Lesson 7: Executive summary, appendix and how to present your plan
In today’s lesson, we’ll take all our groundwork and craft it into a short and compelling executive summary – one that will hook your reader and make them want to know more about your business. You’ll also get direction on what attachments to include in your appendix, and tips on how to present your unique plan.
You may not have a pretty and complete business plan finalised yet, but you’re miles ahead of where you were when you started this course. The groundwork we’ve made in the previous lessons aims to make this executive summary process quite fun and easy. Simply draw on the work you’ve already done. If you’ve skipped ahead and left lessons unfinished, we encourage you to stop and complete the previous work before diving in today.
By the end of this lesson, you’ll have a good sense of how to articulate your business message in a succinct and attention-grabbing executive summary, know what important pieces to include in your appendix (and recognise if you actually need one) and get tips on the best way to present your unique plan.
Dig deep, because with a little more focus you’ll have a loose first draft of your business plan in just a few more hours.
What's an executive summary?
An executive summary is a review of all the juicy stuff you’re including in your business plan.
We’ve kept this task for last because, by now you’ve got all the information you need to include. There’s no need to add anything new to this summary, just keep it short, clear and engaging. Think simple and effective language vs complicated and overly academic.
All it needs to do is summarise the points we’ve outlined in your business plan, including:
- The market
- Products and services
- An appendix
The first paragraph is the most important. It needs to hook the reader, just like the awesome opening scenes in your favourite action film. It also needs to prepare the reader for what’s to come in the document.
Goals: Grab the reader's attention and keep them interested!
You want to make this statement shine. It's the first part an investor reads and helps them decide if they want to invite you for a meeting to chat more or if their next step is to throw your business plan in the bin.
Do: Big picture overview of biz
Don't: Bore with the details
NO to the nitty-gritty, like in-depth analysis, graphs, and numbers. Save them for the finance section and the appendix – the banks will LOVE you for it.
It’s always easier to write yours from seeing an examples so let’s look at Kelly’s executive summary:
Executive summary for Scakes
Scakes offers superior personalised cakes and cookies, providing unique personal loving gifts for unconventional holidays and events. Our team will ensure recipients smile from ear to ear each time they get a Scakes gift, knowing that their friends, family and colleagues truly value their unique selves.
The company and management
Scakes is based in Lane Cove, Sydney. The company is owned by partners Kelly Simpson and Sarah Landy. Kelly has extensive experience in baking, while Sarah has worked in sales and marketing for 15 years. The management of Scakes consists of co-owners Kelly Simpson and Sarah Landy. Both partners will be taking hands-on management roles in the company.
Our clients are mostly female, between the ages of 17 and 50. Scakes offers a variety of personalised gifts and DIY baking boxes, including:
- Graduation day cookies
- Work wife celebrations
- Coming out cookies
- Thank you teacher end of term gifts
Across Sydney, personalised gift items and kitsch new baking ideas have seen an explosion of growth over the last three years. The North Shore is an affluent area with a high population density. Our market research has shown that nine out of 10 females polled in Lane Cove prefer to receive personalised cakes and cookies that are displayed in beautiful gift boxes and six out of 10 would consider buying a baking box for their friends when having a celebration.
Our competitive advantages
While there are currently three businesses offering personalised cookies in the North Shore, none of these offer baking boxes.
Scakes’s marketing strategy is to emphasise the bespoke boxes we create and deliver, as well as the communal aspect of baking from a box of essential ingredients with friends and family. Mums who work, for instance, will come home to find happy, excited teenagers who’ve been learning new skills in the kitchen after school, limiting their boredom and restlessness.
Based on the size of our market and our defined market area, our sales projections for the first year are $80,000. We project a growth rate of 30% per year for the first three years.
The salary for each of the co-owners will be $40,000. On startup, we will have one virtual assistant for business periods and expect to hire one more baker this year once financing is secured. To begin with, co-owner Sarah will be taking orders, booking market appointments, but we plan to hire a sales assistant in store this year as well.
Already we have service commitments from over 40 clients and plan to aggressively build our client base through the newspaper, website, social media, and direct mail advertising. The loving, quirky and professional creations that Scakes will provide is sure to appeal to working women throughout the North Shore area.
Start-up financing requirements
We are seeking an operating line of $80,000 to finance our first-year growth. Together, the co-owners have invested $10,000 to meet working capital requirements.
Activity 1: Go back to your brainstorming sheet
Take 10 minutes to revise your answers and add more information to the sheet. Once you’ve done that, you will find succinct answers to each of these sections:
- What problem does your target audience have?
- What is the solution you’re offering them?
- What main points about your market validate this idea?
- What’s the mission of your business moving forward?
This also lets you know which selling points are the strongest and which ones need more explanation. By doing this, you get a better vision of what your business is about and which makes it easier to talk about.
How to format your business plan
According to Wikipedia, the format of a business plan depends on its presentation context. It is common for businesses, especially start-ups, to have three or four formats for the same business plan.
You can either go conservative; black and white on A4 paper, or if you’re a creative service or product provider, you may want to showcase your personality in its layout and design. We like the free templates you can access from Canva and Slidesgo.
Take for instance, Kelly. Kelly’s business plan is now presented in the format that is perfect to set her up for success in the future. She’s got a deep and overarching view of what her business looks like from all of the angles. And she’s feeling more confident, clear and certain about what steps she needs to take each day to step closer to her goals.
Activity 2: What layout suits your plan
Take 10 minutes to create a Pinterest board of business plans that make an impact on you.
You gotta have an exit strategy
It’s not just investors who want to know the process of exiting the agreement; it’s also good for your own peace of mind (and your partners) to know the process of cashing out. While you never go into business thinking the worst, it’s a smart thing to include in your plan. This means you cover your own backside and your potential partners have all the information upfront.
Let’s take Kelly and Sarah’s exit strategy. They decide that if there is any irreconcilable differences or falling out between the two and they cannot reconcile it amicably, they must find another buyer to buy in their share of the business and the business still continues.
- What happens if one of you wants to leave?
- Do you want to sell the company or go public at a certain point?
- What happens if the business loses money and can’t sustain itself?
Let’s take a look at Kelly’s financial section:
Kelly looks at her expenses and operating costs and decides she wants to aim for making a $x profit over the next 6-12 months. By looking at how many items she’ll need to sell to reach that goal, she comes up with her 6-12 month sales goal of $ x.
Activity 3: Take 10 minutes to brainstorm an exit strategy
What to put in the appendix
Shhh… keeping it confidential
If you’d like any information in your business plan to remain confidential, make sure your readers sign an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before reading!
Congratulations! You've now completed Creating A Business Plan!
What are the next steps?
Creating A Business Plan was just one of the many courses MYOB offers to everyone thinking about starting or growing a small business. Next month, we'll be diving into a Side Hustles You Can Scale course. If you're interested in taking part, please let us know by replying to our last email or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.