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Starting A Business

How to Write an Executive Summary in 6 Steps

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When you’re starting a business, one of the first things you need to do is write a business plan. Your business plan is like a roadmap for your business, so you can lay out your goals and a concrete plan for how you’ll reach them.

Not only is a business plan essential for any business owner, but it’s also a requirement if you decide to apply for small business funding or find investors. After all, before a bank or individual hands over any money, they’ll want to be sure your company is on solid ground (so they can get their money back).

A business plan consists of several pieces, from an executive summary and market analysis to a financial plan and projections. The executive summary will be the first part of your business plan.

If wondering how to write an executive summary has kept you from completing your business plan, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain what an executive summary is and provide tips for writing your own so your business plan can start strong.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a short, informative, and easy-to-read opening statement to your business plan. Even though it’s just one to two pages, the executive summary is incredibly important.

An executive summary tells the story of what your business does, why an investor might be interested in giving funds to your business, why their investment will be well-spent, and why you do what you do. An executive summary should be informative, but it should also capture a busy reader’s attention.

Why write an executive summary?

Anyone you’re sending your executive summary and business plan to is likely busy—very busy. An entire business plan is long, involved, and deals with a lot of numbers.

Someone busy wants to get an understanding of your business, and they want to do it quickly, which is to say not by diving into a complicated, 80-page business plan. That’s where your executive summary comes in.

An executive summary provides just the opportunity to hook someone’s interest, tell them about your business, and offer a clear selling point as to why they should consider investing in your business.

Your executive summary is your chance to sell your business to potential investors and show them your business is worth not only their money but also their time.

What to include in an executive summary

By its nature, an executive summary is short. You must be able to clearly communicate the idea of your business, what sets you apart, and how you plan to grow into a successful enterprise.

The subsequent sections of your business plan will go into more detail, but your executive summary should include the most critical pieces of your business plan—enough to stand on its own, as it’s often the only thing a prospective investor will read. Here’s what your executive summary should include—consider it an executive summary template from which you can model your own.

1. The hook

The first sentence and paragraph of your executive summary determine whether or not the entire executive summary gets read. That’s why the hook or introduction is so important.

In general, a hook is considered anything that will get a reader’s attention. While an executive summary is a formal business document, you do want your hook to make you stand out from the crowd—without wasting time.

Your hook can be sharing something creative about your company, an interesting fact, or just a very well-crafted description of your business. It’s crucial to craft your hook with the personality of your reader in mind. Give them something that will make your company stand out and be memorable among a sea of other business plans.

Grab their attention in the first paragraph, and you’re much more likely to get your executive summary read, which could lead to an investment.

2. Company description summary

Now that you’ve hooked your reader, it’s time to get into some general information about your business. If an investor is going to give you money, after all, they first need to understand what your company does or what product you sell and who is managing the company.

Your company description should include information about your business, such as when it was formed and where you’re located; your products or services; the founders or executive team, including names and specific roles; and any additional details about the management team or style.

3. Market analysis

Your market analysis in the executive summary is a brief description of what the market for your business looks like. You want to show that you have done your research and proven that there is a need for your specific product or services. Some questions you should answer:

  • Who are your competitors?

  • Is there a demand for your products or services?

  • What advantages do you have that make your business unique in comparison to others?

To reiterate, stick to the highlights of your market analysis in your executive summary. You’ll provide a complete analysis in a separate section of your business plan, but you should be able to communicate enough in the executive summary that a potential investor can gauge whether your business has potential.

4. Products and services 

Now that you’ve established a need in the market, it’s time to show just how your business will fill it. This section of your executive summary is all about highlighting the product or service that your company offers. Talk about your current sales, the growth you’ve seen so far, and any other highlights that are a selling point for your company.

This is also a good time to identify what sets your business apart and gives you a competitive advantage. After all, it’s unlikely that your business is the first of its kind. Highlight what you do better than the competition and why potential customers will choose your product or service over the other options on the market.

5. Financial information and projections 

In this section of your executive summary, you want to give the reader an overview of your current business financials. Again, you’ll go more in-depth into this section later in your business plan, so just provide some highlights. Include your current sales and profits (if you have any), as well as what funding you’re hoping to acquire and how this will affect your financials in the next few years.

This is also where you can explain what funding, if any, you’ve received in the past. If you paid back your loan on time, this is an especially bright selling point for potential lenders.

6. Future plans

While asking for what funding you need is essential, you’ve also got to make clear what you’re going to use that funding for. If you’re asking for money, you want the person to know you have a plan to put those funds to good use.

Are you hoping to open another location, expand your product line, invest in your marketing efforts? This final section of your executive summary should detail where you want your business to go in the future, as well as drive home how funding can help you get there.

Tips for writing an executive summary

Even if you include each part of a good executive summary, you might not get noticed. What is written can be just as important as how it’s written. An executive summary has to strike a delicate balance between formal, personable, confident, and humble.

1. Be concise

An executive summary should include everything that’s in your business plan, just in a much shorter format. Writing a concise executive summary is no easy task and will require many revisions to get to the final draft. And while this is the first section of your executive summary, you’ll want to write it last, after you’ve put together all the other elements.

To choose your most important points and what should be included in the executive summary, go through your business plan, and pull out single-line bullet points. Go back through those bullet points and eliminate everything unnecessary to understanding your business.

Once you have your list of bullet points narrowed down, you can start writing your executive summary. Once it’s written, go back in and remove any unnecessary information. Remember, you should only be including the highlights—you have the rest of your business plan to go into more detail. The shorter and clearer your executive summary is, the more likely someone is to read it.

2. Use bullet points

One simple way to make your executive summary more readable is to use bullet points. If someone is reading quickly or skimming your executive summary, extra whitespace can make the content faster and easier to read.

Short paragraphs, short sentences, and bullet points all make an executive summary easier to skim—which is likely what the reader is doing. If important numbers and convincing stats jump out at the reader, they’re more likely to keep reading.

3. Speak to your audience

When writing your executive summary, be sure to think about who will be reading it; that’s who you’re speaking to. If you can personalize your executive summary to the personality and interests of the person who will read it, you’re more likely to capture their attention.

Personalizing might come in the form of a name in the salutation, sharing details in a specific way you know that person likes and the tone of your writing. An executive summary deals with business, so it will generally have a formal tone. But, different industries may be comfortable with some creativity of language or using shorthand to refer to certain ideas.

Know who you’re speaking to and use the right tone to speak to them. That might be formal and deferential, expert and clipped, informal and personable, or any other appropriate tone. This may also involve writing different versions of your executive summary for different audiences.

4. Play to your strengths

One of the best ways to catch the attention of your reader is to share why your business is unique. What makes your business unique is also what makes your business strong, which can capture a reader’s interest and show them why your business is worth investing in. Be sure to highlight these strengths from the start of your executive summary.

5. Get a test reader

Once you’ve written and edited your executive summary, you need a test reader. While someone in your industry or another business owner can be a great resource, you should also consider finding a test reader with limited knowledge of your business and industry. Your executive summary should be so clear that anyone can understand it, so having a variety of test readers can help identify any confusing language.

If you don’t have access to a test reader, consider using tools such as Hemingway App and Grammarly to ensure you’ve written something that’s easy to read and uses proper grammar.

How long should an executive summary be?

There’s no firm rule on how long an executive summary should be, as it depends on the length of your business plan and the depth of understanding needed by the reader to fully grasp your ask.

That being said, it should be as short and concise as you can get it. In general, an executive summary should be one to two pages in length.

You can fudge the length slightly by adjusting the margin and font size, but don’t forget readability is just as important as length. You want to leave plenty of white space and have a large enough font that the reader is comfortable while reading your executive summary. If your executive summary is hard to read, it’s less likely your reader will take the time to read your business plan.

What to avoid in an executive summary

While the rules for writing a stellar executive summary can be fuzzy, there are a few clear rules for what to avoid in your executive summary.

Your executive summary should avoid:

  • Focusing on investment. Instead, focus on getting the reader to be interested enough to continue and read your business plan or at least schedule a meeting with you.

  • Clichés, superlatives, and claims that aren’t backed up by fact. Your executive summary isn’t marketing material. It should be straightforward and clear.

Avoiding the executive summary no-nos is just as important as striking the right tone and getting in the necessary information for your reader.

Executive summary examples

Sometimes the best way to learn is to see how other people are doing it. The U.S. Small Business Administration has multiple business plan examples; you can flip to the executive summary to help you write your own executive summary. For more inspiration, here is an example from Harvard Business School:

Executive summary template

After all the information we threw your way, you’re probably itching to get started. If you’re ready to apply what you just learned, download our free business plan template. Our template will not only make it easier to write your executive summary; it will also guide you in writing the rest of your business plan.

The bottom line

While an executive summary is short, it’s challenging to write. Your executive summary condenses your entire introduction, business description, business plan, market analysis, financial projections, and ask into one to two pages. Condensing information down to its most essential form takes time and many drafts. When you’re putting together your business plan’s executive summary, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write it and to seek the help of friends or colleagues for editing it to perfection.

However, some tools make crafting a business plan, including your executive summary, a simpler process. A business plan template is a great place to start, and business plan software can especially help with the design of your business plan. After all, a well-written executive summary can make all the difference in obtaining funding for your business, so you’ll want all the help you can get.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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Starting A Business

Everything You Need for Starting a Pressure Washing Business

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If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and feel ready to go into business yourself, the pressure washing business could be the best option for you.

Starting a power washing business doesn’t require lengthy learning and the startup costs are relatively low. Since the demand for such services is always high, this business can provide a solid flow of income if mastered and managed properly.

Like any other business, a successful power washing business requires proper preparation and planning and this article offers a step-by-step guide for embarking on such an entrepreneurial journey.

Research the Market

Doing some in-depth research about the pressure washing market, what customers you want to target, and how many similar businesses are already operating in your area is essential. Even though this business is expected to register decent growth in the coming years, you should still dig a little deeper to see if there’s more work than the existing pressure washers can take on.

You can choose to focus on residential accounts or take on commercial clients. If you feel that you can manage more work, explore opportunities for pressure washing in surrounding neighborhoods and towns.

Proper research and identifying what opportunities exist is a crucial step in establishing a flourishing pressure washing business.

Get Your License

The moment you decide that this type of business is a golden opportunity, you need to check the local requirements for doing business as a pressure washer.

Depending on the state you live in, you may or may not need a business license. However, you should apply and obtain one before getting started as it will cover you legally. Make sure to check with your local authorities on what the rules and regulations are to stay on the right side of the law. 

This is also a major plus when attracting potential customers as they’ll feel more comfortable and it will help establish trust in your business. It may also help in meeting the requirements of other parties, such as vendors, who might want to see your license before deciding to do business.

Get Insurance

Even though it sounds easy to start a pressure washing business, make sure that you develop the proper skills on how to pressure wash without destroying the surrounding area, damaging your client’s siding, and causing an injury to yourself or somebody else.  

However, accidents happen, so in order to protect your new business from claims of negligence, injuries, accidents, financial risks, and legal fees, you should purchase insurance coverage. Nowadays, insurance companies can provide you with a quote for pressure washing insurance online, so you don’t have to waste time standing in lines.

Not only is pressure washing insurance a safety net for your business, but new potential clients will also take this as a positive sign that you’re a professional who takes their job seriously and ensures customer satisfaction.  

Choose Equipment

Depending on your service offering and scope, the type of equipment you’ll need might vary. If you only intend on working for residential clients, then you’ll be good to go with a pressure washer with a force of up to around 4,000 PSI, but for commercial work, you’ll need stronger equipment that offers more functionalities. Since this business is physically demanding, choose equipment that is fast but safe and helps you get certain jobs done efficiently.

Practicing also plays a big role as you don’t want to accidentally damage someone’s landscape while power washing their siding. Regardless of how technologically advanced your equipment is, not knowing how to efficiently handle it can get you bad reviews and cause unwanted accidents and lawsuits.

Before making any big investments, rent a pressure washer and practice on your friends’ patios, or driveways as this will give you the best hands-on experience.

Price Your Services

Once you’re done with all the administrative work, decide on your pressure washing service prices. Since you’re a new business owner, you should start with lower prices while trying to attract new clients.

Test what hourly rate gets you most jobs and try to slowly but surely bump the price up every year as your expertise gets better.

It might feel overwhelming at the beginning but focus on mastering few services first and settle on a rate that works for you. As you improve your skills and your business grows, you can adjust your prices accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Market research, obtaining the right pressure washing insurance, choosing the right equipment, and pricing your services, are all important aspects on the road to becoming a successful business owner.

We’re sure that you’ll be glad to have considered all the above-mentioned steps once your pressure washing business is set up and running.

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A Basic Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business

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Starting a business in 2021 is much easier than it was twenty years ago. With advanced technology and digital marketing, anyone can step into the role of an entrepreneur. In some cases, all you need is an idea and a computer.

Becoming a business owner is a path to financial security. Even if you don’t give up your day job, starting a home-based business can lead to financial freedom down the road. 

Are you wondering how to start a business? Keep reading for an essential guide to getting started.

Choosing a Home-based Business

Choosing a business that’s right for you is vital to your success. You want something you’ll stick to for the long run. The best home-based businesses are those you can operate from the comfort of your home. 

Start looking at things you are good at and research to learn if there is a market for what you want to offer. For example, if you have certification in accounting, you can start a business performing accounting services for other small businesses.

Creating a Business Plan

Like any business, it’s essential to create a business plan. This document outlines what your business offers, competitor analysis, marketing strategy, and financial goals.   

The business plan is a great way to measure success and to remain focused on reaching your goals. If you’re starting a business and require financial backing, you’ll need a business plan to show lenders. 

You can maximize solar savings by creating a green business.

Incorporate Your Business

A home-based business is no different from starting any other business model. You want to incorporate your business to add a layer of protection. It’s also valuable for opening a business bank account. 

Separating your business from your personal assets is essential in growing a business. It will help you build business credit. Plus, if you are ever sued, you don’t want someone going after your personal property. 

Get an ECommerce Website

Once the paperwork is done and your finances are in order, it’s time to get your business website up and running. Most businesses can benefit from an eCommerce website. These websites help grow efficient businesses that do not require a physical location or multiple employees.

With an eCommerce website, you can sell products, take deposits on bookings, and so much more. 

Marketing 

A powerful marketing strategy is essential to a home-based business. Determine which social media platforms have the greatest reach for getting noticed by your target audience. 

Use your website’s blog options and photo storage as a launching pad for the information you’ll share on online platforms. 

Don’t be afraid to try different marketing trends, including digital ads.

It’s Time to Invest in a Business

A home-based business is an excellent investment. Once your business is up and running and turning a profit, consider a second start-up. The potential is limitless.

If you need more great tips and information on business start-up trends, we have you covered. Continue to browse our site and check back often for new content.

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Starting A Business

How To Set Up a Successful Electronic Business

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Consumers can purchase a range of mechanical items and parts from an electronics company, such as cell phones, televisions, computers, peripherals, and components. If you aim to create this type of business, you should arm yourself with knowledge so you don’t end up like huge electronic retailers that collapse. Read on!

1.Examine Other Electronic  Businesses

Examine and comprehend the business models of existing electronics businesses before starting your own. This comprises the typical markup on commodities, overall consumer satisfaction strategies, and managing supplier relationships. You’ll need this information to determine competitive store policies and prices. Compare and contrast the success of successful electronics stores with those that have closed or failed.

2.Research Your Interest Area of Establishment

If you’re just starting, you’ll focus on the local industry first. It’s also possible that you won’t be the first to play the electronic game. You may be competing with a lot of other small businesses in addition to big stores.

Make sure you do your homework before deciding where you want to locate your business and whether it is a good idea to do so. If your neighbourhood is densely packed with stores, consider looking on the opposite side of town or imagining how you may stand out. People may be hesitant to go through your doors if you come in and offer nothing more than another store.

3.Obtain The Necessary Permits

Check with your state and city to determine if there are any additional criteria for opening your store. If you repair computers, you may be required to pass a state-licensed test to ensure that you are aware and capable of providing proper care.

You’ll also need to check into various business licenses and other forms of documents to ensure that you’re following all of the rules.

4.Have a Competitive Business Plan

Due to the competitive nature of the electronics retail industry and the high risk of failure, you must develop a comprehensive business strategy that focuses on your competitive advantages. Use the information you acquired from your initial case study in the market and business profiles, as well as any personal experience you have with electronics, to show why your electronics company would thrive. 

If you’ve managed an electronics store, for example, you’ll be familiar with the inner workings of this type of retail operation and may have an advantage over other new stores.

In your plan, you need to include the brands you’ll be selling. You need to ensure that they are of both quality and outstanding market performance. For instance, working with certified wholesalers of closures and boxes, guarantee you offer the consumers new brands that are outstanding.

Also, don’t forget to include other regular but essential products such as lights and screens. This is because it is always good to offer a pool of varied products to your customers.

5.Choose a Brand For Yourself

idea

Your company’s brand is both what it stands for and how it is regarded by the broader public. Your company will stand out from the neighbourhood competition if it has a strong brand.

So, while naming your firm, don’t go with a generic name like most electrical stores these days. Try to come up with a distinctive name because the right name is really important. You can begin by considering the business’s nature. In your absence, your chosen name will operate as an extension of your brand, representing you. Part of your brand representation in what you sell. You can add some wire connectors. They are always widely in demand by everyone.

We recommend checking to see if the business name you want is available as a web domain and securing it as soon as possible so that no one else does.

6.Get Startup Funds

banknotes

For starters, you’ll need thousands of dollars to launch an electronic business in the first few months, with a large portion of that money going for rent. A significant portion of the funds will be spent on getting certain in-demand electrical goods as well as marketing your new business.

Personal cash, such as savings, loans from financial institutions, and borrowing from friends and family who are interested in assisting you in starting your business are all options for raising capital for your business.

7.Promote Your Store

Starting a business takes time and effort, as well as determination and vision. If you’ve already decided to work in this field, you should first check into legal and technical issues. After you’ve successfully achieved the first two responsibilities, you should build your brand and sell it. 

You must stay up with the most recent advances and maintain high standards at all times. It isn’t enough to have good items. To expand and develop revenue, it must be adequately publicized. The advertising team must be ready to provide you with a marketing strategy that will interest the audience.

As a result, the two key techniques of attracting new clients are word of mouth and local advertising. Many electronic stores promote in local media and provide first-time customers discounts and advertising billboards. Keep in mind that customer retention is crucial. Take extra precautions with the newcomer. 

They are your billboards. They are ecstatic and will brag about your store for hours. Be friendly to everyone that walks into the store. It’s more difficult to keep customers than it is to get them.

The Bottom Line

Starting and maintaining a business to its success is not an easy task. You need to be dedicated to the course and understand that however hard things get, you need to surpass them. Electronic stores are quite demanding, but a nice business to invest in altogether. Best of luck!

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