A friend recently sent me his one-page business summary to review. After sending him back extensive comments, as well as this terrific example of a one-pager from Zootle, above, I thought I should lay out a few principles of one-pagers.
The goal of most founders is to get a meeting: with investors, partners, advisors, the press or even star potential employees. It is both impractical and unwise to email a pitch deck – who will want to take all that time to review if? And you don’t want your pitch deck floating around the web. That’s where the one pager comes in, also known as the executive summary of your business plan or exec sum. Well you might print this out as leave behind at a meeting, the principle use of the one-pager is to email it to prospects to give them a quick but impactful overview of the company and why they should be interested in it.
Use .pdf. While you may well write it in Microsoft Word, there are two many of versions of Word floating around to ensure your formatting is preserved. Plus you don’t want inadvertent or even advertent changes made to your one-pager.
The contents mirror the investor outline from Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start. minus a few items to both conserve space and because they aren’t needed in the exec sum.
See also my What? Who? Why? How? When? Where? post.
- The Problem
- Your solution
- Size of the market and its growth rate
- Business model
- Underlying magic/technology
- Marketing and sales – how will you acquire customers?
- Competition – what is your competitive advantage?
- Team – key accomplishments and relevant market experience
- Contact information
It also helps a great deal to have an attention grabbing graphic as a header for your one-pager, so it’s not a full page of text.
You need to be very concise, to the point of being terse to fit all this stuff on one page. While it’s tempting to cheat and try using a small type face don’t do it. Many investors, for example, are middle aged or older and will have trouble reading small text, which means they will simply ignore your one-pager altogether.
Note that while the Zootle example has really exceptional graphic design, I’m not a fan of including either funding needs or exit strategies in one-pagers. Leave those for the meeting, despite the fact that many angels have exit strategy at the top of their evaluation list. Funding needs especially will change over time; you don’t want old versions of your one-pagers to come back to haunt you. And don’t bother including professional service providers like legal firms. That is not key information for a one-pager.
So yes, it’s tough boiling down your entire business to a one-pager. But as Mark Twain said, If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.
Finally have people who don’t know a thing about your business review your one-pager. It has to be a standalone document, written in simple English – no business or tech jargon, understandable by the average college graduate.
Be prepared to do several drafts before you get a final version worthy of sending to your prime contacts.