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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.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Written By

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.

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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