How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Let’s begin by discussing the most important part of the plan: the executive summary. This should present the plan in the form of a clear and concise document (5-6 pages) that captures the essence of the idea and sparks the interest necessary to engage the audience. It must grab the reader in a confident, yet concise, manner in order to convince him or her to continue reading the proposal attentively. As such, it should be written after the rest of the plan; this will insure that it is well targeted and contains only the most vital and provocative information. It is just a fact of life that fewer than five percent of all business plans get reviewed past the executive summary, and it is usually because it is lacks clarity or it simply is not convincing. Thus, you’ve got to be noticed. You have to call attention to the growth and profit potential of your idea and to the relevant experience you and your team possess. Another important note on executive summaries is it’s targeting. After all, before you can even hope to convince an investor, you must make sure that the executive summary must be aimed such that the investor’s preferences are appropriately considered. Naturally, our purpose with the executive summary is to inform: concisely and quickly.

Executive Summary Outline:

Corporate Mission

One of the most powerful ways to capture the attention of the investor is to create a mission statement, your vision, and philosophy that govern the organization. Such a statement should capture the essence of your business, the idea you want to pursue and why. As before, make it brief. The investor needs to know what product you offer, the market you intend to target, what you’ve done so far about it, and what you intend to do in the future.

Customer Needs

Define the problem or need in the marketplace that you are trying to satisfy? Why do you believe that your idea will resolve an inherent inefficiency in the market? Be factual and conduct research to validate your point.

Value Proposition

In this section describe how you will solve the problem or customer need. Explain the value being created by your business and state the benefits the target market will receive once implemented.

Market Research

Next, you should use recent market data and analysts’ estimates to describe your intended market. Note what percent of the market you plan to capture and name your largest, most renowned customers who have purchased your product or have given you letters of intent. 

Management & Ownership

List your key players: management and technical advisors. You’ve got to emphasize everyone’s relevant, proven track record by mentioning his or her age, qualifications, and work history. Also, you should list any key open spots and note how you intend to fill them.

Service Offerings or Product Differentiation

As for your product, provide a short description of the services or commodities you intend to offer by discussing why they are unique. Mention direct or indirect competition, as well as any barriers to entry that potentially inhibit further competition. Space permitting, you might want to mention future product development plans, such as upgrades, product line extensions, etc. This will illustrate your idea’s adaptability.

Competition

Conduct a detailed analysis of the players already in the market and those potential new entrants. You do not want to be surprised by the fact that the idea you believed to be singularly unique was actually already introduced or is in process by a number of competitors. Get a firm handle on your competition. Understand their product ranges, price points and segment of market share they command. Just as in a battle, know your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses to devise a strategy that will make you victorious in battle and successful in a business endeavor.

Marketing Strategy

Discuss who will buy your product and why, and note contemporary distribution and selling strategies while explaining which ones you will use (and, of course, mention why yours are the best). What are the channels of marketing you wish to employ in order to create brand awareness. After all even the best ideas may be utterly useless if no one is aware of their existence.

Business Model

Pull it all together by stating the amount of money you require and how you intend to use it.  Summarize your key financial projections through break-even. Make sure to list projected revenues, net income, assets and liabilities; and it couldn’t hurt to mention additional rounds of funding.

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