Is it just me or have other people searched and searched for the perfect business plan template too? It’s something that’s haunted me forever. Anything I found online and in business text books just didn’t seem right. For starters, most business plans are actually not designed to help you run a business. In fact, most seem to be focussed on either a plan to start a business (ie a feasibility study), or a business plan designed to impress possible investors. (Read more about the problem with business plans here). But these never suited the business plan format I wanted. I was hunting for a business plan format that is simple, helps with decisions, results-focussed, and extremely actionable.
Introducing the Actionable, 1-Page Business Plan Template
Over the years, I developed a business plan format that works for me – one that’s helped focus my efforts and keeps me taking the next steps to move my business forward.
The Sections of the Actionable Business Plan Template
This one-page business plan template just contains the sections necessary to keep you on task and accountable. Use the form above to download the Word Template and start filling it out now.
Here’s where you go back to you “Why?” with a pithy statement that reminds you why you’re in business after all. As any business owner knows, it’s not all roses and cupcakes along the way, so make sure your vision inspires you and keeps you focussed on your purpose. Your vision statement defines what you’re providing and to who (your target market). Here’s a quick method for writing a vision statement.
This is simply the date you lasted updated your one-page business plan. Even though the plan is for 12 months, you should probably update it every 3-6 months.
1 Year Goal
In this section you should define a specific and measurable goal for the business. Something that stretches you, and maybe scares you a little, but is also acheivable. In most cases, your goal should be either a profit or revenue goal. (For some businesses, growth is most important and cost management is not too big of an issue so focussing on revenues makes more sense.)
If you have (or wish to have) multiple revenue sources, you can break your goal down this way.
An example of a 1 year goal might be; “By July 2016, we will reach $1 million in annual revenues of which at least 20% will be from product sales.”
You may also have two goals – for instance a number of clients and monthly revenues. In which case your goal would be something like; “By 31st October 2017, we will have 500 paying clients and monthly revenues of $60,000.)
Once you have your annual goal, you need to work this backwards and map out your targets for each month. (You can add another row to this business plan template for multiple revenue streams.) Take into account reasonable growth rates, seasonal variations, historical trends and even your own plans for holidays.
Now is where we get to the “How” of your plan. What new strategies are you going to implement that will actually help you achieve your monthly targets?
Usually, the best way to approach this is to brainstorm all the possible strategies that you could employ that you think might help your business. These will usually be marketing, sales, organisational, or product/service related.
Here are some examples of a few tactical strategies (these are by no means complete!):
- Marketing Strategies
- Start a Google Adwords campaign
- Run a regular networking event for our clients
- Start a blog
- Create a “brag book” of previous client work
- Participate in a trade show
- Revise our branding – signage, uniforms, website, stationery
- Update our website
- Deliver sales letters/pamplets in our target area
- Implement a customer referral program
- Sales Strategies
- Improve customer quote template
- Implement sales funnel follow up methodology
- Hire a sales trainer for a week
- Implement a rebooking reminder (SMS or email)
- Convert more website visitors with an online chat system
- Create or rewrite our sales script
- Organisational Strategies
- Hire 2 new sales people
- Find an experienced CFO that we can access as needed
- Outsource our bookkeeping
- Find a technical resource that we can have on retainer for all website and IT maintenance
- Split Peter’s job into 2 so that he can focus on sales and hire a part-time marketing consultant
- Product / Service Improvement Strategies
- Add a new feature to our subscriptions
- Add a money-back guarantee to all of our work
- Create a recurring revenue product / service
- Ensure all new installations include a service/care book complete with instructions
- Add a low-priced, introductory product that allows new customers to try us with low risk
Once you start thinking, the temptation is usually to try to do everything at once – but resist! Most businesses can only handle 1 significant (or maybe 2 smaller) strategies per quarter. So prioritise your strategies and choose one or maybe two to implement each quarter. You might find this prioritisation matrix helpful.
Once you have your tactical strategies, break them down into action items. Think about the timings of these – what order things need to be done in and the timing between them. Make sure no action item is too big – it should be something you can tick off as completed and not get bogged down in. Also make sure that if you did all of the action items associated with a certain tactical strategy, you’d be pretty sure it would be completed successfully.
For example, if one of your tactical strategies is “Hire a sales person”, your action items could be;
- Write a job description
- Place advertisement
- Interview at least 5 candidates
- Have 2 candidates attend a sales pitch with you
- Offer the position
- Write onboarding checklist
- Write sales manual / scripts
- Conduct 2 week review
Or, if one of your tactical strategies is “Run a regular networking event for our clients”, your action items could be;
- Brainstorm different types of event formats and decide which one to pursue
- Find a suitable venue and set a date for the 1st event
- Determine invite list
- Create invitations
- Send invitations
- Organise catering / other things necessary for event
- Hold event
- Send survey to attendees to assess success
- Analyse surveys and evaluate success
- Decide whether to repeat and how often
- Set date and venue for next event
- Send out invitations
So there you have it, an actionable, one-page business plan template that you can start using today.