How to write an executive summary

Adam Hoeksema · December 1, 2010 · Short URL:

Want to pitch investors? Put your plan together by including these few sections, such as 'The Grab'

Below is template for your business plan executive summary with commentary for each section to help you write a powerful executive summary and raise capital.

The Grab - This section is probably the most important part of your entire executive summary.  In two or three sentences you should tell the reader why your business is special.  Maybe you have Michael Jordan as a customer and he has promoted your product on Twitter for free.  Maybe you just signed a partnership agreement with Google.  Maybe you were just awarded a patent, or maybe you just made your first big sale.  Sometimes just a simple quote or testimonial might be enough, the key is to grab the attention of your audience and draw them in to the rest of the document.

Big Problem - The first ingredient of a great idea is a Big Problem, so explain the Big Problem that your product addresses.  For instance, there is too much traffic in Chicago, and everyone hates traffic.  Everyone in the room should be saying "Yeah, I hate that."

Unique Solution - The big problem is the easy part.  Now you have to convince the reader that you have come up with a unique solution for the big problem.  If you have these two ingredients you have the makings of a great idea.  Maybe you developed a new traffic control system that will save one minute for every person in Chicago, each day, during their commute.  One minute each day is valuable when you are talking about a couple million people.

Market Potential - Elaborate on the big problem by providing stats for your industry.  Be careful not to pretend that you have a larger market than you do! The fact that the medical device industry is $100 billion annually means nothing because your new medical device will only serve a small segment of the industry. Break it down to a realistic market potential.

Unique Selling Proposition - This is where you elaborate on your unique solution.  What specifically gives your product or service an advantage over the competition?  Maybe your home health care service actually sends doctors to the home instead of just nurse practitioners, or maybe you guarantee same day visits so that you don't have to schedule ahead of time.  Just point out why you are special.

Business Model - Your business model needs to be clear and easy to follow. Essentially, you are answering the question, "How will you get people to take dollars out of their wallet and give them to you?" Keep the model simple - especially in the executive summary.

Management Team - Depending on what industry you are in, this can be one of the most important parts of your executive summary.   Your investors or bankers are putting trust in the team, not the idea.  Ideas are easy to come by, but executing on those ideas can  only be accomplished through a strong team.  Quickly show why your team has the experience and knowledge to execute your business plan.

Financial Projections -  Based on your market, your business model, and your historical performance, you need to develop a bottom-up financial forecast.  If your plan is for a group of investors, don't spend too much time on this section because they know that you have no idea how much money you might make.  Investors typically won't make a go / no-go decision based on your financial projections.  They will essentially make their own financial projections.  The point of your projections is simply to demonstrate your competence, and your ability to build financial projections based on a sound set of assumptions.

Request - Now it is time to request either an investment or loan depending on the purpose of the executive summary.  You should restate why your company provides value.  Remind the reader of the big pain that you are solving and your market potential.  Finally reemphasize your team and its ability to get the job done.  Ask for the dollar amount that you need to reach the next major milestone for your business.  Don't disclose how much equity you are willing to give up or what interest rate you are willing to pay.  This should be done later through face to face negotiation.

Make sure to visit today and utilize our free executive summary templates, examples, ebooks, videos and articles!

(Image source: teamaltman)

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