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When starting a new business, everyone always talks about a business plan and the importance of having one, and they would be right – it is essential for every entrepreneur or business owner – it is the roadmap for your business and a necessary task to complete. However, most new businesses put off writing their business plan as it seems like such a daunting task – anyway, there are always a million other things to keep you busy!

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that difficult – a business plan can be as simple as a one-page document. Let’s be honest, in a time of information overload, the shorter the better – a one page plan will allow you to get the idea of your business across quickly and succinctly. It’s actually a very good exercise to trim down your business plan to the absolute minimum—it forces you to trim needless words and communicate your business idea clearly, with minimal clutter. It’s about creating a document that can cover all your needs at the beginning and get you organised enough to get started – the more in-depth critical thinking will come later…

The key elements that need to be contained in any good business plan would be the following:

  1. The Customer Problem
  2. Your Solution
  3. Business Model (how you make money)
  4. Target Market (who is your customer and how many of them are there)
  5. Competitive Advantage
  6. Management Team
  7. Financial Summary
  8. Funding Required

The content of your business plan is by far the most important thing. Think carefully about what you are trying to communicate. Too many companies spend time focusing on presentation and graphical display of their plans, when what they are saying and how they are saying it is really the most critical aspect of it all. Presentation is important, but content is king.

Here are five easy steps to a one-page business plan:

1. Start with your vision. Begin the plan by thinking of the end. You have to communicate up front where you want to go with your business to set the tone for your plan. Is the plan to grow this business to sell? Do you want the business to be a legacy that will last your lifetime? What’s the big vision for the end goal? It’s important to start with the end in mind. Your vision should summarise that well.

2. Formalise your mission statement. You know what your vision is, now you need to describe what you’re going to do to accomplish that vision in a brief, accessible way. This will be the daily reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing every day.

3. List your objectives. Think of your objectives as the bullet points of deliverables you plan to achieve. For example, “dominate at least 15 percent of the market of my niche by 2016,” or HR objectives such as “hire one full-time sales person by year’s end.” These should be the big goals you want to achieve with a timeframe attached to them.

4. Form your strategies. Your strategies describe how you plan to achieve your objectives. What’s the marketing plan? Sales strategy? Will you devote your time to research and development? What are the overarching strategies you will follow to achieve your objectives?

5. Create an action plan. You have the objective, you’ve decided on a strategy, now what actionable steps will you take to make sure your business maintains the momentum to achieve your objectives and reach your goal? These should be short-term actions and daily tasks — things that you can start doing now to work toward the big picture.

Tackling a business plan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simplify the process by following these five easy steps to a one-page business plan, then work in the 8 key elements that need to be included within their relevant headings and you will be well on your way.