We work closely with many growing businesses at MyITpros – not just to help them meet their changing IT needs, but also to help with the broader challenge of taking a business to the next level. That’s a challenge we understand firsthand, and it’s satisfying to be able to share what we’ve learned with our clients. One tool I keep going back to again and again in this process is the one-page business plan. We swear by it for our own company, and we urge clients to make it a part of their business planning and strategy, too.
Now, I’m not the only one who’s a fan of the one-page plan. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find advice from plenty of people about how to adopt it for your own business. But while there are many out there talking about how to put together a one-page business plan, I’m more interested in talking about why you need to do it. If you’re a growing business and you want to keep growing successfully, I believe there are three principal benefits to having a one-page business plan.
1. Helps you keep your eyes on the prize.
There are lots of good reasons to have a business plan, including attracting funding and recruiting talent, to name just a couple that experts often mention. But when it comes to the greatest value of a business plan – and especially a one-page business plan – I think it’s in helping a company maintain the focus needed to get things done.
When you write a one-page business plan, you pull together in one short document everything your business is about: your vision for what you want to accomplish, your core values, your goals and your strategy for reaching those goals. From that point on, you always have that document to keep you focused on what you want to accomplish and how you intend to get there. If you get off-track, your one-page plan can help you get your focus back.
I love the idea of doing this one-pager for a couple of reasons. One, I think you’re more likely to put off writing your plan if you’re thinking about a 10-, 20- or even 50-page document. But one page? That’s far less daunting, so you’re far more likely to get it done. The other reason I like a one-page business plan is that having only one page to document your vision and goals forces you to be very focused and clear in your statements. As a result, you’ll always be able to see in a quick glance what you need to know to keep moving forward.
2. Tells your people what your company is all about.
MyITpros once had a client that struggled mightily with employee morale and other issues related to the company culture. The growing organization was thriving financially, but it just wasn’t a place where people enjoyed working, and the leadership was smart enough to see that in the long term, this situation could really hurt their business by making it tough to encourage high performance and retain good talent. Once executive management committed to tackling the problem, the first thing they did was craft a mission statement embodying their core values. Next, they shared this statement with their people.
That document became a way to let employees know some things they’d never been told explicitly before: what the company was all about, what their work was helping build and what was in it for them. Company leaders created an internal system to recognize and reward employees for embracing company values. The leadership also shared corporate goals and revenue targets with employees, and started having regularly scheduled meetings to communicate progress toward these and other goals. In 18 months, they’d completely turned around the unhealthy work environment and made the company something employees were proud to be a part of.
When you’re pursuing successful growth, it’s critical to be able to share your goals with the people who are going to get you there, and a one-page business plan is indispensible in helping do that.
3. Lets you know what other companies are all about (and vice versa).
I’ve always believed that one of the most productive things a growth-minded company can do is to align with other companies that also want to grow and that share a similar vision and values. But how do you know when other companies think the way your company does? How can you size up other companies quickly when you’re trying to decide whether to do business with them? And how can they get a sense of what your company is about?
Once again, the one-page business plan is a great tool for sharing information – not just with employees, as in the example above, but also with other companies that have the potential to be valuable strategic partners. Indeed, simply having a concise, easy-to-understand business plan tells you a lot about a company. It lets you know the organization sees the importance of having a clear plan, just as you do. And if you see in that plan the same kind of thinking that informs your own business, you know chances are good that you’ll have a strong partner.
I don’t think I can overstate the value of quick, clear insight into a company’s vision and goals – whether it’s your own company or a company you’re considering doing business with. That kind of insight is what will keep you on track to realize your ambitions, as well as keep others on the path forward with you. I think that, often, such insight is best presented in a one-page business plan. That why having such a plan is so important. (And now that you know the “why,” here’s some useful guidance on how to create a one-page business plan of your own.)
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