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Executive Summary

What is an Executive Summary?

The executive summary of a business plan acts as an overview. Its objective is to put the key points of the business plan into a summary so that the readers can get an overall gist of the document and save themselves time. It also prepares the reader for what is to come. Above all, an executive summary has to be clear, concise, and enticing. The reader must feel intrigued enough to read the rest of the plan. This is often why the executive summary is referred to as the most important part of the business plan.

If the executive summary fails to capture the attention of the reader, the plan will be disregarded, which is the number one thing you don’t want to happen if you have written your business plan with the intention of obtaining funding.

Because the executive summary acts an overview of the whole business plan, people commonly write their executive summaries last, which can make the process much more manageable.

What Information Is Included in an Executive Summary?

The information you must include in your executive summary differs depending on the maturity of your business. The executive summary content of an established business will be very different to that of a startup.

In a startup, usually one of your main goals will be to obtain funding. This could be in the form of equity or debt financing from banks, VCs, or angel investors. Your job as the founder is to convince them to invest, and so it’s really important that you have a strong executive summary. Your aim should be to generate intrigue among potential investors to push them to read further.

What Should Be Included in a Startup Executive Summary?

  • The business opportunity: this is where you describe the current market need or opportunity

  • How your business is going to take advantage of this opportunity and serve the market

  • Your target market: this is where you’ll describe what kind of consumers you will be targeting

  • Business model: this is where you describe the products or services you plan to provide and why they will be attractive to your target market

  • SAM: this is your Sales and Marketing Strategy where you will give a brief outline of how you plan to market your product/service

  • Competition: this is where you will describe your current competition, how you plan to achieve your market share over or alongside this business, and what are you going to provide to your customers that your competition does or cannot?

  • Financial Analysis: this section will outline your financial plan and projections for the upcoming 3 years

  • The team: here you will describe the owners and the team and how they will benefit your venture

  • Implementation plan: this is how you plan to actually open the business and begin trading; should include some kind of schedule

What Should Be Included in an Established Business' Executive Summary?

For established businesses, the executive summary should include more info about achievements to date, plans for growth and so on. Typically, an established business executive summary will include the following:

  • Mission Statement: this is where you outline the purpose of your business, so what you do, why you do it, and your company values.

  • Information about the company: give a summary of your company’s history, what it sells, how it was formed, who makes up the team, where you’re based and operating locations.

  • Highlights: demonstrate how your company has evolved; give data and figures relating to the growth of your company over the years

  • Financial Summary: if you’re updating your business plan with the aim of raising additional funds, you should give a brief financial summary here.

  • Goals for the future: here you should outline the goals you have for your business, and if you’re looking for more funding then you should describe how you will use the funding.

In short, you must remember that your executive summary is a summary. Tailor it for your audience, keep it to the point, and keep it concise. A good executive summary can be the difference between you obtaining funding and not.

If you'd like to read more about Executive Summaries, visit these links:

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

How to Write a Great Business Plan: The Executive Summary

Writing an Executive Summary

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