Anthony Cerminario: "How to Write an Executive Summary"

Most guides to writing an executive summary miss the key point: The job of the executive summary is to sell, not to describe.

The executive summary is often your initial face to a potential investor, so it is critically important that you create the right first impression. Contrary to the advice in articles on the topic, you do not need to explain the entire business plan in 250 words. You need to convey its essence, and its energy. You have about 30 seconds to grab an investor’s interest. You want to be clear and compelling. 

Forget what everyone else has been telling you. Here are the key components that should be part of your executive summary: 

  1. The Grab: You should lead with the most compelling statement of why you have a really big idea... 
  2. The Problem: You need to make it clear that there is a big, important problem (current or emerging) that you are going to solve... 
  3. The Solution: What specifically are you offering to whom?... 
  4. The Opportunity: Spend a few more sentences providing the basic market segmentation, size, growth and dynamics... 
  5. Your Competitive Advantage: No matter what you might think, you have competition... 
  6. The Model: How specifically are you going to generate revenues, and from whom?... 
  7. The Team: Why is your team uniquely qualified to win?... 
  8. The Promise ($$): You should show five years of revenues, expenses, losses/profits, cash and headcount... 
  9. The Ask: This is the amount of funding you are asking for now... 

You should be able to do all this in six to eight paragraphs, possibly a few more if there is a particular point that needs emphasis. You should be able to make each point in just two or three simple, clear, specific sentences. This means your executive summary should be about two pages, maybe three.

Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 4:10 PM