One Page Business Plan

August 14th, 2017

Everyone tells you, you need a plan and you do. BUT if you can’t write it on one page you’ll ignore!

A business plan tells you where you are going, why and how you’ll get there. But the key to making a plan that works is to keep it short. One page is all you need and if you can’t write it on one page you’ll never use it. Don’t write a plan the size of a doorstop, that you’ll only use as a doorstop? A doorstop plan is used for raising finance.

Have you spent days putting a plan together with your management team? Reams of paper, SWOT’s research and numbers only to see the beautifully written bound and presented plan to sit in a drawer until next year when you dust it off and start again?

And when was the last time you reviewed it? If it’s more than a few days since you checked the plan you’ve already ditched it, and here’s why…:

  • It’s too long, badly written, full of waffle and jargon no one understands
  • It misses the point, doesn’t make sense or is pie in the sky
  • It’s out of date already and we’re behind target as well, no point making it painful
  • You don’t understand it or you don’t know what to do first or how to do it.
  • The biggest reason is, it doesn’t say how you’re going to achieve it – there’s no action plan.

A plan is a plan at a single point in time. It’s a great starting point, but internal and/or external influences means the plan must be dynamic, flexible but firm too.

So, was that planning time wasted? No, absolutely not.

The goals & objectives you developed from your market, financial and sales review are valid; you just don’t need a 40-page business plan – one page is plenty. If you’re raising finance, you’ll need more than I’m suggesting here.

So, what do you need?

  1. A one-page business plan (one side of A4) that says in few words:
    1. Your reasons for being (the vision)
    2. Your objectives
    3. Your key performance indicators (KPIs)
    4. Target customers, markets and products
  2. A 12/24 month rolling cash flow forecast, including
    1. Sales targets
    2. Sales pipeline
    3. Overheads and expenditure (include everything)
  3. An action plan covering who, what, when, where, how, and why.
    1. One for the business, and
    2. One for each department; owned by department heads.

Everyone can concentrate long enough to read one page. They’ll understand how their actions help achieve the goal. Do the actions, on time and within budget, then you’ll achieve the business goals.

Once business plan, cash flow and the action plans are done, it’ll be easier to manage the variables, react to change and assess alternatives.

Planning takes effort; make it worthwhile. Don’t write War and Peace!

Does your business plan work for you or does it need the one-page treatment?



Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme