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How to Write a Financial Executive Summary Writing a business plan is a necessary step to secure funds to start or maintain a business.

One of the most important parts of the business plan is the financial executive summary. This usually comes at the beginning of the business plan and provides potential investors with an idea for how much money is needed and the potential investment return. 1.
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1 Include a description of your company and/or business idea. This includes the products and/or services in which the company will produce. Be sure to also state your mission statement clearly with the description of your company. A mission statement is ultimately the goal of your company. 2 Provide a a short paragraph detailing past performance during the past five years. Also provide a projection for performance over the next five years. If you are just starting out, focus on the projection. Include a graph for both past and future performance along with a brief narrative. 3 Include a Sources and Uses diagram. This is a high-level summary of the money you need and where that money is coming from. For instance, if you need $100,000, potential sources are bonds, loans, stock issuance, direct investment and preferred stock. Potential uses are working capital, inventory, business start-up costs, salaries, and general business expenses. (See Resources for an example of a Sources and Uses diagram.) 4 Create a summary, about 100 words, of the Sources and Uses diagram. This will be particularly helpful for non-finance professionals. Use clear language free of industry jargon. 5 Provide a time horizon for the investment, also known as payback period. This is how long you predict it will take for the investors to get their investment monies back. Create at least three different scenarios: a best case, base case, and worst case. 6 Provide an estimate for the return potential in each scenario. The best case scenario must have the highest return potential and the worst case scenario will have the lowest return potential. 7 Create a boilerplate (regular) version of your financial executive summary for general requests. However, if asked to present to a group of potential investors, always tailor the summary to fit the needs of the audience. For instance, if you're going to a room full of people who want to purchase an equity stake in the company, focus on returns for equity stakeholders. .. Guidelines for writing an executive summary A) Good to know about executive summaries B) Elements of an executive summary C) Guidelines for preparing an executive summary in 9 steps D) Examples of high-quality executive summaries (to be used in your own work) E) References used in this Guideline A) Good to know about executive summaries What is an executive summary? A short and clear, compelling summary of an expert opinion report (see Guidelines for writing an Expert Opinion Report) or of any other study (often studies with practical or

political implications). An indication of the main points considered and the conclusions reached. A written, scientific statement in support of a specific position, answer, solution or recommendation in a concise, clear and coherent form. What is the function of executive summaries? To communicate the main points and conclusions of a study, meeting, discussion, grant proposal or conference in a short text. To inform busy people in executive positions (e.g. managers, politicians, funding officers) on the status of a scientific issue. To indicate points for consideration and to present science-based recommendations. Who is the audience of executive summaries? Executive summaries are prepared for a well-educated audience with various educational backgrounds. Typical readers have a tight schedule and want to extract key messages from the text as fast as possible. Therefore subject-specific language and complex explanations should be avoided. What is the relationship between an executive summary and an expert opinion report? Longer expert opinion report texts, with more than 10 pages, should have an executive summary. This facilitates to access the content of the expert opinion report (Guidelines for writing an Expert Opinion Report). Executive summaries are provided in other contexts too (e.g. to communicate the relevant results of studies, discussions, meetings or conferences). How long is an executive summary? Executive summaries should be as short as possible, without being as short as an abstract in a research article. One or two pages (of text) is fine, three okay and four pages the maximum. In rare cases, for very extensive studies, executive summaries might be longer. B) Elements of an executive summary Short executive summaries usually do not have different sections but only a few paragraphs. However, as sections and subtitles help to structure the text and help to communicate the message, longer executive summaries should be subdivided into sections. Structural principles for executive summaries argument 1. context and question 2. main arguments 3. answer and implications abstract 1. introduction 2. material and methods 3. results 4. conclusion problem solution 1. situation (circumstances, conditions) 2. problem (shortcomings, open question) 3. solution (one or several solutions or answers) 4. evaluation (critical appraisal of solutions; is the question answered or the problem solved?) additional recommendations If recommendations for actions are given in an executive summary, these are presented at the end. Sometimes bold type is used for these recommendations (Seely 2002). In some cases, dependent on topic or the approach of the author and/or client, definite recommendations are not given but different options with their advantages and disadvantages provided. An executive summary must be clear, concise & coherent1 Clear Say exactly what you intend, in a way that is as clear as possible to the reader.

Use definite, specific, concrete language. Use the active voice. Put statements in positive form. Express coordinate ideas in similar form (parallel construction of sentences). Keep connected words in a sentence closely together (e.g. subject and verb). Concise Omit needless words, phrases, or whole sentences. Needless words are those that can be removed without significant loss of understanding. Coherent Make sure that information elements hold together so that the progress from one point to the next is logical and seems inevitable. 1from Strunk & White (2000) and Seely (2002) Additional points to consider when writing an executive summary paragraphs Cover one idea, aspect or topic per paragraph. The first sentence in a paragraph introduces the topic of that paragraph (topic sentence). The last sentence summarizes points discussed and prepares the reader for the next paragraph. tense The present tense is easiest to understand. If possible, use the present tense throughout the executive summary (possible exception: description of applied methods). C) Preparing an executive summary in 9 steps stage step prepare 1. complete the expert opinion report or study on which the executive summary is based 2. define the key points and the main message outline 3. develop the structural outline draft 4. write the first draft in one sitting revise 5. revise the draft (Is it clear, concise, coherent?) 6. ask somebody for feedback 7. revise the text again (several cycles of feedback and revision increase text quality) 8. correct grammar, spelling, punctuation 9. adjust the layout Make sure to have enough time for the feedback and revision process. As executive summaries are read by many people, and as they may influence important decisions, it is very important that executive summaries are well worded. D) Examples of high-quality executive summaries (biological and environmental sciences) The following three executive summaries differ substantially in format, length and use of images and figures. We suggest you spend a moment looking at each one and then choose one of them to see how they have used the text to convey their science and recommendations. .

Tips for Writing an Executive Summary An Executive Summary summarizes the key points of a lengthy research report or publication. Although research reports are often highly technical in nature, the goal of an Executive Summary is to communicate in a simple manner so that the information can be understood by all readers, regardless of their knowledge or expertise. The Executive Summary is used by managers to understand the broader

policy context of research and make decisions about changes to policies, programs, or investment decisions. Typically, an Executive Summary is 3-6 pages in length. A longer summary is often used when it contains charts or other illustrations. The Executive Summary should be organized according to the following categories Project Summary, Background, Process, Finding and Conclusions and Recommendations for Action. Following is a description of the type of information to consider for each of these categories. It is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of the type of information that is appropriate to conveythese are examples to help you think about key items that should be communicated. PROJECT SUMMARY What is the research project and why was it conducted? Provide a brief (2-3 sentence) description of the project. What is the problem or issue? What is the purpose of the research? BACKGROUND What is the history of the research? Did a specific event or issue provide the impetus for the research? Is this a second or third phase to earlier research conducted by us or someone else? Is this a first-of-its-kind research project? Who was involved? Was this research done as part of a national research program? Was this a partnership with other states? Which states? Was this a pool-funded project? Was it done in cooperation with a university? Which? Was it done in cooperation with local units of government? Which? Was it done in partnership with private organizations? Name them. PROCESS What process was used to conduct the research? Provide a brief (2-3 sentence) description of the research process. What was the length of the research number of months or years? Was the process designed to be compatible with other research? What type of data was collected? How was the data collected? Did it involve surveys? Describe. Did it involve sampling? Describe. Did it involve test sections? Describe type and location. Where was the data collected? Name the specific counties or highways. Were any unusual collection techniques or equipment used? FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS What were the major findings or results? Provide a brief (2-3 sentence) description of the most significant findings. Was a cost/benefit analysis conducted? Is there a simple way to quantify the results? Does the research provide a snapshot of before and after comparisons? What are the practical benefits of this research for WisDOT customers? Does the research provide a way to reduce costs? Explain. Does the research improve safety? Explain. Does the research increase productivity? Explain. Does the research improve operational efficiencies? Explain. Does the research improve customer service? Explain. Does the research reduce congestion or travel times? Explain. Does the research provide a smoother ride? Explain. Does the research provide better information to make policy-based decisions? Is the new practice worth the investment? Explain how you measured the trade-offs?

Does the research indicate what NOT to do? What are the policy implications? Do the findings impact existing federal regulations? Do the findings impact other states? Do the findings impact local units of government? Can the findings be used as a national model? Do the findings indicate a new best practice? Do the findings identify emerging new issues or trends? RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER ACTION What future steps are needed in both the short-term and long-term? Explain how the findings will be transferred into actual policy or program changes. What needs to be done before the research results can be implemented? Is additional study needed? Are additional resources needed? Are there unresolved issues? Do manuals or guidelines need to be changed? Are legislative changes needed? Are changes needed to existing specifications or procedures? Does the research point to the need for new technology investments? Who is responsible for implementation? Does it require action by WisDOT management? Will implementation depend on new or existing partnerships? With whom? Will it depend on legislative or Congressional action? Will it depend on federal regulatory changes? Who is the WisDOT contact for more information? How will the results of the research be communicated? Should there be a workshop or training? Will there be information in newsletters? WRITING AND STYLE When writing the Executive Summary it is best to keep the writing and style simple and concise. Following are a few reminders for good communications: Use simple short words unless only the long words fit your needs. Keep sentences short (15-20 words). Avoid technical jargon and acronyms. If a technical word is absolutely necessary, define it for the reader. For instance if the research involves rubblization explain it. Keep numbers simple. Round them off when possible ($8.4 million instead of $8,421,500). Use charts to show comparisons or trends. Weed out unnecessary words, clichs and overused buzzwords. Substitute active verbs for to be verbs. For instance, the program achieved its goals instead of program goals were achieved. Write as you talk, use everyday language. Avoid stuffy, halting sentences. Keep the tone friendly, informal, matter-of-fact. Use examples that are familiar to the reader. Always proofread and spell check the document. ..

Drafting Executive Summaries for Research Papers An executive summary is the section most likely to make a reader continue to read your paper - or stop. For many time-poor decision makers, it may be the only section that gets read. This page offers a checklist to help your executive summaries to connect with your target audience. Whats the Purpose of an Executive Summary? Condense, simplify and highlight1

A good executive summary: Gives an overview of your paper Highlights the main conclusions and some of the most important points Outlines the structure of the rest of the paper, to help the reader navigate it Captures the attention of the reader and ideally moves them to action. What should it contain? Overarching message of your paper if your reader remembers only one thing about your paper, what do you want that to be? The main conclusions and/or policy implications of your paper. Key findings - if your paper contains new evidence or information about something thats first, best, or contributes to the solution of a major problem, mention it here. If relevant, you may wish to include a call to action what do you want the reader to do as a result of reading your paper? Here or in the introduction, a point that establishes your credibility. You do not need to refer to every element of your paper. How long should it be? The usual rule is a maximum of one-tenth of the overall paper. DLP summaries should be: About 150-200 words for policy briefs One to two sides of A4 for longer reports In all cases, never more than four pages. When should I write it? Although it appears first, it should probably be written last. This enables you to go through your paper and highlight key points to include in a logical order. Whats the writing style? The executive summary should be the clearest part of your paper. Any barrier to understanding encourages the reader to put your paper aside. Use everyday language remove or explain jargon. Active language eg The project team achieved its goals rather than The goals were achieved. Short sentences 15-20 words. Use bullet points or other structural aids to help the reader navigate. Ask a colleague to read and ideally to proof-read it. Then give it to a non-technical person to read and ask for their feedback.

Example Executive Summary CompanyX provides hosted content services within the online applications and platforms (OAP) market via its ProductX product. ProductX is a platform for businesses and organizations to store, manage, and publish content to the web and mobile devices. ProductX services are sold at productx.com and used by our customers on a self-service basis. What have we accomplished? Development of ProductX 1.0 began in 2006 and was later launched in the winter of 2007. Soon thereafter we began planning for ProductX 2.0, which after almost a year of development and iteration based on customer feedback was launched in April 2009. ProductX is currently in use by over 800 organizations of all types and sizes and provides CompanyX with the necessary foundation to achieve our main objectives over the next 12 months. Who are our customers? ProductX customers include ad agencies (WPP Group), universities (MIT), large enterprises (Ernst & Young), industry associations, non-profits, film producers (David Lynch), media publishers (Meredith), government agencies (New Your Lottery), and many other types of organizations that rely on content for communications, marketing, and other core business activities. What are we known for?

Our customers have told us there are there primary reasons why they chose ProductX over the competition. First is price: ProductX is the most cost effective platform on the market. Second is mobile: ProductX supports the delivery of content to all the most popular mobile devices. Third is API: ProductX offers a built-for-developers-by-developers API that enables rapid integration with 3rd party apps and services. How big is the market? According to a Forrester Research report published earlier this year, online applications and platforms (OAPs) generated revenues of $4.1B in 2008, up 86% over 2007, and are expected to generate roughly $5.9B in 2010. That same report also predicts that OAPs focused on mobile content delivery and 3rd party integrations will increase their market share from 13.4% in 2008 to over 22% by 2010. Whats our strategy goal? Our goal is to establish ProductX as the leading SMB-focused online platform by Q4 2010. We plan to do this by growing new signups and customers, and maintaining our lead in product innovation and cost effectiveness. How much do we need to get there? To date we have raised roughly $4M in Seed and Series A financing from a small group of professional angel investors. We are seeking to raise $3M in Series B financing to achieve our objectives over the next 12 months. What's the story of our company? Internet entrepreneur and CompanyX CEO Bob B. founded the company in the winter of 2005 with a vision for how the Internet was going to greatly enhance the role of content as a communications and marketing tool. From its inception, the CompanyX leadership team has included CTO John D., SVP Marketing Jane T., and a development staff of four. All members of the CompanyX leadership team attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology.