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Getty Images Whether you've put together a business plan or an investment proposal, you're going to need an executive summary to preface your report. The summary should include the major details of your report, but it's important not to bore the reader with minutiae.
Save the analysis, charts, numbers, and glowing reviews for the report itself. This is the time to grab your reader's attention and let the person know what it is you do and why he or she should read the rest of your business plan or proposal.
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. Akira Hirai, founder and CEO of Phoenix-based Cayenne Consulting, a firm that helps entrepreneurs develop business plans and financial forecasts, says the process of distilling the essence of your business down to a page forces you to think hard, decide what's important, and discard things that aren't essential to the story line.
Investors, lenders, executives, managers, and CEOs are busy. That means the executive summary is an essential gateway for your business plan to get read. Think about it this way: If you had an endless list of things to do, and someone handed you an page document and said, "Read this!
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According to Bonjour, investors will read the executive summary to decide if they will even bother reading the rest of the business plan.
It's rare for an investor or lender to read an entire business plan, at least in the initial stages of analysis and consideration for funding, so having a strong executive summary is key. When you're writing your business plan, your goal is to get your foot in the door and face time with the investor.
The First Paragraph Just as a movie might begin with a fight scene or a magazine article open with a funny anecdote, you'll need a strong hook for your executive summary. The first paragraph needs to compel the reader to read the rest of the summary. Perhaps you have a compelling aha!
If you've identified a problem in the marketplace that isn't being adequately serviced, you might start with that. The Nuts and Bolts There is no set structure for an executive summary, but there are guidelines you must follow to ensure your business plan or investment proposal gets the attention it deserves.
First, think about your core strengths. Use bullet points to present your ideas, and make sure you always use concise language.
After you've explained what your company does, it's time to sell why you believe you're uniquely qualified to succeed.
Lavinsky recommends addressing these questions when putting together your executive summary: Depending on your audience, you can also try a more rigid approach to the executive summary.
After the first paragraph, Bonjour says one effective structure is to summarize each section in the same order in which the items are presented within the full business plan.
To make the structure as relevant as possible for the reader, typically an investor or a lender, he suggests considering these categories: The last thing you want is to leave the reader feeling like there's plenty of time to act.
Chances are, if there isn't any urgency to your executive summary, your business plan won't get read. After describing the elements above, the executive summary should also have a brief financial summary.Edit Article How to Write a Professional Thank You Note.
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