CREATING A COMPELLING EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
That Will Make Readers Want More!
They say that you only get one first impression. This old adage
carries even more meaning when it comes to your business plan's
The executive summary of your plan will be the most read and widely
distributed section. It is the single component that serves to convince
others to learn more about your business. The potential readership
of your summary may include prospective and current investors, strategic
partners, distributors, vendors, legal, financial and other service providers.
Typically, the executive summary is appropriately created once
you have completed the business plan. With this chronological development
of your plan in mind, it is very important to create the executive
summary as a compelling synopsis, and not an afterthought.
As a powerful overview containing key points to your business plan,
the executive summary needs to be well conceived and written in
a style that is easy to understand. It must be concise, interesting
and believable. You want your summary to reflect an exciting- and
Many entrepreneurs believe this section of the business plan to
be the most difficult to write. You must boil down a relatively
lengthy document that carefully contains a thorough description
of your business, to no more than 3-5 pages. And it's got to be
high on the readability charts too! No easy task.
Before you begin to think that you're done and have created your
best effort at a first impression, ask yourself if it communicates
Description of Product/Service
A brief description that focuses on what function your product/service
performs, not how it performs it. Remember to be feature/benefit oriented.
What goal do you want your business to achieve? This can be measured
in a variety of ways including market share, sales revenue, channel
distribution and market leadership positioning. (A combination of
these elements works well). Just remember to make sure that it is
based upon measurable, believable and achievable tactics. This should
be no more than a paragraph that is qualified within the business plan.
Market Size and Opportunity
If adequately substantiated, this can be the most compelling element
to both your executive summary and business plan as a whole. Succinctly
describe who will buy your product/service and at what volume. Make
sure that your business plan contains market data to qualify whatever
projection you make.
Target Market Description
Briefly describe who will make the purchase decision for your product
or service. Remember to always think beyond the reseller channel
and describe the end-user too. This will indicate to a prospective
investor that you have thought through a comprehensive positioning
of your product in the market. Include demographic and psychographic
data describing what person will buy the product, and why and how
your business plans to reach them.
Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Realism is the key word to bear in mind here. Make sure that you
have uncovered all current and potential competitive forces in the
marketplace. Once you describe these forces, position your product
relative to the competition in the market. Assuming you have a clear
competitive advantage, take the description a step further and communicate
how your business plans to sustain that advantage.
Briefly describe the key executive management team. A paragraph
that highlights the individual team members’ accomplishments in
your market will suffice. (Remember the full resume of each team
member will be included in the business plan). In the event that
your team is not completely formed, don't worry. Often a VC can
assist you in the placement of a key executive within your organization.
What do you need to Succeed?
Don't be shy about asking for what you need to move your business
forward. This usually precedes the Usage of Funds statement, indicating
how you propose to allocate funds and resources.
Return on Investment
Finally, describe what investors can expect to receive as a result
of their investment in your business.
If you have managed to create an executive summary that dynamically
expresses the above points in less than five pages, you're ready
to submit it to a compatible venture capitalist. If not, take a
closer look at the business plan itself. Chances are the important
points are too hidden and you may need to review the entire business
Creating a compelling executive summary takes a lot of time and
thought. Don't underestimate how disciplined you will have to be
in creating this section. Make sure it looks professional and pay
lots of attention to detail. Get feedback from respected colleagues.
Refine and refine further.
Your business deserves to make a powerful and positive first impression...
after all, it’s the only one it will get.