Of the many parts of a business plan, by far and away the most important is the executive summary. Just as you augmented your non-reading of King Lear in high school with the relevant edition of CliffsNotes, so too the harried VC augments his/her non-reading of your entire business plan with a quick glance through the executive summary. The summary must have verve, punch, panache, passion; it has to be able to do a standing backwards somersault, then stick the landing and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of accounting.

The executive summary, or business plan summary, is just what it sounds like: a compact version of the big plan. In straightforward prose you should answer the following questions:

  • What sort of company is it?
  • What's the product/service, and what's special about it?
  • Who are the managers?
  • How much money do you need? In what stages? What will you use it for?

Generate excitement with substance with the uniqueness of your business opportunity and the awesome qualifications of your management team; not with exaggerated optimism and hackneyed sales vocabulary. Stick to the hard facts, and limit yourself, however difficult this may be, to the length of a concise resume: no more than a couple of pages.

Write the summary first, and, if you do a good job, you'll generate enough enthusiasm to carry yourself through the rest of the plan. Just keep telling yourself this sad-but-true fact: They're only gonna read the summary and then either throw it away or ask me to come in and sell the idea in person.