Creating a Business Plan – Part One – The Executive Summary

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There are eight parts to a traditional business plan: an executive summary, company description, marketing analysis, business structure, product info, marketing and sales, funding and finally financial projections. Over the next several posts I am going to go over each section and teach you to write a business plan.

The Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first part and most important part of your business plan. It could be the only thing potential investors or partners read. This summary is also the last thing you write. I bring it up first because it is the first part of the plan and because of the sage advice of Mr. Covey “Begin with the end in mind”.

The executive summary is basically a short version of the rest of your plan. Generally there are five components. As you complete the rest of the business plan you will learn the information you need to fill out the executive summary.  These sections are: mission statement, company info, business growth, products and services, finances, and plans for the future. I will go over each of these sections in more detail.

Remember, this is a summary; you will go into detail on many of these points later. Concentrate on your Mission Statement and Future Plans. These don’t appear anywhere else and give your company direction and as Stephen Covey recommends, “Begin with the end in mind”.

A Mission Statement

This tells people what your business is. This is basically your super short explanation of what your business is about. If you had less than a minute to describe it, what would you say? That is your mission statement.

Company

Who founded the business? Who runs the business? How many people do you have working for you? Where are your business locations?

Growth

How is your company growing? Are the profit margins increasing? Sales revenue? Number of clients? This section can be important for those looking for funding. Other uses of a business plan may not need this. If your company is not yet established skip this section. A basic overview is good id you are not looking for funding. This way you have a basic idea of how your company is doing. Remember, “If it’s not measured, it’s not managed”.

Products and Services

In this section you describe what you sell. Include some detail and pictures if appropriate. Price point information can also go here. You will go in depth on the products/services in a later section of your business plan so this doesn’t need to cover everything, just a basic outline.

Financial Information

Use this section if you are looking for funding. Identify what bank you use and who your current investors are. Later you will go into financial detail, this is just a summary.

Future Plans

This is where you explain your business goals. Where is the business going? What do you want to accomplish? This is a key area if you are looking for investors. If this is just a general plan this will help you with direction and provide direction for your business.

Remember, this is a summary; you will go into detail on many of these points later. Concentrate on your Mission Statement and Future Plans. These don’t appear anywhere else and give your company direction and as Stephen Covey recommends, “Begin with the end in mind”.

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