What Makes a Great Executive Summary?

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind for crafting what we believe to be the perfect executive summary. Your executive summary gives you the opportunity to provide more detail about your business. The key is to do so in a way that is compelling to a potential investor.

Honesty is always the best strategy.” 

Here’s Our Suggestions for Creating the Perfect Executive Summary:

  • THE EYE-CATCHING INTRO. The first paragraph of an Executive Summary should be compelling and capture the reader’s attention. Take your best shot. Play your strongest card by stressing that single feature of your business that is its most eye-catching and distinctive characteristic. Don’t rely solely on what you think is your strongest feature; ask others to tell you what they think.
  • BUSINESS DEFINITION. Your second paragraph or section should define your business, leading off with a clear statement of what your product or service is, and for whom it is targeted. You should then expand on the products or services and the variations so that the reader has a full appreciation of the company’s breadth of product line. This should be short.
  • THE INVESTMENT YOU’RE SEEKING. Right up front indicate how much capital you are seeking, and to what use the proceeds will be put to. This quickly allows the reader to assess the financial parameters of the investment and this puts into context what follows. Most plans avoid discussing what funding they are seeking until the end, if at all, which frustrates the professional or institutional investor.
  • MANAGEMENT. Management is the single most important part of an Executive Summary in the eyes of most investors. Yet most firms put the section describing management towards the end of the document or executive summary. You can always attach detailed biographies at the end in an appendix.
  • BOARD OF DIRECTORS (OR ADVISORS). You are judged substantially by the company you keep! Or attract.
  • FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE. Too many executive summaries place the historical and projected financial performance at the very end, whereas most investors want to know what the expectations are for the company in terms of how large will the firm become, and how soon will it be profitable. We recommend using a summary table that shows one or two years of historical performance where it exists, and five years of projected performance, and only 3 key variables such as revenue, gross profit and EBIT or net profit.
  • FINANCIAL MODELING. Today a financial model consisting of a simple income statement is unacceptable. Cash management is essentia