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The good executive summary 14 July, 2006

Posted by varoom in Executive Summary.

Many will tell you that the executive summary is the most important part of any business plan and a good summary can go along way to ensuring success and a bad one can kill a great business.

I agree with most of this perspective, but, the success of an executive summary depends on who it’s for, an investor, banker, lawyer, customer? The end reader of the summary dictates some of the focus of the text, the investor wants to know what the potential return could be, the lawyer may be interested in protecting the idea, the customer may be interested in what kind of resources the company will have.

What is an executive summary for?

It’s to persuade the reader to review the whole business plan document and not file it under ‘B’ for Bin!

Take an every day example. You are in a bookshop at the airport. You are looking at the wide range of novels on display and need to choose one. How do you do it?

You may have preferences for a type of novel, science fiction, romance or comedy. Or you may be looking for a particular Author. Maybe you are attracted by the cover design or that there’s a 2 for 1 offer going. (That caused me to buy the Da Vinci Code in an airport long before it became famous). You start reading the summaries on the back of some novels that you like to look of and eventually you choose one. You did not read any of the novel before you chose the book to invest in.

There is some similarity with potential investors who have to review many business plans. It can be superficial aspects or the succinct executive summary that causes them to “buy” the book….In a business plan the executive summary can be make or break.

But right at the beginning how you approach the creation of an executive summary is important. I read 50 plus summaries, in business plans, a year and some take a great deal of effort to get past the summary and dig deep into the business plan itself to find out enough information to judge the business potential.

Some authors spend too much real estate in the executive summary trying to convince the reader that their idea is world class and too little effort convincing the investor that there’s money to be made.

A good executive summary is like the good novel, it has a beginning, middle and an end. It tells a story, in enough detail, that the reader can make a clear and informed decision whether to read the full document or file it under ‘B’.

So having a structure in mind and some key bullets will allow you to story board the summary before you start to write the actual text.


What’s the product idea, what is the market and its potential, how your product gets to market, how can you make money, what is the long term business potential and what resources and investment does your business need in order to capture the business?

More later….




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