Although positioned at the beginning of the plan the executive summary is best completed at the end. It’s primary purpose is to “sell” the plan to the intended audience, enticing them to read on. It should be an easy-to-read overview presented concisely, ideally on one side of A4.
What will your business be doing in 5 years time? What will it have achieved? What are the main growth targets for sales revenue and profit by the end of year 3? By the end of year 5?
The offer to target customers
What does the product or service do (the features)? What benefits make the offer unique, or just different? What customer problem does your product or service solve? How would you describe a typical customer for the offer? How do you know they will spend money on your product and/or service?
What is the market potential in terms of sales revenue? Is the market growing, staying the same, or declining? What is causing this? Who are your main competitors? Describe their strengths and weaknesses. How will the business compete and grow in the market (e.g. faster service, lower cost etc.)?
Marketing and sales
Which routes to access your target customers will you choose (e.g. shop, distributor, website etc.)? What is your basic approach to pricing (e.g. high price/low volume, low price/high volume)? What range of promotional methods will you use (e.g. email, social media, advertising, discounts etc.)? How will the pattern of your sales develop and grow over the next 3 years?
Providing the offer
What assets (e.g. equipment, machinery etc.) are needed to get started and grow your business? What are the ongoing resource requirements (e.g. premises, outsourced services etc.)? What are the key processes in your business (the activities that makes the most difference for your customer)? How do you measure and cost the capacity available for supplying your product and/or service? Who are your key partners (e.g. suppliers, subcontractors) and what is their role?
Who are the key team members, their roles and profiles (e.g. skills, experience) Are there any important gaps in skills and/or experience to fill? How will these gaps be filled now, and in future to achieve your growth targets (e.g. employ, specialist consultant)? Who will act as your mentor/adviser?
Managing performance and risk
What are the key internal measures of performance that must be closely monitored (e.g. unit costs, response times etc.)? What are the key external measures of performance (e.g. monitoring customer satisfaction and needs, market and competitor intelligence)? What potential events would have a significant adverse impact on your business or prevent its growth? What is their likelihood? What specific countermeasures will you take?
First year action plan
List the main goals, activities and/or events in the next 12 months that will help you to reach your growth targets.
What is your financial contribution to the business? Is there any additional funding needed? Where will it come from (e.g. friends, family, bank, business angels, venture capital)? What will it be used for?
You may wish to add comments and highlights on the financial projections below such as financial milestones already achieved (e.g. break even) and/or the assumptions made (e.g. about the rate of forecast growth).