The concept of “saving the best for last” is pretty common in our society today. The basic principle is part of why we enjoy our championship games at the end of the season, why we work a good portion of our lives toward the goal of retirement, and why we eat that last slice of pizza backwards. But do we use this ideal when writing a business plan?
Not necessarily. The core of your business plan truly is your Executive Summary. Let’s face it: Many investors simply aren’t going to read through your entire business plan, let alone look at all of the extra data compiled in your Industry Analysis section or back in the Appendix. But most, if not all, will read your Executive Summary; and they will read it first. A good investor needs to know the core basics of the business, including your primary products and services, who your typical customers will be, why these customers will want your product, some basic sales projections, and what financing you are proposing.
You have to win over your investor in your Executive Summary first! If you don’t, they will likely never see the rest of your brilliant marketing strategy or why you are ready to squash your competitors.
A common strategy for many entrepreneurs when writing a business plan is to develop the Executive Summary section first. Although it seems logical to write your plan in order, this is generally a bad idea. All business plan development professionals will tell you that concepts and ideas change throughout the process of putting together the final business plan. You may think of a different way to market your business, or simply a small addition to your product that makes it much more efficient and sellable in the marketplace.
Of even greater importance is the fact that writing the business plan, or having it written for you, forces you to fully develop your ideas. Once these ideas are completely thought out, it becomes an action plan. You don’t have this knowledge at the beginning of the process; instead, you have taught yourself about your business through the development of the business plan.
Writing your Executive Summary at the beginning of the process is like taking your final exam on the first day of class. Instead, it’s important to fully study your business, the industry, the market, your competition, and the risks involved. After a thorough business plan is written, then go back to write your Executive Summary. By saving the best for last, you’ll have a business plan with a much better first impression.