A winning executive summary must have great content. However, perhaps equally important is a unique and captivating appearance. However, most business plan writers fail abysmally on appearance. In general, the appearance is predictable, boring, and standard. At the same time, the writer can’t risk creating something that doesn’t have a strong business feel. For many striking this balance is a nightmare or more accurately not even a possibility. In the next few paragraphs we’ll cover a number of conceptual examples that in part or together will deliver:
Borders on the executive summary section will set your executive summary apart from the competition. My favorites are the very narrow triple line border or the broad line with either one or two narrow lines around the document. Also a dark bold black, deep blue or teal solid border from 1/4 to 1/2 inch around each page of the summary.
1 to 3 graphics, illustrations, or photos with color on each page of the executive summary give character. Vary the size and spread across the pages. The graphics, illustrations and photos should not be gratuitous. They have to contribute to the summary in a strong positive way.
I have found the two column format very compelling. You can often compress two pages of material to a single impactful sheet with a sense of being an easy read and yet a impactful presentation.
Use bold type to highlight key information items in the executive summary.
Brevity is powerful. Restrict your summary to a single page. Deliver a brief summary that tells the investor what you need from him or her. Explain clearly how your project is differentiated and will succeed. Explain what the risks are. Explain how the risks are mitigated. Deliver a clear explanation of what the anticipated returns will be.
Lines to separate sections of your summary. Using lines can be physically attractive, very business like, and add to the message.
The writer can use these ideas in any combination that suits their needs, their message and their creative objectives. When writing a business plan executive summary, the main issues are to remember your audience. Consider who they are likely to be, what their background is, and what their goals are. Next, remember your goals and try to align those with your audience’s interests. The more effectively you tie these together along with creating a strong positive impact the more successful your executive summary will be.