I want to tell you a story about a friend and business partner of mine. In the mid-80s, Pat Reilly was in Africa chasing cheetahs and making business deals, and he met up with one of the richest men in the world, Adnan Khashoggi.
He presented a business deal to him and Khashoggi invited him to the French Riviera to meet him on his boat to talk about the deal.
Now like most of us, Pat had put in a ton of preparation for this meeting, had a very detailed business plan covering all the details of the proposal and was prepared to answer just about any question.
As Pat started in to his rehearsed pitch, Khashoggi politely interrupted him and said, “I asked for this meeting because I want to teach you something very important to me that could be very important to you; how to write a one-page proposal.
The one-page proposal has been one of those keys to my business success, and they can be invaluable to you too. Few decision makers can ever afford to read more than one page to decide if they’re interested in a deal or not. This is even more true for people of a different culture or language.”
That story is basically how Pat starts his book The One-page Proposal. He took the concepts that Khashoggi had taught him and went on to apply those to his own successful business career. I love the concepts and principles in The One-page Proposal and use them in my own business as well. Plus it’s a core thing that I now teach in most of my workshops.
Then one day it hit me. I realized I had never even spoken to Pat Reilly before, even though I’d been using all the concepts and principles in his book in my own career as well as my workshops. So I took the action and picked up the phone one day and gave him a call and found out that he’s working on all kinds of neat projects and initiatives and things that I would be interested in.
So in addition to all the workshops and seminars that I do, I’m always looking for initiatives that are interesting, so I thought about it some more after we hung up, and I put together a one-page proposal to Pat. It basically said, “I’ll work for you 60 days half-time for free and we’ll see where that takes us.”
I showed it to my wife, and she said, “Well, that’s kind of the dumbest thing I ever read. It doesn’t say what you’re going to do.” I said, “Right, the intent is I want Pat to call me back and see if we can explore our options.” So I FedEx it to him, he read it that day, and called me the same day, and we’ve been working on initiatives together ever since.
What is a one-page proposal?
It succinctly expresses all the facts, reasoning, and conditions surrounding an understanding or project; it uses persuasive language to build a case for approval; it proposes a specific course of action; it fulfills all these requirements and qualifications within a single printed page.
The one-page proposal structure is simple and straightforward. It has a title and a subtitle, the objective or any secondary objectives you might have, the rationale, the financial conditions surrounding the proposal, the status, and what action you want someone to take, with the majority of the one-page proposal, 70% or so, being the rationale.
The uses for a one-page proposal are almost limitless. You can use it to get funding, to create a new partnership, to launch a new project or a pilot program, to obtain a loan, or maybe to take it technology and commercialize it, and even to get a job.
Let’s look at some examples.
One of the most powerful ones: the Declaration of Independence. In a one-page proposal, it was proposed to; “Let’s get rid of these Brits and start our own country.”
Smart business folks have always known that brevity is the soul of wit.
“Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in few words.” Bible, Ecclesiastes
“Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints, and gods use short and positive speech.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” Josh Billings
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Thomas Jefferson
“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” John Wayne
Another example; Cindy Cashman, who’s a friend of mine and has been in several of my workshops, wrote a book called Everything Men Know About Women. Well, it’s all blank pages, and she sold over 2 million of these books. After thinking about this one-page proposal concept, she came up with the idea of wanting to be the first person married in space.
So she took the concepts and principles behind the one-page proposal and approached Rocket Plane to be the first person married in space, and they reached an agreement to do this. She will be the first person married in space.
Another friend and student of mine, Eric Vance, wanted to start his own company in video production, but he lacked the capital to buy the equipment. Well, we knew of somebody else who had an older version of equipment that wasn’t using it, so we put a one-page proposal together asking to borrow the equipment and use it, and then do a revenue share.
Now for me personally, I have several one-page proposals out there to some pretty big players to start some new initiatives and partnerships. It’s amazing when you get to the decision-maker with a brief one-page proposal, how fast you can move business forward.
When you get ready to send your proposal, as a minimum, send it Fed Ex.
But you can get even more creative with a three to four minute one-page communication piece. Why not use a three-minute podcast, or a video of your proposal, or a single Web page that takes three minutes to read.
There’s no limit how creative you can get in delivering your one-page proposal.
The one-page proposal could be an invaluable tool for your business, and the good thing is, it doesn’t cost anything except your time to do the research and to write it.
Just Google “one-page proposal”, go to the Web site www.onepageproposal.com or type in one-page proposal into Amazon to find the book. It’s an inexpensive book and it’s an easy read.