Startups everywhere tremble at the thought of them. Business owners spend countless hours thinking of ways to avoid them. Investors and other financiers wonder what in the world is so hard about them.
And if you’ve ever started a business, you probably know what we’re talking about: business plans.
While small startups aren’t the only kind of business that need to write up a business plan, new small business owners are the most unfamiliar with how to write them, and also the quickest to question whether a business plan is “really necessary.”
The bottom line – yes, they are. Unless you don’t want any funding, that is.
Most of why writing business plans is so hard is because entrepreneurs who’ve never done it before have no idea where to start. If that describes you, let me give you a hint: you start with the executive summary. But with a name like that, it’s no wonder owners shy away from writing it.
I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.
The good news is, I’m about to outline the important parts of an executive summary, and what to focus on while writing it. The bad news? You have to write it.
The Executive Summary
What is an executive summary? Besides being the page behind the title page, the executive summary is your opportunity to tell your audience exactly what you want and need for you business.
The mistake most new business owners make when writing the executive summary is using flowery, indirect language and rambling on for seven pages trying to be delicate when talking about what they want. This is understandable, but DON’T DO IT.
When writing the executive summary, keep your language concrete, professional, and exact. You don’t have to apologize for requesting funds. With that in mind, here are some of the key points to focus on while drafting the executive summary:
- The Business. Here you tell your readers what your business is about: what do you sell, who do you sell it to, what makes you better than the competition, etc.
- The Finance. How is your business going to make money? Overview sales, profit margin, cash flow ROI (that’s Return On Investment) and any other relevant financial points. You want your reader to know you’ve thought through the sustainability of your business.
- The Need. This is one of the most important parts of the executive summary. In this section you need to give a clear and well-supported statement about how much capital you’ll need to start your business. Additionally, you want to tell the reader exactly how that capital will be used in your business. Also include equity details, if you are offering equity, or explain the collateral situation if you take a loan out based on security.
- The Players. Make sure to include information about the company itself – founders, employees, legal operation model, and so forth. Let your readers know who and what they’re reading about as concisely as possible.
- The Highlights. Explain your business’s progress to date, making sure to include any important or impressive developments, such as prototypes, market research, work space and location, contracts, and so forth.
In short, your executive summary is a kind of statement of purpose. If you ramble on, no one will read it or want to invest in you because you are unsure of your company’s direction and needs, and therefore are an unpredictable investment. Be confident and straightforward, and the reader will recognize your potential and will be more inclined to enter into a business relationship.
About the Author: This blog post is contributed by Lauren Bailey. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @ gmail.com.