Executive Summary

When asked by one of my clients in Miami what I thought the most important section of the business plan was I answered with a quick and firm "Executive Summary." The executive summary is the first impression readers have of your business concept and it determines whether or not they will move on to other sections of the business plan.

My Miami client then went on to ask me how I will structure his executive summary so that it compels the reader to dive into the guts of his business concept. The important thing to understand is the business plan executive summary is an overall business description, thus it should briefly touch on every core element of the business. Personally, I like an executive summary that starts out with the basics. The first sentence should indicate the name and operating name of the business; whether it is a brand-new or existing organization; and when the timeline of the business plan goes into effect. I follow with two sentences that detail knowledge of the product/service and how it will interact within the industry and market. Presenting this information right up front, in a concise manner, demonstrates to the reader that you indeed "know what you are talking about."

The very next paragraph is a summation of the business plan's intended market, industry and market segment, in the case of this particular client it was a real estate firm specializing in medium-income single-family homes in Miami-Dade County, Fl. His executive summary needed to make sure that the reader understood he was focusing his marketing efforts on the Hispanic-Latino community with an emphasis on families with a household income of $50,000 to $75,000 or a current home value of $275,000 to $400,000. This is very important because it lets the reader know you are serious and have thought through the specific intent of the business plan.

The middle paragraph of my executive summaries tend to reflect the core skills and experience of each manager on the management team and how those skills and experience relate to the implementation of the business plan. You also need to let the reader know about any significant management team gaps (i.e. important people you need to recruit and hire) and how you intend find them. The important thing is to BE HONEST! I told the client in question that he doesn't want to blow his chances with a serious investor because he failed to mention that he has no experience actually operating recruiting Hispanic-Latino real estate agents in Miami and therefore must find an experienced recruiting and training manager.

The next paragraph of the executive summary for your business plan, in my opinion, needs to discuss the strategy, implementation and marketing plans of your business. Using bullet points you can get very direct with this information to keep this section nice and concise. Remember, the reader of the business plan can always flip to your strategy and marketing section to read more.

Finally, I wrap up by stating the intention of the business. If a loan is expected, I offer up the repayment details and any other terms I'm willing to commit to. If I'm seeking equity-based funding, I write a sentence about the deal structure that the client would like and how we arrived at that assumption.