Writing a killer executive summary

Here's how to write one that will generate the right decision. Getty Images Other than business plans, executive summaries are probably the most crucial of all business documents. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that an executive summary is a summary of the document, like a "Cliff Notes.

Writing a killer executive summary

When to write the executive summary

Most of them offer a wealth of well-intended suggestions about all the stuff you need to include in the executive summary. They provide a helpful list of the forty-two critical items you should cover, and then they tell you to be concise.

Most guides to writing an executive summary miss the key point: The job of the executive summary is to sell, not to describe. The executive summary is often your initial face to a potential investor, so it is critically important that you create the right first impression.

Contrary to the advice in articles on the topic, you do not need to explain the entire business plan in words. You need to convey its essence, and its energy.

You want to be clear and compelling. Forget what everyone else has been telling you. Here are the key components that should be part of your executive summary: The Grab Writing a killer executive summary should lead with the most compelling statement of why you have a really big idea.

Usually, this is a concise statement of the unique solution you have developed to a big problem. It should be direct and specific, not abstract and conceptual. If you can drop some impressive names in the first paragraph you should—world-class advisors, companies you are already working with, a brand name founding investor.

He or she may never get that far. The Problem You need to make it clear that there is a big, important problem current or emerging that you are going to solve, or opportunity you are going to exploit.

In this context you are establishing your Value Proposition—there is enormous pain and opportunity out there, and you are going to increase revenues, reduce costs, increase speed, expand reach, eliminate inefficiency, increase effectiveness, whatever.

writing a killer executive summary

The Solution What specifically are you offering to whom? Software, hardware, service, combination? You might need to clarify where you fit in the value chain or distribution channels—who do you work with in the ecosystem of your sector, and why will they be eager to work with you.

If you have customers and revenues, make it clear. If not, tell the investor when you will. The Opportunity Spend a few more sentences providing the basic market segmentation, size, growth and dynamics—how many people or companies, how many dollars, how fast the growth, and what is driving the segment.

writing a killer executive summary

You will be better off targeting a meaningful percentage of a smaller, well-defined, growing market than claiming a microscopic percentage of a huge, heterogeneous, mature market.

Your Competitive Advantage No matter what you might think, you have competition. At a minimum, you compete with the current way of doing business. Most likely, there is a near competitor, or a direct competitor that is about to emerge are you sufficiently paranoid yet??

So, understand what your real, sustainable competitive advantage is, and state it clearly. Believe it or not, in most cases, you should be able to make this point in one or two sentences.

The Model How specifically are you going to generate revenues, and from whom? Why is your model leverageable and scaleable? Why will it be capital efficient?

What are the critical metrics on which you will be evaluated—customers, licenses, units, revenues, margin? Whatever it is, what impressive levels will you reach within three to five years? The Team Why is your team uniquely qualified to win?

If you can, state the names of brand name companies your team has worked for.After writing many business plans, many for businesses that never launched and a few that did launch and were eventually sold, I felt compelled to share my experiences and advice to save you from the rocky process of getting started so you can just start writing.

Then you need a killer executive summary in your business plan. The purpose of the executive summary is to entice the reader to review, or request to review, the entire business plan. The purpose of the executive summary is to entice the reader to review, or request to review, the entire business plan.

Most guides to writing an executive summary miss the key point: The job of the executive summary is to sell, not to describe. The executive summary is often your initial face to a potential investor, so it is critically important that you create the right first impression.

The summary must cover all the key topics in a full business plan, including the following, in this order: 1. Lead with a painful customer problem and how you solve it. To write the killer executive summary you must know who the report is for, know why the report was needed and be able to write clearly and logically.

An executive summary in a business document is not a summary, it is not an abstract or a précis of what comes after. Writing a killer executive summary December 12, December 9, For any tender writer or proposal writer, writing an executive summary is an absolutely crucial part of the success process.

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