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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 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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