So, you have a business idea. Next step: take it to investors. But to convince them to invest, you’ll need a punchy proposal. That proposal is called a one-page business plan or a written document that describes your company’s core objectives and how you aim to achieve them.
Your business plan doesn't need to be lengthy—often, a one-page business plan is more than enough to describe your company's core objectives and how you aim to achieve them.
There are seven components to a proper one-page business plan:
- Business objectives
- Competitive analysis
- Target market
- Business structure
- Products and services
- Marketing plan
- Financial analysis
Here, we break down what goes into these seven components and guide you through how to complete a one-page business plan.
1. Business objectives
Business objectives are the specific and measurable results a company aims to achieve over a specific period.
Setting strong business objectives lets you clearly define what your business needs to succeed and helps to rally teams around a shared goal. If you are seeking a funding opportunity, objectives also let you make a case for funding and the impact the investment will make.
It’s best to write SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based). The purpose of SMART objectives is to give your teams a sense of a unified purpose and direction that can be tracked over time.
Imagine you want to open an online vintage clothing store. You know the bottom line is to make a profit, but how will you get to that point? Draft SMART objectives to guide you toward a profitable business model, like:
- Gain 10 consignment sellers by end of Q3.
- Earn a net income of $30,000 by end of Q4.
- Sell inventory at a sustained rate of 60%.
2. Competitive analysis
A competitive analysis gives you a snapshot of who your top competitors are, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Competitive analyses show you the viability of your business in relation to other, similar companies.
There’s a lot that goes into a full competitive analysis, from tracking a business’s organizational structure to its pricing model. But for a one-page business plan, you just need a high-level summary. The best starting point for identifying your top competitors is to google the keywords you want to bid on or are currently bidding on. Look at the websites of businesses that show up on the first page and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
For a one-page business plan, translate your findings into short bullet points. If we think back to our online vintage clothing store example, your bullet points might look like:
- Beacon’s Closet: New York-based curated vintage store with a large social media following
- The RealReal: An upscale secondhand e-commerce site with a focus on designer goods
- Depop: An affordable online marketplace for younger consumers
3. Target market
Your target market consists of the people most likely to purchase your products or services—your ideal customers.
Think about it: You can’t sell a product or service until you know there are customers willing to buy it. Define your target market to find out who your customers are and why they need your product.
Investors want to see you’ve thought about your target market and that you have a keen understanding of who you'll be selling to—an understanding that can help guide your marketing decisions down the line.
Recently, we walked through how to create a buyer persona for your business. Typically, a buyer persona is its own one-page document, profiling an imaginary person who embodies your ideal customer.
For a one-page business plan, you don’t have the space to share your full buyer personas. Instead, list your buyer personas as one-sentence descriptions. From there, identify your target market based on the qualities or characteristics that unite your buyer personas.
To continue with our vintage clothing store example, our buyer personas might look like:
- Nancy the retiree, 66, comes in weekly to shop special deals on nostalgic clothing from the 1950s when she was a child.
- Colin the student, 20, loves the act of rummaging through racks of clothing for unique disco-inspired pieces he can share on TikTok.
- Tobi the collector, 50, has an impressive collection of vintage leather bags and shops weekly for new pieces to add to their collection.
4. Business structure
Investors want to see that the people leading your business have the knowledge and experience to succeed. Your business plan should include a description of key personnel and how they work to build a thriving business.
Even if you're the only person in your company, flesh out this section to provide a snapshot of how your business operates. Develop brief bios for each person who leads your company, and list each person out in a bulleted list.
Consider our vintage clothing store example. The business structure might look something like:
- Ellen Smith, owner and operations manager: Smith received an MBA from Columbia in 2006. Smith previously founded dog food company, PupWorks, growing it into a national franchise in under a decade.
- Lilly Barnes, buyer and marketing manager: Barnes studied fashion merchandising at FIT, earning a BA in 2008. Previously, Barnes served as director of marketing at Kate Spade.
5. Products and services
The products and services section of your one-page business plan is your chance to describe the products or services your business offers and the impact they have on the market.
Detailing your products and services highlights your company’s value and demonstrates its competitive advantage over other businesses. Investors interested in your company will look to this section to understand what niche your business offerings fill.
You’re tight on space with a one-page plan, so don’t focus your energy on listing every product you offer. Instead, describe the logic behind why you offer certain products or services, explain your pricing model, and share how your offerings differ from competitors’.
In our vintage clothing store example, the high-level view of your offerings is simple: vintage goods. But to paint a full picture, you might consider a short paragraph that explains what kinds of goods you’ll carry, how you’ll get inventory, your pricing structure, and how you’ll fulfill online orders. Here’s a sample:
“We buy and sell vintage goods, specializing in designer clothing and accessories from the 1950s to the Y2K fashions of the early 2000s. Our inventory comes directly from individual sellers, and we offer cash for their products immediately. Our inventory sells for 30% below market value. Online orders are filled within 72 hours of purchase, and customers receive up-to-date tracking once their items have shipped.”
6. Marketing plan
Your marketing plan, also called a marketing strategy, is a detailed view of how you'll reach new customers with information on your products or services.
Use this section as an opportunity to teach potential investors how you'll reach new customers in your market. Think back to our vintage clothing shop example: It doesn’t matter if you carry in-demand Chanel and Dior if no one knows you exist.
Outline the ways you'll market your products or services with a simple bulleted list. Be sure to address:
- Marketing budget
- Your company’s marketing channels, like email and social media
- Promotional efforts, like special discounts or offers
- Advertising, like Google ads
- Printed materials, like flyers or business cards
7. Financial analysis
A financial analysis in a one-page business plan provides a snapshot of your business’s current and future financial health.
Your financial analysis tells investors whether your business is or will become profitable. This section may be the toughest for you to condense because there are so many metrics that are useful for understanding a business's profitability.
That’s why we recommend you focus on business ratios that highlight your financial projections.
- Net profit margin: How much revenue you receive and how much revenue you count as income
- Accounts payable turnover: A look at your bills and how quickly you’re able to pay them
- Total debt to total assets: Compares the total amount of debt to assets
Put your one-page business plan into action
A one-page business plan guides you toward your goals and can be used as a springboard for action. If you’ve drafted a one-page plan, you have a roadmap for success right at your fingertips.
Next, work toward your business objectives and put your marketing plan into use. Use Buffer Start Page as an interim landing page to test language, services, and branding ideas before pushing them to your actual website. Start Page is designed to be flexible to your changing business needs and is customizable to your branding. As a bonus, Buffer members get free access to Start Page with their membership.