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That Will Make Readers Want More!

They say that you only get one first impression. This old adage carries even more meaning when it comes to your business plan's executive summary.

The executive summary of your plan will be the most read and widely distributed section. It is the single component that serves to convince others to learn more about your business. The potential readership of your summary may include prospective and current investors, strategic partners, distributors, vendors, legal, financial and other service providers.

Typically, the executive summary is appropriately created once you have completed the business plan. With this chronological development of your plan in mind, it is very important to create the executive summary as a compelling synopsis, and not an afterthought.

As a powerful overview containing key points to your business plan, the executive summary needs to be well conceived and written in a style that is easy to understand. It must be concise, interesting and believable. You want your summary to reflect an exciting- and achievable- opportunity.

Many entrepreneurs believe this section of the business plan to be the most difficult to write. You must boil down a relatively lengthy document that carefully contains a thorough description of your business, to no more than 3-5 pages. And it's got to be high on the readability charts too! No easy task.

Before you begin to think that you're done and have created your best effort at a first impression, ask yourself if it communicates the following:

Description of Product/Service

A brief description that focuses on what function your product/service performs, not how it performs it. Remember to be feature/benefit oriented.

Business Objective

What goal do you want your business to achieve? This can be measured in a variety of ways including market share, sales revenue, channel distribution and market leadership positioning. (A combination of these elements works well). Just remember to make sure that it is based upon measurable, believable and achievable tactics. This should be no more than a paragraph that is qualified within the business plan.

Market Size and Opportunity

If adequately substantiated, this can be the most compelling element to both your executive summary and business plan as a whole. Succinctly describe who will buy your product/service and at what volume. Make sure that your business plan contains market data to qualify whatever projection you make.

Target Market Description

Briefly describe who will make the purchase decision for your product or service. Remember to always think beyond the reseller channel and describe the end-user too. This will indicate to a prospective investor that you have thought through a comprehensive positioning of your product in the market. Include demographic and psychographic data describing what person will buy the product, and why and how your business plans to reach them.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Realism is the key word to bear in mind here. Make sure that you have uncovered all current and potential competitive forces in the marketplace. Once you describe these forces, position your product relative to the competition in the market. Assuming you have a clear competitive advantage, take the description a step further and communicate how your business plans to sustain that advantage.

Management Team

Briefly describe the key executive management team. A paragraph that highlights the individual team membersí accomplishments in your market will suffice. (Remember the full resume of each team member will be included in the business plan). In the event that your team is not completely formed, don't worry. Often a VC can assist you in the placement of a key executive within your organization.

What do you need to Succeed?

Don't be shy about asking for what you need to move your business forward. This usually precedes the Usage of Funds statement, indicating how you propose to allocate funds and resources.

Return on Investment

Finally, describe what investors can expect to receive as a result of their investment in your business.

If you have managed to create an executive summary that dynamically expresses the above points in less than five pages, you're ready to submit it to a compatible venture capitalist. If not, take a closer look at the business plan itself. Chances are the important points are too hidden and you may need to review the entire business plan document.

Creating a compelling executive summary takes a lot of time and thought. Don't underestimate how disciplined you will have to be in creating this section. Make sure it looks professional and pay lots of attention to detail. Get feedback from respected colleagues. Refine and refine further.

Your business deserves to make a powerful and positive first impression... after all, itís the only one it will get.



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