The Executive Summary is the most important section of your Business Plan. It provides a concise overview of the entire plan along with a history of your company. This section tells the reader where your company is and where you want to take it.
It’s also the first thing your readers see, therefore it will either grab their interest and make them want to read more or make them want to put it down and forget about it. More than anything else, this section is important because it tells the reader why you think your business idea will be successful!
Some suggest the Executive Summary should be the last section you write after you’ve worked out all the details of your plan. The reason is that you will be in a better position to summarize your business concept after researching and writing all of the other sections. It’s interesting that it’s the last thing you write, but the first thing others see.
Some of the important points you should cover in the Executive Summary are:
- The Mission Statement briefly explains the thrust of your business. It could be two words, two sentences, a paragraph, or even a single image. It should be as direct and focused as possible, and it should leave the reader with a clear picture of what your business is all about. In fact, some experts suggest that the Mission Statement is just too much information for the Executive Summary and should be left inside the Business Plan.
- Names of founders and the functions they perform.
- If the business is already underway, a brief summary of the condition of the business, number of employees, sales, etc.
- Location of business and any assets, equipment, or facilities under use or needed to get started.
- Products and/or services to be rendered.
- Summary of the Marketing Plan.
- Summary of management’s future plans and timeline for the business.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the Executive Summary should be a “summary” and not more than one (1) page. Most experts say never more than one page. With the exception of the mission statement, all of the information should be highlighted in a brief, even bulleted, fashion. Remember, these facts are laid out in-depth later in the plan.
If you can fit it in, try to give a little space to your experience and background, as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular enterprise. Include information about the problems your target market has and what solutions you provide. Show how the expertise you have will allow you to make significant inroads into the market. Tell your reader what you’re going to do differently or better.
Finally, please remember, you have to convince the reader that there is a need for your service or product, then go ahead and address your future plans. The Executive Summary is your ‘elevator pitch’. Nail it and your vendors, partners, lenders and strategic partners will want to jump on board and help you succeed.
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Mark J. Kohler is a CPA, Attorney, co-host of the Radio Show “Refresh Your Wealth” and author of the new book “The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom- What Wall Street isn’t Telling You” and, “The Tax and Legal Playbook- Game Changing Solutions For Your Small Business Questions”. He is also a partner at the law firm Kyler Kohler Ostermiller & Sorensen, LLP and the accounting firm K&E CPAs, LLP.