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Creating a One-Page Business Plan:
Learn the Steps, Articulate the Passion

Learn how to write a business plan in just a couple of hours! That was the promise of a presentation by Peter Hackbert, a visiting staff member of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Hackbert's presentation was part of a four-day workshop entitled "Idea to Enterprise" offered by the Academy in June. The workshop, with the central theme of commercializing university-developed technologies, offered attendees information on a variety of related topics, including intellectual property, funding, market assessment, and legal issues.

Hackbert, who holds the Harold Walter Siebens Chair in Entrepreneurship at Sierra Nevada College, uses The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan as the basis for his workshop. Horan's text teaches the elements of a one-page business plan in a way that is simple and easy to understand. Workshop participants didn't just sit back and listen; Hackbert's style is hands-on. Participants actually drafted a business plan in less than three hours. After talking over their ideas with people seated nearby, they then made brief presentations to everyone at the workshop.

Hackbert noted that to become successful, budding entrepreneurs must be able to convey their ideas with intelligence and passion. "It's about having a passion for your ideas and the frame work to facilitate those ideas," he said. The one-page plan provides the framework to become comfortable with talking about and generating interest in an idea.

The first step in converting ideas into reality is to get them down on paper in an organized fashion. Participants organize their ideas on a worksheet with five parts: vision statement, mission statement, business objectives, strategies to achieve the objectives, and actions - or specific steps - that need to be taken to make the strategy work. Each part represents an aspect of the business plan that the visionary should be able to discuss with potential investors. At the end of the workshop, people who arrived with little more than an idea walked out better prepared to create an enterprise.

The workshop was intended for people who already had an idea for a business. Those without such a vision, however, still found the information useful. Curiosity about the process and thinking of the future were sufficient motivation. As one participant said: "One day I'll need to know this stuff, so I might as well learn it now."

The One Day Business Plan session was integral to the "Idea to Enterprise" workshop. The main goals of the workshop were to provide information, resources, and tools to UIUC faculty and students who are interested in or already considering starting their own business.

The Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers entrepreneurial programs, services, and resources to faculty and graduate students on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. The Academy is funded by a grant from the Kauffman Foundation with matching funds from the College of Business and other academic units, the University of Illinois, and private donors.

--Amber Baker
July 2005