Showing all articles tagged: executive-summary





How We're Going to Write Our Executive Summary ...

The purpose of the executive summary of the business plan is to provide our readers with an overview of the business plan. Think of it as an introduction to our business. Therefore, our business plan's executive summary will include summaries of ...
  1. a description of our company, including our product and/or service and/or methodology solutions
  2. our management team
  3. the market and our customers including basic quantitative information
  4. marketing and sales strategies
  5. our primary competition
  6. our competitive advantage
  7. our operational strategies
  8. financial projections and plans
  9. why this is a winning business
  10. contact information
The executive summary will end with a summary statement, a "last kick at the can" sentence or two designed to persuade the readers of our business plan that our business is a winner.

To write the executive summary of the business plan, we will start by following the list above and writing one to three sentences about each topic. (No more!)

If we have trouble crafting these summary sentences from scratch, we will review our business plan to get us going. In fact, one approach to writing the executive summary of the business plan is to take a summary sentence or two from each of the business plan sections we've already written. (If we compare the list above to the sections outlined in the Business Plan Outline, we'll see that this could work very well.)

Then we'll finish our business plan's executive summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that answers the reader's question "Why is this a winning business?"

Tips for Writing the Business Plan's Executive Summary
  1. Focus on providing a summary. The business plan itself will provide the details and whether bank managers or investors, the readers of your business plan don't want to have their time wasted.
  2. Keep our language strong and positive. Don't weaken the executive summary of our business plan with weak language. Instead of writing, "Dogstar Industries might be in an excellent position to win government contracts", write "Dogstar Industries will be in an excellent position..."
  3. The executive summary should be no more than two pages long ... one page is probably better. Resist the tempation to pad your business plan's executive summary with details (or pleas). The job of the executive summary is to present the facts and entice your reader to read the rest of the business plan, not tell him everything.
  4. Polish our executive summary. Read it aloud. Does it flow or does it sound choppy? Is it clear and succinct? Once it sounds good to you, have someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and make suggestions for improvement.
  5. Tailor the executive summary of our business plan to our audience. If the purpose of our business plan is to entice investors, for instance, our executive summary should focus on the opportunity our business provides investors and why the opportunity is special.
  6. We should put ourselves in our readers' place... and read our executive summary again. Does this executive summary generate interest or excitement in the reader? If not, why?
  7. Remember, the executive summary of the business plan will be the first thing the readers of the business plan read. If our executive summary is poorly written, it will also be the last, as they will set the rest of our business plan aside unread!

[Susan Ward with editing by Jim Jindrick]
1.08

What to Avoid in Your Business Plan and Presentation

  1. Form over substance. If it looks good but doesn't have a solid basis in fact and research, you might as well save your energy.
  2. Empty claims. If you say something is so, back it up in the next sentence with a statistic or fact or quote from a knowledgeable source that supports the claim.
  3. Rumors about the competition. If you know for sure one is going out of business you can allude to it, but avoid listing their weaknesses or hearsay. Stick to facts.
  4. Superlatives and strong adjectives. Words like major, incredible, amazing, outstanding, unbelievable, terrific, great, most, best, and fabulous don't have a place in a business plan. Avoid ``unique" unless you can demonstrate with facts that the product or service is truly ``one of a kind". Your opportunity is probably not unique.
  5. Long documents. Keep it under 25 pages total. Write whatever you want to write, but keep it at home. If they want details, they will ask.
  6. Over estimating on your financial projections. Sure you want to look good, but resist optimism here. Use half of what you think is reasonable. Better to underestimate than set expectations that aren't fulfilled.
  7. Overly optimistic time frames. Ask around or do research on the Internet. If it takes most companies 6-12 months to get up and running, that is what it will take yours. If you think it will take 3 months to develop your prototype, double it. You will face delays you don't know about yet--ones you can't control.
  8. Gimmicks. Serious investors want facts, not hype. They may eat the chocolate rose that accompanies the business plan for your new florist shop, but it won't make them any more interested in investing in the venture.
  9. Typos and misspelled words. Use your spell checker, hire an editor or have four people read the document from back to front, but get those errors out of there if you want to be taken seriously.
  10. Amateurish financial projections. Spend some money and get an accountant to do these for you. They'll help you think through the financial side of your venture, plus put them into a standard business format that a business person expects.

[Kaye Vivian]
1.04

Venture Hypothesis Outline ...

  1. Title slide or page ... venture concept name, team members, 3-word concept summary
  2. Opportunity ... the problem, market analysis, first customer(s)
  3. Solution and venture concept ... products and services, competitive advantage
  4. Business model ... how the venture will make money
  5. Marketing and sales strategies ... how the venture will attract customers
  6. Product development and operations strategies ... how the venture will develop and deliver solutions to customers
  7. Team and organization ... the current team and what do they do, advisors, team members to be added
  8. Risks and variations ... downside and upside risks, timeline and tolerances
  9. Financial model ... estimate of units sold, average selling price, revenue, expenses, margins, and EBITDA for first 5 years; key assumptions; significant startup expenses
  10. Validation plan ... how the hypothesis will be validated

1.03

How to Give a Super Rocket Elevator Pitch

  1. Begin with an end in mind: What is it that you are looking to gain? Most often the pitch is used as a tool to capture enough interest to warrant a formal
  2. Sell, Sell, Sell: What are you really selling? You are selling yourself! You're selling your dream. Be confident and show your passion.
  3. Keep it simple: You should deliver a clear, compelling and simple image of your opportunity that is easy to remember and repeat. You want the audience to say, "I get it!"
  4. Image is everything: The pitch must implant a clear image of your opportunity in the mind of the audience. [Jim's Toosense: If image is everything, why not use images ... real images, pictures, graphs, maps, diagrams, et al ... a picture is worth at least a kiloword!]
  5. Adapt your presentation to the audience: The same pitch you use for an investor might not be the same as to a supplier. (For the sake of simplicity, the term audience is used in a generic sense to include an investor, supplier, employee, customer or even a judge in a competition.)
  6. Lay out the benefits: Demonstrate how your business will impact consumers and showcase the return to the investors. [Jim's Toosense: "Benefits" to the audience ... what's in it for them?]
  7. Differentiate yourself from the competition: Focus on outlining the special features of your product/service that gives you the edge over the competition. Time permitting, summarize the competitors and insert facts or statistics where necessary.
  8. Don't forget the numbers: Depending on the audience, you need to insert a snapshot of your financials and other critical data. For example, "In year three we expect to capture 3 percent of the market, giving us $30 million in sales revenue." Investors also want to know the amount of investment you need and the return on investment (ROI). [Jim's Toosense: the author of the article wrote "...we expect to capture..." ... I strongly suggest changing that to "...we will capture ... let us show you how"!]
  9. Be memorable: Use your creativity and imagination. Put a tag on it! For example: Chevy - Like a rock. Nike - Just do it! BMW - The ultimate driving machine.
  10. Conclude with a call to action: For example, "Thank you for the opportunity to pitch my idea. I'd be interested to provide greater detail over a lunch." The best pitch is useless without any follow-up action.
  11. Practice! Practice! Practice! While there are always a few naturally gifted speakers out there, the more you rehearse your pitch the more natural it will flow and the more confident you will appear. Remember that showing confidence and passion helps sell your idea.
  12. Don't give up: Some people may not understand your opportunity at first, so don't get discouraged or quit. Walt Disney pitched his idea for Mickey Mouse to more than 300 banks before he received funding.
  13. Formatting the Pitch ... No matter what your business opportunity might be, you need to have a format for the pitch. While there are certainly countless ways to format the pitch, I strongly urge you to consider the following example. It's brilliant! I only wish I could take credit, however it was presented by renowned business strategist Geoffrey Moore in his best selling book "Crossing the Chasm." You may have noticed that many TV commercials currently use a rendition of his format.
Jim's Toosense ... Give them a takeaway ... certainly your business card(s) at the least, but how about giving them a marketing brochure, a catalog, a menu, something that reflects the business you're in! Should you give them your executive summary? Yes, if they are investor types. Should you give them your full business plan ... that's up to you. Might be too early in the game. The purpose of an elevator pitch is usually to get another meeting, a longer meeting to discuss your venture in detail. That might be a better time to give them your full plan (if appropriate).

[Troy Byrd, edited by Jim Jindrick]

Business Plan: Things to Avoid

  1. Form over substance. If it looks good but doesn't have a solid basis in fact and research, you might as well save your energy.
  2. Empty claims. If you say something is so, back it up in the next sentence with a statistic or fact or quote from a knowledgeable source that supports the claim.
  3. Rumors about the competition. If you know for sure one is going out of business you can allude to it, but avoid listing their weaknesses or hearsay. Stick to facts.
  4. Superlatives and strong adjectives. Words like major, incredible, amazing, outstanding, unbelievable, terrific, great, most, best, and fabulous don't have a place in a business plan. Avoid ``unique" unless you can demonstrate with facts that the product or service is truly ``one of a kind". Your opportunity is probably not unique.
  5. Long documents. Keep it under 25 pages total. Write whatever you want to write, but keep it at home. If they want details, they will ask.
  6. Over estimating on your financial projections. Sure you want to look good, but resist optimism here. Use half of what you think is reasonable. Better to underestimate than set expectations that aren't fulfilled.
  7. Overly optimistic time frames. Ask around or do research on the Internet. If it takes most companies 6-12 months to get up and running, that is what it will take yours. If you think it will take 3 months to develop your prototype, double it. You will face delays you don't know about yet--ones you can't control.
  8. Gimmicks. Serious investors want facts, not hype. They may eat the chocolate rose that accompanies the business plan for your new florist shop, but it won't make them any more interested in investing in the venture.
  9. Typos and misspelled words. Use your spell checker, hire an editor or have four people read the document from back to front, but get those errors out of there if you want to be taken seriously.
  10. Amateurish financial projections. Spend some money and get an accountant to do these for you. They'll help you think through the financial side of your venture, plus put them into a standard business format that a business person expects.

[From Kaye Vivian]

Jim Jindrick

You can send Jim Jindrick a message here: TextJim.VentureNotebook.com Jim's books are available here: Amazon.com/author/JimJindrick

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