Everyone who makes the worthwhile effort to create a business plan is ultimately confronted with the realization they must somehow condense the most important points from a many page document into only one page (or sometimes 2…3 is the absolute max).
An entrepreneur or established business owner writing their plan for investors may complain…”How can this be, after all the research, strategizing and agonizing over every word and number in my business plan, I have to accept it may not be fully read, or read at all, in favor of a few well-concocted pithy paragraphs?” As callous as it seems, experienced investors may only glance at the body of your business plan. They are generally very busy business people who necessarily scan multiple documents daily to choose one that is worthy of reading each page.
With this in mind, it’s best to think of the Executive Summary as an investor ‘quick-pitch’, with limited time to express the rationale for your business model. And, it’s not only what you say, it’s also how you convincingly you say it. The Executive Summary is the gateway to possibly convincing your investor to reading the whole business plan…or to by-pass that step and invite you to give a full business model presentation.
Here are some main topics to consider:
Include the company name, year it was created, nature of the business (mission or objective), and company location.
Your Product or Service
Describe your products or services in their order of importance. Then focus on the current stage (introductory, growth, maturity) of the main product/service. Describe how it fits in the market competitively and the company’s future plans for development over the next few years (3 to 5 usually).
The Market and the Marketing Plan
Define the market in relation to user/customer needs for your products or services and in monetary terms. Include the total current size of the market and expected % growth year over year. If your company is already running, explain how much of the market it currently holds and what portion it can capture going forward with some description of the most stereotypical customers and your intended marketing and sales strategies.
Industry & Competition
Explain the industry your business is involved in and who the direct and indirect competitors are, and detail those features/qualities that are truly and sustainably unique about your products and services. Talk about your impression of anticipated shifts in the industry and competitive landscape over the next few years.
Threats and Opportunities
Do your best to honestly lay out all the risks associated with your business model and how you plan to overcome all of them. Demonstrate the biggest opportunities you foresee and your plans for taking advantage of them.
Introduce your management team by defining their roles, who founded the business, their prior work background and any other relevant credentials.
Talk about the facilities, location and staffing (internal and outsourced), as well as the logistics associated with creating and distributing your products and services.
The ‘Ask’ (for Capital)
Don’t be humble…be sure to clearly ‘ask’ for the investment capital you are seeking and what you plan to accomplish with the funds. It is also often appropriate to detail an exit strategy in a given number of years through sale of the company, or a public offering.
In the most succinct manner possible, list the high-level numbers that express the recent historical performance and the projected financial performance of the company.