The Five Breath Test!

Jeffrey Bernel

OK, entrepreneurs and business owners, here is a business analytic tool — or, as I like to say “mind model” — everyone should use in an executive summary when thinking about a current and/or new business. I use it when reading business plans. For an investor, this is a very handy tool to help evaluate new business plans or opportunities.

What is your business idea?

Be direct and clear
Avoid jargon
Be passionate!
No more than two sentences
What’s your business’s mission

Who needs it, and why?

Clearly describe the problem to be solved. “Bring it to life.”
Define the market with the problem
Connect the listener to the problem in some way ~ make it credible. Ideally, personalize it!

Why you?

Separate your idea from competition
Describe your sustainable competitive advantage
Provide “permission to believe”
Highlight this team’s capability to deliver

Why is now the right time?

What’s driving your sense of urgency?
What has changed or emerged in the market making this a feasible proposition?
Avoid Saying:
“We are the first to do it.” There is a good probability someone else has.
“Our financial projections and pro formas are conservative.” They are an educated guess, so you really don’t know if they are accurate.
“We have no competitors.” Yes, you do.
Connect the key elements together

How will you (or investors) make money?

Be realistic; don’t over-promise
Due diligence will uncover the truth
Provide a rational exit strategy
Investors need to see the way out
Most investors expect a 5-7-year liquidity event.

If you are interested in an example of how this is applied to your business’s executive summary, please request it via email to

Jeffrey A. Bernel, MBA, was a member of the faculty of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business for twenty years as a teaching professor and the director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. He continues to serve Notre Dame as an Adjunct Teaching Professor. He was owner, chairman, CEO and president of American Rubber Products from 1979-1996 and chairman and owner of UniTek Sealing Solutions from 2006 to 2010. Jeff currently is the founding and current chair of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.

One Response to “The Five Breath Test!”

  1. G.Gottio

    Feb 15. 2020

    Thank you..

    Reply to this comment

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