What do entrepreneurs need to include in an executive summary template for it be successful and effective?
The executive summary template is a crucial and pivotal document for all startup businesses, and even over the years as you reach and stretch to new stages.
If you haven’t read The Art of Startup Fundraising yet, it details just how vital this is and how to use it when raising money for your business. It’s a critical tool whether you are looking for a small business loan or line of credit from a bank, are trying to lock in partners, cofounders and advisors, or are seeking angel capital, VC money or are planning a crowdfunding campaign.
Sadly, most entrepreneurs seem to get this delicate piece of the puzzle wrong. Here’s how to crush it…
What’s an Executive Summary?
An executive summary template is a short document that sums up what your business is all about and your current ask.
It’s like your entire business plan boiled down to a single page. Or a pitch deck in a suit instead of a hoodie.
You’re not getting anywhere without this. Try talking to a lender or potential partner or investor. They want to see this before they’ll talk to you. Whether your request will get any further or you’ll be headed for the shredder and oblivion will all depend on these few paragraphs.
None of us have the time to bury ourselves in stacks of paper to decide if we’re interested or not. This is like a resume for your startup business. It’s your ticket to the interview and payday. If all the details in your bigger business plan aren’t perfect, they’ll work with you. Providing you’ve hooked them with your summary.
It is true that executive summary templates are most common in commercial finance, real estate, and traditional small business lending. Yet, even experienced startup investors will ask for them.
Pitch decks are different in that they are far more visual than executive summary templates. If that’s what you are looking for, check out my pitch deck template.
Crafting an Effective Executive Summary
The goal of your executive summary template is to get the reader to say to themselves “I’m interested. This business has real potential. This team is highly qualified to execute on it. They get this space and have done their research. I want to invest, providing everything they’ve told me here is true.”
It should be no more than 1-3 pages according to Ashford University, and you should have it written in the third person.
York University and the Miami School of Business are more specific in saying an executive summary template should be 5-10% of the length of your complete business plan and should be laid out in the same order. Make sure you stick to brief and concise sentences and paragraphs.
The most common and perilous mistake that startup entrepreneurs make is too many sales and hype. Yes, it should be exciting and convincing, but you’ll be selling yourself out of any help if you are overdoing it. Don’t over-exaggerate or only focus on the most optimistic outcome.
Those who have the money and smarts to invest in a business like this are also experienced and smart enough to know the difference between fluff and a real opportunity. You’ll win more respect by sticking to the facts.
What to Include in Your Executive Summary
If you’ve already created a pitch deck or business plan then it should be very easy to transfer the essential information over to your executive summary template. You just may need to slightly expand or compress the facts to make it fit here.
If you still need to complete those documents and assets as well, then an executive summary template is a fantastic way to get it on paper and then repurpose the data for those items. Check out my fundraising training for more help with creating your business plan and deck.
Here’s what to include in your summary…
Sum it all up in a couple of sentences. What’s your mission and vision?
How is your company solving the issues and making money?
What key data points does your research show? How big is the market? What’s your advantage over the competition?
How is your company organized? Where is it incorporated? How long have you been around?
Who are the key cofounders, startup advisors, and team members involved and why do they make you the best team to do this? If you are applying for a traditional small business loan you may also need to include some basic credit and financial information on the owners and guarantors.
What are you making and selling? What are the key features, facts, and USP?
How are you going to gain customers? What channels will you use? Are there any unique pitches and avenues you are using
Funding Request & Use Of Funds
How much money are you asking for? Who should it come from? What are you going to do with the money? What type of outcome should investors and lenders hope for?
What is your forecast for sales, revenues, profits, and balancing cash flow for the next 12 to 60 months?
An executive summary template is one of the most important documents you’ll ever create as an entrepreneur. It will make or break you. Use this executive summary template to craft an excellent one that will help you gain the funding and backing you need to make this work and get to the next level.
Remember that storytelling plays a key role in fundraising. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
ACCESS THE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE
Still not after going through the pros and cons of different sources of startup funding? Check out this fundraising training where we help founders from A to Z with fundraising.