I saw a mention yesterday of a tool called The One-Page Business Plan, from a book and website called The $100 Startup.  “Cool!”, I thought, “I wonder how it compares to our own Small Fish One Page Business Plan?”

As I suspected, they’re both great tools, but with different purposes.

The $100 Startup One Page Business Plan

100Startup’s tool is great for helping you to crisply articulate:

  • What business are you in?
  • How will you structure it?
  • How will you measure success?

As a result, it’s very useful when you’re starting a new business.  Perhaps you have some scribblings on the back of an envelope, or your “business” just exists as discussions between you and some supporters.  Don’t be embarrassed; ALL businesses start off as just an idea.

But you have to get it to the next level before you can make progress.  You have to figure out who your customers are, what your product is, and why they’ll give you money in exchange for what you’re selling.  You have to set a price, and ensure you’ll make money.  So these are great questions to work on.

Don’t get fooled, though, it’s not a real business plan.  The idea is that if you’re able to provide real and defensible answers to the questions, then you’ve started to put in the deep thought necessary to get started.  And you’ll be able to start having those great discussions with others you’ll need along the way.

The Small Fish One Page Business Plan

The Small Fish tool serves a much different purpose.  First, it usually assumes that you have an operating business, so you already know what you’re producing, who your customers are, and how you make money.  As a result, our approach is tofocus on areas of improvement in your business.  It starts off with the overall goal, which has the purpose of describing the overall context for making balanced decisions.  But directly below that, I ask clients to select 3-5 areas of focus.  Sometimes these relate to specific change initiatives, but most often they’re primarily “These are the things we MUST do well in order to succeed.”

This is a FOCUS and ACTION tool.  Everything is structured to help the client take action, see improved results, and build the momentum of a magnificent business.

With new startups, I could see both tools being very powerful when used together.  But I’ll also observe that great tools are easy to find.  There’s many which are free or cheap.

The value comes from APPLYING the tools.  So that’s what I focus on with my clients.

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