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The One Page Business Plan

Almost all successful businesses started with a business plan.

The business founders did this first to show themselves that their plan was viable, second to use it to get money from venture capitalists or bankers, and finally to help recruit their team, motivate them, and to give them a plan to implement and measure their results against. 

Many of these business leaders revised their business plans from time to time usually when they had a significant change in direction, vertically integrated, or needed more money. It is definitely a good thing to do because it gives you a plan to measure against and see how you are doing. For more information on writing a business plans see the business library at

Preparing a full blown business plan takes time so most business leaders don’t do it more than once. This is a shame, but also understandable.

To overcome this deficiency, within the BEST Group we prepare a One Page Business Plan annually. This plan focuses on four specific areas that are critical to the success of the business: Unique Business Proposition (What the company does uniquely well), Vision (Why the company is in business, what it wants to become), Goals (the overall goals of the company, usually 1, 3 or 5-year), and Strategies (how the goals and vision will be achieved).

This one page business plan will become the basis or game plan for getting you and all your team going in the same direction. Also, by putting your thoughts on paper it is easier to see the holes or deficiencies that exist. Then by distributing this one-pager to all employees and reviewing it periodically with them you'll assure that everyone has a clear understanding where it is you're trying to take the company.

There are two approaches to developing the one pager. The first gets better commitment by everyone, but takes more time. It uses a group meeting of the senior management of a company or a group to get started. The second approach has the CEO do a first draft of a possible 1-Page Business Plan for the senior team to edit and change.

Work Group Approach to the 1-Page Business Plan (about 2-3 hours):

1. Each person takes 60 minutes before the first meeting to write or outline their own ideas about your company's 1-Page Business Plan (see example from XYZ, Inc. attached). Jot down your thoughts about your Unique Business Proposition, Vision of the company, Overall Goals (3-year), and Strategies (bullet point these).

2. Just jot down "bullets" of what you would include in each section of the document, rather than trying to get the precise wording at this point. Group reviews and several re-writes of your 1-Page Business Plan will get it just right before distributing to all employees. Here are some thought starters:

What is the company's Overall Goals for a 1, 3 or 5 year period? These should be specific and measurable. Should include things like: Revenue, gross or net profit, EBITDA as a % of revenue, market share, etc.

What do you want the business to become in 3 to 5 years; your Vision? See

Vision - The Ultimate Goal page for more info and ideas.

What is the company's Unique Business Proposition? What do you do special in product/service that's of value to the customer? Or, how is your product or service special?

Or, what separates you from all your competitors, in the customer's eye?

In essence, what differentiates your business from the competition?

It’s extremely important that you know the answer to the above questions, because this is answering why your customers should come to you. Once you have your unique business proposition, it will be easy to develop your 17 second elevator speech (a good way to introduce you business to prospective customers). So you and all your team can start using it to get more business.

What Tactics and/or Strategies will the business use to improve? What are the things the business must do to achieve the goals and vision that you have selected? Take some time to really think about this. You want a long list to select from so you have the highest priority strategies on your one pager.

3. Each person should take 10 minutes to share and explain their Plan to the others in their workgroup. No objections are permitted at this point; everyone should just absorb each other’s thoughts. (A little brainstorming exercise.)

4. Members of the group should now challenge what's REALLY IMPORTANT to include and NOT include in your business plan! It is best to tape record this discussion and give the tape plus everyone's transcribed notes (so as to be legible) to the Group Leader/CEO to take away and write a first draft of the 1-Page Business Plan.

5. The Group Leader now develops a two-page very rough draft of the Plan. It should be distributed to managers for edits, to be returned to the Leader in a week. Now go to Step 2. below.

Direct Approach where the CEO Does the First Draft:

1. CEO develops first rough draft from scratch, which is given to everyone for edits.

2. CEO gets managers' input, prepares a second draft, and sends it out for edits.

3. CEO holds a 1-2-hour brainstorming session (taped) where all aspects are discussed.

4. CEO prepares final 1-Page Business Plan and distributes it to all employees in a group meeting.

Ample time should be taken at this meeting to explain and elaborate on the plan so everybody has a good understanding of it and its importance.

It is best to keep this 1-Page Business Plan alive. You do this by having senior management refer to it from time to time to remind people about it. Also, it is good to revise it quarterly and reissue it, particularly if significant changes have been made.

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