The magic of Harry Potter recently found its way into business strategy and planning. In fact, author J. K. Rowling gave up one amazing secret to her creative genius that every entrepreneur should use for writing a business plan.
No, she did not conjure her 3,407 page chronology using black magic, a wand, a spell or a potion.
In fact, the task of writing 7 Potter books was based on the magic of a single, hand-written page. If you ever wondered how she managed to plan and keep track of the interwoven story lines in the 766 page Order of the Phoenix, check out this picture recently released by slashfilm.com. (At left, or here’s the big picture.)
A Novel Way to Plan
Face it: when you’re excited about a new venture, stopping to write a business plan is a drag. When it starts to feel like a burden, many of us quit. Either we venture on without a plan (to certain doom) or we decide not to pursue the new idea at all (and live under the stairs forever).
But if Rowling can plan a 700 page book on a single sheet of notebook paper, you can do the same with a business plan. So before you write a 30 or 40 page business plan that describes every aspect of a new venture, learn to write one page.
No Fluff, No Dead Weight
Rowling’s magic is a shortcut to a more powerful, more meaningful business plan. A single page, full of scribbles and scratches, that maps out each significant event and ties them all together into the beautiful story line of a new novel — but it could just as easily describe the rock solid foundation of new business.
Fortunately, this is not an entirely new idea. I love a good one-page business plan and have written many using a magical system called The One Page Business Plan, created by my friend and business wizard Jim Horan. I’ve seen it used equally well by solo entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies.
Simplicity is on the Other Side of Complexity
A one-page plan relieves you of the drudgery of writing, but not of planning. You still must get the story straight in your head. Map it out. Research it. Get comfortable with it. Then begin boiling it down into the key parts.
A great business plan (and a great novel) is a compelling story, told simply. When you understand the concept so well that you can boil it down to one page, you will have no problem communicating your vision in one page. Even more magical, you’ll find that investors, employees and partners will actually read one page — and understand it.
In fact, the very act of writing in short, tight concepts will also begin to magically transform your whole business. Simpler writing leads to clearer thinking and a more focused – and stronger – business strategy. It’s a virtuous circle. Clear thinking leads to simpler writing which leads to clearer thinking.
When you strip away all the detail, all the superfluous research, and all the pages of redundancy, a single page business plan can give you more than you will ever need.
Dedicated to your (magically simple) profits, David
PS: Here is the full discussion of this amazing JK Rowlings one-page plan as shown above. And be sure to buy Jim Horan’s One Page Business Plan Book (which comes with a free CD full of planning tools).