The Executive Summary

Expanding on my previous blog, “Why do you need a Business Plan?” this entry expands on why an Executive Summary is vital.

The front page of your plan needs an Executive Summary to concisely tell the reader to keep reading.  You have one or two pages to grab their attention and make them get into the details of your business plan.  So it best be well written and engaging.  While I consider myself a bit of a word-smith, I enlist help to review and edit the Executive Summary.
Write it last:
The Executive Summary opens the Business Plan but must be written last.  Every highlight from your plan needs to be presented right up front.  How much profit will be made, how many customers will be reached, how many employees will be hired, what operational costs will look like, who is going to run the business, and most importantly, why will  anyone care.  There are a lot of pieces that need to be presented but you also need to write them without the details, that is what the rest of the plan is meant to convey.
Consider your audience:
Previously I discussed an operational and a financial business plan.  Each requires a summary targeted at different audiences.
When asking for money you need to write for a financial driven audience.  Answer questions on how a lender or a VC will recoup their investment money with interest.  Grab their attention immediately with profit estimates, marketing goals, and operational efficiencies.  Really show-off your unique competitive position(s).
When developing an operational business plan focus on your operational motivators.  I see this type of plan being used by the owner and management team.  You must present the company mission and values that will act as the foundation for your management team.  Share your corporate vision on how the company will be profitable, how it will market its products, where you see the company going in the future, and how the employees will be rewarded for their loyalty.  Create a story to explain why you and your employees should care about making your business successful and what is unique about your business that makes your vision possible.
Bottom Line:
 
In the end, you the business owner, will be the main determinant of the business’ success.  Everyone that reads your plan should be able to read your enthusiasm, drive, and faith in your vision.  Hiring an expert to write your business plan allows you to rely on their experience to cover all your bases in the main body of your Business Plan.  For the Executive Summary I recommend that you are heavily involved writing this section.  Be sure your personality shines through.  The typical reader probably won’t know you personally, so you need to grab their attention and convince them your vision is worth their buy-in.