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How to Get Your Great Ideas Heard with Just One Page of Proposal

How to Get Your Great Ideas Heard with Just One Page of Proposal

Do you feel painful when you’re reading a proposal with hundreds of pages? The same feeling goes for people who write them.

People struggle about how to write a good and comprehensive proposal and get their ideas heard. But they don’t want to receive a comment saying ‘too long didn’t read’. So it’s time to make good use of executive summary to highlight your ideas as no one will really read through every single word if there’re hundreds of pages.

An executive summary summarizes a report, proposal, or any kind of document. Unlike an abstract, an executive summary is a condensed version of the full document rather than an overview or orientation. It is mainly produced for business proposals, allowing readers to be rapidly acquainted with a large body of material without actually reading it.

A good executive summary can impress your readers immediately. Here I’ll provide everything you need for a good executive summary.

An executive summary is your pitch.

Imagine you’re in a bookstore looking for a book. How would you decide which one to be bought? I’m sure you’ll have a look at the cover, and then turn to its back and read its summary.

An executive summary is similar. It is an essential gateway for your business plan to get read. The aim of it is to grab readers’ attention and make them want to know more about whatever the document is presenting.

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While for an entrepreneur, the one who writes the document, it is also important. Writing an executive summary helps you to develop a better vision of your business, and you have a more visualized picture of your story. You will come to know which aspect of your company has the clearest selling points and which requires more clarification.

Keep it to one page, followed by easy-to-skim subsections.

An executive summary is to grab attention instead of to provide details. So you should keep it short and concise.

One page should be enough to cover all the essential elements of an executive summary. Emphasize your main points and highlight those important findings or special ideas only. Don’t try to present all the graphs and figures in such limited space. And don’t waste a single word in an executive summary. Every word should exist with a clear purpose there.

Subheading is always important. By dividing your document into subsections, readers can skim through it quickly and easily. They can grasp your ideas within a minute or two by only reading the subheadings. This also helps you to organize your ideas in a much clearer way, which would be easier for readers to follow.

Make each section clear with the following structure.

Generally, a well-structured executive summary should include:

  • the mission statement
  • company information/background
  • (growth) highlights
  • your products/services
  • a summary of future plans

But what exactly should be included in different parts of an executive summary?

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It’s straightforward for the mission statement. It explains what your business is all about and the goal of your business.

For the part about company information/background, think of the important events of your company history. When was your business formed? Where was it formed? Who founded it? What are their roles. You can also mention the size of your business and anything you think remarkable.

What makes your business outstanding? When you talk about highlights, you can include examples of business growth, such as financial or market highlights. Profit margin, market share, or any index you find impressive. Graphs and charts can be also included. But one or two will do.

You should also briefly describe your products/services you provide. Consider if your readers are familiar with your products or services. Try to provide a slightly more detailed description if your readers are not familiar with them.

A summary of future plans is to explain where you would like to take your business. It can be in short-term or in long-term. Your readers are interested to know if you share the same vision.

Some good examples of executive summary

Let’s take a look at the below extract which outlines what information the report deals with and see if you think it’s good.

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Example 1

It (the report) highlights what type of consumer buying or business buying behaviors are displayed in the purchase of a product or service and explains why each behavior may occur. This enables a conclusion to be drawn from applying theory to reality.

What do you think? Good or bad?

I’d say it’s not a good one. It indeed briefly presents the idea of the report but it fails to provide a summary of the results gained, conclusions drawn and recommendations made. Readers gain nothing after reading such executive summary.

Example 2

The below is an extract from a sample executive summary for a Washington, D.C., bakery:

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By creating a new niche in the restaurant industry, Rutabaga Sweets will increase sales by more than $145,000 over three years while maintaining a gross margin of 80%. Through a philosophy of “nothing but the best” regarding both product and service, Rutabaga Sweets will establish itself as an exceptional dessert bar in Washington DC. We also will gain a competitive advantage in take out and catered desserts.

See the difference? It provides figures and a concrete summary instead of a vague one. While your readers are reading, they can really feel your determination from your wordings.

If you’re interested in reading more good examples, you can refer to this one for an online pharmacy and this one for a pet care service center.

Remember, your executive summary is the first and probably the only chance for you to impress your readers. So avoid any silly mistakes and be ready to showcase your brilliant ideas!

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

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Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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