You will write this section last. The Executive Summary will be the most critical piece for the bank or grant reviewer. If this section is not written in a brief format and written well, the bank or grant reviewer may not go beyond the first page of your business plan.

Ideally, the Executive Summary will be no longer than one page and if it is two paragraphs, even better. In some grant applications, they may be extremely specific about the length and content of this section.You may have a version of this section for you, your bank, and a grant application.

For the first paragraph, you will identify:

  • Purpose of this business plan. Start with the words “This plan will outline …” One sentence only.
  • Who is/are the primary owner(s) and their roles (if any). If a key management position, like a cheesemaker or a dairy plant operator is identified and is not an owner, identify them as well and their status (employee, manager, owner).
  • Form of business (sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.) now and what changes, if any. It is nice to end with “ advised by an accountant and lawyer.”

Second and Further Paragraph(s):

  • Primary goal. It may be an on-farm income. It may be to pay taxes. It may be to stabilize milk prices (banks like that right now with unstable swings in milk prices) Be brief. This is not philosophy, this is why am I doing this?
  • Identify the various enterprises that contribute income to the business and state how they are related. Are the dairy operation and processing plant separate on paper? Will the processing plant pay the dairy? How much will that be?
  • Market niche. Be very brief. Why is your business appealing and worth funding?
  • Show me the money. If you are looking for a filler because yogurt sales are through the roof, then say that. Give facts to back up those numbers. If this is based on projections, give basic cash flow and expected break even figures. Also, discuss why this money would be well-invested in your project.

If you are writing a grant, it is important to be savvy about the popular or “buzz” words and how to use them correctly. Make sure you understand them and believe them before you commit yourself to them on paper. For example, if you say you are committed to organic principles and have an embryo transfer program, plant genetically modified seeds, use pesticides for bugs on your calves, or do not pasture your goats – then you are not grasping the basic concepts of what organic means.