Great post over at Guy Kawasaki’s blog on The Art of the Executive Summary.

We’ve recently been reading a lot of business plans for the spring business plan competition season and it’s depressing how many terrible executive summaries are out there. Here are some of the common pitfalls:

1. The language barrier: Many plans assume that the reader already knows your industry inside and out, that the reader knows exactly what all your acronyms mean and knows the unique vocabulary used in your business. This is not true. Nothing is a bigger problem than not being able to explain your business in plain English. Keep things simple and explain your business in language that anyone will be able to understand.

2. The market size: Your market is not the $300 billion widget market. It is a specialized sub-set of that market. Don’t even think of projecting your sales based on 1% market share of some huge market.

3. We’re going to dominate the world, but first… : Having long-term plans and goals is great, but what makes a successful business and a successful plan is a more short-term, attainable goal. The funding you are looking for is to get to this first milestone, so make the business plan about that and focus your executive summary on what you are going to achieve in the next few years, not the next 10 or 15.

I’ll update this post as I read more plans this week.

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Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of Outpost and the online business plan app LivePlan, and content curator and creator of the Emergent Newsletter. You can follow Noah on Google+ or on Twitter.