A One Page Business Plan - Your Road Map to Success
Date: Thursday, November 10, 2005 @ 04:26 PM EST
Topic: Leadership and Strategy
Imagine boarding a tour bus and hearing the following: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is your tour guide speaking. Today will be visiting somewhere, I’m not sure where. I have no plan and no road map. I have no instrumentation on this bus, so I will not know how far we are going, or how fast we are moving. We’ll figure this out as we roll along. Thanks for touring with "We’re Lost Tours." Chances are you would make a beeline for the exit door.
Yet, running a business can be similar to conducting a guided tour. In both cases, you must have a plan or a road map and a way to measure your distance from your destination. In the case of a business, that destination is success. As a business owner, one page business planning can create your road map to success.
Ask any truly successful business person the key to their success and one thing they will say is that they had a plan. For example, Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, once explained, "IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. The second reason was that, once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. The third reason IBM has been so successful is that, once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place, and how such a company would have to act, I realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there. Each and every day we attempted to model the company after the picture of how it would ideally work. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had needed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference."
Most businesses today are not the size of IBM. But remember IBM was once a small business too. This "picture of how your company will ideally work" is your Blueprint for Success. This can be simply conveyed with a one page business plan that will answer these critical questions:
Your businees plan is more than an external document used to raise funds. It is a reality check, a performance tool, and a messenger to your employees and customers. Without a business plan you may be poorly equipped to anticipate the future actions you must take to grow your business.
- What are we building?
- Why does this business exist?
- What results will we measure?
- How will we build this company?
- What is the work to be done?
Furthermore, using the one page business planning methodology, you will not only know what your goals are, you will know how close you are to meeting them. That is because one page business plans include performance and progress reports that are linked to each of your objectives. This allows you to track results and encourage accountability throughout your organization. So, when you use a one page business plan you will not only know where you want to go, but how close you are to getting there.
It is also important to keep your plan up to date. You are aware of changes in your industry, market and community. When the road changes, so must your road map. So, if you change goals or direction, you should reflect those changes in your plan. With one page business planning it is easy to monitor and update your plan as needed.
When you have a plan, you can make things happen, not just react to what has happened. You must drive the business, so the business does not drive you. And remember as you ride the road to success, keep your road map to one page, and keep it nearby.