Writing a Business Plan: Executive Summary

in Strategy & Trends | by David Capece

The Executive Summary is the tear-away from your business plan. It should outline your business proposal in an interesting and concise way.

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Instead of starting with your business plan, many investors prefer to review an Executive Summary.  We recommend that you have a tight and interesting Executive Summary that highlights the key elements of your business, goals, and strategy, and can quickly make a good first impression.  Often times the Executive Summary is two to three pages of text that can stand alone (great for investors who don’t have time to read every 25+ page business plan). Be sure to have a balance between aspirational and fact-driven content.

Since the Executive Summary is a teaser, why not make it look like one? Instead of two to three pages of dense text, make it more interesting. Think Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde) pink-scented resume. Well maybe not pink, you get the idea…

Sometimes a well-designed brochure works. If you outline your business proposal in an eye-catching, design-friendly way, you’re more likely to get an investors’ attention. Note of caution: Taking your Executive Summary too far creatively may be frowned upon in certain industries and types of businesses, so ask an expert how far you can stretch from the norm. Think of a brochure in the same way as the moth to the light principle. The more bright your idea comes across, the more likely an investor is going to be drawn to it. However, if your brochure is too bright, it could be a blinding distraction.

Bottom line:  your Executive Summary should be attention grabbing, but it is still a business document.  Strike a balance between interesting and credibile.  For further reading, here’s a straightforward article on business plans and the Executive Summary.