It’s been said that goals without plans are little more than daydreams. While it’s great to have dreams, my guess is that you’d like your business to be built on something more substantial than some hopes and wishes.
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, and a pilot wouldn’t fly an airplane without a flight map. So why doesn’t every single entrepreneur have a written strategy to serve as a guide through the ups and downs of business building?
You need a plan for your business
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that a business plan needs to consist of 30 pages complete with bar graphs and pivot tables. Therefore many entrepreneurs, eager to get started and afraid of spending too much time immersed in hypotheticals, give their ideas the once over and say, “I think I’ve got this.”
It’s tempting to dive right in with your topic and ideal customer avatar, assuring yourself that you’ll see what happens. If you aren’t in any kind of hurry to bring revenue in the door, then perhaps this approach can work.
But as many entrepreneurs juggle full time day jobs and family commitments alongside their side projects, getting to revenue as quickly as possible might be the difference between staying the course and giving up.
There’s a way to bypass some of this early trial and error without getting buried under pages of research, and it comes down to having an organized, brief and simple plan to keep you focused.
We have a simple, free, focused 1-page business template for you. Look for the download box at the end of this article.
Your business plan on just one page
At the end of the day your business is built upon your very best guess. Your business will change and evolve as you learn, so the plan you create needs to be dynamic. If you cast your plan in stone you risk clinging too tightly to that strategy you worked so hard on, rendering your business less nimble when a pivot becomes necessary.
It might seem surprising or impossible to imagine that all of the most crucial pieces of your business can fit onto one page. At Fizzle, we call this plan a sketch: it’s meant to be completed quickly, if not a bit roughly, but the objective is still to put pencil to paper.
What your business plan should cover
This one page game plan summarizes your high level strategy in one page, so naturally there are a lot of questions to answer. These questions can be grouped into a few critical components:
The problem – Who will you serve? What problem are you solving for them?
The solution – How will you solve that problem? How will you turn that value into something people will actually pay for?
Bridging problem & solution – How will you explain your business in a compelling, concise way? How will you measure whether your idea is working?
Business reality – What will this business require? What advantages do you have in the marketplace? Is this business the right fit for you?
Fizzle’s Business Sketch Template serves as a guide through these aspects and beyond, breaking all the essential elements into straightforward questions. These are the building blocks of your business fitting together on just one page.
A few words on revenue
If you’ve made the decision to dive into entrepreneurship and all of the sacrifices that come with it, it’s likely that you’re building a business around a problem or cause that you actually care about. If this is the case, you might find yourself genuinely jazzed up about your problem and solution.
However, when the word “revenue” enters the picture perhaps you scratch your head in confusion or conclude that if you hustle hard enough on the front end, the money will follow.
While you might stumble into cash if you simply serve hard, devising a strategy for making money is made infinitely easier with the implementation of a framework. In Fizzle we frequently talk about business archetypes in an effort to profile the most common methods for making money.
For the revenue portion of the Business Sketch Template, the key questions to ask are simply,
- “What will you sell?”
- And, “How much will it cost?”
For the maker – Makers are characterized by having some type of physical good for sale. As a maker you will need to decide what product you will sell and for how much, while also factoring in what it costs you to procure it. Makers also have plenty of options when it comes to sales platforms. For example, artistic pieces may sell best on Etsy, while the e-commerce guru might use Amazon to find buyers. As you create your business plan, let your target audience be your guide in determining the best marketplace for your goods.
For the freelancer – Freelancers typically possess valuable skills they are able to sell as services to others. Businesses with this archetype will need to decide how they will charge, whether that’s an hourly rate for graphic work or a package of sessions for a health coach. Anticipate scenarios in which a client wants to add services on after the work has begun, thinking through how you will charge accordingly in order to avoid feeling short-changed at the end of a project.
For the teacher – Teachers provide expertise to their audiences by creating products intended to pass along skills or information. These businesses should consider how they want to purvey their educational content, whether that’s creating an online course, offering an ebook, organizing a conference or launching a membership site like Fizzle. It’s easy for teachers to bite off too much at once here, so aim to choose one avenue to start with, releasing it and iterating on it as you receive customer feedback.
Note: This is just 3 of the archetypes explained. Click here to learn more about the 10 business archetypes.
That’s great, but how much do I charge?
As you settle into your archetype, an inevitable question pops up: “Now I know how I’ll make money, but how much do I charge?”
The answer to this question is highly individual as it depends completely on how much value your potential customers see in your particular solution. As you build your one page plan, remember that your business is an ongoing experiment. You will almost certainly have to hypothesize, test, talk to customers often and early, draw conclusions, and repeat that process in order to increase your revenue.
Without a doubt this business plan will grow and change to reflect your successes and failures, and it should. Fizzle’s Business Sketch Template distills the questions you need to ask around problem, solution and revenue with a simple layout that won’t require you spend your precious time crafting a 45-slide PowerPoint presentation.
So grab our template, get started, and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. This is your rough plan, and when you inevitably get lost on the journey, you’ll have this map to guide you.
“I just downloaded this great free one-page business plan template”
The Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business
Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.
One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.
These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil' guide. Get the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Starting an Online Business here »