Executive Summary Says It All

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    The most important section of your business plan is its executive summary. That’s right. It’s the first thing that people read, and it should crystallize everything that’s compelling and essential about your business and how you will succeed with it. And you need to do that all on one page. Gulp.

    If you’re looking for investors, they won’t read past the first page if it doesn’t grab them. That doesn’t just mean great writing, but also great content that demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about.

    Who will be running your business is clearly the most important part of your business. But for the business plan, it’s the executive summary that has to be good or they’ll never get around to reading about your amazing management team or anything else in your plan.

    Now, please don’t conclude from this that a compelling executive summary is all you need. That compelling executive summary only works if it’s well supported in the body of the plan. Grandiose assertions don’t win over investors, and a business strategy built around such assertions will fail also.

    So you need a powerful plan that’s topped off with the best executive summary you can write. And rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until it’s just right.

    Indeed, Guy Kawasaki argues that you should spend 80% of your time writing a great executive summary. I think that overstates priorities a bit, but the point is, this section needs to do more than just summarize the plan. It “says it all” on one page in what might be your only chance to get in front of a key investor.

    So work on it until it sings. And if you can’t make it sing, it might just be that your great idea is not (yet) such a great idea. Work on it until it is.

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.

    -Written by Rolfe Larson Associates – Fifteenth Anniversary, 1995 – 2010 – LinkedIn
    Twitter: RolfeLarson — Author of Venture Forth! Endorsed by Paul Newman of Newman’s Own