Executive Summary Advice
To help a fundraising executive land more meetings with potential investors, we asked other entrepreneurs and business leaders for their insights on crafting an executive summary. From defining your category to stating your goals clearly, there are several ways to create a winning executive summary.
Here are ten tips for creating a winning executive summary for investors:
- Tell a Story
- State Your Goals Clearly
- Define the Category
- Share Your Personality
- Speak Their Language
- Explain Your Target Audience
- Highlight the Team
- Set the Right Tone and Language
- Address Your Competition
- Be a Brand With a Heart
Tell a Story
The rest of the business plan will give detailed information, so treat the executive summary as the place to tell your story and highlight your passion. Weave in what prompted you to start the business, who it serves, and what need it fills: how you envision the business hitting the market is vital, along with why the founder(s) will be an integral part of the company’s success.
Include information to demonstrate that you’ve done adequate research to bring the business to market. The executive summary is the sales pitch that should wrap all the details up and display your uniqueness.
-Kimberly Bogues, Flourish Business Services, LLC
State Your Goals Clearly
Make sure to include detailed information about the potential investor return. It is helpful to shine a light on a company like yours and how it handled its recent payback process to investors.
State your goals clearly. Let potential investors know whether you have plans for your company to go public or if you have an exit strategy in mind. Investors are looking for details, so don’t leave anything out.
-Bill Glaser, Outstanding Foods
Define the Category
Investors want to know where your startup "fits in" so they can adequately evaluate the industry and your company’s potential. As an entrepreneur, you'll need to define the category where your startup will compete. To find the proper category, look at how competitors categorize their company.
See how acquiring companies are categorizing their acquisitions in press releases. Then, once you've defined the category, focus on how you're differentiated and will win the category in a one-page executive brief.
-Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Share Your Personality
Capturing your personality in an executive summary is super important. Investors are looking to build a relationship with you, so who you are matters as much as what you’ve accomplished and are setting out to do.
Make sure your personality shines in your summary. If you’re getting help writing it, make sure to add your two cents so that your character is apparent. You want to get potential investors curious about you as a person.
-Hector Gutierrez, JOI
Speak Their Language
Be particular about the language that you use. Make sure your word choice resonates with the targeted potential investors you have in mind.
Research them ahead of time. That way you'll know more about them and their personalities. For example, find out whether they have a sense of humor or not, which can help you determine what tone to use in your executive summary.
-Sheila Chaiban, One Ocean Beauty
Explain Your Target Audience
Express what kind of customers you are aiming to target in detail, including all relevant demographics. This level of detail will show potential investors you can think strategically, which will help convince them that you are ready to work with them.
-Mike Clare, Mood Health
Highlight the Team
Highlight the talents and experience of your executive team. Potential investors want to know that they can trust a company's executives. Often, investors are more concerned about working with the right people than about the actual products. Touting your team’s qualifications can help make your company more attractive to potential investors.
-Adam Reed, Crown & Paw
Set the Right Tone and Language
Identifying the right tone is critical in making a successful executive summary. Researching your potential investors will help you decide on the language that will resonate with them the most.
An investor with a background in history will need a different tone for someone from the engineering field. You need to make multiple versions for different audiences and choose the right match.
A mismatch in language and tone will fail to make a personal connection with an investor, making your executive summary less compelling.
-Arthur Iinuma, ISBX
Address Your Competition
Nearly every business has competitors, and while potential investors will want to know numbers such as costs and projected revenue, many executive summaries neglect potential competition out of fear it may act as a deterrent. Any savvy investor is going to account for the competition in their decision. Therefore, you should address it. Show analytics displaying the competition’s market share, their strengths and weaknesses, and how you plan to deal with them.
Additionally, describe what makes your business unique. Point out differences in products, services, and marketing plans. Promote the talents of your team and how equipped they are to take on these challenges. By explicitly addressing your competition and how you plan to beat them, you will not only show potential investors that you are knowledgeable about your business’s landscape but will instill confidence in your ability to be successful.
-Adelle Archer, Eterneva
Be a Brand With a Heart
One of the more prominent clients I once handled commended me for the personality I gave to my executive summary.
As the name suggests, it must be an overview of what your clients should expect from your brand, so adding a personal touch to your executive summary will allow you to provide context to your brief and spark interest from your clients.
Just like going on a first date, you must make a good impression, and that impression must come off strong in the best possible way to keep your brand or business on top of your prospective client’s minds.
-Baidhurya Mani, sc