Two young men sit at a table in an open-plan office. The man on the left writes in a notebook while the man on the right watches.
Your business plan doesn't need to be lengthy and detailed when you're just starting out. A single page can hold enough info to draw in investors and other backers. — Getty Images/SrdjanPav

A complete, thoughtful business plan can help you recruit executive leaders, pitch investors and win grants. But sometimes you just need a one-page business plan to get your foot in the door. A condensed business plan can act as an elevator pitch to pique the interest of a startup incubator, bank or other business partner. Here’s what should go into your one-page business plan.

[Read more: The Definitive Guide to Writing a Startup Business Plan]

Section 1: The demand

Start by establishing the problem, need or demand for your product or service. Why should an investor back your business idea? This section establishes opportunity: why you’ve come up with this idea in the first place, and why other consumers will see your idea as valuable. There must be a demand in the market for which you are supplying a solution.

Note that “demand” is different than “market size.” “Start your pitch with the demand in your market, not how big the market is. It doesn't matter how big the market is if no one wants your product or service,” explains Sweta Patel in Forbes.

Try to keep each of these sections to two to three sentences. Treat this first section as the bait to get someone interested in reading the following sections, and to inevitably ask for a longer pitch.

Section 2: Your solution

Some experts consider this your company’s mission statement. Others treat it as an opportunity to describe the intricacies of your product or service. Overall, this section should describe your solution to the problem identified in Section 1. How is your solution distinctive from other companies tackling the same problem?

“You can even think of this section like a book headline,” wrote one expert. “The first part is the eye catching and very clear statement on what the book is about. And then the actual book text talks in more detail about the ‘bread and butter’ of the story.”

Make sure this section focuses on the things that make your idea unique: The details of why a customer will buy from you instead of any other company will provoke an investor to ask for more information.

Section 3: Business model

How will you make money? This section should cover your pricing strategy. “Briefly describe how your pricing will be competitive enough to attract customers but be high enough to generate a profit after subtracting expenses,” recommends The Balance.

Patel also writes about the importance of identifying multiple revenue streams for your new company. “The next step in crafting a one-page business plan is to ensure there is more than one way of making revenue in your business. If there isn't, investors might think your company isn't innovative enough. They might hold back on funding because they want to invest in an organization that is going to have several ways of making money,” she said.

Save the detailed financial information for the longer business plan, and focus on how your idea will generate revenue while keeping costs low.

Start your pitch with the demand in your market, not how big the market is.

Sweta Patel, Forbes Business Council

Section 4: Management team

Business incubators and investors often give more consideration to business ideas presented with a strong leadership team attached. The reason for this is that investors realize that an initial idea may go through a few iterations before launching to the market. Therefore, an investor will look for a talented, motivated founding team with whom they can refine a business idea until it works.

You may not have your executive team in place yet, but make sure you showcase the qualifications of yourself and any business partners you have. If you haven’t started hiring, demonstrate the profile of who you wish to bring on board to help your network put you in touch with the right people.

Section 5: Action plan

Use your remaining space to outline your goals, next steps and call to action. What is your big “ask”? If it’s funding, demonstrate what you will do with the amount of money you need. Try to outline specific targets with deadlines. For instance, you may write a sentence stating, “By ‘x date’ we will have the business premises chosen and lease signed.” Give potential partners a little taste of where their investment will make a difference.

You may also want to include a line that offers a more complete business plan with financial projections, marketing, distribution and competitive analysis available on request. Hopefully, your one-page plan will have given enough of a taste of your idea to encourage investors to seek more information.

[Read more: 5 Business Plan Templates to Help You Plan for Success]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 07, 2020