The One-Paragraph Business Start-Up Plan
During the earliest stages of starting a business, the last thing you should concern yourself with is writing lengthy plans or long-winded executive summaries. It's time to kill the traditional business plan in favor of a realistic, practical tool: a one-paragraph startup plan.
You might think there's no way to write everything there is to know about your brilliant business idea in one paragraph. Guess what? You're wrong. You probably don't have much to say -- because it's likely you haven't proved a thing yet.
|During the earliest stages of starting a business, a one-paragraph plan should be more than adequate.|
A one-paragraph startup plan is exactly what it sounds like: Your entire business concept boiled down into an easily digestible format. Unlike traditional business planning that teaches people to brainstorm-write-brainstorm-write-revise-revise-execute, the goal of the one-paragraph plan is to have you brainstorm-write-execute-revise-execute.
There are fundamental differences between these two approaches. The traditional route would have you finalize your entire strategy based on a hypothesis without testing or validation. The one-paragraph startup plan is designed to test your hypothesis through daily experimentation. It also serves as a fluid action strategy that grows along with your startup.
My first one-paragraph startup plan took me three days to research, brainstorm and write. On the fourth day, I was up and running. Was it the perfect plan? No, but it got me started quickly, and set me on a course to generate revenue immediately.
Here is a five-point guide to help get you started.
1. Answer key questions about your business.
To get started, you must have answers to key questions about your business and its prospective customers. Answer each of the following questions completely, honestly and in no more than one or two sentences. It is important to be confident you can substantiate your core beliefs with relevant arguments and that the focus be on immediate realities, not what you would do with more resources or what you will do a year from launch.
I'm including the answers I gave for my company, Sizzle It!
- What product or service does your business provide? The company produces and edits sizzle reels -- three- to five-minute promotional videos combining video, graphics, photos, audio and messaging for fast-paced, stylized product overviews.
- How does your business produce or provide the product or service? A team of freelance editors edits together media materials submitted by clients.
- How will customers use your product or service? Customers use it to offer their clients overviews of products, services or brands.
- How will your business generate immediate revenue? It produces revenue by charging these clients flat fees for editorial services.
- Who are the primary clients your business will target? The primary clients are boutique public-relations firms.
- How will you market your startup to prospective clients? Marketing efforts includes cold calls, search engine optimization and networking at public-relations industry events.
- How are you different from your competitors? Unlike competitors that offer large, diversified service rosters, the company will focus only on producing sizzle reels.
- What secondary and tertiary client bases will you target once you've achieved success with your primary base? The company will expand its client roster to include advertising agencies and small businesses.