Academy for Wayward Authors: Create a Simple One-Page Business Plan to Anchor Your Work

Years ago, I saw Kraig Kramers, the CEO of Snapper Tools, speak. He had a book called CEO Tools. This was in the early 2000s, so in the back of the book was a CD filled with swipe files of all his planning tools.

He introduced me to the idea of a one-page business plan. The idea is that you develop these core principles and distill them down to one page. So, just like that, I printed it out on company letterhead, laminated it, and carried it around with me.

Later, I went to the University of Chicago to study business. U of C prides itself on being a Quant School. You have two prestigious business schools in Chicago: Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. I chose U of C because I wanted the challenge of the quantitative focus rather than the looser marketing and case study focus at Northwestern.

While there, I learned the language of investment bankers and private equity, as well as how to make dazzling spreadsheets to model outcomes. Business plans had multiple spreadsheets showing a five-year projection and slide after slide of evidence to support the vision.

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It was afterward, when I started another business that I saw the difference between reality and showmanship. We did create a business plan on a single piece of paper, but it was a sloppier version of Kraig’s one-page business plan, with a little less vision and mission and more numbers. But that was what we always went back to when we got lost.

To raise the money for that business, we had to play the game and speak the language of investors. It culminated in a sixty-slide deck with a multiple-page spreadsheet model.

As an author, you likely have neither. That’s okay. In this class, I’ll give you the recipe that I suggest.

All of this should fit on a single page.

Brand Promise: Start with your brand promise. I have discussed this in Advantage and May I Have a Moment of Your Attention?

Launches: List your book launches with a date. These are your most important goals because you don’t have a business without your product getting to market.

Goals: List two or three goals for the year. These are the big things that will drive your business. In my view, they should be focused on funds or fans. I like to categorize the goals.

Goal Types:

  • Financial

These are goals that tie to your creation of free cash flow. The obvious ones are top-line revenue, but I would focus on Author Royalties Kept. Bank, not rank. Live those words; don’t just say them.

  • Process

Have at least one big goal to improve a process. Something that improves your customer experience while you stay hands-off. There are always more things you can do, but one big thing done well each year will have a massive impact versus serving up dozens of half-baked goals.

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Goal components

For goals to be accomplished, you need systems in place for breaking them down and achieving them. I’ll share more about systems in the coming weeks, but let me give you some things to consider as you create your one-page business plan.


A few weeks ago, we talked about the rocks. Those are big things that should go in our time bucket before it gets filled up with all the pebbles. Our goal can be broken down into rocks, and then those rocks into tasks. Rocks and tasks don’t go on our one-page plan but will become part of a productivity process that we run quarterly and monthly to ensure progress.

This is where daily practice moves mountains. With tasks supporting the rocks and the rocks supporting the goal, you can get activity going that, over time, makes big things happen by simply assigning a task to a person and setting a due date.


Now that you have a plan, you need a budget. Without funding, your plan will fail. Of course, I have a tool for you to use to build that budget: the Author Capital Planner.

That’s it.

If you already have a process that works, keep at it. If you don’t, what could it hurt to do the work to build out this one-page business plan?

Here’s a dirty secret…

Suppose you’re the type of person who distracts yourself with over-planning and fretting over the perfect plan. The one-page business plan limits the time you can spend as it’s only one page.

Read: Are Your Goals Truly Yours? Unraveling Personal Ambition vs. Groupthink