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Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The executive summary is the most important part of your Business Plan and, in fact, should be the first section. However, you can’t do the executive summary until you are finished with all the other sections, which is why I saved it for last.
The executive summary is exactly as it name implies — it is a summary of your entire business plan. You also need to include a brief history of your company. The entire executive summary should not be longer than four pages. Consider using a bullet system to highlight information and make a smoother read. You want to provide information, but you don’t want to bore potential investors/lenders from the start. This is what will either grab their attention or give them the urge to find a wastepaper basket.
While it is a summary, there are some imperative things that should be included in addition to the summarization of the information contained within the Business Plan:
• The mission statement for your business.
• Date the business began.
• Name of founders and their current positions/functions within the business.
• Number of employees.
• All business addresses (franchises, branches, etc.).
• A brief description of the business facilities.
• The product/service you provide.
• Current investors/lenders.
• Summary of the business’ growth (point out the highlights).
• Future plans for the business (goals).
For businesses that are just getting started, you will probably lack a lot of this information. Instead, focus on your experience, background and reasons for starting the business (define the need and the solution).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The table of contents should be found directly after the executive summary. Again, it is something that can’t be done until your Business Plan is finished, so that you know exactly where everything is. Be sure that the pages of your Business Plan are numbered and reference those numbers in the table of contents.
You may also want to consider using tabs for each section of your Business Plan, for even easier reference for the reader. Additionally, your Business Plan should be bound in some fashion, whether in an actual binder or spiral bound, etc. is up to you. Whatever you think would be most appealing. Be sure, whatever you choose, that there is a cover with the name of your business and all relevant contact information available.
The Appendix is separate from the rest of your Business Plan. It is provided to prospective investors/lenders upon request (so bring it with you to any meetings). It, too, should be bound, but, again, separately from the Business Plan itself.
The Appendix should include the following:
• Credit history/reports — both for the business and the individual owners
• Picture of your product
• Letters of recommendation
• Detailed results of marketing studies conducted
• Copies of any research references
• Copies of all licenses, permits and patents for your product, service &/or building
• Copies of any legal documents associated with your business (contracts, etc.)
• Copies of leases or rental agreements
• List of all business consultants, including your attorney, accountant, subcontractors, etc.
Break your Appendix up into sections and label them with roman numerals, letters, etc. This will make it easier to make references within your Business Plan to specific sections of the Appendix. For example, when you summarize the resumes of your managers in the Organization & Management section of the Business Plan, you can reference “Appendix, Sect. II” for full resumes.
For a more uniform look and easier read, include a table of contents for the Appendix, and tabs for each section would be equally beneficial. And don’t forget that cover page with business contact information.
Well, you’ve made it! You now have what you need to start working on your Business Plan. So get started — you have a lot of work a head of you. But, before you submit your Business Plan for review, be sure to check out tomorrow’s post regarding the most common mistakes made on a Business Plan.
Business Plan – Part 1: Overview
Business Plan – Part 2: Market Analysis
Business Plan – Part 3: Define Organizational Structure & Management
Business Plan – Part 4: Define Strategies, Service & Product Line
Business Plan – Part 5: Funding Request & Financial Information
Business Plan – Part 6: Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix
Business Plan – Part 7: Common Business Plan Mistakes
Business Plan – Part 8: Obtaining a Business Loan
Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8
Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8