• Total 4 weeks learned
• Week 1: Strategy on a page (assignment 1, part 1)
Week 1: Strategy on a page.
The first assessment task for this unit is to start work on the first element of your business plan. This week, the goal is to produce a first draft one-page strategy document. A one-page document is necessarily a high-level overview as you can not put too much detail on a single page. It is also your first draft, and you will make changes to this each week as you review it and add more components to your business plan. Therefore, do not be concerned if this document is not complete. This is a good place to start to write down some of your early thoughts. I will provide you with some feedback each week on your submissions and you can continuously improve your work. Your mark for the first assessment is pass/fail.
Your high-level objectives and strategies together with your mission, vision, values, and other information provide the basis for the beginnings of your business plan along with several other elements that we will be adding each of the next few weeks. This first part is often referred to as a “strategy on a page” and provides guidance for decision making and action later on. See the two examples below and you can use either one of them as a template, (or another if you prefer) and apply it to one of your new business ideas. There are dozens of models and templates for a strategy on a page. Search for and examine several. Choose the one that you think will be the most helpful to you and can be best applied to your new business idea. There is no one right or best model for every new business. Part of your learning is to compare and contrast several options and pick one that you think will work for you and your business idea.
Example 1 strategy on a page from the Australian Institute of Management
Example 2 strategy on a page from Gartner
• Week 2: One-page marketing plan (assignment 1, part 2)
The second one-pager for assignment 1 is a one-page marketing plan. Marketing plans, and business plans, can (and sometimes should) be extensive. However, in many situations, a one-page marketing plan is best. Remember that short is good. Businesspeople, potential employees, bankers (to whom you may apply for a loan), and/or potential investors are busy and do not always want to see every detail.
As with the previous week’s strategy on a page, this week’s one-page marketing plan forces you to coalesce your thoughts and to make some initial judgments and decisions. Like the one-page strategy, the single-sheet marketing plan encourages you to focus on what really matters. It can help you clarify your thoughts. It can also be an effective communication tool.
Please remember that this is the first draft of your marketing plan. You will make changes to this each week as you review it and add more components to your business plan. After completing this one-page marketing plan, you will likely need to go back and adjust your strategy on a page from week one in your portfolio. Therefore, do not be concerned if this document is not complete.
Please feel free to use the following (adapted from How to Write a One-Page Marketing Plan – BusinessTown) or use another model/template that you prefer.
How to Write a One-Page Marketing Plan (adapted from businesstown.com, Bob Adams, the founder of BusinessTown. Bob has started dozens of successful businesses, including one he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School.)
Even a one-page marketing plan should include more than just a checklist of your planned promotional activities. It should be more of a product plan, also including the key differentiation of your product from those of competitors, as well as a quick description of your target market and customer needs. Therefore, you should have a separate marketing plan for every key product or product line that you offer.
This is a suggested template for a one-page marketing plan:
Title: List the product/service and the specified marketing time period to be covered.
Product/Service: In one sentence, describe your product or service including the value it provides for its users.
Target Market: Zero in on the target customers for your product/service. Which people are most likely to buy your product/service and/or which audience are you most likely to be able to impact with your marketing?
Key Differentiation: How is your product or service different from those of your competitors?
Benefits to Customers: How does your product provide better or different benefits to potential customers than competing products? Is there a benefit or perceived benefit that plays a key role in customers’ buying decisions?
Customer Evaluation: Which attributes of your customers may be important for marketing? For example, are they geographically clustered? Do they have similar demographics? Do they tend to weigh a particular factor in mind when making buying decisions?
Marketing Strategy: Now, we get into the part of the document most people think of when they think of a marketing plan. You have spelled out your target market and the key differentiators for your product or service. It is time to talk about how you are going to promote your business idea. Pick one or two primary marketing tactics you will be using, and briefly describe how you plan to execute them.
Special Offers/Pricing: What (if any) pricing or special offers will you include in this marketing campaign?
Marketing Message: What key messages do you want to deliver in your marketing?
Creative: What headlines or specific words may you use in your marketing?
Media: If you are going to rely heavily on social media, for instance, which channels will you choose? Will you advertise or just try to go viral for free? Will you engage in email marketing or inbound marketing, and how? Talk about where and when your messages will run. If you are engaging in publicity, mention the types of outlets you will target and why. Distill everything into as few words as possible.
Profit and Loss Projection: Project the profit and loss of your product/service during the marketing time period. (NOTE: we will focus more on this in week 4. Do not be concerned if you have not yet thought about this question and need to leave it out).
Measuring Results and Continued Testing: Not only should you track your sales during the marketing period, but as much as possible you should try to determine how each customer heard about your product. Which medium provided the results? You may decide to quickly change your advertising media or message in the middle of the campaign, or you may decide to adjust it for the next campaign. Marketing is hard. Be prepared to test and try different options until you get results.
Summary: Brevity can be a friend to the entrepreneur. Learn to write a one-page marketing plan, and you will develop razor-sharp focus for your business model as well as a substantive way to pitch audiences on your products and ideas without overwhelming them.
Sample One-Page Marketing Plan:
For illustration purposes, Bob has base this example on a business idea he had for trading used boats.
Title: Bobby’s Boat Yard, End-of-Season Clearance Sale Plan, August 15-September 7
Product/Service: The used boats that remain unsold towards the end of the summer season. Especially concerned about selling slower-moving boats that have been in inventory for more than 2 weeks.
Target Market: The end of the season buyer is most typically not a summer homeowner but more likely someone who lives in the area year-round and has likely owned boats before.
Key Differentiation: Our key differentiation from larger, new boat dealers who also sell used boats is that we are less expensive. Our key differentiation from private sellers is that our used boats are “cleaned up” for sale and we offer several choices of used boats available right now.
Benefits to Customers: Customers can save money buying a boat from us as opposed to a larger dealer who also sells new boats (less expensive), and compared to buying from a private party, a potential customer can view several boats at once at our yard (more choice).
Customer Evaluation: End-of-season customers typically live in the vacation community year-round, have owned several boats in the past, and are value and brand-name aware.
Marketing Strategy: We will emphasise “year-end clearance” because our target market will find this a credible reason that we are selling boats at great prices and we will reinforce this in our pricing policy.
Special Offers/Pricing: The first week of the clearance sale, we will lower prices 10% below our pre-sale prices. The second week, we will lower prices a further 10% for any remaining boats. In the third week, we will lower prices still a further 10%.
Marketing Message: You can save money and have greater choice during our end-of-season clearance sale.
Creative: End-Of-Season Boat Clearance Sale!
Media: Local newspaper and signage.
Profit and Loss Projection (simple financial model for a simple business): We have 7 boats remaining in inventory with a current average purchase price of $1,100. We anticipate that on average during the clearance sale we will sell the boats for a 15% discount on this price or $935. Our average purchase price of these boats was $895. Therefore, our expected gross profit margin will be $40 per boat on 7 boats for a total income of $280. Our costs will be minimal in three weekly newspaper advertisements of $20 each for a total of $60 in expenses. Our profit should be around $220.
Summary: While the anticipated gross margin during the clearance sale is low, our main objective is to clear out our inventory and reduce carry costs including insurance and taxes over the winter, so a small profit is acceptable in this case.
• Week 3: One-page HR/cultural plan (assignment 1, part 3)
The third element of this first assignment is the people-plan for your new business. It is a bit unusual to ask someone for a one-page people/HR or cultural plan. Few people ever give careful consideration to this element of their business plans. This is, however, a mistake.
This week, the goal is to produce a draft one-page people-plan document. Remember that this is your first draft. You can also go back and adjust your two previous week’s documents in light of what you have learned and thought of this week.
See the following questions and you can use them (or something else if you prefer) applied to one of your new business ideas. The HR plan for recruitment, retention, development and replacement of people in the organisation should reflect the changing context for the organisation and consequently the people and cultural development plan of the organisation should address some of the following issues/questions:
1. What sort of organisation do we want to be/are we now, in terms of values, objectives, behaviours, relationships?
2. De we want an organisational culture focused more on forming and following policies and procedures, rules and regulations or do we want a more relaxed, informal, and organic culture and structure? Do we need elements of both?
3. How will we recruit people?
4. How will we develop staff (or do we expect staff to come fully competent)?
5. How will we try to retain and motivate staff?
6. How will we remunerate our employees? Will we expect staff to be partners, receive stock and/or ownership equity, and not get paid in anticipation of a return later on? If we will pay employees, do we want to be able to pay people above market-rates to attract and retain the best people or are people almost ‘replaceable parts’ in our business so we do not need to offer the highest pay and best working conditions?
7. How will we “be” in terms of our ethical approach? Consider issues such as sweat-labour and child-labour in the supply chain and broader issues such as climate change. Will you take a stand on issues related to organisational change and communication to staff? Many other relevant issues, such as gender balance, skills development, support for diversity, childcare and working-from-home can also be considered. (We will consider some of these issues again in week 5).
• Week 4: Basic financial plan (assignment 1, part 4)
The fourth assessment task for this unit is to start work on the financial plan for your new business. Financial analysis is as much ‘art’ as ‘science’. I know many people will not agree with that statement but it is hard to argue with the fact that no single business is exactly like any other. Therefore, there needs to be a good deal of judgment (that is the ‘art’) involved in thinking about and planning for, the financial side of your new business. Of course, the ‘science’ side is necessary, although it is actually the easier of the two in that $2000 take away $1000 is most usually equal to $1000.
This week, the goal is to produce a draft one-page financial plan. As before, this is your first draft. You can also go back and adjust your previous week’s documents in light of what you have learned and thought of this week. I will provide you with some feedback each week on your submission and you can continuously improve your work. Your mark for this assessment is also pass/fail. Just make some assumptions, some guesses and estimates, and ‘play’ around with the numbers. See what you can learn from these trials.
See one of the following cash flow templates and you can use one of them (or something else if you prefer) applied to one of your new business ideas. If you ‘click’ on one of the entry boxes in the template below, it should ‘open up’ as an editable Excel document. If that does not work, or if you would prefer to use another model, document, or template, please feel free to search for and use another. Part of your learning when starting your business will be to find and use tools and templates that work for you and suit your business and your specific needs.
Also, be aware that an estimated cash flow analysis may not be the most helpful financial analysis for you and your business at this point in time. Recall the simple financial analysis in the example marketing plan from the assessment for week 2. If you would rather try to produce a simple analysis as in the example from week 2, or if you would like to try a full balance sheet, or if you think that calculating your break-even point would be more useful to you (as we discussed in this week’s unit content), then feel free to include that or something else related as your financial analysis/plan.