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Executive summary

Business Planning: Executive Summary

The purpose of an executive summary is to outline the company’s purpose and goals. It needs to clearly define each section of your plan so the reader is prepared for the upcoming content. Your summary is considered as the most important part of your business plan, it sets it up for success.

Even though your executive summary is generally at the start of your business plan, it is often written last. Think of it as the trailer for a new Hollywood blockbuster. You must capture the main points and most valuable information to make the audience want more without showing too much. Save the figures and charts for the main segments of the plan.

What do I include in the summary?

Your summary will vary depending on the business structure. If you are a start up, you would likely be delivering your plan to banks or investors. So, you need to present a solid case for your business idea. If you are an existing business, you may want to include your successes so far and highlight your plans for growth. A typical executive summary includes:

Mission statement: A mission statement is a summary of the objectives and key vales of the company or organisation. It should clearly describe your purpose. What do you do? Why does your business exist? Who are you as a company? For example, the mission of Betty’s Bakery is to provide homemade, organic and locally sourced baked goods to the community

Business model: What does your company do? If you are providing a service or product, they need to be identified. Where and how is your service or product sold? Who is your target market and how will you reach them?

Market and competition: Give a brief outline of your market research findings in relation to your industry and competitors advantages. How will your business benefit the market and customers? What is your USP that makes you stand out from the competitors? For example, you only use organic and locally sourced products. Whereas your competition has an international supplier. This information maybe the key to someone choosing your product over your competitors.

Financial projections: Your financial projection should cover the expected revenue for the first 1-3 years and growth rate moving forward. Provide a brief describe of costs to consider i.e., owners salary, number of employees and job roles. Then summarise the expected customer base, how you will obtain them and the profit they will bring.

Funding requirements: Provide a short explanation of why you need financing and how you will use it. You can save the dollar value for the detailed finance section of your business plan.

How do I write an executive summary?

Now that you know what goes into an executive summary, you need to write one. The key thing to remember when writing your summary is to keep it short and to the point, the business plan itself will provide the details.  The job of the executive summary is to set the tone for the reader without revealing all the nitty gritty at once, so best to keep it under 2 pages.

Ensure that your language is strong and positive. Avoid the words like possible, might and could. It won’t instill a lot of trust in the reader if your business ‘might have a 25% ‘.

Along with a confident tone, you also want to tailor the summary to your audience. If you are presenting your business plan to an investor for example, you would want to illustrate that your idea is a solid investment with a clear ROI, otherwise they will lose interest pretty quick.

The executive summary will be the first thing your audience reads, so you need to make sure the trailer for your Hollywood blockbuster is compelling enough for them to watch the movie.

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