The Mythical One Page Business Plan

A One Page Business Plan is more useful than you’d think. I was a bit sceptical about writing a one page business plan until my client twisted my arm to write it. I’d wanted to write a more in- depth document or use Business Plan software to scope out the requirements. As an experiment we tried it.

A One Page Business Plan is more useful than you’d think. I was a bit skeptical about writing a one page business plan until my client twisted my arm to write it. I’d wanted to write a more in- depth document or use Business Plan software to scope out the requirements. As an experiment we tried it. Here’s what I learned.

One Page Business Plan: Where’s the real benefit?

Writing a one-page business plan helps the small business owner focus on the main components that make up the company.

The Mythical One Page Business Plan

Difference Between One Page Business Plan and Traditional Business Plans

The difference between a one page business plan and traditional business plans (e.g. MS Word templates) is that:

  • A one one-page business plan is not a replacement for your strategic planning documents.
  • A one one-page business plan is not meant to provide in-depth analysis of your business model. How could it?
  • A one one-page business plan is not used to seek finance, for example, from your local bank manager or investors. But, there may be exceptions…
  • A one one-page business plan gives you a snapshot of the key points in your business
  • A one one-page business plan is a framework upon which you can start to build a more comprehensive document outlining your Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan, Technology roadmap, and Training & Development needs, Costs, and Personnel
  • A one one-page business plan provides direction for the future growth of your business. It’s a finger pointing in the right direction and

[Video] One Page Business Plan: Example of How It Works

In this video, we look at some of the differences between one-page business plans and the larger documents, for example, Business Plans in Microsoft Word format that you can format to suit your needs.

One Page Business Plan: Who Uses It

What I learned from this exercise is that – if you approach it with the right attitude – you can use this as a stepping stone for more in-depth analysis. The upside is that you get a ‘business plan document’ written in less than a day, while the downside it that it’s a snapshot and needs to be fleshed out if you decide to push ahead with the project.

So, who can benefit from this?

I can see the following benefiting from this:

  • Business Units
  • Cost Centers
  • Cross-functional teams
  • Departments
  • Divisions
  • Government Agencies
  • Not-for-profits
  • Profit Centers
  • Programs
  • Projects
  • Startup Companies
  • Subsidiaries

There are others but you get the idea.

One Page Business Plan: Why It’s Not a Plan

It’s a way to get your business planning up and running quickly and start to explore market strategies quickly.

But, it’s not a plan in the traditional sense. You can’t use this to develop a framework for your marketing plans or use it to seek funding.

There is an upside though. It does allow you to get a quick snapshot of how the business model may work and use this to refine gaps in the process or identify areas where the business plan needs more attention.

Why You Should Write a One Page Business Plan

A one one-page business plan grows with the business. As you change, so to does the business plan.

One final thing. The name of the document is irrelevant. You can call it what you want.

The real purpose of the one-page business plan is to help you navigate the choppy waters of running your business. Keep it simple. Make it useful. Keep it up to date!

What do you think?

Ernest Hemingway’s 10 Step Guide to Persuasive Writing

One of tricks that Hemingway plays on the reader is that while the prose is ‘ordinary’, you can’t help but keep reading on and on and on… It looks simple until you try it. Look at how he does it. His writing style is crisp, direct and engaging. All the signs of a great writer. Look at how he makes long sentences short, mundane subjects interesting, and clips along at a nice pace. And without ever losing the thread. Us business writers can use these techniques to improve business plans, proposals, white papers and case studies.

Let’s get started.

ernest-hemingway-writing-desk

10 Step Guide to persuasive Writing

Here are some ways to improve your business documents:

  1. Highlight the Benefits to the Reader – Write from the reader’s perspective. Instead of writing about you and your products, turn it around and show the reader what’s in it for them. How does this proposal solve the company’s financial problems? How does this email keep the project on track? How does this procedure simplify complicated business processes?
  2. Give the reader a compelling reason to open your email, read it through, and then take action. We’re all the same. When you get a business proposal, you’re first reaction is, “What’s in it for me?” It is your job as a writer to tailor the material so that it answers these questions.
  3. Write at Appropriate Level – Match your writing style and choice of words to your audience. Do not use complex terms or jargon that the reader will not understand. Likewise, do not use simple terms or use poor examples if the reader is capable of understanding your material. They’ll assume you’re being condescending or patronizing them. Get the tone right and go from there.
  4. How to Structure Paragraphs #1 – Business letters are not read the same way as articles, reports, or books. Usually, they are read by people in a hurry. Business people looking for answers. Quickly. Structure your material so that it’s easy for the reader to find the answers to these questions. Don’t make them dig it out. Use short paragraphs, lots of information rich headings, bullet points and useful summaries.
  5. How to Structure Paragraphs #2– Fine-tune each paragraph for purpose, content, and function. If you have a paragraph that cover more than one idea, consider dividing it into two or more paragraphs. Likewise, if two paragraphs cover the same ground, merge them into one.
  6. Be Specific – don’t mix two ideas in the same paragraph. Make it easy for the reader by giving each topic its own paragraph. Use language that describe your ideas correctly and highlights the relative importance of each concept.
  7. Understand Relative Importance – Use phrases such as “most important,” “major,” or “primary” when discussing business concepts you want to emphasize. Use phrases such as “a minor point to consider” or “least important” to introduce ideas of less importance.
  8. List Key Points – Use verb-leading lists whenever possible. These are lists that start with a strong action verb. Lists also help the reader identify the important points and get a feel for the material with a quick scan.
  9. Prioritize Information – Consider how you introduce and position important information. Remember, content at the start and end of the paragraph tend to be read first. People scan documents. Critical business information buried in the middle of long paragraphs is easily overlooked. Knowing this, put important information in high-visibility points.
  10. Get the Tone Right – Consider the tone and word choice when writing negative or critical communications. For example, in a ‘negative’ project assessment email, you can thank the team member for reader for their input or involvement but state that you cannot comply with their wishes. Then follow this response with your explanation.

Business writing is not difficult but…

Business writing is not difficult. What makes it hard is that the way we approach it defeats our purpose. Your goal as a business writer, oddly enough, is to write less.

Why?

Because every time you write something, you goal should be to push it towards completion. Write your emails so that your team knows what to do next and don’t come back looking for clarification. Write your status report so that your Project Manager know the risks and issues and doesn’t reply looking for more information.

PS – do you have a favorite book by Hemingway?

About the Author: Ivan Walsh provides Business Tips for Smart People on Klariti.com. His also writes on the Business Plan Blog at http://www.ivanwalsh.com

Alec Baldwin’s 14 Ways To Improve Your Business Plan

Don’t know about you but I didn’t like business writing when I started out. It took forever to write white papers, data sheets, and other sales materials. One of the reasons was that it was ‘assumed’ the customer preferred lengthy documents that covered all aspects of the product/service we were offering. How wrong we all were. Sure, it had it’s place but not all documents had to be long. And it’s the same with your Business Plan. It doesn’t have to be fifty of sixty pages. If you can get it under twenty – and keep the material focused – then do it.

‘Always be closing’, Alec Baldwin in GlenGarry Glen Ross.
Don’t know about you but I didn’t like business writing when I started out. It took forever to write white papers, data sheets, and other sales materials. One of the reasons was that it was ‘assumed’ the customer preferred lengthy documents that covered all aspects of the product/service we were offering. How wrong we all were. Sure, it had it’s place but not all documents had to be long. And it’s the same with your Business Plan. It doesn’t have to be fifty of sixty pages. If you can get it under twenty – and keep the material focused – then do it. Continue reading “Alec Baldwin’s 14 Ways To Improve Your Business Plan”

Which Type of Business Plan Is Twice As Likely to Get Investment?

Let’s say you’re about to write your first Business Plan. Or maybe write another one for a new business. Or maybe re-write a Business Plan that didn’t work in the past. And you have a choice… You can trawl the web and download some free Business Plan or get out the credit card and buy one. Tricky, isn’t it? There is so much out there, it’s hard to resist. Ok, why am I rambling on about this?

Let’s say you’re about to write your first Business Plan. Or maybe write another one for a new business. Or maybe re-write a Business Plan that didn’t work in the past. And you have a choice… You can trawl the web and download some free Business Plan or get out the credit card and buy one. Tricky, isn’t it? There is so much out there, it’s hard to resist. Ok, why am I rambling on about this? Continue reading “Which Type of Business Plan Is Twice As Likely to Get Investment?”

9 Step Strategy for Writing Summaries That Intrigue Readers

This article is about writing headlines, summaries and abstracts. Before we start, what is an Abstract?
Philip Koopman, at Carnegie Mellon University, reminds us that, “Writing an efficient abstract is hard work, but will repay you with increased impact on the world by enticing people to read your publications. Make sure that all the components of a good abstract are included in the next one you write.”
This article is about writing headlines, summaries and abstracts. Before we start, what is an Abstract
Photo Credit Pjern

Why We read Abstracts and Summaries?

When you open your inbox every Monday morning and see a stream of emails crying for attention. Which do you choose? I’d guess it’s the ones with the snappiest headlines, like these:

  • Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging
  • A Simple Four-Step Strategy for Developing Content That Connects
  • The Benjamin Franklin Guide to Marketing Your Business Online
  • Five Common Headline Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Become a Master of Metaphor and Multiply Your Blogging Effectiveness
  • Metaphor, Simile and Analogy: What’s the Difference?

These are from CopyBlogger .com and show how smart headlines can tickle your fancy. So, when you read, ‘Are You Leaving Your Readers Out of the Conversation?’ you can’t help but start to answer the question in your mind. And when you do that, you open the article and start to read.
So, good headlines act like hooks bringing you into the story.
Abstracts are also important. We have an ever-increasing need for quick access to information we rely on abstracts and summaries to provide a snapshot of what’s in the article.
If you visualize it as a pyramid, on the top is headlines, then summaries, and then the body of the article. You can see how one leads to the other.

How To Write An Abstract

You have two options. Write it before you start on the main document or after you’ve finished writing, take a break and explore:

  • What is the main subject in this article?
  • What conclusion has the writer made?
  • What message does the writer want to convey?
  • What do you want the reader to do after reading the document?

Analyze this and define it in one sentence – this is your ‘topic’ sentence.
Write one topic sentence that covers the entire document, regardless of whether the document is a five page letter or a hundred page annual report.
1. Getting Ideas
Then, look at the recommendations, conclusions, summaries, and results in the final document. When abstracting a technical manual, look at the tutorials and see if these help form the topic sentence.
2. Don’t Use the Document’s Title
Avoid using the formal name of the document as this can be misleading and may not help you write the topic sentence. Chances are the ‘working title’ will be too vague. Parts of the title might serve as modifiers in your topic sentence, but you’ll probably need to go beyond the title.
3. Be Specific
Make the topic sentence as specific as possible.
Avoid writing

“This report describes [document title].”

Instead, write something like

“The results of this [subject] study show that [result].”

4. Use Supporting Sentences
After you identify your topic sentence, write supporting sentences. Make each of these supply specific details about the ideas in the topic sentence. Think of what supports the topic sentence.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How? and
  • How much?

Give statistics, results, conclusions, or recommendations that back up the topic sentence. Only use two or three major supporting ideas. Include the less important evidence as subordinate clauses and modifiers.
5. Use Transitions
Arrange the supporting sentences in a logical sequence after the topic sentence. Add whatever transition is needed to connect the supporting sentences to the topic sentence and to connect ideas within the sentences to each other.
Re-write the sentences to improve the connections.

10 Other Ways to Write a Better Abstract

  1. Write the abstract only when the document is finished. Abstracts written before then are just previews.
  2. If you are forced to write an abstract before the document is completed, think about its purpose and write a topic sentence. Keep in mind that you’ll need to rewrite the abstract when the document is finished because it will no longer accurately reflect the contents of the document.
  3. Before starting the abstract, list your thoughts on the document. Group related items together.
  4. Prioritize the list and put the most important group first. The first few groups form the core of the topic sentence. The rest lead to supporting sentences.
  5. If you can’t create a topic sentence, write the supporting sentences first. The topic sentence may then become obvious.
  6. Write for an audience not necessarily up to speed in your subject area. This is important because you never know who will read your abstract.
  7. Choose acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terms carefully as they may confuse many readers.
  8. Define the scope of the project in the abstract.
  9. Re-read your abstract after several days have passed and remove superfluous information and padding.

This technique works for documents of any length from a couple of pages to multi-volumes.

Using Keywords in Abstracts

I’ve added this in as many business documents are published directly to the web. This tip applies to writing abstracts, headlines and summaries.
Use keywords in your Titles, Abstracts, Headlines are documents are file electronically. As users search for documents by keywords, write the documents headings with these keywords in mind.
Likewise, your abstract must contain keywords that about the article, proposal, or report so readers can retrieve it quickly.
What other ways can we improve our business documents?

Writing Business Documents for Chinese and Japanese Readers

chinese user guidesmall Carsten Mende explains how loan words are used in China and Japan. These are English words that are commonly used in everyday Chinese, (i.e. loaned) but may not translate correctly if taken literally. He looks at how the ‘Chinese and Japanese languages incorporate English terms and how they are used’ and gives suggestions on what to avoid when translating documentation into these languages.

Continue reading “Writing Business Documents for Chinese and Japanese Readers”

How to Write Killer Headlines Like Andrew Chen: 21 CopyWriting Do's and Dont's

Copyblogger fans, if you want to see great web copy, read Andrew Chen. I’m going to show you his top 15 posts from last year. What do you see? The headlines are very compelling; smart little nuggets that draw you in. The secret is how he combines several copywriting techniques so well. It looks seamless. And that’s what makes it so great.

andrew-chen If you want to see great web copy, read Andrew Chen. I’m going to show you his top 15 posts from last year. What do you see? The headlines are very compelling; smart little nuggets that draw you in. The secret is how he combines several copywriting techniques so well. It looks seamless. And that’s what makes it so great.
Continue reading “How to Write Killer Headlines Like Andrew Chen: 21 CopyWriting Do's and Dont's”

How To Mind Your Grammar On The Web

Ben Parr (Mashable) asks: “Say your project manager comes to you with his proposal that will be going out to investors, business partners, and potential clients.
Then you find that your manager has used “4” instead of “four”, “r” instead of “are”, and abbreviations such as lol, atm, and idk.
How would you react? ” Continue reading “How To Mind Your Grammar On The Web”

The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Business Writers Make

Lots of dumb mistakes can slip into even the best writing. Here we look specifically at reports and other technical documents to provide authors with a checklist they can use for their work.

alice38aLots of dumb mistakes can slip into even the best writing. Here we look specifically at reports and other technical documents to provide authors with a checklist they can use for their work.

1. Numbers that don’t add up

Just one table where the numbers don’t add up correctly is enough to shatter confidence in an entire report. Usually this happens when tables are updated manually.
The best thing to do is to keep all original tables in a spreadsheet and copy them in each time. You can make sure that colleagues are not tempted to make changes manually if you paste tables in as graphics. Continue reading “The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Business Writers Make”

How to Become a Certified Grant Writer | Video Tutorial

Grant writers can become certified online, but they are generally judged by their experience and training. Become a grant writer with tips from a credentialed teacher in this free video on writing lessons.


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