Business Plan Executive Summaries

Good Executive Summary for a Business Plan

Many business plan executive summaries are disappointing. Writers convey information but fail to hit the most important points. We discuss what constitutes a good executive summary and how to tell if your executive summary is up to snuff.

As a small business owner, it's important that no stone goes unturned in your quest to create a successful and profitable business venture.

A strong business plan is a big part of your company's future success. But if your executive summary isn't convincing, then your business plan probably won't go very far with investors and other key decision makers.

Poorly written executive summaries are a common pet peeve of venture capitalists. Since most venture capitalists don't have time to read every business plan they receive, they rely on executive summaries to give them a big picture perspective of the company and its products. When executive summaries fall short, companies lose critical investment dollars.

To help determine whether or not your executive summary is up to the task, we've compiled a handful of questions you can't afford to ignore.

Does the executive summary engage readers?

A well-written executive summary grabs hold of the readers' attention and refuses to let go. While you don't want to exaggerate or use gimmicks, you do want a strong opening paragraph and an executive summary that compels the reader to learn more about your company.

Does the executive summary inspire confidence?

The executive summary has to be rational and consistent. If it contains gross inconsistencies or if it makes claims that can't possibly be true, then it won't have credibility with investors. After reading the executive summary, your readers need to have the sense that your business model is viable and that your company is led by competent professionals.

Is there enough information to make an initial investment decision?

Investors rely on executive summaries to make initial investment decisions. Will a VC write a $1 million check based solely on an executive summary? Probably not. But a disappointing executive summary is will elicit a negative investment decision every time.

Does the executive summary answer all the obvious questions?

If your executive summary leaves big questions unanswered (e.g. how your product is uniquely positioned to meet market needs), it won't make an impression with investors. Remember, investors rely on executive summaries to make initial judgments about your business and high-level gaps here aren't likely to be clarified when they drill down deeper into the business plan.

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