioned as the all-in-one solution for quality food at affordable prices.
Other restaurants in the locality are either cheap fast food that don’t provide the same quality of food, or upmarket independent restaurants which don’t provide meals at comparative prices.
Following the success of the first establishment, the management team is now focussing on expanding the business into a chain of restaurants across the county.
Our current objectives are to open three new restaurants over the next five years.
The restaurant is expected to generate revenues of £500,000 and an operating profit of £85,000 in the current financial year.
Growth is expected to remain close to inflation in the coming years. The net operating cash flow during this time period is also expected to remain positive.
Management is currently trying to secure financing of £450,000 to open the second franchise. Discussions with local investors and banking partners are at an early stage.
What tool can you use to write a one-page business plan?
When it comes to creating a one-page business plan, options for the tools you can use are limited.
There are basically two viable options: use Word or Excel or professional business planning software.
Let’s look at some pros and cons of both these methods.
Pros & cons of writing a one-page business plan with Word and Excel
Using Word and Excel to create a one-page business plan might work.
Some of the pros of the approach include:
- It is a cheap solution you have access to.
- You’re probably familiar with the software controls.
But that’s about it. Some of the cons of this approach include:
- You need to have the accounting skills to create a financial forecast from scratch.
- It’s time consuming even just to create a one-page business plan.
- Lack of instructions and examples.
Overall using Excel for business planning is an old-fashioned approach that takes time, requires expert-level capabilities, and is often error-prone.
Using this approach means you must do all the work manually without access to instructions or examples.
Benefits of creating a one-page business plan with an online tool
Creating a one-page business plan is much more simple and effective when you’re using our online business plan software:
- You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
- You can be inspired by already written business plan templates
- You can easily make your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you, without error
- You get a professional document, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank
- You can easily update your financial forecast and track it against actual financial performance to see where the business stands
If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try our software for free by signing up here.
4 tips for writing a one-page business plan
Creating a one-page business plan might seem simple at first, but it’s something that may get tricky as you go.
So, before you begin creating your one-page business plan, look at some tips that will certainly come in handy.
Use bullets to improve the readability of the document
When you’re writing your one-page business plan, make sure to use bullet points. This’ll allow you to present information in an easily consumable manner. It will also help the reader understand your business and will improve readability.
Leave room for changes to be made at a later date
You must make sure not to cram your one-page business plan with too much information. As your business grows, you will need to add things to this document. So make sure you leave enough space for that.
Use an online software for your one-page business plan
Writing a one-page business plan can get a bit tricky, especially if it’s your first time. In such cases, it’s better to use an online software.
Using The Business Plan Shop’s business plan software will allow you to have access to instructions, examples, and precise financial calculations.
Leverage templates to create your one-page business plan
If you’re creating the document for the first time, you might have trouble structuring it. In such cases, it's better to use an online template. We have dozens of business plan templates you can adapt to create an effective one-page business plan.
The bottom line
A one-page business plan can be a useful document for both internal and external uses. It provides valuable information about the business, market, customers, and company’s financial position.
It can be used as a guide to allocate resources and make strategic decisions or as a prelude or update to the complete business plan. Using an online software is the most effective way to create a one-page business plan.
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