Where should I start when preparing my executive summary?
I am working on my executive summary and am trying to figure out how to succinctly describe the market opportunity. Does any have any good recommendations on how/where to start in analyzing the market.
YOU MUST DO YOUR RESEARCH. START EARLY AND TELL A GOOD STORY.
We see ES's all of the time and few know how to tell the story!
Most states have an online help site for businesses. The state of KY has a very helpful one that has a business plan wizard. Its free https://secure.kentucky.gov/sbc/
you might also check with Palo Alto Software. They have affordable software that is very useful.
Market research and you go to your local library to do market research by internet, minerva or other database, there are books too.
As most have already said leave it till last! Once you have completed everything else you are in the best position to write a killer executive summary! Remember that this is your chance to make that first impression, many people will only continue reading the rest of the business plan if they found your executive statement compelling and interesting. It needs to be clear and concise and give the reader a quick overview of the most important facts from each section. I tend to start with a look at the market and where your business will fit in to fill the proposed niche.
Hi Carrie, it's a bit of a cliché, but you can only write a summary if you are satisfied with the whole story. Then put it aside, drink a cup of coffee, read your work and mark the key words. Plot those in a piece of text up to 100 words. Very likely you got summary for 80% ready.
All great advice. I've seen several different templates for executive summaries and tend to like this one (I think it covers most of what Paige points out): http://www.antiventurecapital.com/exec_summary.pdf
First of all my recommendation is that you complete the market opportunity section of the main business plan before trying to summarize, so that the summary flows from the text.
When you do get to do the summary, make sure it grabs the reader: you need to be clear about the need, what's missing and how you are uniquely positioned to fill the gap.
As to how/where to start in analyzing the market, it (unfortunately) depends. What is the market you seek to serve. Some are classical and published data is easy to come by, like the market for motor vehicles, say. I'd start by getting to a narrow definition of your value proposition - what value will you deliver to your customer; keep it short and to the point. That done, you can begin to define who and where that customer can be found, so in a silly example, if you want to sell golf club head covers, see what's currently on offer and determine why yours are different; you'll find that the golf equipment market is further subdivided into golf clubs, golf balls, golf gloves and bags - from there you know to focus on the last category that includes golf club head covers. Keep drilling down to the level that is important to you, for instance is it cloth ones or leather ones? Then contact the Golf Manufacturers Council or other trade bodies to see how they can help, go visit as many pro shops as you can... I hope you see where I'm heading. Keep asking yourself, figure out what you need to know, so that you can ask golf mavens to guide you to the right data. People love to help.
But you're welcome to contact me direct...
Start with a section on "Why Me?" Describe why YOU are the ideal person to lead your venture/idea/action . . . why you are best-suited to make your venture successful based on your specific personal traits, experiences, knowledge. After all, great ideas come and go, but effective and passionate leaders make the difference between impressive thoughts and well-executed success stories.
Agree with Willard - business plan first, then executive summary
The executive summary is the last piece to be written when preparing a business plan. After you have done all of the market research, established your systems, people, processes and resources, pick out the most important points and reduce it to one or two pages. It is like your elevator speech. It should only hit the high points which should include what makes you different than the rest and it should make me want to know more. A simple way to think about it is: what are you doing, why are you doing it and why should I care. Who, what, why, where, how, when and what makes you think so. Make sure you know the size of the market, who the competition is and how you will capture market share. Hope this helps.
The executive summary (as well as the rest of the business plan) should cover the following very succinctly:
1 - Who are you (Team)
2 - What's the issue you're trying to solve (Problem)
3 - How are you solving it + what's the biz model (Solution)
4 - Who else is trying to solve it and why is your solution better (Competition + Differentiation)
5 - Why does it matter if you solve it (Market Opp)
6 - Who is using your solution (Customers / Downloads / etc.)
7 - What are your metrics / projections and how much money do you need (Financials / Raise)
As for the market opportunity more specifically, look at how many people experience the pain/problem you're trying to solve and how well other people's offerings have actually solved the problem. If others have a great solution but can't get it out to enough people, maybe your edge is distribution. Or others have only solved half the problem or only alleviated the symptoms but your solutions gets to the root of the problem and solves it for good.
How big of a pain is this thing in your niche? You can go wide with lots of people experiencing a small pain (which can be fixed quickly) or deep with a few people experiencing a deeper pain (which requires a more comprehensive solution).
Look at it from your potential customer's perspective.
As a rule of thumb, the executive summary is best written as the last part of the business plan. Once you complete the plan with marketing, financials, staffing, target customer, strategy, etc. you will have such a clear understanding of what you want investor, banker or business partner to know about your business venture you will be able to create a concise and clear summation of your business. Therefore, save the executive summary as the last piece of a delicious meal. Start your market analysis with census and demographics, the Chamber of Commerce and sample surveys are good starting points....
I always start in point form. I list all the differentiators - strategy and tactical - and all the marketing pitches and all the product pitches, etc. I then group them together into common groups and figure out which way to tell the story. The result is a very brief and to the point bullet form exec summary that I can then embellish a bit to produce a no-nonsense executive summary.