Expand your use of executive summaries


Mark Frohman


Business Columnist

Monday, August 21, 2017

Most business folk have a general idea of the executive summary that comes with the traditional business plan. However, in business, summaries can be useful much more often than just in the business plan.

Here are four uses with when and how to put them to work for your business.

The summary to keep focused every day:Business is filled daily with changes, uncertainty and redirection. A short review of your written core purpose as you go through the day may help.

To write it, start by describing your fundamental strategy.

■ What do you provide for your customer?

■ How do you do it differently and of value to your customer?

■ Why are you particularly good at it?

■ What are your top priorities?

The summary for messaging and promotion: Have a good summary on hand for general use. Create it as a brief marketing message for your target market. Start with a tagline that comes-or should come-from your main marketing material. Follow it with information to generate an inquiry or other call to action, and the information to follow up, such as email, phone number or website.

The summary for business loans and associates: For these summaries start with either the daily summary or the general business summary above. Tailor these summaries to the specific use. The summary of strategy is more appropriate for banks; a more sales oriented summary of product, market, and messages may be more appropriate for advisors, partners and vendors.

For a summary used for a commercial loan, include recent sales and profitability, several sentences on business history, and describe the management team. Also add a paragraph about how the money will be used in your business.

The summary for investors: Start with a description of the customer problem you solve, how you solve it, and why you are well positioned for the target market. Being well positioned includes your secret sauce, like proprietary technology or a unique position in the market.

Investors usually want to know past highlights, recent milestones met, and key future milestones. Often that’s a matter of revenue projection for the next few years; but in some cases, other measurements such as numbers of users or subscribers can be used even if they are free. Investors want to see growth and growth potential. Don’t forget to include an introduction of the management team and backgrounds.

In short, business summaries and executive summaries come in multiple versions depending upon the specific objective. Save your versions of the four different summaries then pull them up and tailor them each time another business summary is needed.

Dr. Mark Frohman is the owner of Frohman Consulting Corp. and a counselor with SCORE, a nonprofit business-consulting group.