This second post in our blog series, “Blueprint for a Killer Business Plan,” (Here’s Part 1) will help you write the part of your business plan that tells the world Who You Are. Here we’re going to going to deliver the info you need to:
- Refine your executive summary
- Clarify your business description
- Simplify your business positioning
Executive Summary Do’s and Don’ts
An executive summary, (also called a management summary), is a short section that precedes your business plan, where you summarize what your business does and what your opportunities are in a tight, concise way, so readers quickly become familiar with your business. It’s an overview of your business, a mini business plan, that entices people to read more about you.
That’s why Forbes says that the executive summary should induce readers (including potential investors, employees, and customers) to say:
- “This business plan is interesting.”
- “This business has potential.”
- “These people know what they are doing, and I want to get in on the action.”
The Miami School of Business and York University recommend that it should be:
- 5-10% in length of the full business plan
- Short, concise paragraphs
- Be written in the same order as the full plan
“Aside from being too long-winded, the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make here by far is being too salesy,” Forbes goes on to say. “This is not an advertisement or slogan targeted to the masses on Facebook or a billboard. Do not over-inflate projections or claims. Those that have the money to fund you are typically smart enough to know when you are exaggerating or just painting the most optimistic and speculative outcome. That won’t get you taken seriously.”
Keep in mind that the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends the following flow:
- Company description
- Quick market analysis
- Organization descriptionv
- Management team
- Product line/service description
- Marketing plan at-a-glance
- Funding request and use
- Financial projections
When it comes to the executive summary, above all, remember KISS…”Keep it Simple and Short.”
Describing Your Business
The company description section of your business plan, typically the second section following the executive summary, describes the vision and direction of the company so readers can develop an accurate impression about who you are, including:
- The name of your company
- Your target customers
- Products or services you providev
- Business objectives
- Mission statement
- Location of your business
- When your business will open
- Your competitive advantages
- Business structure
The company description tells the story of what your business is all about. People who read it will decide if your company is one they like, one they trust, and one they feel like they know.
You should weave all the pieces of your description together in one simple format that answers these questions: What does your business stand for? Why did you start your business? What are your future goals?
BONUS! The completed company description section will go a long way in helping to create the “About” section of your website.
Getting Your Business Positioning Right
The positioning section of your business plan outlines what your business will do to market your product or service to your intended target customers, including your brand image, your product of service description, how you plan to promote it, how much you plan to charge, where you plan to sell it, and how your product or service meets a specific need better than the competition. It identifies an appropriate market niche for a product (or service or brand) and gets it established in that area.
Don’t confuse your business positioning with a company tag line or slogan. A business positioning statement helps you make key decisions that affect your customer’s perception of your brand. A tag line is an external statement used in your marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline some day, but it is important to distinguish between the two.
To effectively clarify your positioning in the marketplace:
- Describe your target customer’s attitudes and demographics
- Define your market
- Clarify your brand promise…differentiate your brand
- Deliver a reason to believe in your business…your brand promise
Overall, help people believe in your brand. Make it stand out from the crowd, Stay relevant.
More Killer Business Plan Tips to Come
Now that you know how to tell people about who you are, where do you go from here? We’ll be back with the Part 3 in our Business Plan series soon!