Once you find a contact (e.g. a potential investor) who has heard your elevator pitch and expressed interest in learning more about your new business, it’s time to introduce the one-pager. The one-pager is a brief synopsis of your business plan, used for a very specific purpose: To get someone to meet with you, so you can present to them in-person.
And yes, it really does need to be on just ONE PAGE!! That’s the whole point. Don’t try to jam everything from your business plan into this document. It’s not supposed to be comprehensive. Instead, think of it as a teaser—a sales document used to whet the appetite of your audience and leave them wanting more. Write in short, simple sentences. Make sure it’s easy to read and understand. Use headlines, so readers can scan it in seconds. Take out any unnecessary words, or empty descriptors (e.g. “the leading…”, “the best”…. “amazing…”). Here’s what to include:
1.) Team. Name the founders and their titles and primary roles. List just the experiences they’ve had that say to the reader “this person is a great fit for this role, at this startup, given where they are right now”. If you’ve got room, and impressive advisory board members, list them and the primary roles they’ll play. Here’s an example:
XYZ’s founders are JOHN DOE (CEO, “mr outside”, sales and marketing) and JANE DO (COO, “mrs inside”, product development and operations). They developed XYZ in after working together at ABC startup, where John served as President and VP Marketing, and Jane as VP Operations. Together they helped launch ABC and grew it to $10 million in revenue within five years. Previously, John ran marketing at BlahBlah. He’s a graduate of IO University. Jane’s previously founded DIY Software. She has an MBA and a BA from AAA University. Advisory board members include Mary Smith (sales) and Sam Jones (design).
2.) Opportunity. First explain the context – including the market size, growth, and critical trends. Then describe the customers you’ll serve, and their needs. Finally explain why the needs of those customers are not being satisfied today. Here’s an example:
There are over X00,000 self-published authors in the US and the UK, and their numbers are growing at over Y% per year. Services such as Lulu and CreateSpace make it easier for authors to self-publish, but only allow them to generate Z% margins. By working with LightningSource, self-published authors can generate margins three times higher. However, the process of shepherding a book through the LightningSource requires technical skills most authors lack.
3.) Elevator pitch. Explain how you intend to give customers what they need, and how you’ll make money.
XYZ sells online tools that let authors self-publish via LightningSource quickly and easily. XYZ runs a blog and newsletter with self-publishing advice, and generates revenue by selling online software packages that range from $150 to $500.
4.) Progress. Explain what you’ve done to date. Focus on the metrics that investors care about, not the pain you’ve endured. Spent a year and half your savings on this project? That’s your problem, not theirs. Instead, tell them you built your team, designed your prototype, and have paying customers. Quantify your results wherever possible. Here’s an example:
XYX launched in January of 201X. Within 9 months, we attracted 15,000 free subscribers. In July of 201x, we conducted a test of our paid services. We got a 4.5% response rate, which exceeded our expectations.
5.) The ask. Describe what you are looking for now, why, and how to proceed. For example:
XYX is seeking $350,000 to fund the next 12 months of operations. During that time, we’ll test and roll out our marketing campaigns, and reach a revenue run-rate of at least $50,000 per month. At that point we plan to raise our next and final round of $3-5 million. To learn more, please contact John Doe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 222-333-4444.
When you are finished, save the one-pager as a PDF. That way, when you send it via email your recipients will see it the way you created it, no matter what kind of software they are using.