How to write an executive summary
The whole point of an executive summary is to get your business plan or investment proposal read.
The process of separating the wheat from the chaff can be difficult.
Whether you've put together a business plan or an investment proposal, you're going to need to write an executive summary to sum up your report. The summary should include the major details of your report - do not include fine details. The fine details come in your report.
The executive summary is also an important way for you, as the entrepreneur, to determine which aspects of your company have the clearest selling points, and which aspects may require a bit more explanation. The very fact you are including elements of your business and leaving out other bits might help you reflect more on your own business direction.
Everybody is busy these days and if you think investors are going to be less busy then you must be an idiot! Quite clearly then the executive summary is a vital document if you are to get funding for your business - if that is your intention. If your executive summary has spelling mistakes, is poorly written, then what do you think the likelihood is that your full document is going to get read...more likely it's all going to get filed in the round file (bin). Remember the purpose of the summary is to get yourself through the door of an investor - into the dragon's den.
Like a web page is vital today - if the first few seconds don't grab you then you've completely wasted your time and effort so the first paragraph of your summary is equally important. Like catching a fish you need a hook and the bigger the fish - the bigger the hook...so if you know what your potential investor is looking for, that is going to get them excited, you should know what to put in the first paragraph to get their investment juices flowing.
As every business is different, by logical inference there is no set structure for an executive business summary.
The first question you need to ask yourself is - what is the core strength to your business? If you don't have one then clearly you are in big trouble...you're not going to get paragraph one written.
If you are a humble person it may be that you just don't like to brag about your business - if this is the case then you might need to ask someone else what they think is good about your business...although i'd have great reservations of going into business with somebody who doesn't know what's good or not.
After you have explained what your company does or is going to do you need to sell to your potential investors why you are uniquely going to succeed at providing this service or product.
Obviously you want your investment as soon as possible so you can get cracking on your grand new business. A good way is to add a time element of why the investor should act straight away on this new venture...being first in on something can mean the difference between longevity, higher profits or you could end up being another small fish in the sea.
As you are looking for an investment usually - clearly you should put to the investor what is their potential gain and any terms there are for this.
You can also build time factors in to the equation by saying you are going to show it to other investors. Also don't be shy about changing the executive summary for different investors, all people are different - they have different likes and dislikes and investors are no different.
Depending on the complexity of your business your summary should be between one and four pages long.
Avoid the dreaded BS factor!
Most investors will see through cliches - quite frankly it is embarrassing and they won't want to work with you.
Finally re-read it to yourself several times - if it doesn't float your boat then you have zero chance. Don't be afraid to let someone else read it also and get them to explain it back to you. If they cannot explain it back to you, if it makes no sense then again you have failed...and it's time to re-write your executive summary.
Have a look at these example executive summaries.
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