Considered the most critical element of a business plan, the executive summary briefly introduces investors to your company. Within, they will learn the current status of your company, where it plans to be and why it will be successful. Therefore, is it important that the summary captures the attention of a reader.
The summary highlights the strengths of a business plan and entices investors to sign aboard. Because it is the introduction of the plan, the summary will contain brief abstracts of all of the following sections. Therefore, the summary is written after all other sections of the plan are completed.
Depending on the status of your company, there are two significant methods when creating a draft. The first is used when writing for an established business and the other when writing for a startup venture.
established business executive summary
As an established business, you will have a great deal of information available to place in the executive summary. Draw from the company’s financial and growth history to give an accurate account of its potential.
Six specific elements of information are placed in an established company’s executive summary. With the exception of the first, the mission statement, the remaining summary should never exceed one page. In this case, balance strong writing with brevity. Don’t write a novel. Write a review.
- Mission Statement: This section defines what your business is about for investors. Lengths vary between a single sentence and a large paragraph.
- Company Information: Because your investment pitch is new to investors, this section provides basic information. Include information on when the company was founded, the names of the initial founders and their roles, the number of employees and where the business is located.
- Historical Growth Highlights: Share accomplishments in the company’s history. Summarize stock price highs, real estate acquisitions and large employee expansions. Because it is a brief summary, use only significant moments.
- Products & Services: Describe what your company produces or what services it provides. Due to space constraints, be brief.
- Financial Information: Summarize the company’s current banking information and investor history. Be careful not to provide sensitive information such as account numbers or investors home addresses.
- Future Growth Projections: Directly state where the company is going. Provide a picture of a five-and-ten year projection.
These elements will be intensely investigated in separate sections of your business plan. Therefore, the information contained in the summary is merely a ‘taste’ of what will follow.
startup executive summary
A startup’s executive summary will be different from that of an established company’s plan. Primarily, the differences come from a lack of history with product sales or services provided. Therefore, a startup’s summary will rely heavily on creativity as well as market research. However, what works for one industry will not work for another, so I recommend finding similar businesses and reviewing their plans and summaries for inspiration.
Focus on telling a story to begin. Share with potential investors what led you to start the company. Let them know of your experience and how your ideas are better than competitors. Indicate your market research is complete and takes into account current conditions. Explain how your product or service fills a much needed hole in the market, as well as how you will capitalize upon it.
Your executive summary is designed to entice investors, so show them how you plan to succeed. Also, provide projections of where you expect your company to be in the future. Demonstrate how investors will profit from your company’s growth.
Not all executive summaries are equal, just as not all investors are alike. Tailor your summary to fit the investor you are providing it to at the moment. Don’t view your plan as written in stone, but rather a living document. Change it as needed for the situation at hand. Be direct, but be pliable. Success is knowing how to pitch an idea no matter who you speak with, or where you are. Take into account the investor’s history and how likely they are to react to your plan.
stick to the basics
It is important to remember that an executive summary is an honest brief of your entire business plan. Be true to the plan and provide investors an tantalizing taste of what is to follow. If you’ve done your work, the right investor will come along.
Just as in life, not everyone will be on the same page. There will be moments of rejection, just as there will be moments of success. Keep plugging away to craft the best summary you can. The right investor will come your way eventually, so don’t give up until there are no more options remaining.
I’d love to hear your stories of success as well as your experiences of ‘missing the mark’ with business plans. Please share in the comments below-