As a small business owner setting out to rule the world, one of the first things you should focus on is creating a dynamite executive summary. There are a few basics to remember when writing your executive summary that will make or break its effectiveness:
Start with a Bang - In the first 2 or 3 sentences your reader will probably make a judgment as to whether this will be a plan worth reading or not, so don’t waste any time. What 1 thing about your business will set you apart? If you are in a big $1 billion market, welcome to the club. Just because you have a lot of market potential does not mean much. All you have is potential and probably not much potential to grasp a large share of the available market. So what actually makes you special? Maybe you are 1 of 2 people in your state certified to provide a certain service, or maybe you have a impressive customer list. Maybe you just convinced Wal-Mart to put your product in one of their stores for a testing period. These are the types of things that people will remember, so start with a bang.
Keep it Simple - Have someone who has never read your plan before and does not know anything about your business (for some of you this might be your spouse), read your executive summary. How many times did they have to re-read a section to understand it? Yes this is an “executive” summary, but for most executives you will have to dumb down your business. The reader should not have to think too much while reading the executive summary, details belong in the business plan or nowhere. If you confuse the reader in the first two pages of your business plan what do you think the odds are that they finish reading the entire plan? Not good!
End with Suspense - Like a good mystery novel end your executive summary with suspense. If your goal is to get the reader to read the entire business plan then you need to leave something for them to read. Maybe you don’t even care if they read the entire plan, in which case you can include all important details. If you want the reader to continue though, then leave out some details. For instance, you have a contract with Wal-Mart for your product in one store, but based on its sales performance you may have the option to expand into 100 more stores after 6 months. You are 3 months in and sales are going very well. You should detail all of this later in the business plan, and simply say, “For more details of the Wal-mart contract and our progress to-date please see the Marketing Plan” This is an easy way to pull the reader in to the heart of the business plan.
If you follow these 3 simple principles when writing your business plan executive summary your plan will definitely be dynamite!
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