I remember when I started Condensr, my very first tech company.
It was drastically different than anything else I've ever tried.
Before that, I've done things like dropshipping and e-commerce, I tried forex, and I tried running a marketing agency.
Those things require a lot less research than something like a tech-based company.
They're simple, replicable businesses (generally).
However, Condensr was different.
I spoke to a bunch of people about it and was worried people will steal my idea - it never really happened.
Tracing back, I remember a common trend taking place when I spoke to people about the business.
"Do you have a business plan" they'd all tell me.
"no...?" I answered back confused.
"I have a pitch deck..."
A business plan is a 30-100 page document that outlines everything your business is going to do over its lifetime to accomplish its goals.
It's going to talk about the audience, the development, challenges, strengths, marketing, competition, etc.
When I spoke to a 'coach,' she talked about a business plan - later on, I found out she was absolutely crazy.
When I spoke to investors, they told me they wanted a business plan.
I finally came across something that could save me from writing out 100 pages of planning.
How do you even do that? 100 pages, really?
I had discovered the 1-page business plan.
Instead of spending a few weeks to a month writing out a plan that could change at any moment in the process, I can spend an hour max outlining the plan, then spend the weeks or months working on the business.
So how exactly does this work?
Here's how to write the ultimate 1-page business plan to go from 0 to $1 million - or even $10 million.
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The customer segment is simply the section of the market that you're going to go after.
In general, big brands are focused on market domination.
They want to be the top dogs that everybody turns to.
With that said, they tend to build solutions that are not 1-size fits all.
It's almost impossible to build something that everyone can use.
This leaves a 'gap' in the market for smaller players.
Where the big players lack behind, the smaller players are able to come in and pick a small sub-sector or segment of the market to target.
For example, you might be building a business that revolves around gamers.
Gamers would be the wider market.
However, as your market segment, you might choose gamers who wear glasses or have poor eye-sight.
It completely depends on your product.
In general, it's better to start with an audience, then solve their problems.
Meaning you wouldn't make something randomly then think, "Oh! this would be perfect for stay-at-home, busy mums."
Instead, you'd start with the audience - stay-at-home mums, then you think about the problems they face and solve those problems.
Whatever way you decide to do this, you'll need to have your niche here.
Don't just put your larger market.
Cut it into a smaller piece of the pie.
It's so much easier to specifically target a niche, instead of the whole market.
You'll be able to directly talk to one customer and drill down on their pain points.
With Hawk Prospecting, my niche was marketing agency owners.
I knew all about them since I owned an agency, and it was a very small part of the wider market.
However, they were constantly doing outreach and needed a service like this.
The 'early adopters' section is the part underneath your customer segment.
Early adopters are simply the initial batch of users who will help you validate the business.
They will be the people who have the problem you're trying to solve and urgently want to fix it.
People who have a more pressing problem that truly affects them will more likely be looking for a solution.
If you can go to this audience and tell them that you're building something to solve a pressing issue, they'll be happy to help you test it out.
When your business or idea is in an MVP stage, it's unlikely that you're going to be able to get everyone from your customer segment on board.
This is because most people are looking for a full product, a complete solution to their problems.
It's very difficult to assume what people want - in fact, the reason we need early adopters is to help us layout the foundations and future road map for new features before launching to the wider public.
Early adopters will help you test the solution, tell you why it's good, why it's bad, and where it needs improvement.
Although not everything they say should be taken for gospel, they will tell you many ways for improving the product.
The customer segment will not be as forgiving.
That's why starting with people who are currently facing the problem, maybe even trying a competing product but not liking it, can help you go a long way.
These people understand, first-hand, the struggles you're trying to solve and will help you make the solution a reality.
For example, my customer segment for Hawk Prospecting was marketing agency owners.
My early adopters will be marketing agency owners in the USA who are heavily dependant on CRM systems and outbound prospecting.
If they do outbound prospecting, they'll understand the struggles that go with it and will want to solve them immediately.
We're done with the right side of the page.
Now, on the left side, we have the problem.
The problem is simply what your business is planning to solve.
What is the key problem that your business plans to solve?
Sometimes, or most of the time even, your business will be solving one main problem with a few other problems too.
You can write down all of these problems in bullet points, highlight the one you think is most important, and then validate it.
Go into Facebook groups where your audience hangs out and message people in the group.
Tell them you're doing research into [niche], and you'd like to know what problem they face, and which is the most pressing one.
Lots of people will be willing to tell you.
If not, then you can put a poll up in the group, list the different problems and ask people to vote.
People like voting on things, so this might be a better way to get the results you're looking for.
Tell them to comment on a problem if it isn't mentioned above.
This way you can get problems that you may have overlooked.
If you don't know the problem, then simply ask.
Use the same strategies outlined above, and ask the people what problems they face as [audience segment].
For Hawk Prospecting, I used something called a 'problem-stack rank.'
It's a short survey that outlines all the problems you assume an audience has.
From there, you send the survey out to people who are willing to help you fill it out and they will be able to:
- rate the problem on its severity
- validate the problems
- add their own problems later
This is the best and fastest way to understand the problems your audience faces the most.
You only need 10 good-quality survey fills to know that you've got enough.
Look at the top 3-5 problems people mentioned and put them into this box.
No matter how special you think your product is, you're going to have competition.
There will always be a direct or indirect competitor somewhere.
Do your best digging around Google to find them.
A massive mistake I made when I was working on Condensr was to overlook the competition.
The truth was that I was too scared to do my research and find a bunch of competitors and so I ignored them.
I did the slightest amount of research, found 2-3 big competitors, and said that's it.
A month later, after I had my 40+ customer discovery interviews, I started to find many hidden competitors that I did not yet know of.
Most of these competitors were much smaller than our biggest competitor, but they were still pretty big.
No matter how big, a competitor is a competitor.
They're already in the market and so you need to make sure you know of as many as you can so you don't get caught off guard.
This trapped me when I was working on Condensr.
Every time we made a pivot in the business that we thought differentiated us, we found a competitor who was already doing something similar to it.
The interesting thing, however, is most people who I interviewed did not really know of many competitors, in fact, the driving factor for me stopping the business is the people who I interviewed weren't using the competitors.
If the problem is pressing, surely they'd know of and use a competing product, right?
Or even have tried it out before?
List as many competitors as you know here.
Search through Google and make sure you find every single one.
Competition is nothing to fear, everyone can have their own little piece of the pie.
You don't need to be the biggest player in the game.
You'll be surprised - no matter how much competition there is, there will always be people who don't know of the big players.
There will always be people looking for new solutions.
That's why it's so much easier to start a business today!
What is the solution you're bringing to the table?
What is your business going to be doing to solve the problem you outlined?
How is your business going to solve the problem?
How is your solution different from what's already available on the market?
This all goes in the solution box.
You don't want to get fancy here.
Simply explain what your business plans to do and how it will solve the audience's problem.
Condensr was an app that brings the world's biggest ideas and insights from best-selling authors and condenses them into short, detailed 10-min narrations.
Hawk Prospecting is a prospecting software that helps you find your ideal prospect and reach them via email, social media, or number.
When you have a solution, you'll want to make sure that there's something similar in the market already.
You don't want to reinvent the wheel because your chances of success will be much lower.
New inventions today are not wildly new - they may not be available, but there are things similar to them on the market.
For example, one of my favorite e-commerce businesses, BruMate, created adult beverage insulators.
It wasn't a product before BruMate, but there were insulators already available in the marketplace.
although they did somewhat reinvent the wheel, the concept and solution were already available for a different sub-sector of the market.
The amazing thing about this 1-page business plan is that nothing here is set in stone.
With a business plan that's up to 100 pages long, you'll be scared of making changes because then you'll need to change dozens of pages.
However, with this 1-page business plan, you can make changes whenever you want or whenever your business needs a pivot.
Therefore, start with a solution you want to build, and when small changes are made to the solution, come back to the plan and quickly change it.
Unique value proposition
This is the 'pick-up line' your business will use.
It's the way in which you'll attract customers to your business.
It can even be used as the elevator pitch - a 30 second or less explanation of your business.
Or, it could be used on your website's copy.
When you're asked what you do or what your business does for customers, this is what you'll tell them.
It's very simple and usually follows a formula you can follow.
Wherever you look, you'll be able to find different variations.
However, I like to keep it simple and Include 4 main pieces:
To put it in a sentence:
[Business name] helps [audience] who [problem] by [solution] in [transformation].
The transformation can very simply be a number of days or months.
Let's say you have a fitness coaching service.
Your unique value proposition would be:
I help overweight dads who struggle to balance their family and fitness time to get shredded using our 3-step [name] in 90 days or less.
This would be very attractive to people in that audience.
It's important to make sure everything you say lines up.
Meaning, your audience must have the problem you're talking about and agree with the solution you're providing.
If those don't align, it wouldn't work well for you.
Beneath this, there's another box which I have not mentioned here because it's not as important as other boxes.
You can spend a few seconds filling it out, but it's a 'nice to have.'
This box is the 'high level concept.'
For example, Condensr's high level concept was: Spotify for book summaries.
When you hear that, you know exactly what Condensr does and how it works.
Many people will struggle with this box here.
I, for one, struggled a lot with it when I was filling out my 1-page business plan.
No matter how hard I thought, how many options I went through in my mind, it was very hard to think of an unfair advantage I had over other people.
Your unfair advantage is a singular reason why you are the right person for the job.
A lot of times, especially when you talk to investors, they'll ask you "why is your team the right team for this business?"
This is where the unfair advantage should come in.
It's the reason why others will not be able to replicate what you do.
It's something that you have, that not everyone else has.
It's something you know about this industry or business that others do not.
Although this is not essential, it's crucial to think about and even develop over time.
If you have an unfair advantage, it's amazing because your competition will immediately become so much smaller.
You're no longer competing with everyone.
You're now competing with only those who may have an unfair advantage in that field.
For example, when I built Hawk Prospecting, I owned a marketing agency for almost an entire year.
I not only knew my audience, I had connections with them, was in paid groups with them, and was even part of them for a while.
I knew the ins and outs, the exact problems and struggles they faced and so I was a lot more qualified than others to build this startup.
Think about what makes you different.
What makes you special, the person to pioneer this business?
The stronger the unfair advantage the better, but make sure you don't get caught up in trying to figure this out.
The longer you spend, the less time you'll have to build the business itself.
This is your path to your customer.
How will you find customers and where can they access your business.
It's a little confusing because when I was building out my 1-page business plan, I was told that this box was where customers can find you.
Therefore, I wrote down an online site and a mobile app.
However, I now understand that by channels, it's more closely referring to where you'll be able to find your customers.
To get customers to your business, you first need to know where they hang out.
If you're building a social platform or a social app, you're most likely going to go on places like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram.
For Hawk Prospecting, the easiest place to find these customers was to go into Facebook groups.
Marketing agency owners love being around others in Facebook groups.
Therefore, the easiest place to find them is in Facebook groups.
In general, the main places to find your audience are going to be the same as others.
People spent time on forums or groups.
Therefore, you can try Quora, Facebook (soon known as Meta), or Reddit.
A lot of people spend time on YouTube.
Many people are on social media.
Therefore, Instagram is the best place to reach those people.
Every platform I just mentioned has it's own advertising center. Use this to your advantage.
If you have a budget, then use Instagram or Facebook ads.
If you're a slightly bigger business with an even bigger budget, use YouTube ads.
Reddit and Quora ads are cheaper and can be more effective depending on your audience.
Starting a business, you might not want to spend money in the beginning.
Lots of businesses face a long period of 'unprofitability.'
This never makes sense to me.
Let's say it costs you $1000 to start a business - this is conservative.
Many businesses can be started for free today.
To get a customer who pays you $60, you pay $20 per customer.
You'll need no more than 50 customers to break even.
It doesn't take years.
If you start for free, you just need 1-2 customers to be profitable.
Hawk Prospecting was profitable within it's first month.
What will you need to spend money on in your business?
This is what you're going to list in this box.
Every business will have some sort of expenses.
No matter how small those may be, you will want to list them in here.
Even a domain name which can cost $1 per year will need to go here.
In general, most businesses will have:
- development costs
- marketing costs
- stock management costs
- staffing costs (if you hire early on)
- or freelancer costs (if you get help on Fiverr)
- hosting costs
It's up to you to understand the costs associated with your business.
If you're developing a software business yourself, you won't have any development costs, mostly likely.
If you have an eCommerce business, then you'll have product/stock costs.
If you're dropshipping, then this will be the unit cost of the product.
Technically, you won't be at a loss because once a customer buys from you, you'll order the product from the supplier.
Whatever your business is, you'll need to know the costs associated with it and write them down here.
This is where it gets fun!
It's pretty simple here, however, get as creative as you want.
What are the different ways in which your business will make money from customers.
There are so many different ways to earn money from a business.
However, the main ways are:
- one-time purchases
Ads may be like Spotify.
A majority of Spotify's revenue comes from their ads.
This is because a majority of Spotify users are on their free plan.
Same with Facebook, you can't subscribe to Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg sustained a loss for a long time because he wanted to make sure that people chose to use Facebook.
When he had billions of users on the platform, he monetized them without making them pay a dime.
See, advertisers are the ones who pay Facebook, not it's users.
Depending on your business, only a few ways of earning can apply.
Most businesses will be one-time purchases or subscriptions.
Other businesses may be both - and that's a really cool business to have.
When you can make customers buy your products and subscribe to something your business offers, you've got a long-term customer.
However, when you have a customer who pays you once and leaves, then that's not an ideal situation.
Hawk Prospecting is a subscription-based business.
However, there are a few things I can do to make sure I incorporate one-time purchases too.
For example, let people buy one-off amounts of credit.
Or even add a done-for-you service where customers pay you a one-time fee to do their lead generation.
Once again, get creative here!
Finally, key metrics.
This one is pretty boring, but important nonetheless.
Simply put, key metrics are going to be the factors/numbers you track that tell you how your business is doing.
This could be anything such as number of reviews on Amazon for an eCommerce business.
It could be how long users stay on your software after subscribing.
It could be the conversion rate from free-trial to paid plan.
It could be customer return-rate (how many of your customers buy from you again).
There is so much you can track as a business.
Hawk Prospecting can track the credits people use.
It can track how many users sign up to paid plans.
How many people refund their plans.
How many people use the platform X times per week.
Each business will have it's own trackable metrics.
Make sure that you track the important metrics that matter for your business.
In the beginning, you're going to want to learn about how people use your platform and what they like and dislike.
Therefore, a good metric may be how many people from the people who sign up come back to the platform.
How many people use the 'feedback button.'
How many people 'share' your business.
(Fun fact: You can share this article using the icons on the bottom of your phone, or on the left side of your computer 😊)
A lot of people just focus on 'vanity' metrics - metrics that make their business look good but don't tell a story.
Sometimes, vanity metrics can be deceiving - revenue might be going up, but cost per purchase/acquistion is also going up meaning you're slowly losing profit.
Aside from revenue and profit, it's important to track metrics that tell a story.
That's how to write the ultimate 1-page business plan to go from 0 to $1 million.
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