The executive summary is a crucial part of your business plan. Whether you are a Start-up or Growing Business it is the first - and hopefully not last! - thing that an investor, bank or partner will read. They say that people make up their mind about someone within seconds of meeting. The executive summary is similar - if you don't strike the right tone it will only be a matter of seconds before your business plan hits the reject pile. So, here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting your audience to read it, and read on.
1. Write It Last
The executive summary is the culmination of your business plan - not the start point. It should illustrate how joined up and complete your business proposition is. If you write it early on you are likely to create a disconnect between your executive summary and the content of your business plan. A good way to start is to summarise the content from sections of the plan. Then link them up and edit to create a compelling story....
2. Write for Your Audience
Make the purpose of the plan clear (Equity Funding? Loan? Partnership? etc.) and tweak your executive summary for your audience to be clear what you want. If you are writing for an equity investor make sure you include a section on investment to date, and the return on the investment you are looking for. Likewise, if you are looking for a bank loan make sure you tick all the boxes in terms of lending criteria and show you can repay the debt. Make sure it is crystal clear what you want from whoever is reading your business plan.
3. "Leave them Wanting More...
.. and you know they'll read on" (abridged. Bobby Womak). It needs to be complete in itself. It also needs to be short, to the point. And most of all - compelling. Don't be fooled. No one invests or signs off debt finance on the basis of an executive summary (if you know someone let me know). It is designed to give enough information to create interest and compel the reader to read on. So, make sure you cover the Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? of your business proposition. Keep sentences short for impact. And entice the reader to read on ...
The Business Plan Team
Jon has 25+ years of commercial experience in Start-ups, SMEs & large Corporations that include Clear Channel UK and Shandwick plc. He has been involved in business plan consultancy across multiple sectors and brings first-hand experience of creating commercial propositions from a business idea through to a market ready proposition, building management teams and structures, financial forecasting, investment proposals, product development and fund-raising. The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and drive business growth. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.