If you didn’t go to business school, the idea of drafting a business plan might make your head spin. You envision a 20-pound document with terminology you can’t understand that essentially lives at the bottom of a drawer gathering dust.
That’s not useful, is it?
The fact is: a business plan is what you make of it. Unless you’re seeking financing and a bank or investor requires an in-depth document, there’s no reason it has to be long.
It can, in fact, be just a page or two! Don’t believe me? Here are the reasons why you don’t need an extensive business plan.
- It’s just for you
And you’re the boss, remember? Whatever you say, goes. So if all you need is a few ideas jotted down on a napkin, by Jiminy, that can be your business plan!
The purpose of a business plan is for you to gather your thoughts on what you want your business to look like, and how you’ll connect with customers. You can include the typical components of a business plan, or not. Include whatever you find valuable.
You might, for example, want to include a budget so that you know what your startup expenses will be. You probably won’t need to include the executive leadership bios since, well, you’re it.
- You want to update it over time
Look, if you haven’t yet started your business, you may not realize this, but: you are going to be pretty busy growing your business over the next few years. If you create a 50-page document, there’s no way you will actually circle back to ensure it stays updated as your business grows.
It’s important that you do update your business plan, because goals are a moving target, and they will likely change. What you think you want to accomplish now, you might laugh at in three years. Thus, your business plan should evolve along with your business.
It’s much, much easier to update a one-page business plan. You can do it in an hour or less, I guarantee.
Related: How to Write a Business Plan
- It should provide a quick snapshot of your business
In the event that you take on a business partner, hire executives or seek advice from a consultant down the road, a short business plan can give them all a quick summary of what your business is all about. You shouldn’t hand someone that encyclopedia-sized plan and expect them to read it. However, it is reasonable to ask him or her to peruse one page to get a sense of where your business is headed.
- You need to read it in the future
Just like you wouldn’t ask someone else to review your giant business plan, you wouldn’t ask yourself to do it, either. Because it’s so important that you refer back to your business plan regularly (at least once a year; more frequently is better), you want to be able to do so easily. With a one-pager, you have no excuse not to.
Tips for creating your one page business plan
Focus only on the components that are most important to you in your plan. That might be:
- An overview of what you sell
- Customer demographics
- Marketing channels
- Pricing strategy
- Competitive advantage
You might add more sections over time as you see fit, and that’s fine. It’s not a sin to turn your one-pager into a — gasp — two- or three-pager! The goal here is simply to keep it short and sweet.
For each of your goals, create a plan for how you’ll achieve them. If you say you want to hit $200,000 in revenue in the next five years, create actionable steps for how you will get there. Will you hire a sales team? Gradually raise prices? Spend more on advertising?
Have others review your business plan.. Often, it takes someone else to point out things that are confusing or that need further explanation. Don’t get hung up on your first draft. It will be a living, breathing document, so don’t be shy about amending it.
Keep your business plan handy! Tossing it in a drawer essentially means you’ll never look at it again. Put a reminder on your calendar to regularly review and update your business plan so it actually helps you move forward.
A business plan can be a highly effective tool for organizing your thoughts around your business and highlighting the path to achieving your goals. But remember: longer does not equal better; sometimes brevity is your best option.