The One-Page Business Plan

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If you’ve been putting off writing your business plan, you are not alone. Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task and an easy one to avoid.

But, it doesn’t have to be. An easy way to start is with a one-page business plan.

There’s really not any difference between a “one page business plan” and a good executive summary. The only real possible difference is the that the “one page plan” must absolutely fit on one page in a font that most people can still read, while a traditional executive summary can extend to two or three pages, but really should never be longer than that.

If you can condense your executive summary to one page, that’s great. Investors don’t have lots of time to read and a one-page executive summary will get the idea of your business across succinctly. It’s actually a very good exercise to trim down your executive summary to the absolute minimum. This will force you to trim needless words and communicate your business idea clearly and with minimal clutter.

Whether you want to call it a “one page business plan,” an executive summary, or an elevator pitch, it should contain the following:

  1. 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 executive summary is by far the most important thing. 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 your executive summary. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to have an ugly presentation, but focus on the content more than anything else.

Remember, the executive summary (or one-page business plan) is usually your introductory communication with investors, so it will be your first impression. Investors will use this document to get an understanding of your communication skills as well as your ability to think critically about your business. You should spend more time on this part of your plan than any other section.

Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

Before joining Palo Alto Software, Noah Parsons was an early Internet marketing and product expert in the Silicon Valley. He joined Yahoo! in 1996 as one of its first 101 employees and become Producer of the Yahoo! Employment property as part of the Yahoo! Classifieds team before leaving to serve as Director of Production at He is a graduate of Princeton University.

Noah devotes most of his free time to his three young sons. In the winter you'll find him giving them lessons on the ski slopes, and in summer they're usually involved in a variety of outdoor pursuits.

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of Outpost and the online business plan app LivePlan. You can follow Noah on Google+ or on Twitter.

Posted in Business Plan Writing