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How to create a formal executive summary for any business

As businesses get more creative, more innovative and take advantage of new social and technology trends, they are losing many of the formal business practices that help a company succeed. A strong foundation for your start-up strategic plan is a formal executive summary – to be used by you, your team and investors/partners in the marketplace.

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Your business strategy

Business schools across the United States and around the world are successfully teaching business strategy, tactical business solutions and business management, and in doing so often discuss the importance of a sound corporate business plan. Lost in translation, though, have been the skills for actually creating a robust business plan that can practically be used to maximize potential.

When done well, these plans are productive planning tools as well as a good tactical roadmap for executing one’s business. Let’s take a look at this process, and also about how to make your business plan work for you.

Step 1 – for corporations as well as individuals or small teams – is to develop a well thought out, focused and informative executive summary. This document should be a powerful 2-4 pages that captures what drives your business. It needs to succinctly illustrate your value to anyone reading the document. To do this you will be force to tightly define what really drives your business and where your true competitive advantages are. This article will walk you through how to create your own executive summary, and how to use this strategic document to increase your success.

Mission Statement

Your Mission statement is a powerful summary of what value your business brings to the market and what you focus on everyday to get better and better at what you do.

Example: Use unique content, interactive web technology and discount pricing to provide a a better shopping experience for expecting moms.

Goal: Your goal should be what your company wants to accomplish from a business perspective. Essentially, if you fulfill your mission, what will the results be?

Example: Achieve a 10% market share (by total revenue) in the United States maternity shopping industry.

Business Overview

Succinctly introduce your company’s history, the milestones you have hit and the current state of your operations. Has your business strategy evolved over time? Have you won any awards or received any advanced certifications? Finally, summarize your current business strategy.

Opportunity

Describe your industry and the business opportunity it presents. Identify total market size as well as market factors that you can take advantage of to earn business and grow your revenue.

Management

Provide a short bio of leaders in your organization. Describe past experience and success, and make it clear how this will help you succeed with this venture. Even if it’s just you, this section is important.

Unique Selling Advantage

What makes your company different from every other business in your industry? Advantages can be technology based, or a unique service you provide for clients, pricing and/or more. If you are going to succeed, you NEED a unique selling advantage.

Success

What have you achieved in this current business. Use specific examples or hard data to illustrate that you know how to achieve tangible results.

Strengths

What are your strengths verses the competition? How will you leverage them for success?

Weaknesses

What are your weaknesses verses the competition. How will you overcome them?

How You Get Paid

Detail how (and how much) your business makes money, and prioritize these ways if there are multiple revenue channels.

Projections

Make top line revenue, gross revenue and net profit projections for the next 2 years, broken out by quarter. Base these projections on actual market data and what your strategy, as it gets more and more effective, can achieve. Don’t guess.

Capital Needed / Requirements

What do you need to execute on your mission statement, successfully implement your strategic plan and hit your projections? List any essential investment money needs, technology development, content creation, marketing, etc. that are required to make your business succeed. Next, what is your plan for securing what you need?

Maximizing your success:

Developing a strong executive summary forces you to evaluate your business in a productive way and answer hard questions that are important to maximizing your success. Taking the creation of this document seriously is a productive process in itself, but it should not end there. I suggest having quarterly business reviews where you document the state of your business in all of the categories above including the financial projections. If you are off track, determine if the company has come up short or if the market has changed (if so, you may need to change your strategy and/or your projections). What have you learned that can make you more effective and more productive? Is everything still relevant?

It is important to create an executive summary (and later a business plan), but it is equally important to understand that this is not a static document. You should be evaluating your performance, the market and your strategy, and updating your plan and projections accordingly. If you do this well, your team will have a powerful tool to turn your business into a market leader… and stay a leader.

Hoyt David Morgan is an entrepreneur, angel investor and business strategy leader. He is an investor and/or adviser to a handful of exciting and high growth companies, and has been a part of several high-value exits. He is passionate about customer experience, smart business and helping innovative companies grow... and sailing.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Krisz Rokk

    May 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing these valuable insights. Having a strong business and marketing plan is imperative. Knowing your target market, your USP, focusing on the strengths but being aware of the information provided by a well done SWOT analysis – is critical. After creating and designing a plan you must implement it. And still you’Re not done – revision is something a lot of companies forget to do.

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Business Entrepreneur

‘Small’ business is a point of pride in the US, no longer a stigma

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses make up the majority of companies, employers, and money makers of the American economy, that’s something to be proud of.

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American small business

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, all businesses were small businesses. Independent craftsmen served communities with vital services. Small merchants opened shops to provide the community with goods. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals hung out a shingle to offer their services to neighbors. Small businesses were the norm. Some of the most beloved American companies started out local. John Deere, Harley Davidson, and King Arthur Flour, all got their start as small businesses.

Business changes led to a attitude change

It wasn’t until manufacturing allowed businesses to scale and produce more efficiently that the idea of big business became more important. Post-World War II, the idea of a small business became derogatory. It was the age of big government. Media was growing. Everyone wanted to be on top. Small businesses took a back seat as people moved from rural to urban communities. Small business growth plateaued for a number of years in the mid-20th century. Fortunately, the stigma of small business is fading.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy

According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, the “American business is overwhelmingly small business.” In 2016, 99.7% of firms in American had fewer than 500 workers. Firms with 20 workers or less accounted for 89.0% of the 5.6 million employer firms. The SBE also reports that “Small businesses accounted for 61.8% of net new jobs from the first quarter of 1993 until the third quarter of 2016.” Small businesses account for a huge portion of innovation and growth in today’s economy.

Modern consumers support small businesses

According to a Guidant Financial survey, the most common reason for opening a small business is to be your own boss. Small business owners are also dissatisfied with corporate America. Consumers also want to support small businesses. SCORE reports that 91% of Americans patronize a small business at least once a week. Almost half of Americans (47%) frequent small businesses 2 to 4 times a week.

Be proud of small business status

Small businesses are the innovators of tomorrow. Your neighbors want to support small businesses, knowing that their tax dollars stay in the community, and that they’re creating opportunities within their own city. Your small business status isn’t a slight. It’s a source of pride in today’s economy. Celebrate the fact that you’ve stepped out on your own in uncertain times. Celebrate the dirt under your fingernails, literally, or figuratively, that made you take a risk to do what mattered to you.

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Business Entrepreneur

Positive self-talk can improve your performance

(ENTREPRENEUR) Speaking to others can be scary, but speaking to yourself is normal and can actually improve your speech performance overall.

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Performance mirror

Do you talk to yourself? Don’t worry, this is a no-judgment zone. I probably talk to myself more than I talk to other people – especially when considering the inner monologue.

I once read that people who talk to themselves are likely to be more intelligent. Whether or not this is factual I don’t know, but I do know that it’s important that you’re smart about the way you talk to yourself.

I’m a fairly self-deprecating person, so when I’m talking to myself about myself, it’s usually some sort of insult. About a year or so ago, I realized how often I was doing this, and made a conscious effort to be a little bit nicer. In that time, my mood has been a bit more positive.

This experience fits well into the research efforts of psychologist Ethan Kross, who has examined the differences in life success based off of how people talk to themselves. “Talk to yourself with the pronoun I, for instance, and you’re likely to fluster and perform poorly in stressful circumstances,” said Kross. “Address yourself by your name and your chances of acing a host of tasks, from speech making to self-advocacy, suddenly soar.”

This can be simplified as: Talk to yourself the way you would (or maybe, should) talk to someone else, and respond in the way you would want them to respond. Act with kindness, and receive kindness back – as a result, things are more cohesive, copacetic, and successful.

After working with participants in his study, Kross found a number of performance benefits to this self-talk method, including: better performance, higher well-being, and greater wisdom.

To demonstrate better performance, judges were brought in to listen to five-minute speeches prepared by participants about why they should be hired for their dream job. Half of the participants used “I” statements, while the other half referred to themselves by their own name. The judges found that the latter half performed better, and were found to have experienced less depression and felt less shame.

In regards to higher well-being, Jason Moser, a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, measured electrical activity in the brain during participants’ usage of the different types of self-talk. During stressful situations, those who used their names instead of personal pronouns were found to have a significant decrease in anxiety levels, which positively correlated with a major decrease in energy use by the frontal lobe (talk about a win-win!)

With greater wisdom, the research found that people who use their names instead of pronouns are able to think things through more wisely and more rational and balanced way. “The psychologically distanced perspective allowed people to transcend their egocentric viewpoints and take the big picture into account,” Kross said of this piece of the research.

Well, Taylor is now ready to wrap up this article, and she hopes that you’ll give name-first self-talk a try, as The American Genius only wants what is best for their readers! Additionally, encourage people around you and those on your team to give this self-talk, first name idea a try – circle back after a week of trying it and share the results.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to turn your side hustle or hobby into a successful business

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Surely you have a favorite hobby by now, well what can you do with it? You can grow it into a full time business, but how?

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hobby tools

Almost everyone has a hobby they enjoy doing in their spare time — something that sparks their creativity and engages their senses. If you look forward to your weekend pastime more than your nine-to-five job, perhaps it’s time to turn your passion into profits.

This path requires dedication and commitment. However, as you turn your hobby into a profitable reality, the hard work pays off. Getting to that point requires several steps. Thankfully, there are many resources out there that will help you pave the way.

  1. Establish the Basics: Establishing the basics will act as your roadmap for turning your passion into a business. This plan will no doubt change along the way, but it’s important to have preliminary ideas of where you want to take your enterprise.First, establish what you’ll be selling. Most hobbies can become a business, but you’ll need to hone in on what people will be buying. Anything of value — like products and services — can be an enterprise. Once you have that in mind, you can decide if you want it to be a part-time or full-time job. If you already have a job, managing your time between the two can get tricky.

    To stay on top of your tasks, you can look into a time management app or software. With these platforms, you can input how much time you spend on certain projects. From there, you can properly divide your time and give your new business the attention it requires.

    Next, you’ll have to conduct research. Is there a market for your product nearby? Can your business realistically take off in your location? How much needs to be e-commerce? Market research can help you determine who’s interested in buying and what you’ll need to get your business off the ground.

  2. Know Your Finances: Your finances are one of the biggest factors when starting a business. Too often, people rush into things without planning their expenses and resources first. Be sure to ground your plan with actionable steps. For instance, If you’ll be working from home, you can save on renting costs. However, some businesses require a storefront, so keep that in mind.You can also look into financial planning software or budgeting tools. Research relevant tips for budgeting when starting a small business. One pro-tip to keep in mind, if renting, is that you’ll want to save around six months’ worth of rent beforehand. That way, when you get started, you won’t rely on revenue to pay this expense.

    Additionally, don’t forget about taxes. You’ll likely need to pay estimated quarterly ones and potential sales taxes, too. There are multiple tools to help calculate these expenses online. Don’t be surprised by the costs, a hobby can be inexpensive but ramping up to a business can be costly, but worth it.

  3. Take the First Steps: As you form your plans and goals, you can start to take the first steps toward a sale. This phase consists of setting up space in your home or a store and developing your products or services.You’ll also want to set up a digital platform where you can access information at any time. In this central base, you can refer to all the details about your plans, finances and marketing strategies. With tools like Google Docs and Spreadsheets, creating accounting documents and client lists become easy.
  4. Create Marketing Strategies: Your first sale will likely be to someone you know. That’s an important step. No matter who it is, though, marketing and advertising can take your business to the next level. Make sure you have a strong online presence. With social media and Google’s resources, you can increase your reach.Having social media pages on multiple platforms can help spread awareness of your business. You can use hashtags and locations to establish yourself so others can find you. Most of these platforms have analytic tracking, too, so you can see who engages with your pages and when.

    From there, you can work with Google Analytics. It connects to your website and tracks activity and sales. It shows you which visitors come from social media, referrals and search engines. Then, you can focus your marketing strategies on strengthening those areas.

    Additionally, it’s vital to focus on search engine optimization (SEO). SEO works with search engines like Google to push your listing to the top with keywords and links. As you cover your bases with SEO and social media, your online presence can grow along with your sales.

  5. Network: Outside of the online world, you have options for growing your business, too. Local companies can work together to help each other succeed — you can look into other small businesses in your area for new opportunities. People often overlook the power of collaboration, but it can bring about significant results.If you can provide a service or product to local businesses, they may be able to advertise for you at their locations. For instance, if you’re a florist and provide arrangements for a local coffee shop, it could put your business cards next to your display. Customers will see your information and know they have a local option should they need flowers.

    You can also bring this connection to the digital realm. When you interact with other businesses on social media, people will see that engagement and click on your pages. That dynamic could translate to more traffic and sales. Check online to find the communities of your chosen hobby, the people there can fill you in on vital info that may be missing, or be a customer base you can connect w

  6. Keep the Growth Going: The last step is to perpetually keep your business growing. In this phase, you can quit your full-time job or reduce your hours to be a part-time employee. You can then focus on your new enterprise.You should expand your outreach through email newsletters, deals and coupons. You can give rewards to loyal or returning customers if you’d like, too. You can also add a blog or a section for customer service and inquiries to your website. Once your business grows enough, you may need to hire help.
    As you progress, adjust your goals. You’ll see that your trajectory differs from your original ideas, but you can keep building to take it to the next step. Set new milestones and watch your business thrive.

When a Hobby Becomes a Business

You should be aware that this a long-term process. Building a brand won’t happen overnight, but the small changes will add up until your company is a force in the market. It’s also an ongoing activity. The more you grow your enterprise, the more possibilities open up. It all starts with your hobby and your entrepreneurial spirit, which can take you anywhere.

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