If you own a new business or are just starting one, you would have probably been told that you need a business plan. While this is essential, most business plan templates call for a multipage document that is time-consuming to put together. Time that you could spend actually working on your business. And more often than not, the end result is a collection of theoretical details that most business owners hardly look at again.
So here are seven steps toward creating a one-page business plan that only requires you to spend time on the really important aspects of your business.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE TO LOOK LIKE
What do you want your business to look like in 12 months? What annual income do you need to earn? Do you want a 6-figure business, a business that will eventually replace your income or a part time business?
This step is about creating and writing a vision that is authentic to you. One that articulates your true ambitions, desires and purpose. It is not about what you think you should want. Keep it simple, visualise freely and write your vision in the present tense as if you are already living it.
STEP 2: DECIDE ON YOUR DESIRED ANNUAL REVENUE TARGET
What would you like to earn in a year and how many clients you would like to see over that timeframe. Then work backwards to calculate your hourly value.
Say your annual revenue target is $100,000 and you would like to see 20 clients a week for an hour each. Your formula should look like this:
20 clients x 52 weeks = 1,040 clients a year
$100,000 ÷ 1,040 = $96 per hour (This figure will increase when allocating any non-revenue time such as annual leave)
If you manufacture or sell a product then work out how many products must be sold and how much time needs to be invested to achieve those same results.
Next, run a reality check. Based on the previous calculations, ask yourself whether you are prepared to work that many hours or weeks in a year. Be realistic and do not forget to schedule in recreation or vacation time.
Say you now decide you only want to see four clients a day over four days a week for one hour each in order to have four weeks of annual leave. Your formula would look like this:
$100,000 ÷ 48 working weeks = $2,083
$2,083 ÷ 16 clients a week = $130
This shows that your annual revenue target of $100,000 is still achievable if you rework your fee structure or pricing strategy.
STEP 3: DECIDE ON YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINT
It is important to communicate to your potential client why they would want to choose you over your competitors. They must be able to clearly see a non-monetary difference otherwise they will make a choice based on price. In other words, what is your unique selling point or USP? This could range from a niche service you offer or the extent of your services to your branding or the strength of your credibility.
STEP 4: IDENTIFY THE STRATEGIES THAT WILL HELP YOU HIT YOUR TARGET
Move your focus from short-term goals to a strategic vision that enables you to choose and correct the direction of your course with ease. As long as you are clear about your purpose and future (Step 1), you will be able to write a solid list of strategies.
STEP 5: IDENTIFY WHAT YOU NEED TO STOP DOING
What activities are a waste of your time or energy, and are out of line with your new strategy? Perhaps it is certain administrative tasks, which can be assigned to an assistant whose hourly value will be lower than yours. That will free you up to meet clients. By identifying what you need to stop doing, you will also get clearer about the strategies you need drive forward.
STEP 6: QUESTION EACH NEW TASK OR ACTIVITY
Before starting any new task or activity, ask yourself this question – Is this moving my business forward or is it a distraction? Quite often we hear out about a new marketing strategy someone else has embarked on and get distracted from our own vision, strategies and plans.
STEP 7: CONDUCT A QUARTERLY REVIEW
Review the first six steps every quarter to ensure you are on track and to evaluate whether each strategy is working as planned. A quarterly review allows you to catch anything that is not working early on and make a decision one way or another.
Also remember that your business plan is a guide. It is not set in stone. Circumstances and priorities change with time and regularly revisiting your plan will help you make the necessary tweaks to keep your business on course.