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An Executive Summary is a brief summary of the business so that people can understand what it is about at a glance.

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What is an Executive Summary? 

An executive summary is a statement located at the beginning of a business plan that highlights its main points and key takeaways of your complete business plan. The information in an executive summary includes a description of your business, the “problem” your company solves, your financial and resource needs moving forward, and what, specifically, you are requesting from readers of your plan.

Why is it called an executive summary? 

The name refers to the section's purpose, which is to provide a birds-eye view of the contents of the entire document. The summary works to both introduce the key points of the entire plan and to entice readers to keep reading. It also functions as a quick and easy resource section for readers in a hurry.

Components of an Executive Summary

A well-crafted executive summary should include the following elements:

  1. Introduction:

    1. Who you are and what you are offering.
    2. What product/service you offer and what the adjoining benefits.
    3. Include your business’ name, where your business is located, and where it was established.
    4. Make sure it's compelling. Remember, this is the first thing the reader encounters, so grab their attention.
  2. Need

    1. What is the problem your company solves?
    2. What is the value of your products/services to the customer?
    3. What is the market and growth opportunity?
    4. Why now? Here you need to address why investors should invest now and why the timing is appropriate.
  3. Target Market

    1. Who is your customer? Be sure to include data about the total size of the market and the opportunity within it.
  4. Competition

    1. What is your unique selling proposition?
    2. What separates you from your competition? What is your competitive advantage?
    3. How innovative and unique is your business idea?
  5. Solution

    1. How does your business “solve” the problem you identify?
    2. What products/services do you offer?
  6. What is your business model?

    1. Be sure to detail how you will take your product to market and generate revenue (for the business and for the investors)?
    2. Make sure your business model is sustainable and set up for long-term growth. It should do/explain the following:
      1. Provide value to select customers by addressing a problem through a value proposition or unique selling position.
      2. Scalability
      3. Target customers
      4. Revenue streams
      5. Price point (and proof it's competitive based on market research)
      6. Proof of net profit gains (be sure to show expenses)
      7. Opportunities for lead generation through marketing (and consistent lead acquisition over months)
      8. Evidence of customer satisfaction and retention
      9. Key metrics and performance indicators
  7. Proof of Solution: Why is your team the right fit for this endeavor? What financial proof or projections do you have to prove it?

    1. Financial Projections: you should summarize your financial plan for the next three to five years, including specific values and metrics like:
      1. What are the financing requirements and profitability?
      2. What are the risk analysis and mitigation measures?
    2. Team
      1. Include evidence of your management team’s competencies
      2. Include the professional background of you and your team
      3. Remember: investors invest in the team behind the startup, not just the startup’s idea.
  8. Achievements

    1. What has your company already accomplished? For example, revenue increase, awards, recognition, lead generation, increased market share, etc.
  9. What do you need from readers (capital, advising, etc.)?

    1. If it’s investment:
      1. How much money do you need and how are you going to spend it? Investors want to know immediately if your startup’s financial plan falls within in their normal funding range. How you allocate funds makes a huge difference depending on risk.
      2. Exit strategy: You do not have to provide all of the details, but briefly summarize how and when investors will receive their return.
      3. Be sure to consider all elements of your company that should appeal to investors.
    1. If it’s a bank loan:
      1. Detail personal net worth.
      2. Bankers need to see the net worth of business owners
      3. Be transparent regarding your financial history and bankable assets
      4. Provide evidence of economic stability and financial longevity

In Conclusion

Although they are typically not very long, executive summaries are probably the most important component of your business plan. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with all of the information and guidance you need to write a strong plan that will entice investors to read the rest of your plan and ultimately fund your business.

Study of the best and worst states to pitch your startup idea to investors in 2018.

Methodology

Our team at FormSwift wanted to determine the best and worst states to pitch a startup idea to investors. We did this by creating a ranking based on a total score that we calculated by evenly weighing the following factors that contribute to a strong pitching environment: Rate of new entrepreneurs, opportunity share, percentage of entrepreneurs employed before starting their new business, startup density, number of venture capital deals made (in 2015), amount of venture startup money given out per capita, and business survival rate.

Key Findings

The top 5 states for pitching your startup to investors are Massachusetts, California, New York, Utah, and Washington.

The bottom 5 states for pitching your startup to investors are Wyoming, Hawaii, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alaska.

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