Before You Launch Your New Business Idea, Write a 1-page Strategy Doc
A simple yet powerful approach that produces multiple benefits and has saved me countless hours in my own business ventures
Do you have a great business idea? Before you jump in and start building, I highly recommend writing a 1-page strategy document.
Even for the most experienced, those 20+ minutes of writing will leapfrog your idea. Here’s why.
Roots in Product Management
The root of this approach comes from Product Management. PMs sit at the intersection of almost all departments in an organization which means they often ‘see’ new opportunities long before the data reveals them.
Since PMs spend most of their time supporting Engineering, they’re predisposed to being in an ‘execution’ frame of mind which causes them to sometimes think ‘[the idea] checks the boxes so let’s build it!’.
But disciplined PMs will take a step back to clarify whether the opportunity truly is a ‘needle mover’ or not by first putting together a 1-page product strategy document. If after writing that doc they still feel the idea ‘has legs’ the PM will then present it to the Executive team to get buy-in before building.
How a 1-Pager Will Help
Similarly when you have an exciting new business idea it’s easy to justify to yourself that it’s good so you can simply focus on building. But taking a few minutes to step back and write a 1-page document about it forces you to sift through your buzzing thoughts to succinctly extract and communicate its core elements.
The powerful exercise of succinctly writing your idea (aka distilling the ‘syrup’ (@david_perell) will help you to both
- crystallize your idea
- and prepare you for pitching the idea to friends, prospects, investors, etc
This 2nd point is especially important because doing a good pitch comes down to effective communication. The truth is, effective communication is actually a transference of ideas. Meaning successful communication isn’t in how you say your message but in whether the recipient truly understood and internalized what you said.
To do this well you need to empathize with the recipient and deliver the message in such a way that it’s most likely to stick.
Keeping this in mind, let’s recall that everyone is busy. No one has time to listen to or discuss fluff. So to make sure your pitch is worth their while doing this 1-pager exercise will help you recognize the simplest, most effective way to articulate your idea so it’s understood and remembered.
Think this is a silly strategy? Even the greats do it. For example: the Neil DeGrass Tyson pre-writes every word he’s ever said in public.
What Should I Include in My Doc?
To piggy back off of Product Management 1-pagers, depending on the idea I like to include some of these headings:
- What is the idea?
- What problem is it solving?
- It this a real problem worth solving?
- Who is this solution for?
- How will I know I’ve actually solved the problem?
- How will it make money?
For more ideas on what to include in your doc, THE @lennysan has put together a great collection of resources to write effective product docs.
Speaking from experience, I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way. Writing a 1-pager is tough. But taking the time to do it will help you to refine your idea while simultaneously helping you with other peripheral activities like: pitching your business, creating marketing ads & copy, etc.
A pro tip: time box yourself and stick to writing a quick 1-pager so you don’t lose your enthusiasm for your idea. With a great idea, there’s a delicate balance to moving quickly yet thoughtfully
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