A good executive summary is précis of your whole business plan, and essentially it's an opportunity to sell yourself, your business and the uniqueness of your business idea. It's a miniature version of your business plan, whereby you sell the best bits!
I often liken the executive summary to the back of good book: it should be clear, compelling, and persuasive and ultimately encourage the recipient to want to read on through the rest of your business plan.
In fact as it's so important to get right, I often advise clients that the executive summary should in fact be the last section of the business plan you write. The executive summary at most should be kept to one page and therefore you need to make sure every word counts.
If You Are Starting Up In Business
If you are just starting in business, you obviously won't have as much information to include as an established company. Therefore you should focus more on your experience and background, as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular business. You will need to sell the 'idea' as opposed to the 'business'. Perhaps you describe that there is a gap in your target market, and how your particular solution can fill it.
If you decided to write the executive summary yourself, here are some important points to keep in mind:
- As with any good sales copy, you need to get the reader's attention – and fast! This is why I recommending completing the executive summary last, as you can look through the entire business plan and use the most persuasive elements.
- Remember you are often selling the solution to a problem. So you need to keep things simple, but specific. What is it you are ultimately offering? It's almost like you are describing your company's value proposition at this point.
- You then need to describe the potential market being targeted. How big is it? How fast is it growing? In other words, is there enough of a market to profit from, and a market that can be (relatively) inexpensively accessed.
- Next, why you and your business are ideally positioned to take advantage of this gap in the market place, as well as your competition.
- You will also need to include business projections. Depending on the funding level sought, and with whom, projected revenues may need to run from one to five years. Make sure your numbers add up – be realistic!
- Finally, provide information on how much you want, what is will be used for and when an investor can expect to get it back and under what terms.
Overall, the executive summary should offer a compelling glimpse as to what the business plan holds in store. If you use the pointers discussed and wait until writing it until after you've complete the rest of your business plan, then your executive summary should write itself.
Andrew Ludlam is the owner of The Business Plan Writer and has been a business plan consultant since 2004, providing professional business plan writing services for startups and businesses across the UK. For more information and free resources visit www.thebusinessplanwriter.co.uk
The Business Plan Writer