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The One Page Executive Summary

November 24, 2010 by Frank Goley, Business Consultant

The Executive Summary is often touted as the single most important part of a Business Plan. If the business plan is to be used for external uses, such as a Funding Business Plan or Joint Venture Business Plan, then, yes, the executive summary is of pivotal importance. The executive summary must be concise (no more than 3 pages) and encompass the most important parts of the business plan for the particular audience/reader. In many instances, particularly if you are going after Venture Capital or Angel Investment, the executive summary can only be one page. It is a huge challenge to get the most salient points of the funding business plan on one page, and a challenge I just recently met as a Business Consultant with our Executive Summary Service for a client competing for angel investor seed finance.

Organize the Executive Summary Layout in Two Columns

I suggest using Power Point and lay out a one page slide with a 1/4 page column with a border on the left side of the page, and next to it, a 3/4 page column that has boxes with borders of various sizes (per the amount of information needed in each box). Please see the attached One Page Executive Summary Example (PDF) format and layout. By dividing the page into two columns, you can fit a lot of key information into one page. The suggested format should be customized per your company, purpose, funding and target.

Customize the Executive Summary for the Reader

If the reader of the executive summary is a specific venture capital firm or angel investment network the odds are they will have a preferred format and structure for the one page executive summary. So be sure to customize each executive summary for each particular funding group you target, or whoever the intended target of the executive summary is (such as a joint venture partner or strategic alliance target).

Create as a Power Point

By creating the one page executive summary as a Power Point document, you can easily embed a video to demonstrate your product or service. Video brings an executive summary to life and gives the reader a real look into how your product or service works. Be sure to keep the video short (no more than 30 seconds) and small in size so the document doesn’t become a huge file. Note: This assumes you are emailing the Power Point or presenting the opportunity via a computer presentation.

Getting Interest is the Number One Goal

You can’t completely prove out your business model in a one pager so don’t try. The executive summary should entice the reader to ask for more information or meet with you. The Business Plan is the next step and will show how you as a company can realistically achieve the goals and numbers set out in the summary.

The Team is Most Important

Any experienced venture capitalist will tell you that the company team is much more important than the product. You can have the best product in the world with a crappy team and fail. You can have a fantastic team with a crappy product and succeed. Winning company teams find business models that will work despite the product or service offering. Be sure the executive summary shows the clear advantage the company has with the team that is in place and members to come on board as the company grows.

The One Page Executive Summary Works

The before mentioned client (see paragraph one) came to me because they were trying to win a contest for initial angel investor seed funds to get their company positioned for later round Venture Capital. They had tried 6 months ago to compete against 2,000 companies and didn’t get close to the final round. This time they contracted me for our Executive Summary Service, and due to the one page executive summary, they have made it to the final 12 companies out of 1,600, increasing their chances of getting angel investor funds 1,000%. They attribute the one page executive summary to getting them this far, now the product and team presentation will determine if they get the funds. Either way, funds or no funds, they have the visibility in the angel community they desperately needed to get funding for their company. A simple document brought them this opportunity and timely visibility.

Remember: The Executive Summary is just the first step. You need to have a Business Plan to back it up. Have your ducks in a row! You may want to consider our Business Plan Service for your business planning needs, whether for funding, business success, or another business plan purpose. All of our business plans are customized to our customers needs and contain an executive summary. We offer Four Levels of Business Plans to meet most purposes and budgets…


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