January 20, 2011

How To Write a Business Plan: Tips For an Improved Executive Summary

You've put together a fabulous business plan, polished it to perfection and are ready to start searching for investors. It's not a good idea to send the plan out unsolicited. The odds are it's not going to be read. So how do you get an investor to request your plan? Send them a cover letter and executive summary.

You need a stand-alone exciting executive summary in your business plan. Most investors only want to see a 2 to 3 page executive summary as their introduction to your company. If you can't capture their interest in those 2 to 3 pages, your business plan doesn't stand a chance of being reviewed.
DON'T go over the 3 page limit, your executive summary starts becoming a mini business plan rather than a summary. And please don't use a tiny font size and narrow margins in an attempt to cram more information into the summary. If the document looks difficult to read it probably won't be read.

DO include every section in your executive summary that's in your business plan, just limit it to a paragraph for each section. Don't include something in the executive summary that isn't in the plan.
DON'T lie or exaggerate, in your summary or in your business plan. Conveying a sense of excitement is okay, hype is not.

DO keep in mind the objective of the executive summary is to entice the investor to request the business plan. The summary doesn't have to answer every question or address every issue. If it's only 2 or 3 pages it can't.

DON'T make careless mistakes, math errors, or a sloppy presentation. This is your first, and perhaps the only chance that you get to make a good impression.

DO have someone who is unfamiliar with your company read your executive summary. And make sure they can understand why the company is an outstanding potential investment just from that executive summary.

DON'T send a copy of the executive summary. Print out an original on your letterhead as the first page. That way if for some reason the executive summary gets separated from the cover letter, your company's contact information is still available. It's not a bad idea to put the company name and phone number in the footer or header of each page.

DO send the executive summary with a one page cover letter that is personalized with the name of the investor.

Follow these simple tips and your executive summary will do the job of enticing the investor to request or read your business plan.

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