I offered to help a family member with a business plan. I was so excited when he took me up on the offer, I dashed off a note saying, “Here’s where you start.”

Back when I was in b-school, entrepreneurship professor Wendell Dunn had us write one page venture papers.

Yes, we might have world beating business ideas, but we needed to be able to describe them on one piece of paper.

He also assigned us approximately 10 pounds of reading. I derived the 4 questions from one of these articles. I have to admit that there was a brown-nosing, toady-ish, element to my derivation of the questions. I was thinking, “How can I get my idea across in one page, and have the result meet the professor’s approval?”

Oh yeah, I’ll look at what he assigned us to read.

I’m looking for the article, so I can cite it here. But today, a serious number of years later, these questions have become so part of my DNA that I was able to spin them out in a 2 minute email between meetings during the workday. (That is good teaching. Thank you, Wendell.)

  • What is the opportunity?
  • Why am I the person to bring this opportunity to life?
  • What resources will I need?
  • How will I get them?

In the following posts, I’ll explore each of these questions, and also talk about business planning software (I’m against it) and some good books to read.

But if you want to write a business plan — whether you’re a yoga teacher or massage therapist who works on your own, or you’ve invented something better than TiVo, or you want to grow your existing business into a new arena — where do you start?

One piece of paper.