1. Mission Statement (Company Overview)
This is a simple overview of what the mission is of your company. Think of this as a paragraph or a few sentences on communicating the problem you are trying to solve and the simply stated solution you have created to solve that problem. This usually includes the who, what, where, when, why and how. This should be no longer than a few sentences and sets the tone for the rest of the executive summary where you will expand more on the details for how you will accomplish this.
2. Marketplace Opportunity
Includes competitive landscape and overview of why there is a market for your product or service. This will include an overview of the market opportunity, where you believe there is an opportunity for entry. You typically would show a competitive matrix where you compare your services/product to the others in the market and show why you are better or different. You should also include very high-level information on any quantitative and qualitative research you have done. If you have not put time in to do customer development and research, an investor will send you back to the drawing board. And remember this key point…. There is NO industry without competitors. When you tell someone that no one else in the world is doing what you do, it makes you seem uneducated and naive. There are always competitors, even if they are not direct. For example, if you are making a new type of healthy water that gives energy, provides health benefits, and makes you smarter… a realistic competitor is Coca-Cola. Not because it is healthy but because it is a beverage that provides energy. Make sure you are thinking comprehensively about a competitive landscape.
This also includes one of the most important parts of your entire plan. What is your key differentiator? What is going to make your business succeed over all of the other groups in the marketplace?
3. Product/Service Information
This section should demonstrate an in-depth look at what your product or service does and how it works. Explain the key elements of the product or service and which of those key elements will resonate most with your customers/partners and the overall marketplace.
4. Sales/Market Plan
This is where you include a high-level introduction to what your sales and marketplace will be. This can include things like the overall investment you are going to make towards marketing and what key avenues and strategies you will take in the endeavor. For example, we are going to dedicate 10% of our budget or we are going to allocate $50,000 the first year to marketing and we are going to do direct response marketing online, while purchasing offline adverting in key trade publications at industry trade shows and exhibitions. TIP: You need to make sure you know the details behind the cost of that spending, the exception on the return for the investment, details about the format of advertising, the timing of roll out and the overall goal of what you hope to accomplish through your marketing endeavors. I recommend showcasing a high-level sales plan that can be tied to overall sales of the year or term. If you can’t formulate a sales plan yet, try to include a strategy behind how you are going to build a sales plan. For example, we are going to start with two in-house sales employees and then combine that with VAR agreements to key partners in the space for which we believe our products can be a valuable addition. Be sure to mention if you have some of those partnerships already secured.
Investors make their funding decisions based on 3 main components: Idea/Concept Team Ability of said team to execute.
This is why it’s crucial to compile a strong team. Are you able to communicate why the team you have put together is capable of executing on the plan you have created? Make sure to use this section to talk about the background and expertise of your team. This could include key relationships or industry experience your team has that gives you a unique selling opportunity over competitors.
In any pitch or investor meeting I have been in, the first thing any investor does is open a presentation and immediately go to the back of the presentation to look at the financials. This can be the kiss of death for a company. If your financials don’t seem viable, then the investor will discount the rest of the presentation. In an executive summary (or as I call it, the NEW business plan) you should showcase high-level financial information which includes: 3 years of projections for costs, 3 years of projections for revenues and a realistic increase over that time.
Also remember that if there is not a good story about the growth of the business or a clear sign of how an investor can make a return on their money, you have lost your audience. Focus on the broad strategic direction of the company and then be able to back up any questions with good assumptions and data to showcase why you believe you can accomplish those goals.