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Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

Kimberlee Leonard

Updated: Jun 3, 2024, 1:03pm

Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

Table of Contents

Components of an executive summary, how to write an executive summary, example of an executive summary, frequently asked questions.

A business plan is a document that you create that outlines your company’s objectives and how you plan to meet those objectives. Every business plan has key sections such as management and marketing. It should also have an executive summary, which is a synopsis of each of the plan sections in a one- to two-page overview. This guide will help you create an executive summary for your business plan that is comprehensive while being concise.

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The executive summary should mimic the sections found in the business plan . It is just a more concise way of stating what’s in the plan so that a reader can get a broad overview of what to expect.

State the company’s mission statement and provide a few sentences on what the company’s purpose is.

Company History and Management

This section describes the basics of where the company is located, how long it has been in operation, who is running it and what their level of experience is. Remember that this is a summary and that you’ll expand on management experience within the business plan itself. But the reader should know the basics of the company structure and who is running the company from this section.

Products or Services

This section tells the reader what the product or service of the company is. Every company does something. This is where you outline exactly what you do and how you solve a problem for the consumer.

This is an important section that summarizes how large the market is for the product or service. In the business plan, you’ll do a complete market analysis. Here, you will write the key takeaways that show that you have the potential to grow the business because there are consumers in the market for it.

Competitive Advantages

This is where you will summarize what makes you better than the competitors. Identify key strengths that will be reasons why consumers will choose you over another company.

Financial Projections

This is where you estimate the sales projections for the first years in business. At a minimum, you should have at least one year’s projections, but it may be better to have three to five years if you can project that far ahead.

Startup Financing Requirements

This states what it will cost to get the company launched and running. You may tackle this as a first-year requirement or if you have made further projections, look at two to three years of cost needs.

The executive summary is found at the start of the business plan, even though it is a summary of the plan. However, you should write the executive summary last. Writing the summary once you have done the work and written the business plan will be easier. After all, it is a summary of what is in the plan. Keep the executive summary limited to two pages so that it doesn’t take someone a long time to peruse what the summary says.

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It might be easier to write an executive summary if you know what to expect. Here is an example of an executive summary that you can use as a template.

development business plan executive summary

Bottom Line

Writing an executive summary doesn’t need to be difficult if you’ve already done the work of writing the business plan itself. Take the elements from the plan and summarize each section. Point out key details that will make the reader want to learn more about the company and its financing needs.

How long is an executive summary?

An executive summary should be one to two pages and no more. This is just enough information to help the reader determine their overall interest in the company.

Does an executive summary have keywords?

The executive summary uses keywords to help sell the idea of the business. As such, there may be enumeration, causation and contrasting words.

How do I write a business plan?

If you have business partners, make sure to collaborate with them to ensure that the plan accurately reflects the goals of all parties involved. You can use our simple business plan template to get started.

What basic items should be included in a business plan?

When writing out a business plan, you want to make sure that you cover everything related to your concept for the business,  an analysis of the industry―including potential customers and an overview of the market for your goods or services―how you plan to execute your vision for the business, how you plan to grow the business if it becomes successful and all financial data around the business, including current cash on hand, potential investors and budget plans for the next few years.

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Laura Hennigan

Kimberlee Leonard has 22 years of experience as a freelance writer. Her work has been featured on US News and World Report, Business.com and Fit Small Business. She brings practical experience as a business owner and insurance agent to her role as a small business writer.

Cassie is a deputy editor collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. Focusing on bringing growth to small businesses, she is passionate about economic development and has held positions on the boards of directors of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town. Prior to joining the team at Forbes Advisor, Cassie was a content operations manager and copywriting manager.

SharpSheets

How to Write an Executive Summary (+ Examples)

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  • March 21, 2024
  • Business Plan , How to Write

executive summary example

The executive summary is the cornerstone of any business plan, serving as a gateway for readers to understand the essence of your proposal.

It summarizes the plan’s key points into a digestible format, making it crucial for capturing the interest of investors, partners, and stakeholders.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what the executive summary is, why we use it, and also how you can create one for your business plan. Let’s dive in!

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise and compelling overview of a business plan (or simply a report), designed to provide readers, such as investors, partners, or upper management, with a quick and clear understanding of the document’s most critical aspects.

For a business plan, it summarizes the key points including the business overview , market analysis , strategy plan timeline and financial projections.

Typically, the executive summary is the first section of a business plan, but it should be written last to ensure it accurately reflects the content of the entire document.

The primary goal of an executive summary is to engage the reader’s interest and encourage them to read the full document.

It should be succinct, typically no more than one to two pages, and articulate enough to stand on its own, presenting the essence of the business proposal or report without requiring the reader to go through the entire document for basic understanding.

Why Do We Use It?

The executive summary plays a crucial role in whether a business plan opens doors to funding, partnerships, or other opportunities . It’s often the first (and sometimes the only) part of the plan that stakeholders read, making it essential for making a strong, positive first impression. As such, we use it in order to:

  • Capture Attention: Given the volume of business plans investors, partners, and lenders might receive, an executive summary’s primary function is to grab the reader’s attention quickly. It highlights the most compelling aspects of the business to encourage further reading.
  • Save Time: It provides a succinct overview of the business plan, allowing readers to understand the key points without going through the entire document. This is particularly beneficial for busy stakeholders who need to make informed decisions efficiently.
  • Facilitate Understanding: An executive summary distills complex business concepts and strategies into a concise format. Therefore, it makes it easier for readers to grasp the business’s core mission, strategic direction, and potential for success.
  • Driving Action: By summarizing the financial projections and funding requirements, an executive summary can effectively communicate the investment opportunity. Indeed the investment opportunity, whether to raise money from investors or a loan from a bank, is the most common reason why we prepare business plans.
  • Setting the Tone: The executive summary sets the tone for the entire business plan. A well-written summary indicates a well-thought-out business plan, reflecting the professionalism and competence of the management team.

How to Write an Executive Summary in 4 Simple Steps

Here’s a streamlined approach to crafting an impactful executive summary:

1. Start with Your Business Overview

  • Company Name: Begin with the name of your business.
  • Location: Provide the location of your business operations.
  • Business model: Briefly describe how you make money, the producfs and/or services your business offers.

2. Highlight the Market Opportunity

  • Target Market : Identify your target market and its size.
  • Market Trends : Highlight the key market trends that justify the need for your product or service.
  • Competitive Landscape : Describe how your business is positioned to meet this need effectively.

3. Present Your Management Team

  • Team Overview: Introduce the key members of your management team and their roles.
  • Experience: Highlight relevant experience and skills that contribute to the business’s success.

4. Include Financial Projections

  • Financial Summary: Provide a snapshot of key financial projections, including revenue, profits, and cash flow over the next three to five years.
  • Funding Requirements: If seeking investment, specify the amount needed and how it will be used.

2 Executive Summary Examples

Here are 2 examples you can use as an inspiration to create yours. These are taken from our coffee shop and hair salon business plan templates.

Coffee Shop Executive Summary

development business plan executive summary

Hair Salon Executive Summary

development business plan executive summary

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How to write an executive summary in 10 steps

people-discussing-a-proposal-executive-summary-example

Whether presenting a business plan, sharing project updates with stakeholders, or submitting a project proposal, an executive summary helps you grab attention and convey key insights.

Think of it as a condensed version of a document, report, or proposal that highlights the most important information clearly and concisely. It's like a "cheat sheet" that gives you a snapshot of the main points without reading the entire thing.

Throughout the article, we'll explore some examples of executive summaries to give you a better understanding of how they can be applied. Plus, we'll provide you with ready-to-use templates and best practices for writing compelling executive summaries.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It is typically written for busy executives or decision-makers who may not have the time to read the entire document but still need to grasp its key points and recommendations. 

An effective executive summary should capture the essence of the document, highlighting the most important information in a brief and easily understandable way. It should provide a snapshot of the document's purpose, methodology, major findings, and key recommendations. The summary should be written in a way that allows the reader to quickly grasp the main ideas and make informed decisions based on the information presented.

Why do you need to write one?

For a business owner , an executive summary is one of the most important documents you will have. Like a business plan , they help you lay out the potential value of your business and your potential for success. 

Unlike a business proposal, however, an executive summary is designed to be read in a brief amount of time. That makes them ideal for a variety of uses, like project proposals and research summaries. Sending your strategic plan to a prospective investor or stakeholder likely won’t get you far. But a brief report that clearly states your key findings and what’s in it for them might help you — and your proposal — stand out. It isn't all the details. It's what gets you the meeting to share more.

An executive summary is also a business document that can travel without you. It may be presented to other leaders and potential investors. If it’s written well, it will take on a life of its own. You may find that you get support and resources from places you never imagined.

What should be included in an executive summary?

Your executive summary should include brief descriptions of who your product, service, or proposal is for and your competitive advantage. Be sure to introduce your report concisely yet clearly . Note the most important points and its overall purpose––what do you hope to achieve with this report? 

Also, include any necessary background information and statistics about the industry, high-level information about your business model, necessary financial information, or other insights you discuss in the report. Depending on your proposal, you may want to consider summarizing a market analysis of your target market.

Typically, an executive summary follows a structured format, including sections such as:

  • Introduction: Provides a brief background and context for the document.
  • Objective or purpose: Clearly states the goal of the document and what it aims to achieve.
  • Methodology: Briefly describes the approach, data sources, and methods used to conduct the research or analysis.
  • Findings: Summarizes the main findings, conclusions, or results derived from the document.
  • Recommendations: Outlines the key recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings.
  • Conclusion: Provides a concise wrap-up of the main points and emphasizes the significance of the document.

presenting-to-board-meeting-executive-summary-example

How do you write an executive summary?

When tackling an executive summary, it's all about following a structured approach to ensure you effectively communicate those crucial points, findings, and recommendations. Let’s walk through some steps and best practices to make it a breeze:

Step 1: Get to know the document

Take the time to dive into the full document or report that your executive summary will be based on. Read it thoroughly and identify the main objectives, key findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Step 2: Know your audience

Think about who you're writing the executive summary for. Consider their knowledge level, interests, and priorities. This helps you tailor the summary to their needs and make it relevant and impactful.

Step 3: Outline the structure

Create an outline for your executive summary with sections like introduction, objective, methodology, findings, recommendations, and conclusion. This way, you'll have a logical flow that's easy to follow.

Step 4: Start strong

Kick off your executive summary with a captivating opening statement. Make it concise, engaging, and impactful to hook the reader and make them want to keep reading.

Step 5: Summarize objectives and methodology

Give a brief overview of the document's objectives and the methodology used to achieve them. This sets the context and helps the reader understand the approach taken.

Step 6: Highlight key findings

Summarize the main findings, conclusions, or results. Focus on the juiciest and most relevant points that support the document's purpose. Keep it clear and concise to get the message across effectively.

Step 7: Present key recommendations

Outline the important recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings. Clearly state what needs to be done, why it matters, and how it aligns with the document's objectives. Make those recommendations actionable and realistic.

Step 8: Keep it snappy

Remember, an executive summary should be short and sweet. Skip unnecessary details, jargon, or technical language . Use straightforward language that hits the mark.

Step 9: Review and polish

Once you've written the executive summary, give it a careful review for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Make sure it captures the essence of the full document and represents its content faithfully. Take the extra step to edit out any fluff or repetition.

Step 10: Dress to impress

Consider formatting and presentation. Use headings, bullet points, and formatting styles to make it visually appealing and easy to skim. If it makes sense, include some graphs, charts, or visuals to highlight key points.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

  • Adapt your language and tone to suit your audience.
  • Keep things concise and crystal clear—say no to jargon.
  • Focus on the most important info that packs a punch.
  • Give enough context without overwhelming your reader.
  • Use strong and persuasive language to make your recommendations shine.
  • Make sure your executive summary makes sense even if the full document isn't read.
  • Proofread like a pro to catch any pesky grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Executive summary template for business plans

Here's a general template for creating an executive summary specifically for business plans:

[Your Company Name]

[Business Plan Title]

Business overview

Provide a brief introduction to your company, including its name, location, industry, and mission statement . Describe your unique value proposition and what sets your business apart from competitors.

Market analysis

Summarize the key findings of your market research. Provide an overview of the target market, its size, growth potential, and relevant trends. Highlight your understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Product or service offering

Outline your core products or services, including their key features and benefits. Emphasize how your offerings address customer pain points and provide value. Highlight any unique selling points or competitive advantages.

Business model

Explain your business model and revenue generation strategy. Describe how you will generate revenue, the pricing structure, and any distribution channels or partnerships that contribute to your business's success.

Marketing and sales strategy

Summarize your marketing and sales approach. Highlight the key tactics and channels you will use to reach and attract customers. Discuss your promotional strategies, pricing strategies, and customer acquisition plans.

Management team

Introduce the key members of your management team and their relevant experience. Highlight their expertise and how it positions the team to execute the business plan successfully. Include any notable advisors or board members.

Financial projections

Summarize your financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expected expenses, and projected profitability. Highlight any key financial metrics or milestones. Briefly mention your funding needs, if applicable.

Funding requirements

If seeking funding, outline your funding requirements, including the amount needed, its purpose, and the potential sources of funding you are considering. Summarize the expected return on investment for potential investors.

Reiterate the vision and potential of your business. Summarize the key points of your business plan, emphasizing its viability, market potential, and the expertise of your team. Convey confidence in the success of your venture.

Note: Keep the executive summary concise and focused, typically within one to two pages. Use clear and compelling language, emphasizing the unique aspects of your business. Tailor the template to suit your specific business plan, adjusting sections and details accordingly.

Remember, the executive summary serves as an introduction to your business plan and should pique the reader's interest, conveying the value and potential of your business in a concise and persuasive manner.

Executive summary examples

Every executive summary will be unique to the organization's goals, vision, and brand identity. We put together two general examples of executive summaries to spark your creativity and offer some inspiration. 

These are not intended to be used as-is but more to offer ideas for how you may want to put your own executive summary together. Be sure to personalize your own summary with specific statistics and relevant data points to make the most impact.

Example 1: executive summary for a communications business plan

Introduction:

We're thrilled to present our innovative [insert product] that aims to revolutionize the way people connect and engage. Our vision is to empower individuals and businesses with seamless communication solutions that break barriers and foster meaningful connections.

Market opportunity:

The communications industry is evolving rapidly, and we've identified a significant opportunity in the market. With the proliferation of remote work, the need for reliable and efficient communication tools has skyrocketed. Our extensive market research indicates a demand for solutions that prioritize user experience, security, and flexibility.

Product offering:

At [Company Name], we've developed a suite of cutting-edge communication tools designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Our flagship product is a unified communication platform that integrates voice, video, messaging, and collaboration features into a seamless user experience. We also offer customizable solutions for businesses of all sizes, catering to their unique communication requirements.

Unique value proposition:

What sets us apart from the competition? Our user-centric approach and commitment to innovation. We prioritize user experience by creating intuitive interfaces and seamless interactions. Our solutions are scalable, adaptable, and designed to keep up with evolving technological trends. By combining ease of use with advanced features, we deliver unparalleled value to our customers.

Target market:

Our primary focus is on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that require efficient and cost-effective communication tools. We also cater to individuals, remote teams, and larger enterprises seeking reliable and secure communication solutions. Our target market encompasses industries such as technology, finance, healthcare, and professional services.

Business model:

To generate revenue, we employ a subscription-based business model. Customers can choose from different plans tailored to their specific needs, paying a monthly or annual fee. We also offer additional services such as customization, integration, and customer support, creating additional revenue streams and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Marketing and sales strategy:

Our marketing strategy centers around building brand awareness through targeted digital campaigns, content marketing, and strategic partnerships. We'll leverage social media, industry influencers, and online communities to reach our target audience. Additionally, our sales team will engage in proactive outreach, nurturing leads and providing personalized consultations to convert prospects into loyal customers.

Team and expertise:

Our team is composed of experienced professionals with a deep understanding of the communications industry. Led by our visionary founder and supported by a skilled and diverse team, we have the expertise to drive innovation, develop robust products, and deliver exceptional customer service. We're passionate about our mission and dedicated to making a lasting impact in the market.

Financial projections:

Based on extensive market research and financial analysis, we anticipate strong growth and profitability. Our financial projections indicate steady revenue streams, with increasing customer adoption and market share. We're committed to managing costs effectively, optimizing our resources, and continuously reinvesting in research and development.

Funding requirements:

To fuel our ambitious growth plans and accelerate product development, we're seeking [funding amount] in funding. These funds will be allocated towards expanding our team, scaling our infrastructure, marketing efforts, and ongoing product innovation. We believe this investment will position us for success and solidify our market presence.

Conclusion:

In summary, [Company Name] is poised to disrupt the communications industry with our innovative solutions and customer-centric approach. We're ready to make a positive impact by empowering individuals and businesses to communicate effectively and effortlessly. Join us on this exciting journey as we redefine the future of communication. Together, we'll shape a connected world like never before.

Example 2: executive summary for a project proposal

[Project Name]

[Project Proposal Date]

Hello! We're thrilled to present our project proposal for [Project Name]. This executive summary will provide you with a high-level overview of the project, its objectives, and the value it brings.

Project overview:

Our project aims to [describe the project's purpose and scope]. It's a response to [identify the problem or opportunity] and has the potential to bring significant benefits to [stakeholders or target audience]. Through meticulous planning and execution, we're confident in our ability to achieve the desired outcomes.

Objectives:

The primary goal of our project is to [state the overarching objective]. In addition, we have specific objectives such as [list specific objectives]. By accomplishing these goals, we'll create a positive impact and drive meaningful change.

Our proposed approach for this project is based on a thorough analysis of the situation and best practices. We'll adopt a structured methodology that includes [describe the key project phases or activities]. This approach ensures efficient utilization of resources and maximizes project outcomes.

The benefits of this project are truly exciting. Through its implementation, we anticipate [describe the anticipated benefits or outcomes]. These benefits include [list specific benefits], which will have a lasting and positive effect on [stakeholders or target audience].

Implementation timeline:

We've devised a comprehensive timeline to guide the project from initiation to completion. The project is divided into distinct phases, with well-defined milestones and deliverables. Our timeline ensures that tasks are executed in a timely manner, allowing us to stay on track and deliver results.

Resource requirements:

To successfully execute this project, we've identified the key resources needed. This includes [list the resources required, such as human resources, technology, equipment, and funding]. We're confident in our ability to secure the necessary resources and allocate them effectively to ensure project success.

A project of this nature requires a well-planned budget. Based on our analysis, we've estimated the required funding to be [state the budget amount]. This budget encompasses all project-related costs and aligns with the anticipated benefits and outcomes.

Our project proposal is an exciting opportunity to address [the problem or opportunity] and create tangible value for [stakeholders or target audience]. With a clear vision, defined objectives, and a robust implementation plan, we're ready to embark on this journey. Join us as we bring this project to life and make a lasting impact. 

person-holding-one-sheet-executive-summary-example

Is an executive summary the same as a project plan?

While both are important components of project management and documentation , they serve different purposes and contain distinct information.

An executive summary, as discussed earlier, is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It provides a snapshot of the key points, findings, and recommendations. It focuses on high-level information and aims to provide an overview of the document's purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations.

On the other hand, a project plan is a detailed document that outlines the specific activities, tasks, timelines, resources, and milestones associated with a project. It serves as a roadmap for project execution, providing a comprehensive understanding of how the project will be carried out.

A project plan typically includes objectives, scope, deliverables, schedule, budget, resource allocation, risk management, and communication strategies. It is intended for project team members, stakeholders, and those directly involved in the execution.

In summary, an executive summary offers a condensed overview of a document's key points, while a project plan provides a comprehensive and detailed roadmap for executing a project.

Executive summaries vs. abstracts

An executive summary is not the same as an abstract. Executive summaries focus on the main points of a proposal. They highlight when and why a reader should invest in the company or project.

An abstract, on the other hand, concentrates on what the business does and its marketing plan. It typically doesn’t include detailed information about finances.

While it is usually compelling, it’s less of an elevator pitch and more of a summary. The goal of an abstract is to inform, not to persuade. On the other hand, the goal of an executive summary is to give readers who are pressed for time just enough information that they’ll want to look further into your proposition.

When do you use an executive summary?

An executive summary is used in various situations where there is a need to present a condensed overview of a longer document or report. Here are some common instances when an executive summary is used:

  • Business proposals: When submitting a business proposal to potential investors, partners, or stakeholders, an executive summary is often included. It provides a concise overview of the proposal, highlighting the key aspects such as the business idea, market analysis, competitive advantage, financial projections, and recommended actions.
  • Reports and research studies: Lengthy reports or research studies often include an executive summary at the beginning. This allows decision-makers, executives, or other stakeholders to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations of the report without going through the entire document.
  • Project updates: During the course of a project, project managers may prepare executive summaries to provide updates to stakeholders or higher-level management. These summaries give a brief overview of the project's progress, achievements, challenges, and upcoming milestones.
  • Strategic plans: When developing strategic plans for an organization, an executive summary is often included to provide an overview of the plan's goals, objectives, strategies, and key initiatives. It allows executives and stakeholders to grasp the essence of the strategic plan and its implications without reading the entire document.
  • Funding requests: When seeking funding for a project or venture, an executive summary is commonly used as part of the funding proposal. It provides a succinct summary of the project, highlighting its significance, potential impact, financial requirements, and expected outcomes.

In general, an executive summary is used whenever there is a need to communicate the main points, findings, and recommendations of a document concisely and efficiently to individuals who may not have the time or inclination to read the entire content. It serves as a valuable tool for understanding and facilitates quick decision-making.

5 ways project managers can use executive summaries

Project managers can use executive summaries in various ways to effectively communicate project updates, status reports, or proposals to stakeholders and higher-level management. Here are some ways project managers can use executive summaries:

  • Project status updates: Project managers can provide regular executive summaries to stakeholders and management to communicate the current status of the project. The summary should include key achievements, milestones reached, challenges encountered, and any adjustments to the project plan. It allows stakeholders to quickly grasp the project's progress and make informed decisions or provide guidance as needed.
  • Project proposals: When pitching a project idea or seeking approval for a new project, project managers can prepare an executive summary to present the essential aspects of the project. The summary should outline the project's objectives, scope, anticipated benefits, resource requirements, estimated timeline, and potential risks. It helps decision-makers understand the project's value and make an informed choice about its initiation.
  • Project closure reports: At the end of a project, project managers can prepare an executive summary as part of the project closure report. The summary should highlight the project's overall success, key deliverables achieved, lessons learned, and recommendations for future projects. It provides a concise overview of the project's outcomes and acts as a valuable reference for future initiatives.
  • Steering committee meetings: When project managers present updates or seek guidance from a steering committee or governance board, an executive summary can be an effective tool. The summary should cover the important aspects of the project, such as progress, issues, risks, and upcoming milestones. It ensures that decision-makers are well-informed about the project's status and can provide relevant guidance or support.
  • Change requests: When submitting a change request for a project, project managers can include an executive summary to summarize the proposed change, its impact on the project, potential risks, and benefits. It helps stakeholders and decision-makers quickly assess the change request and make informed decisions about its implementation.

Using executive summaries, project managers can efficiently communicate project-related information to stakeholders, executives, and decision-makers. The summaries provide a concise overview of the project's status, proposals, or closure reports, allowing stakeholders to quickly understand the key points and take appropriate action.

When should you not use an executive summary?

While executive summaries are widely used in many situations, there are some cases where they may not be necessary or suitable. Here are a few scenarios where an executive summary may not be appropriate, along with alternative approaches:

  • Highly technical documents: If the document contains highly technical or specialized information that requires a detailed understanding, an executive summary alone may not be sufficient. In such cases, it is better to provide the complete document and supplement it with explanatory materials, presentations , or meetings where experts can explain and discuss the technical details.
  • Personal or creative writing: Executive summaries are typically used for informational or analytical documents. If the content is more personal in nature, such as a memoir, novel, or creative piece, an executive summary may not be relevant. Instead, focus on providing an engaging introduction or book blurb that entices readers and conveys the essence of the work.
  • Short documents: If the document itself is already concise and can be easily read in its entirety, an executive summary may be redundant. In these cases, it is more effective to present the complete document without an additional summary.
  • Interactive presentations: In situations where you can present information interactively, such as in meetings, workshops, or conferences, it may be more effective to engage the audience directly rather than relying solely on an executive summary. Use visual aids, demonstrations, discussions, and Q&A sessions to convey the necessary information and capture the audience's attention.

Final thoughts on writing a compelling executive summary

An executive summary isn’t the kitchen sink — it’s the bells and whistles. Geared toward busy decision-makers, these one-pagers communicate your case for action and proposed solutions. When it’s written well, your audience will walk away with an understanding of what needs to be done, why it needs to happen, and why they should help it move forward. 

But writing it well doesn’t just mean spell-checking. It means tailoring your communication to an influential, yet busy and distracted audience. To be effective, you’ll need to write your proposal with empathy and an understanding of what matters to them .

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How to Write an Executive Summary

Folder with a light bulb emerging from it. Represents summarizing your business as an executive summary from a larger document.

9 min. read

Updated December 13, 2023

Download Now: Free Executive Summary Template →

An executive summary isn’t just the beginning of your business plan – it’s your opening act, your first chance to impress potential investors, banks, clients and other stakeholders.

An effective executive summary gives decision-makers critical information about your business instantly.

Creating an executive summary is more than just a writing exercise. It requires careful crafting and strategic thinking, as well as an ability to balance the needs to be both succinct and comprehensive.

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  • What is an executive summary?

The executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It introduces your business, the problem you solve, and what you’re asking from your readers. Anyone should be able to understand your business by simply reading this section of your plan.

While structurally it is the first chapter of your plan—you should write it last. Once you know the details of your business inside and out, you will be better prepared to write this section.

  • Why write an executive summary?

The business plan executive summary provides quick access to critical information from your more detailed business plan.

It is essential for informing anyone outside of your business. Many people—including investors and bankers—will only read your summary. Others will use it to decide if they should read the rest. For you, it is a snapshot of your business to reference when planning or revising your strategy.

Now if you’re writing a business plan solely for internal use you may not need an executive summary. However, some internal plans may necessitate writing an executive summary for assignment—such as for an annual operations plan or a strategic plan .

It takes some effort to do a good summary, so if you don’t have a business use in mind, don’t do it.

  • How long should it be?

Business plan executive summaries should be as short as possible. Your audience has limited time and attention and they want to quickly get the details of your business plan.

Try to keep your executive summary under two pages if possible, although it can be longer if absolutely necessary. If you have a one-page business plan, you can even use that as your executive summary.

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  • Executive summary outline

Two pages isn’t a ton of space to capture the full scope of your vision for the business. That means every sentence of your executive summary counts.

You will want to immediately capture the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction. Without getting too lengthy, present who you are as an organization, the problem you are seeking to solve, your skills, and why you are the best entity to solve the problem you’ve outlined.

It’s crucial to establish the need or problem your business is solving in a clear manner, in order to convince your audience that it must be addressed. Following that, recommend the solution and show its value. Be clear and firm in your recommendation, making sure to justify your cause and highlighting key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. Finally, a strong conclusion is needed to reiterate the main points and wrap up the executive summary.

What to include in your executive summary

1. business overview.

A one-sentence description that explains what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.

Summarize the problem you’re solving in the market and reference any data that solidifies that there is a need.

3. Solution

Describe your product or service and how it addresses the problem you identified.

4. Target market

Who is your ideal customer? Describe who they are, how they’ll benefit, and why they’re an attainable customer base.

5. Competition

Who are your competitors? List out any primary competition as well as alternatives that your customers may consider. Include key details about their current offerings, promotions, and business strategy.

6. Your team

In your executive summary, outline your organizational structure and current team. List out brief explanations of who you and your team are, your qualifications, and what your function will be within the business. It may be valuable to also highlight any gaps in your team and how you intend to fill them. If you have potential partners or candidates in mind, briefly mention them and expand on their qualifications within your full business plan.

7. Financial summary

Highlight key aspects of your financial plan that address sales, expenses, and profitability. Try to keep these in chart or graph form to ensure the information is easy to consume and resonates visually.

8. Funding requirements

This section is only necessary if you’re seeking out funding or pitching to investors. Be sure to throw out your financing number and reasoning upfront, rather than hiding it later on in your plan. It helps investors understand your position, what you’re asking for, and how you’ll use it.

9. Milestones and traction

Add initial sales, pre-sales, newsletter sign-ups, or anything else that showcases customer interest. Outline what steps you’ve already taken to launch your business, the milestones you’ve hit, and your goals and milestones for the next month, six months, year, etc.

Executive summary vs introduction

A common mistake some people make when starting an executive summary outline is thinking it performs the same function as the introduction to their business plan. In fact, the two serve different purposes and contain different types of information, even though they are both essential.

As we’ve discussed, the executive summary is a high-level overview of the entire business plan. The introduction, by contrast, dives deeper into your business, providing information about the nature of your business, the history of your company, your mission statement, products or services, and the specific problem that your business solves.

The introduction is more detailed, and usually comes right after the executive summary.

On the other hand, the introduction gives investors or lenders – anyone reading your business plan – a sense of why they should continue reading. Think of it more as the space to tell stakeholders why you are speaking to them. An executive summary can also serve this purpose, but the introduction is meant to speak more directly to your target audience, while an executive summary could give a larger audience a general overview of your business.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

Here are a few best practices to make writing your executive summary easier, and ultimately more effective. 

1. Think of an executive summary as your pitch

The executive summary is like an elevator pitch. You’re selling someone on reading your full plan while quickly summarizing the key points. Readers will expect it to cover certain areas of your business—such as the product, market, and financial highlights, at the very least.

While you need to include what’s necessary, you should also highlight areas that you believe will spark the reader’s interest. Remember, you’re telling the brief but convincing story of your business with this summary. Just be sure that you’re able to back it up with the right details with the rest of your business plan. 

2. Write it last

Even though the executive summary is at the beginning of a finished business plan, many experienced entrepreneurs choose to write it after everything else. In theory, this makes it easier to write since all of the information is already written out and just needs to be condensed into a shorter format. 

Now, if you’ve started with a one-page plan, this process is even easier. Just use your one-page plan as a starting point and add additional details to any sections that need it. You may even find that no changes are necessary.  

3. Keep it short

Ideally, the executive summary is short—usually just a page or two, five at the outside—and highlights the points you’ve made elsewhere in your business plan. Whatever length you land on, just focus on being brief and concise. Keep it as short as you can without missing the essentials. 

4. Keep it simple

Form follows function, so don’t overcomplicate or over-explain things. The best executive summaries are a mixture of short text, broken up with bullets and subheadings, and illustrations, such as a bar chart showing financial highlights. 

Run through a legibility test after writing your summary. Is it easy to skim through? Are the right pieces of information jumping out? If the answer to either of those questions is no, then work back through and try breaking up information or adjusting the formatting.

5. Create an executive summary outline based on importance and strengths

Organize your executive summary outline so that the most important information appears first. While there are specific components to include, there is no set order of appearance. So, use the order to show emphasis.

Lead with what you want to get the most attention, and add the rest by order of importance. For example, you may start with the problem because that can add drama and urgency that tees up the solution you provide.

Additional resources to write a great executive summary

Need more information and guidance to craft a convincing executive summary? Check out these in-depth resources and templates.

Key mistakes to avoid when writing an executive summary

Here are the critical mistakes you should avoid when writing your executive summary.

How to write your executive summary for specific audiences

The executive summary should tell your audience exactly what your business is, what it does, and why it’s worth their time. Here’s how you can take it a step further and fine-tune it for specific people.

How to develop a mission statement

Learn to put a heart behind the business and create an easy-to-understand narrative by writing a mission statement.

Executive Summary FAQ

What is in an executive summary?

The executive summary of a business plan is a brief introduction and summary of your business strategy, operations, and goals.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

An executive summary is typically written to convince someone to read your more detailed plan. For investors, it may be the only thing they look at when deciding if they’d like to hear your pitch. Loan officers may review it to determine if your business seems financially sound. And partners, mentors, or anyone else may use it to determine if they want to be involved with your business.

How do you start an executive summary?

While there is no required order for an executive summary, it’s often recommended that you lead with the problem you’re solving or the purpose of your business. This will help frame your intent for the reader, and ideally make them more interested in learning more.

How do you write a good executive summary?

A good executive summary is brief, convincing, and easy to read. Focus on keeping things short and concise, only including necessary information. Be sure to lead and highlight anything that is especially interesting or important about your business. And after writing, spend some time reviewing and reformatting to make your summary as attractive to read as possible.

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

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Table of Contents

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  • Writing tips
  • Additional resources

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How to Write an Executive Summary in 6 Steps

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When you’re starting a business, one of the first things you need to do is write a business plan. Your business plan is like a roadmap for your business, so you can lay out your goals and a concrete plan for how you’ll reach them.

Not only is a business plan essential for any business owner, but it’s also a requirement if you decide to apply for small business funding or find investors. After all, before a bank or individual hands over any money, they’ll want to be sure your company is on solid ground (so they can get their money back).

A business plan consists of several pieces, from an executive summary and market analysis to a financial plan and projections. The executive summary will be the first part of your business plan.

If wondering how to write an executive summary has kept you from completing your business plan, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain what an executive summary is and provide tips for writing your own so your business plan can start strong.

development business plan executive summary

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a short, informative, and easy-to-read opening statement to your business plan. Even though it’s just one to two pages, the executive summary is incredibly important.

An executive summary tells the story of what your business does, why an investor might be interested in giving funds to your business, why their investment will be well-spent, and why you do what you do. An executive summary should be informative, but it should also capture a busy reader’s attention.

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Why write an executive summary?

Anyone you’re sending your executive summary and business plan to is likely busy—very busy. An entire business plan is long, involved, and deals with a lot of numbers.

Someone busy wants to get an understanding of your business, and they want to do it quickly, which is to say not by diving into a complicated, 80-page business plan. That’s where your executive summary comes in.

An executive summary provides just the opportunity to hook someone’s interest, tell them about your business, and offer a clear selling point as to why they should consider investing in your business.

Your executive summary is your chance to sell your business to potential investors and show them your business is worth not only their money but also their time.

What to include in an executive summary

By its nature, an executive summary is short. You must be able to clearly communicate the idea of your business, what sets you apart, and how you plan to grow into a successful enterprise.

The subsequent sections of your business plan will go into more detail, but your executive summary should include the most critical pieces of your business plan—enough to stand on its own, as it’s often the only thing a prospective investor will read. Here’s what your executive summary should include—consider it an executive summary template from which you can model your own.

1. The hook

The first sentence and paragraph of your executive summary determine whether or not the entire executive summary gets read. That’s why the hook or introduction is so important.

In general, a hook is considered anything that will get a reader’s attention. While an executive summary is a formal business document, you do want your hook to make you stand out from the crowd—without wasting time.

Your hook can be sharing something creative about your company, an interesting fact, or just a very well-crafted description of your business. It’s crucial to craft your hook with the personality of your reader in mind. Give them something that will make your company stand out and be memorable among a sea of other business plans.

Grab their attention in the first paragraph, and you’re much more likely to get your executive summary read, which could lead to an investment.

2. Company description summary

Now that you’ve hooked your reader, it’s time to get into some general information about your business. If an investor is going to give you money, after all, they first need to understand what your company does or what product you sell and who is managing the company.

Your company description should include information about your business, such as when it was formed and where you’re located; your products or services; the founders or executive team, including names and specific roles; and any additional details about the management team or style.

3. Market analysis

Your market analysis in the executive summary is a brief description of what the market for your business looks like. You want to show that you have done your research and proven that there is a need for your specific product or services. Some questions you should answer:

Who are your competitors?

Is there a demand for your products or services?

What advantages do you have that make your business unique in comparison to others?

To reiterate, stick to the highlights of your market analysis in your executive summary. You’ll provide a complete analysis in a separate section of your business plan, but you should be able to communicate enough in the executive summary that a potential investor can gauge whether your business has potential.

4. Products and services

Now that you’ve established a need in the market, it’s time to show just how your business will fill it. This section of your executive summary is all about highlighting the product or service that your company offers. Talk about your current sales, the growth you’ve seen so far, and any other highlights that are a selling point for your company.

This is also a good time to identify what sets your business apart and gives you a competitive advantage. After all, it’s unlikely that your business is the first of its kind. Highlight what you do better than the competition and why potential customers will choose your product or service over the other options on the market.

5. Financial information and projections

In this section of your executive summary, you want to give the reader an overview of your current business financials. Again, you’ll go more in-depth into this section later in your business plan, so just provide some highlights. Include your current sales and profits (if you have any), as well as what funding you’re hoping to acquire and how this will affect your financials in the next few years.

This is also where you can explain what funding, if any, you’ve received in the past. If you paid back your loan on time, this is an especially bright selling point for potential lenders.

6. Future plans

While asking for what funding you need is essential, you’ve also got to make clear what you’re going to use that funding for. If you’re asking for money, you want the person to know you have a plan to put those funds to good use.

Are you hoping to open another location, expand your product line, invest in your marketing efforts? This final section of your executive summary should detail where you want your business to go in the future, as well as drive home how funding can help you get there.

Tips for writing an executive summary

Even if you include each part of a good executive summary, you might not get noticed. What is written can be just as important as how it’s written. An executive summary has to strike a delicate balance between formal, personable, confident, and humble.

1. Be concise

An executive summary should include everything that’s in your business plan, just in a much shorter format. Writing a concise executive summary is no easy task and will require many revisions to get to the final draft. And while this is the first section of your executive summary, you’ll want to write it last, after you’ve put together all the other elements.

To choose your most important points and what should be included in the executive summary, go through your business plan, and pull out single-line bullet points. Go back through those bullet points and eliminate everything unnecessary to understanding your business.

Once you have your list of bullet points narrowed down, you can start writing your executive summary. Once it’s written, go back in and remove any unnecessary information. Remember, you should only be including the highlights—you have the rest of your business plan to go into more detail. The shorter and clearer your executive summary is, the more likely someone is to read it.

2. Use bullet points

One simple way to make your executive summary more readable is to use bullet points. If someone is reading quickly or skimming your executive summary, extra whitespace can make the content faster and easier to read.

Short paragraphs, short sentences, and bullet points all make an executive summary easier to skim—which is likely what the reader is doing. If important numbers and convincing stats jump out at the reader, they’re more likely to keep reading.

3. Speak to your audience

When writing your executive summary, be sure to think about who will be reading it; that’s who you’re speaking to. If you can personalize your executive summary to the personality and interests of the person who will read it, you’re more likely to capture their attention.

Personalizing might come in the form of a name in the salutation, sharing details in a specific way you know that person likes and the tone of your writing. An executive summary deals with business, so it will generally have a formal tone. But, different industries may be comfortable with some creativity of language or using shorthand to refer to certain ideas.

Know who you’re speaking to and use the right tone to speak to them. That might be formal and deferential, expert and clipped, informal and personable, or any other appropriate tone. This may also involve writing different versions of your executive summary for different audiences.

4. Play to your strengths

One of the best ways to catch the attention of your reader is to share why your business is unique. What makes your business unique is also what makes your business strong, which can capture a reader’s interest and show them why your business is worth investing in. Be sure to highlight these strengths from the start of your executive summary.

5. Get a test reader

Once you’ve written and edited your executive summary, you need a test reader. While someone in your industry or another business owner can be a great resource, you should also consider finding a test reader with limited knowledge of your business and industry. Your executive summary should be so clear that anyone can understand it, so having a variety of test readers can help identify any confusing language.

If you don’t have access to a test reader, consider using tools such as Hemingway App and Grammarly to ensure you’ve written something that’s easy to read and uses proper grammar.

How long should an executive summary be?

There’s no firm rule on how long an executive summary should be, as it depends on the length of your business plan and the depth of understanding needed by the reader to fully grasp your ask.

That being said, it should be as short and concise as you can get it. In general, an executive summary should be one to two pages in length.

You can fudge the length slightly by adjusting the margin and font size, but don’t forget readability is just as important as length. You want to leave plenty of white space and have a large enough font that the reader is comfortable while reading your executive summary. If your executive summary is hard to read, it’s less likely your reader will take the time to read your business plan.

What to avoid in an executive summary

While the rules for writing a stellar executive summary can be fuzzy, there are a few clear rules for what to avoid in your executive summary.

Your executive summary should avoid:

Focusing on investment. Instead, focus on getting the reader to be interested enough to continue and read your business plan or at least schedule a meeting with you.

Clichés, superlatives, and claims that aren’t backed up by fact. Your executive summary isn’t marketing material. It should be straightforward and clear.

Avoiding the executive summary no-nos is just as important as striking the right tone and getting in the necessary information for your reader.

The bottom line

While an executive summary is short, it’s challenging to write. Your executive summary condenses your entire introduction, business description, business plan, market analysis, financial projections, and ask into one to two pages. Condensing information down to its most essential form takes time and many drafts. When you’re putting together your business plan’s executive summary, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write it and to seek the help of friends or colleagues for editing it to perfection.

However, some tools make crafting a business plan, including your executive summary, a simpler process. A business plan template is a great place to start, and business plan software can especially help with the design of your business plan. After all, a well-written executive summary can make all the difference in obtaining funding for your business, so you’ll want all the help you can get.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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development business plan executive summary

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  • How to write an executive summary, with ...

How to write an executive summary, with examples

Julia Martins contributor headshot

The best way to do that is with an executive summary. If you’ve never written an executive summary, this article has all you need to know to plan, write, and share them with your team.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is an overview of a document. The length and scope of your executive summary will differ depending on the document it’s summarizing, but in general an executive summary can be anywhere from one to two pages long. In the document, you’ll want to share all of the information your readers and important stakeholders need to know.

Imagine it this way: if your high-level stakeholders were to only read your executive summary, would they have all of the information they need to succeed? If so, your summary has done its job.

You’ll often find executive summaries of:

Business cases

Project proposals

Research documents

Environmental studies

Market surveys

In general, there are four parts to any executive summary:

Start with the problem or need the document is solving.

Outline the recommended solution.

Explain the solution’s value.

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.

What is an executive summary in project management?

In project management, an executive summary is a way to bring clarity to cross-functional collaborators, team leadership, and project stakeholders . Think of it like a project’s “ elevator pitch ” for team members who don’t have the time or the need to dive into all of the project’s details.

The main difference between an executive summary in project management and a more traditional executive summary in a business plan is that the former should be created at the beginning of your project—whereas the latter should be created after you’ve written your business plan. For example, to write an executive summary of an environmental study, you would compile a report on the results and findings once your study was over. But for an executive summary in project management, you want to cover what the project is aiming to achieve and why those goals matter.

The same four parts apply to an executive summary in project management:

Start with the problem or need the project is solving.  Why is this project happening? What insight, customer feedback, product plan, or other need caused it to come to life?

Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives.  How is the project going to solve the problem you established in the first part? What are the project goals and objectives?

Explain the solution’s value.  Once you’ve finished your project, what will happen? How will this improve and solve the problem you established in the first part?

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.  This is another opportunity to reiterate why the problem is important, and why the project matters. It can also be helpful to reference your audience and how your solution will solve their problem. Finally, include any relevant next steps.

If you’ve never written an executive summary before, you might be curious about where it fits into other project management elements. Here’s how executive summaries stack up:

Executive summary vs. project plan

A  project plan  is a blueprint of the key elements your project will accomplish in order to hit your project goals and objectives. Project plans will include your goals, success metrics, stakeholders and roles, budget, milestones and deliverables, timeline and schedule, and communication plan .

An executive summary is a summary of the most important information in your project plan. Think of the absolutely crucial things your management team needs to know when they land in your project, before they even have a chance to look at the project plan—that’s your executive summary.

Executive summary vs. project overview

Project overviews and executive summaries often have similar elements—they both contain a summary of important project information. However, your project overview should be directly attached to your project. There should be a direct line of sight between your project and your project overview.

While you can include your executive summary in your project depending on what type of  project management tool  you use, it may also be a stand-alone document.

Executive summary vs. project objectives

Your executive summary should contain and expand upon your  project objectives  in the second part ( Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives ). In addition to including your project objectives, your executive summary should also include why achieving your project objectives will add value, as well as provide details about how you’re going to get there.

The benefits of an executive summary

You may be asking: why should I write an executive summary for my project? Isn’t the project plan enough?

Well, like we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or need to dive into your project and see, from a glance, what the goals are and why they matter.  Work management tools  like Asana help you capture a lot of crucial information about a project, so you and your team have clarity on who’s doing what by when. Your executive summary is designed less for team members who are actively working on the project and more for stakeholders outside of the project who want quick insight and answers about why your project matters.

An effective executive summary gives stakeholders a big-picture view of the entire project and its important points—without requiring them to dive into all the details. Then, if they want more information, they can access the project plan or navigate through tasks in your work management tool.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

Every executive summary has four parts. In order to write a great executive summary, follow this template. Then once you’ve written your executive summary, read it again to make sure it includes all of the key information your stakeholders need to know.

1. Start with the problem or need the project is solving

At the beginning of your executive summary, start by explaining why this document (and the project it represents) matter. Take some time to outline what the problem is, including any research or customer feedback you’ve gotten . Clarify how this problem is important and relevant to your customers, and why solving it matters.

For example, let’s imagine you work for a watch manufacturing company. Your project is to devise a simpler, cheaper watch that still appeals to luxury buyers while also targeting a new bracket of customers.

Example executive summary:

In recent customer feedback sessions, 52% of customers have expressed a need for a simpler and cheaper version of our product. In surveys of customers who have chosen competitor watches, price is mentioned 87% of the time. To best serve our existing customers, and to branch into new markets, we need to develop a series of watches that we can sell at an appropriate price point for this market.

2. Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives

Now that you’ve outlined the problem, explain what your solution is. Unlike an abstract or outline, you should be  prescriptive  in your solution—that is to say, you should work to convince your readers that your solution is the right one. This is less of a brainstorming section and more of a place to support your recommended solution.

Because you’re creating your executive summary at the beginning of your project, it’s ok if you don’t have all of your deliverables and milestones mapped out. But this is your chance to describe, in broad strokes, what will happen during the project. If you need help formulating a high-level overview of your project’s main deliverables and timeline, consider creating a  project roadmap  before diving into your executive summary.

Continuing our example executive summary:

Our new watch series will begin at 20% cheaper than our current cheapest option, with the potential for 40%+ cheaper options depending on material and movement. In order to offer these prices, we will do the following:

Offer watches in new materials, including potentially silicone or wood

Use high-quality quartz movement instead of in-house automatic movement

Introduce customizable band options, with a focus on choice and flexibility over traditional luxury

Note that every watch will still be rigorously quality controlled in order to maintain the same world-class speed and precision of our current offerings.

3. Explain the solution’s value

At this point, you begin to get into more details about how your solution will impact and improve upon the problem you outlined in the beginning. What, if any, results do you expect? This is the section to include any relevant financial information, project risks, or potential benefits. You should also relate this project back to your company goals or  OKRs . How does this work map to your company objectives?

With new offerings that are between 20% and 40% cheaper than our current cheapest option, we expect to be able to break into the casual watch market, while still supporting our luxury brand. That will help us hit FY22’s Objective 3: Expanding the brand. These new offerings have the potential to bring in upwards of three million dollars in profits annually, which will help us hit FY22’s Objective 1: 7 million dollars in annual profit.

Early customer feedback sessions indicate that cheaper options will not impact the value or prestige of the luxury brand, though this is a risk that should be factored in during design. In order to mitigate that risk, the product marketing team will begin working on their go-to-market strategy six months before the launch.

4. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work

Now that you’ve shared all of this important information with executive stakeholders, this final section is your chance to guide their understanding of the impact and importance of this work on the organization. What, if anything, should they take away from your executive summary?

To round out our example executive summary:

Cheaper and varied offerings not only allow us to break into a new market—it will also expand our brand in a positive way. With the attention from these new offerings, plus the anticipated demand for cheaper watches, we expect to increase market share by 2% annually. For more information, read our  go-to-market strategy  and  customer feedback documentation .

Example of an executive summary

When you put it all together, this is what your executive summary might look like:

[Product UI] Example executive summary in Asana (Project Overview)

Common mistakes people make when writing executive summaries

You’re not going to become an executive summary-writing pro overnight, and that’s ok. As you get started, use the four-part template provided in this article as a guide. Then, as you continue to hone your executive summary writing skills, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid using jargon

Your executive summary is a document that anyone, from project contributors to executive stakeholders, should be able to read and understand. Remember that you’re much closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders will be, so read your executive summary once over to make sure there’s no unnecessary jargon. Where you can, explain the jargon, or skip it all together.

Remember: this isn’t a full report

Your executive summary is just that—a summary. If you find yourself getting into the details of specific tasks, due dates, and attachments, try taking a step back and asking yourself if that information really belongs in your executive summary. Some details are important—you want your summary to be actionable and engaging. But keep in mind that the wealth of information in your project will be captured in your  work management tool , not your executive summary.

Make sure the summary can stand alone

You know this project inside and out, but your stakeholders won’t. Once you’ve written your executive summary, take a second look to make sure the summary can stand on its own. Is there any context your stakeholders need in order to understand the summary? If so, weave it into your executive summary, or consider linking out to it as additional information.

Always proofread

Your executive summary is a living document, and if you miss a typo you can always go back in and fix it. But it never hurts to proofread or send to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

In summary: an executive summary is a must-have

Executive summaries are a great way to get everyone up to date and on the same page about your project. If you have a lot of project stakeholders who need quick insight into what the project is solving and why it matters, an executive summary is the perfect way to give them the information they need.

For more tips about how to connect high-level strategy and plans to daily execution, read our article about strategic planning .

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  • Writing Tips

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

3-minute read

  • 19th November 2023

An executive summary is the part of a business plan that gives an outline of the main plan. So to write an executive summary, we first need to read the business plan carefully and understand its key points. These key points are what we will condense to form the executive summary. It’s important to ensure that the executive summary can stand alone because plenty of users will read only that and not the main business plan. We could say that the business plan is the original TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)!

But first, let’s take a quick look at what goes into a business plan so we can focus on the sections we need for our executive summary.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that sets out a business’s strategy and the means of achieving it. The business plan usually contains the following sections:

How to Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary covers the same headings as the main business plan but not in so much detail. This is where our editing skills come to the fore!

The following six steps explain how to approach writing the executive summary.

Consider the Audience

Who will be using the summary? The business plan might be issued only to a very specific group of people, in which case, their needs are paramount and specialized. If the business plan is going out on wider release, we need to think about what a general reader will want to know.

Check That It Makes Sense on Its Own

Make sure the summary can be read as a stand-alone document for users who won’t read the whole plan.

Use Formatting Effectively

Make good use of formatting, headings, numbering, and bullets to increase clarity and readability.

Keep It Brief

One page (or around ten percent of the total word count for a large document) is great.

Avoid Jargon

Try to avoid jargon and use straightforward language. Readers of the executive summary might not have business backgrounds (for instance, if they are friend and family investors in a small start-up business).

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Proofread the Executive Summary

The executive summary will very likely be the first – and perhaps the only – part of the business plan some people will read, and it must be error-free to make a professional impression.

●  Consider the audience .

●  Ensure that the executive summary can stand alone.

●  Use formatting tools to good advantage.

●  Keep it brief.

●  Keep it simple.

●  Proofread it.

If you’d like an expert to proofread your business plan – or any of your writing – get in touch!

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How to Write an Executive Summary Execs Can't Ignore [+ 5 Top Examples]

Ramona Sukhraj

Published: May 30, 2024

Early in my career, I was intimidated by executive summaries. They sounded so corporate and formal. But, proper name aside, they’re really just the elevator pitch or the TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) of a document.

Executive summary with examples

Writing an executive summary is an important leadership skill, whether you're an entrepreneur creating a business plan or a CEO delivering a quarterly report.

Download Now: Free Executive Summary Template

So, let’s sharpen that skill.

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a brief overview of a longer professional document, like a business plan, proposal, or report. It's commonly at the beginning of a document and aims to grab a reader’s attention while summarizing critical information such as the problem or opportunity being addressed, objectives, key findings, goals, and recommendations.

Ultimately, an executive summary gives readers a concise overview of the most important information in a document, so they don't have to read the entire thing.

Think of it like the SparkNotes of the business world.

Documents that frequently have an executive summary include:

  • Business plans
  • Research reports
  • Project proposals
  • Annual reports

How does it differ from other business statements? Let’s compare.

development business plan executive summary

Free Executive Summary Template

Use this executive summary template to provide a summary of your report, business plan, or memo.

  • Company & Opportunity
  • Industry & Market Analysis
  • Management & Operations
  • Financial Plan

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Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Executive Summary vs. Business Plan

All business plans have an executive summary, but not all executive summaries belong to business plans.

A business plan includes a company overview, short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and even team information

Business plans are very detailed and comprehensive. They can be as short as a dozen pages or as long as 100 pages. The executive summary is the first section of the business plan.

An in-demand CEO or investor might not have the bandwidth to read your full business plan without first understanding your company or goals. That’s where an executive summary comes in handy.

Note: Need help putting together your business plan? We’ve got a template for you.

Executive Summary vs. Mission Statement

Mission statements and executive summaries are typically found in business plans, but they serve different purposes.

A mission statement defines your organization’s purpose, values, and vision. It’s your company’s North Star and communicates your core identity and reason for existence. On the other hand, an executive summary provides a high-level overview of the document.

HubSpot features its mission statement on its “about” page.

I also love how we define key terms to help readers understand the rest of the report. This is an excellent example of setting the tone for the rest of your document in an executive summary and making it easier to navigate.

3. ClickUp: Product Update Release Notes

Now, I know this article is about writing an executive summary, but I love ClickUp’s unique approach with its product release notes videos.

ClickUp sets a great example for writing an executive summary

This digital report from research firm McKinsey Global Institute features an executive summary titled “At a Glance.”

mckinsey summarizes its key points using an "at a glance" section

Here, the organization recaps the key findings from its 56-page research report in six easy-to-skim bullet points.

It’s compelling, easy to digest, and makes it easy to jump into the full report with download links.

5. UN: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2024

Finally, we have a fairly traditional approach to an executive summary from the United Nations (UN) , clocking in at 16 pages.

Now, I know. Sixteen pages seems lengthy, but the full report is just shy of 200 pages.

The executive summary highlights the report’s largest conclusions with headers. Then, it expands on those headers with relevant statistics. It also uses bold font to draw attention to the countries or regions affected (something the reader will likely be most interested in).

The tone and visual design are both formal, which matches the esteem of the United Nations. Overall, this executive summary does an admirable job of making the report's information more approachable.

Make your executive summary memorable.

Make sure your executive summary is strong. Tell your story. Include compelling data and facts. Use easy-to-understand and digest language. If you can, get visual.

An executive summary should be concise, but also memorable. After all, this may be the only part of your proposal, report, or analysis that actually gets read.

Use the guidance above to ensure your executive summary resonates with your audience and opens the door to the opportunities you crave.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How To Write an Effective Executive Summary to Yield Results

By Kate Eby | April 3, 2018

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In this article, you'll learn how to craft an organized, well written executive summary the next time you have to gain the attention of a time-strapped audience.

Included on this page, you’ll find information on how to write an executive summary that wins the proposal, how to format your executive summary , an executive summary checklist , and more. 

What Is the Purpose of the Executive Summary?

An executive summary should be clear and concise (typically one to two pages long) and present the main points in a formal tone. The purpose of an executive summary is to pique the reader’s curiosity by presenting facts from the larger piece of content it is summarizing.

The executive summary can be either a portion of a business document (a business plan, project proposal, or report) or long articles and documents common in research-driven communities and academia. When crafted correctly, the executive summary provides an overview of the information and objectives in the larger document. The executive summary stands alone from the content it summarizes, and should include the essential information, the recommendations, the findings, and the conclusion of the more extensive document.

The Benefits of a Well Written Executive Summary

A well planned, well written executive summary is a valuable tool because it prioritizes the reader’s time and reduces the effort required to learn the critical aspects of the content. The summary can convey the purpose of your business plan, project proposal, product launch presentation, or sales pitch to keep the reader engaged and reading further, or empowered to take action. Even if it is the only thing your audience reads, a strong executive summary creates value for the reader as a first impression. Use the executive summary to make a business case, support a position, or tell a story. The reader should know how the subject of your content impacts them, benefits their work, their company, or their projects after reading the executive summary.  

Various industries use executive summaries as a communication tool, including healthcare, education, government, technology, real estate, finance, law, the nonprofit sector, and more. One of the benefits of using an executive summary is that it is not exclusive to one type of communication. Executive summaries show up in a variety of use cases, including the following:

Business plans

Legal briefs

Product launch plans

College campus surveys

Market research reports

Environmental studies

Project proposals

Hospital planning and evaluation

How to Write an Executive Summary

Crafting a useful executive summary requires more than simply cutting and pasting vital information from the body of your report or proposal. The executive summary may be the only part of the report your target audience reads, so you should spend the time to make it valuable.

It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, but before you begin writing, you should ask the following critical questions:

Who depends on the information? When you write the executive summary, decide who you are targeting and the critical information that audience needs. What do they need to know to make a decision? What would they already know? Do you have a specific customer you want to reach with your message or story? Writing the executive summary with that audience in mind will make it useful because the story you’re telling about your business, project, or proposal will resonate.

What is the objective? While it’s true that an executive summary recaps essential information from the body of the content it summarizes, that is its function, not its purpose. Write the summary to your intended audience and include the crucial information that supports your objective for creating the document. What do you need the reader to understand? Is the aim to recommend change based on the results of your research? What needs to happen for the project plan to succeed based on your proposal? Let your objectives determine the content and context of your summary.  

What are you recommending? Use the executive summary to draw conclusions and make recommendations to the reader. If your report presents the need for change, recommend the actions that the body of your document supports in the summary. State the benefits of your product or service, or the solutions you provide more detail on in the proposal. Ultimately, don’t make the reader work to find out what action they need to take: Make your recommendations clear in the executive summary.

How will you make an impression? The “executive” summary earned its name from the need to get the upper management’s attention. Executives did not have the time to read every word of every document. The summary had to make an impression because it might be the only part of the material that would be read. Regardless of its origins, the principle of using the summary to make an impression on the reader is sound, as that impression might encourage the reader to keep reading or take action. Consider how you shape the message, organize the sections of your summary, or present research to stand out in a brief space.

Executive Summary Checklist

After you answer these questions and begin writing your document, refer to the following checklist as you develop the executive summary.

Executive Summary Checklist

Download Executive Summary Checklist

What Is the Format of an Executive Summary?

Every executive summary intends to distill information to the reader upfront, so it is typically placed first in the document. (Sometimes it is a separate section of a formal business document listed in the table of contents.)

When used in a less formal manner, the executive summary is an opening paragraph, a separate one-page summary memo, or the first page of a report. For example, if your goal is to raise capital, use the executive summary like an investor profile that provides the reader the information necessary to land the meeting or get the funding, without further reading.

The format and length vary based on the purpose of the content that you are summarizing; there is no set structure to follow. Here are some formatting tips that you can use for any executive summary, regardless of the style:

Order of Appearance : Beyond the introduction, decide what sections of the summary are most important to the purpose of the document. Organize your subheadings or sections in that order. Use bullet points and plenty of spacing between the different parts of the summary to make the content more accessible to scanning eyes. By doing so, you naturally discard information better left to the body of the document, and you honor the reader’s time by prioritizing the message, recommendations, conclusions, or solutions in the longer document.  

How Much Is Too Much : Executive summaries vary in length based on the type of content they summarize or their purpose. Some recommend keeping the summary to a specific percentage of the overall document, while others advocate a set number of pages. Focus on keeping the summary brief but comprehensive, with the most important information available to the reader.

Audience Aim : The tone and language of the executive summary should match that of the target audience. Avoid using technical jargon that requires definitions, and present the information in an accessible manner based on the knowledge and expertise of your intended audience. Do not include acronyms or highlight data that need an extensive background for context, and avoid using casual, informal tones. That said, an executive summary used in internal communications will have a different tone and style than one used in external communication tools.

One-page Executive Summary Template

One Page Executive Summary Template

This template is designed to fit your executive summary on one page. Take advantage of the short sections and bullet points to keep the document concise and hook the reader with the information that will keep them reading. Organize the key points by customizing the subheadings to emphasize their importance based on your purpose for the document.

Download One-page Executive Summary Template

Excel  |  Word  |  PDF

What Are the Common Pitfalls of Executive Summaries?

When formatting and organizing the executive summary, beware of the following pitfalls that plague poorly written and poorly planned summaries:

Fact or Persuasion : Support your motives and the objective of the executive summary with the facts. If the summary is for a sales proposal or pitch deck, persuade your reader up front with data and information, not buzzwords and cliches. If the executive summary includes generalizations or opinions that you don't support within your material with market research, project examples, independent data, testimonials, etc., you risk misleading the reader. Avoid writing a summary that leads clients, policy makers, or management to an unsupported recommendation or conclusion for the sake of persuasion — instead, focus on the facts.  

Relevance Over Repetition : By nature, the executive summary is a repetitive summary of content. Therefore, only include the most relevant details — those that summarize the true purpose of the overall content. Use the rest of your business plan, research report, or client proposal to cover topics relevant background information at length. If you try to cut and paste too much information and context from your longer business or research document into the summary, the details might overshadow the impression you want to make on the reader. The background becomes the introduction, and you risk losing a reader’s attention (especially an online audience).

Consistency Is Key : The executive summary highlights the substance of the larger piece of content. Don’t feature information here that is not covered in the body of the proposal. Avoid using different subheadings to organize copy in the body of the report. For example, if you highlight “Project Milestones” in the executive summary, do not list them in a new section for “Project Goals” in the business proposal. Use the tone and language you establish in the summary throughout the material. If you target an audience without expertise in the subject matter, don’t switch to highly technical analysis in the body copy. Finally, if you cover something in the executive summary, cover it again in the report. Don’t make the reader work to learn more about something you highlighted in the summary.

Draw a Clear Conclusion : Write an executive summary that comes to a conclusion and supports your purpose for creating the document. Keep the reader’s interest in mind when you summarize a lengthy project proposal or report. Does the reader have a clear understanding of the solutions you propose? Can they identify the problems you solve? If the executive summary is the only thing they read, can they take action on your recommendations or anticipate a desired outcome based on the information you included?

Executive Summary Outline Template - PowerPoint

Executive Summary Outline Presentation Template

Use this free template to outline your next big presentation, or keep it updated as a live meeting record to keep up with your evolving internal business plans or funding needs. The slides are formatted to outline the important elements of a formal business plan summary. You can customize the slides to fit the order of importance for your content’s purpose or extend each. Use the slides as an outline to keep track of the content you want to summarize after every update or draft of the report.

‌ Download Executive Summary Outline Template - PowerPoint

What to Include in an Executive Summary

You will determine the components of each executive summary you write based on the reason for writing it and your target audience.

For example, a business plan for an external audience includes financial information and details on the size and scale of a company; startups seeking funding and investors will highlight specific financial requirements and how they impact the business strategy. Executive summaries vary in the content they cover, but here is a common framework:

Introduction : This opening statement, paragraph, or section should clearly state the document’s purpose and the content to follow. How you will use this section depends on the desired outcome for the reader or audience, who should immediately find value in the information you present. Therefore, the details included in the introduction should grab and hold the reader’s attention.  

Company Information : When writing an executive summary for an external audience, include your company name, a description of your mission or purpose, contact information, location, and the size and scale of your operations. In some cases, the summary introduces the founders, investors, and corporate leadership. It might include background information of each that outlines previous industry or startup experience, or historical context on the current state of the company. When used in a presentation or research report, introduce the team presenting or responsible for the report’s findings.

Products and Services : The executive summary is the place to highlight the problem you solve or the need you fulfill. For a report, this is where you might highlight what you researched and what the reader should know about your findings. For a project proposal, include what you’re planning to accomplish and what you need to make it successful. For marketing plans or product launch presentations, tell the reader why your service or product is relevant at this particular moment in time.

Market Analysis : The executive summary of a business plan might profile the target customer and explain the market opportunity for a product or service. Consider answering questions like: Is there a five year plan for this market? How do you anticipate growing the customer base and improving market share? What stands out from your research about your customers that the reader should know?

Competition Analysis : This section should include answers to the following questions:

What is the competitive advantage of your proposed solution or product and who or what do you compete with in this market?

What are the opportunities now and in the future?

What are the risks in your market and your product or service?

Do you have relevant experience with major competitors?

What are the future plans for growth and what obstacles do you anticipate addressing?

Financials : The executive summary might summarize key financial data that is relevant to the reader or data that supports your research. If the purpose is to secure funding, include the specific amount you are requesting. Be sure to provide context for the financial data or any number you highlight in the executive summary. This section is a great way to highlight growth, or to use metrics to provide perspective on the company.

Conclusions : Recap your findings, the problem and solution discussed, or the project and work proposed. If there is a decision the reader needs to make, be direct about it. Make the outcomes obvious, but leave enough intrigue for the rest of the content to follow.

How Do You End An Executive Summary?

Although the executive summary begins a document, it concludes so that it can stand alone from the rest of the content and still be of value. Use the conclusion to recap your findings, make recommendations, and propose solutions to the problem.

If there is a decision you want the reader to make, ask make a call to action in this section. If you are summarizing a research report, summarize the findings and the research methods used to conclude the work. Make the outcomes or recommendations visible, but leave enough out to incentivize the audience to continue reading. Close the executive summary with a strong statement or transition that sets up the theme or central message to the story you tell in the report or proposal.

What Should Be in the Executive Summary of a Business Plan?

Traditional business plans differ in context and content based on if the audience is internal or external. Both audiences benefit from some of the previously discussed elements of the executive summary (like a substantial introduction).

However, the summary of an internal business plan does not require a section that introduces management or key personnel. An external business plan targets an audience that expects to find crucial financial information in the summary. When you develop the executive summary of the business plan, determine the information to include based on the audience and purpose of the document.

Business Plan Executive Summary Template

Business Plan Executive Summary Template

This executive summary template is designed to get your business plan noticed and reviewed. In this scenario, you’re presenting to an external audience and therefore should include more attention to detail with a standard business plan document. Use bullet points and clear, formal language to guide the reader to the most important information about your company.

Download Business Plan Executive Summary Template

Excel  |  Word  |  PDF  | Smartsheet

You can find a variety of templates for various industries and needs by reading “Free Executive Summary Templates.”

What Should Be in an Executive Summary of a Report?

Josh Bernoff spent 20 years writing and editing reports for Forrester Research. He is an advocate of creating actionable reports that tell a story. He believes that the executive summary is crucial.

“If the report is a story, the right executive summary is the same story, written briefly,” writes Bernoff . He recommends imagining that your readers ask you questions like, “What’s the coolest stuff in this report?” and “What did you find out?” while writing the report.

“Your answer, written directly to the reader, is the executive summary,” Bernoff explains in his book.

The executive summary of a report requires vivid details that grab online readers’ attention in a hurry. According to Bernoff, the summary recaps the story you want to tell behind all the words in the report. Using this advice as a guidepost, consider including the following answers to these questions to create your report’s summary:

What is the central plot of your report?

Why is this story important?

What are the most memorable scenes (examples, data, case study results, etc.) from the different sections of the report?

How does your research address the story’s central conflict (the problem solved)?

How does your research support the story’s conclusion?

What actions does the story recommend the reader be aware of?

The executive summary of lengthy research reports — especially those used in academic articles, scientific journals, government studies, or healthcare initiatives — require additional formatting considerations and elements not found in business plans or proposals. Consider the following guidelines when developing the executive summary of a research report:

Present the sections of the executive summary in the same order as in the main report.

Do not include information or research that is not supported and presented in the body of the report.

Draw a conclusion with the executive summary that justifies the research and provides recommendations.

Use a tone and language to describe technical information that readers without advanced knowledge or expertise of the subject matter can understand.

Remember that an executive summary of a report is distinct from an abstract. Abstracts are shorter overviews of a report and are common in academia. They familiarize the reader with a synopsis of the research that is much shorter than an executive summary. You can also think of an abstract as a standalone statement that helps the reader determine if they will read on. The executive summary, by contrast, summarizes the research in a structure that includes the summary, methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations for the reader without necessarily having to read further.

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Use this template to create a synopsis of research results for reports — these will typically be longer than an executive summary for a business plan and proposal. The template is formatted to accommodate in-depth reports that need space for charts and tables to illustrate research data. It is designed to summarize technical information in a concise manner, with clear subheadings that communicate key findings to readers with various expertise and interest.

Download Research Report Executive Summary Template

Word  |  PDF

Get Funding with Your Executive Summary

Startups seeking capital investment from venture capital funds and angel investors can repurpose the executive summary from a business plan as a more concise, less formal investor profile.

This type of summary memo is stripped down and focused on the specific financial requirements and how the funding makes an impact on the business strategy. It is the perfect template to create a profile on investor platform websites like AngelList and Gust . Use the following tips to transform traditional business plan summaries into the pitch that lands you a meeting or funding:

Include the specific dollar amount you’re requesting, the purpose for the funds raised, and any relevant data such as repayment terms, collateral, equity share information, etc.

Keep the financial data simple and round to the nearest whole dollar amount.

List founders, partners, and key management personnel and highlight specific domain expertise or previous startup experience.

Describe your company’s growth plan and the proposed exit strategy.

Remove any industry buzzwords, meaningless phrases, and cliches (for example “the Uber of…,” “game-changing,” “disruptive,” “next Facebook,” “world-class,” etc.).

Mention noteworthy achievements, intellectual property, important business partnerships, or information on product development stages in test markets.

Describe work in progress and highlight relevant information about customer growth, market demand, and product development.

Startup Executive Summary Template

Startup Executive Summary Template

Transform your executive summary into an investor document with this template. It acts as a one-page pitch that serves as your company profile on investor platforms. You can repurpose this template and save it as a PDF summary memo to land future meetings with investors. For more information on business plans for startups, including free budget templates, read “ Free Startup Plan, Budget & Cost Templates .”

Download Startup Executive Summary Template

Seamlessly Track the Progress of Your Executive Summary with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

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The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

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How to Write an Executive Summary in 10 Steps

How to Write an Executive Summary in 10 Steps

Written by: Unenabasi Ekeruke

development business plan executive summary

Whether you're starting a new business or growing an existing one, creating business or project plans puts you in the driving seat for success. According to a study, creating a detailed plan and sticking to it gives you a 30% greater chance of growing and doubling your business.

But how do you craft a plan that captures the attention of investors or stakeholders? Well, it all starts with a compelling executive summary that captures the major points of your plan at a glance.

An executive summary is the most important element of your proposal or project plan. It's the first thing your audience will read and could be the ticket to getting that all-important meeting and funding for your project.

Not sure how to write an effective executive summary for your next business document? We've got you covered.

This article will dig deeper into what executive summaries are, why you need them and how to write one for your business or project.

Before we jump right in, here's a short selection of 8 easy-to-edit executive summary templates you can edit, share and download with Visme. View more templates below:

development business plan executive summary

Table of Contents

What is an executive summary, why you need an executive summary, when to use an executive summary, how long does an executive summary need to be, how to write an executive summary (+ examples).

An executive summary is a brief overview of a larger document. It's usually the first thing readers see before they dive into the other part of your reports, proposals and other business documents.

Essentially, an executive summary is a critical document or section that precedes documents like:

  • Project status reports
  • Business plans
  • Project plans
  • Project proposals
  • Financial reports
  • Academic reports
  • Business cases
  • Environmental studies
  • Market surveys
  • Research documents and more

For example, suppose a company performs market research to decide whether to move in a different strategic direction. In that case, they can write a business plan to articulate findings and suggest the next steps.

The business plan would begin with an executive summary like the one in the template below.

development business plan executive summary

When seeking new partners, business loans or funding round for a startup, your executive summary will precede your business plan. It sums up the opportunity, business and execution plan in a brief document.

This is your key to getting initial funding or subsequent investments. And only an effective executive summary will unlock that door or get investors to listen to you.

Executive summaries are also an important component of project proposals or project status reports. They provide a general overview of the project activities, progress, setbacks and next steps.

After your table of contents comes your executive summary. It should briefly:

  • Highlight the purpose of the report
  • Analyze the problem and solution
  • Spotlight key figures and
  • Describe results, conclusions or recommendations

The scope and length of your executive summary will depend on what you're summarizing. But generally, it could be one to three pages long.

Regardless of the type or purpose of your document, the executive summary should include the most important information. That's because it could be the only part of your report investors, managers or prospects may read.

Writing a compelling executive summary will enable your readers to digest the entire content without reading it all.

For example, CEOs, managers and supervisors engage in a ton of business activities. Hence, they're pressed for time. So, reading lengthy reports may become tricky, especially when they need the information to make quick decisions.

While writing your executive summary, include everything your readers need to make decisions. Best of all, it should grab attention and convince readers that it's worth their time to read the entire document.

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development business plan executive summary

Your executive summary is the most important element of your project report. And how you write it can make or break your business or project plan.

The primary goal of your executive summary is to get your audience sold on your business proposal. But you need a clear and concise one to capture readers' attention and get them excited about your plan.

On the flip side, many things could go wrong with poorly written executive summaries. It can easily turn off stakeholders and hamper your chances of winning them over.

Let's look at other reasons you should dedicate time to make your executive summary appealing.

Grab Readers’ Attention and Drive Interest

Project plans, business plans and market research reports can get granular and dense. Hence, most readers rely on the executive summary to get the hang of what the document entails.

Think of your executive summary as the hook to the rest of your content. It's a golden opportunity to show who you are, share your company's vision and connect with potential investors.

With an excellent executive summary, you can get the attention you need to clearly describe your business goals. It will also help you figure out how to improve and streamline your business or project plan.

For example, let's say you're having trouble highlighting compelling figures or summarizing your business plan in a few pages. That could indicate that your business plan lacks substance or is missing key details.

Similarly, suppose your executive summary lacks the basic details. In that case, it could mean your project report has loopholes you'd have to address.

In either case, you may need to go back to the drawing board to make it clear, engaging and unique enough. The end goal is to entice top management, potential investors and key stakeholders to read on.

Attract Investment Opportunities

Think about this for a moment. Venture capitalists and angel investors receive tens to hundreds of business plans, each having ten pages or more.

Considering their time, schedule and lineup of activities, reading these documents from cover to cover may be a tall order.

Not only that, they've got lots of lots of potential investment opportunities knocking on their door. Hence they'll make up their mind in a few minutes whether your business proposal interests them or not.

So, what will make an investor choose a business plan over the other? Yes, you guessed right! The executive summary.

Most venture capitalists and inventors prefer to receive brief executive summaries. It's their best bet since they probably have a stack of business plans waiting for their attention.

Reading a concise executive summary will help them figure out if it is worth reading the whole business plan. It will provide enough information and a good understanding of your idea, team, business and financial projections.

In a nutshell, they want to know what's so special about your idea. So why should they read further? What's in it for them and why should they splash the cash on your business venture?

An excellent executive summary will position your business idea as a juicy investment opportunity. More so, it will pique the investor's interest and earn you that all-important first meeting.

Use the template below to highlight critical details and showcase a digestible version of your business plan.

development business plan executive summary

Boost Stakeholders’ Confidence in Your Project

So, you've probably written your project plan for a proposed project or a status report for an ongoing one. Now you're wondering if you need to write an executive summary. Well, the big answer is yes.

Why does an executive summary matter? First, they highlight everything key stakeholders need to know before digging deeper into the finer details.

At a glance, your readers should get a bird's eye view of project goals and deliverables, status, milestones, risk and financial details and why they're important. In addition, it should highlight how the project impacts the entire organization.

Writing an articulate executive summary can help streamline communication across stakeholders and boost their confidence in the project. Essentially, it shows you have every aspect of the project under control.

The thing is, key project stakeholders like investors, clients and top-level management may not have the time to dive into the full project details. You can use the Visme template below to summarize your project proposal or keep your team in sync with its overall health.

development business plan executive summary

If you want to summarize a large business document, making it readable and foolproof, you need an executive summary. This is because it's concise, and as such, the chances are that many people will read it.

Not only that, it's incredibly easy to get your main points across effectively in an executive summary.

That being said, let's look at some of the different use cases for executive summaries.

Business Plans

An executive summary is a staple for writing a winning business plan . It's the most widely-used application in the business world.

Your executive summary is typically the last section you write in your business plan. And it should embody key elements like:

  • Brief description of your business, including products and services
  • Summary of business objectives
  • The market opportunity and problem your business solves
  • A description of your target market, competition and competitive advantage
  • Snapshot of funding requirements, growth potential and financial highlights

This may seem like a lot and tough to fit on one or two pages. But your executive summary should be capable of being a standalone document.

Think about it this way. If your audience can make sense of your executive summary on its own, then it has served its purpose.

Project Plans

Executive summaries condense your lengthy project plans into a page or two. They provide a high-level overview of critical information like:

  • Project goals, scope and activities
  • Summary of the project resources
  • Change management plan
  • Description of milestones and major deliverables
  • Timeline and schedule
  • Communication plan
  • Success metrics, budget and other financial details

In a nutshell, the executive summary summarizes the project, risk, timeline and more to ensure key stakeholders are on the same page without diving into the full document.

Use the template below to create a project plan that helps streamline operations and keep your project on track.

development business plan executive summary

Project Status Reports

Project status reports describe your project's progress within a specific period and compare it against the project plan. Here, the executive summary covers all the significant attributes of the project status reports in a concise manner.

By reading executive summaries, the project team and key stakeholders can quickly:

  • Stay in touch with the overall progress and health of the project
  • Monitor project costs, risks and activities
  • Mitigate issues before they arise
  • Ensure the project is completed within the designated time frame

Communicate your project activities and progress with key stakeholders using the project status report template below.

development business plan executive summary

Case studies are in-depth studies of a subject, person, event or organization. They focus on real-world problems and situations and require a deep understanding of the subject. Whether you're writing case studies for academics, projects or business, at a glance, your executive summary should:

  • Describe who the case study is about. For example, if the case study is about your client, It should summarize their mission, the services they offer, their industry and how long they've been working with your organization or using your product.
  • Provide insights into the problems they've faced.
  • Highlight how your product or solution solved the problem.
  • Explain results and progress reports after the client used the solution.

The case study template below can help you showcase your product capabilities, inspire client trust and build credibility.

development business plan executive summary

You can edit it to include key details like problem statement, solution analysis, project description, cost-benefit analysis, results and recommendations, and more.

Academic Studies and Research

For academic research reports, the intended audience is different from business settings. However, the executive summary serves similar purposes.

Academic studies are typically in-depth with complex methodologies and calculations. As a result, they can be difficult to grasp, especially if you aren't an expert in the field.

The job of an executive summary is to provide a brief yet clear understanding of the methodologies, results, statistics, conclusions and recommendations.

Keep in mind that the executive summary is different from the abstract. While both summarize your research study, recommendations in the executive summaries are more explicit, while abstracts rarely have recommendations.

Abstracts are mostly written for the academic community. In contrast, executive summaries are often written for policymakers outside the academic community.

Market Research Reports and Survey

Marketing plans and research reports help companies evaluate the target market and feasibility of a new product or service. They contain valuable studies that help companies chart a new course and improve marketing and business results.

The executive summary, in this case, contains key elements such as:

  • Company description
  • The objective and purpose of the research
  • Key results, statistics and findings
  • Conclusions and recommendations
  • Next steps and ideas for future research

With this summary, management teams and business leaders can gather valuable insight and make swift decisions to drive the business forward.

In addition, you can use the report template below to visualize market survey findings, analysis and results.

development business plan executive summary

Financial Reports

Whether you're executing a project or starting a business, financial reports help you communicate financial information with investors.

Unfortunately, they often include complex numbers, calculations, ratios and statements that are challenging to interpret. That's why you need an articulate executive summary that provides an overview of your company's financial projections or health without diving into the complex details.

At its best, your financial report executive summary should include necessary details such as:

  • Sales and income forecast
  • Budget and funding requirements
  • Use of funds
  • Break-even point

Use the template below to visualize your current and projected revenues and business growth metrics.

There's no hard and fast rule about how long your executive summary should be. However, the general rule of thumb is to keep it as brief as possible.

Here's the thing. Your audience has limited time and wants to get into the main details quickly. So try to keep your executive summary under two pages.

Depending on your project size and scope, you may need to add a page or two.

For example, project plans or status reports for large, complex or highly technical projects are often lengthy. In this case, you may need more than two pages to effectively capture the main points in your executive summary.

Additionally, make sure your executive summary has a similar structure and flow as the rest of the document.

Do your best to keep your paragraphs short and use clear and concise language appropriate for your target audience. Not only will this make your content readable, but it will get the attention it deserves.

So you've got that impressive business idea and you're buzzing to sell it to a potential investor. The question is, how do you create an engaging executive summary that unlocks readers' attention and gets you funded?

Stick with us and you'll learn the easiest way to get it done. We'll also show you practical examples and provide templates to help you create your executive summary on the go.

Step 1: Start With an Attention-Grabbing Intro

Angel investors and investment platforms use executive summaries to gauge interest in investment opportunities. And having a strong opening helps you build a solid case for your business or project plan.

Want to impress your readers and convince them your proposal is worth reading? Then you should hook them in by explaining what your proposal is about and why it matters.

Let's say you've identified a gap in the marketplace; you might start with that. If the driving force for your project is customer feedback or market research, that could be your compelling aha moment.

Utilize thought-provoking statistics or compelling figures to justify why addressing the pain points is critical. The goal is to make your audience see why your proposal is an opportunity they can't afford to miss out on.

Most people try to use inspiring quotes or anecdotes to build excitement. But, unfortunately, this strategy doesn't always work. Stakeholders want to know if your idea is a viable opportunity right off the bat. And capturing their attention begins from the opening sentence.

Here's an excellent example of how to hook your audience right from the start.

FoodPlus is an on-demand food delivery service poised to revolutionize the food industry. With over ten years of experience in the food industry, our goal is to leverage technology to help people access food, beverage and groceries at the comfort of their homes and offices.

Our user-friendly app and wide network of delivery vendors make FoodPus the go-to service and preferred choice in and around our target market. Recently ranked the most popular food delivery app, FoodPlus has 200,000 partner restaurants located in 2000 cities worldwide, about 70% of them in the US.

In less than five years, we've tripled our customer base and amassed over one million followers across our social channels.

We have recently uncovered a significant opportunity to expand our reach to the UK and Canada. FoodPlus is seeking equity investment to help us fund our expansion and achieve our business goals in the next fiscal year.

Notice how this executive summary highlights compelling facts and figures, including:

  • Year of experience in the industry
  • Large customer base
  • Market reach and service coverage
  • Social engagement and proof
  • Market opportunity

Set your business up for success with the cutting-edge business plan template below.

development business plan executive summary

Step 2: Write for Your Audience

When writing your executive summary, you want to keep your intended audience in mind always and write it for them. First off, you need to consider your reader's current level of knowledge. Then use languages and terms appropriate for your target audience.

If you're writing for financial experts, the language you use should differ greatly from how you would write for project managers or engineers.

For example, investors and financial experts will probably be familiar with financial metrics. In contrast, engineers and project managers are more knowledgeable about the technical details.

The content and depth of explanation should align with your audience's interest and expertise.

Let's face it. People will readily read through content that's valuable to them. So if you're going to grab and hold your audience's attention, you'll have to research to understand who your audience is and what they want to know.

You may need to craft different versions of the executive summary based on the reader's expectations.

Let's say you're writing your executive summary for top-level management or investors. In that case, try answering these questions:

  • What do they know about the subject?
  • What do my audiences want to know about the subject?
  • How much explanation do I need to make?
  • What questions would run through the minds of my audiences?

Remember, it's a summary and your audience wants to quickly pull out the main points. Inform them about the fantastic opportunity that awaits them and create a sense of urgency so that they are compelled to read your document further.

Whether you're writing for business or academic purposes, use formal language and guide your audiences through the information.

Showcase your idea and wow investors with the help of Visme's business plan template below.

development business plan executive summary

Step 3: Provide an Overview of Your Project

In the first few paragraphs of your executive summary, provide your audience with an overview of your proposed project.

You should include details of your business, your products and services and years of experience in the industry (if applicable.)

Also, outline your goals and the problem your project or proposal seeks to address. You may want to answer questions like:

  • What problem will your project address?
  • Why is it necessary for your product or services to enter the market?
  • Why is it important for your company to embark on this project?
  • What are the events that brought the project to life? Is it a market survey, customer feedback, innovation cycle, product plan, market needs or competitor activities?
  • What will be the outcome after the successful execution of this project?

Finally, mention other vital research and industry insights relevant to the project or organization.

Using our earlier example, here's how to define the opportunity or problem.

The on-demand food delivery business will hit around $97 Billion by 2024. This growth is fueled by consumers' demand for convenience and access to meals in the comfort of their homes.

Currently, customers have to walk a certain distance to access meals. This limits their choices and ability to personalize their meals. With the proposed expansion of our business to other cities, we will make it easy for customers to access personalized meals quickly.

Notice how the executive summary in the template below highlights the market opportunity in the fashion industry.

development business plan executive summary

Step 4: Describe the Solution and Expected Outcome

Next, briefly explain your proposed solution and how it will address the problem you've highlighted earlier. Here you should give your audience a mental picture of what their life or business would look like once you've solved the problem.

You want to touch on product features and benefits and how they align with your company goals. For example, product or service benefits could be in the form of:

  • Convenience
  • Accessibility
  • Wide range of product or service options
  • Better efficiency and productivity
  • Increased sales
  • Cost savings
  • Brand equity , recognition and brand loyalty
  • Industry leadership

Using our on-demand food service example, here's how to highlight your solution and expected outcome.

Having examined our target market, we recognize the need for an on-demand food delivery solution. FoodPlus offers a full-service online food ordering and delivery platform that enables users to order meals on the go. The app comes preloaded with the features like:

  • Ability to create and manage orders
  • Delivery GPS tracking in real-time
  • In-app messaging
  • Rating and reviews

It also offers users different ways to make payments, including debit or credit cards, mobile wallets and more. Our promise of value to our customers include:

  • Value for money
  • Ease of use
  • Access to a wide range of meal options

Entice investors by emphasizing the market opportunity and proposed solution using the Visme template below.

development business plan executive summary

Step 5: Explain Proposed Strategy and Operation Plan

Once you've highlighted your proposed solution, the next step is to explain your business strategy.

Who are the major players in your industry? What factors will set your business apart and help you gain a competitive advantage?

Next, explain how you intend to bring the project or product to life. You should include details of your operations, including production or project execution plan.

Are you outsourcing production or building the capacity to handle it in-house? What's your expected daily production or service delivery capacity? You're going to have to explain if you're setting up a brick-and-mortar store or an online service delivery model.

If you write an executive summary for a research report, explain how you will perform experiments or collect data during field surveys. This section should also highlight key activities, milestones, start and end dates.

Define your business model, strategy and operational plan using the Visme template below.

development business plan executive summary

Step 6: Show Off Your Strengths

This is the part where you provide evidence that you can deliver on the value you've promised.

Here you should talk about your industry knowledge, expertise and experience. Also, highlight key team members and their depth of knowledge and experience in the industry.

If you're an existing business, you should talk about how long the company has been in business.

What's more? Talk about other projects you've successfully executed, your accolades, achievements and more.

Here you can include relevant figures, charts and key performance indicators like the one below. This will further boost your reader's confidence in your ability to deliver the project on time and within budget.

development business plan executive summary

Here's an example of how to show proof of your expertise in your executive summary.

FoodPlus has been in business since 2017. Over the past five years, we've launched our service in over 400 cities in the US. We've achieved 50% growth in revenue within the last two years. We have a team of professionals with a combined 40 years of experience in the tech, e-commerce and on-demand space.

In addition, our diverse and robust team of customer success experts is well-positioned to ensure users enjoy incredible service experiences across multiple touchpoints.

Ensure your metrics and numbers are accurate and verifiable. For example, you can use financial management software to track and retrieve key metrics like return on investment and profit margin.

Step 7: Highlight Financials and Funding Requirements

Financial projections reveal whether your business has a chance to generate revenue and profit to survive. These insights help potential investors decide if your idea or project is a worthwhile investment, making them a key part of your executive summary.

Here's the thing. Project stakeholders and investors want to know what's in it for them. Why should they invest in your idea or embark on the project?

This section should highlight key financial and business growth metrics like expenses , revenue, cash flow, profit and loss forecasts for one to three years.

Make sure to show details of your break-even point - the point where cost and revenues are equal. Also, remember to highlight when your business will make a profit.

If you're writing an executive summary for a project or research, highlight the significant cost associated with the project or research.

This section should also mention the amount of money you need for your business or project. Make sure to disclose when investors will get their return on investment or when you'll be able to complete loan repayment.

For projects and academic research, provide details of the funding you need to achieve desired project outcomes. All in all, ensure this figure aligns with your financial projections.

Here's how to highlight financial projections and funding requirements.

At FoodPlus, our financial projections show that we will have steady revenue growth, positive cash flow and profit in the first year. Our forecast is based on two streams of income -commission on sales of meals and deliveries.

The expected revenue in the first year is $5 million and a 50% increase in the second and third years of operations. We expect a net profit margin of 45%, while the return on equity will be 15.37% in the first year. We will break even in the first year of business and by the third year, we expect positive cash after debt repayments.

We are seeking an equity investment of about 10 million dollars to fund our expansion into other cities in the UK and Canada.

The business plan template below cuts across a wide range of industries and is perfect for sharing the future of your business with investors.

development business plan executive summary

Step 8: Wrap Up and Include a Call to Action

You've now presented all the important details with investors and other stakeholders. The next important step is to include key takeaways and a call to action.

Here you should answer questions like:

  • How will the funding impact your business?
  • Why is it important for you to get the money?
  • Why should your audience be interested in this opportunity
  • What will they achieve by taking advantage of this opportunity?

Here's an example to conclude our example executive summary:

This funding will help FoodPlus break into new markets, expand our reach and increase our market share. We've achieved success over the past five years. We're confident we can enjoy tremendous growth in the new market and turn FoodPlus into a global success.

If you're ready to move forward, this proposal provides more details about our project and how we'll accomplish it. If you have any questions, I'd be pleased to take your call or read from you (insert your email or phone number).

development business plan executive summary

Step 9: Use a Template

Now that you know what you should write in your executive summary, you're probably buzzing to get to work. We recommend using Visme's business document creator that comes with ready-to-go templates with built-in executive summary pages.

You'll find templates of business plans, project plans,   reports and more to help you get started. Visme has a rich library of images, videos, graphs and other visual aids like the one below to help you get your point across quickly.

Step 10: Write It Last

Although your executive summary is the first content your audience reads from your report, you should write it last. Writing your executive summary at the end provides clarity. It also enables you to prioritize and filter the key information for your executive summary.

Once you're satisfied with your business plan or proposal, pick out the details that matter most to your readers and write them in your executive summary.

Get to Work: Craft a Compelling Executive Summary

Your executive summary is the hottest ticket to driving investors' interest in your business or project. Hence, you can't afford to wing it or take it for granted.

Writing an executive summary requires a whole different approach than the rest of the proposal. You want to ensure it briefly captures the key elements of the documents.

Remember, the goal is to attract interest, get readers' attention and entice them to keep reading.

If you want to craft the perfect executive summary, Visme's document creator has everything you need to get excellent results. The software comes preloaded with a robust library of easy-to-use templates for creating any business documents you can think of.

Whether you're looking to write an executive summary for your business plan, project status report and research proposal, Visme has got you covered. You can leverage millions of premium images, videos, visual aids and other design elements to make your executive summary pack a punch.

Design beautiful, branded documents for your business.

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About the Author

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5 Steps for Writing an Executive Summary

Learn what to include in your executive summary and how to go about writing one.

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Table of Contents

Anyone starting a new business must create a business plan that clearly outlines the organization’s details and goals. The executive summary is a crucial element of that business plan.

We’ll explore five steps to writing your business plan’s executive summary, including what to include and avoid. We’ll also point you toward executive summary templates to help you get started. 

What is an executive summary?

New entrepreneurs or business owners typically use a business plan to present their great business idea to potential stakeholders like angel investors . The purpose of the business plan is to attract financing from investors or convince banking executives to get a bank loan for their business . An executive summary is a business plan overview that succinctly highlights its most essential elements. 

It’s not just a general outline; the executive summary might be the only part of your business plan that busy executives and potential investors read. 

“The executive summary of a business plan is designed to capture the reader’s attention and briefly explain your business, the problem you are solving, the target audience, and key financial information,” Ross Kimbarovsky, CEO and founder of Crowdspring, told Business News Daily. “If the executive summary lacks specific information or does not capture the attention of the reader, the rest of the plan might not be read.”

While your executive summary should be engaging and comprehensive, it must also be quick and easy to read. These documents average one to four pages – ideally, under two pages – and should comprise less than 10% of your entire business plan.

How do you write an executive summary?

Your executive summary will be unique to your organization and business plan. However, most entrepreneurs and business owners take the following five steps when creating their executive summary.

  • Write your business plan first. The executive summary will briefly cover the most essential topics your business plan covers. For this reason, you should write the entire business plan first, and then create your executive summary. The executive summary should only cover facts and details included in the business plan.
  • Write an engaging introduction. What constitutes “engaging” depends on your audience. For example, if you’re in the tech industry, your introduction may include a surprising tech trend or brief story. The introduction must be relevant to your business and capture your audience’s attention. It is also crucial to identify your business plan’s objective and what the reader can expect to find in the document.
  • Write the executive summary. Go through your business plan and identify critical points to include in your executive summary. Touch on each business plan key point concisely but comprehensively. You may mention your marketing plan , target audience, company description, management team, and more. Readers should be able to understand your business plan without reading the rest of the document. Ideally, the summary will be engaging enough to convince them to finish the document, but they should be able to understand your basic plan from your summary. (We’ll detail what to include in the executive summary in the next section.)
  • Edit and organize your document. Organize your executive summary to flow with your business plan’s contents, placing the most critical components at the beginning. A bulleted list is helpful for drawing attention to your main points. Double-check the document for accuracy and clarity. Remove buzzwords, repetitive information, qualifying words, jargon, passive language and unsupported claims. Verify that your executive summary can act as a standalone document if needed.
  • Seek outside assistance. Since most entrepreneurs aren’t writing experts, have a professional writer or editor look over your document to ensure it flows smoothly and covers the points you’re trying to convey.

What should you include in an executive summary?

Your executive summary is based on your business plan and should include details relevant to your reader. For example, if your business plan’s goal is pitching a business idea to potential investors , you should emphasize your financial requirements and how you will use the funding. 

The type of language you use depends on whether your audience consists of generalists or industry experts.

While executive summary specifics will vary by company, Marius Thauland, business strategist at OMD EMEA, says all executive summaries should include a few critical elements:

  • Target audience
  • Products and services
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Competitive analysis
  • Funding and budget allocation for the processes and operations
  • Number of employees to be hired and involved
  • How you’ll implement the business plan 

When synthesizing each section, highlight the details most relevant to your reader. Include any facts and statistics they must know. In your introduction, present pertinent company information and clearly state the business plan’s objective. To pinpoint key messages for your executive summary, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What do you want the reader to take away from the document? 
  • What do you want to happen after they read it? 

“Put yourself in the business plan reader’s shoes, and think about what you would like to know in the report,” Thauland advised. “Get their attention by making it simple and brief yet still professional. It should also attract them to read the entire document to understand even the minute details.”

What should you avoid in an executive summary?

When writing your executive summary, be aware of the following common mistakes: 

  • Making your executive summary too long. An executive summary longer than two pages will deter some readers. You’re likely dealing with busy executives, and an overlong stretch of text can overwhelm them.
  • Copying and pasting from other executive summary sections. Reusing phrases from other sections and stringing them together without context can seem confusing and sloppy. It’s also off-putting to read the same exact phrase twice within the same document. Instead, summarize your business plan’s central points in new, descriptive language.
  • Too many lists and subheadings in your executive summary. After one – and only one – introductory set of bullets, recap your business plan’s main points in paragraph form without subheadings. Concision and clarity are more important for an executive summary than formatting tricks.
  • Passive or unclear language in your executive summary. You’re taking the reins of your business, and your executive summary should show that. Use active voice in your writing so everyone knows you’re running the show. Be as clear as possible in your language, leaving no questions about what your business will do and how it will get there.
  • Avoid general descriptions in your executive summary. Kimbarovsky said it’s best to avoid generalities in your executive summary. For example, there’s no need to include a line about “your team’s passion for hard work.” This information is a given and will take attention away from your executive summary’s critical details.
  • Don’t use comparisons in your executive summary. Kimbarovsky also advises staying away from comparisons to other businesses in your executive summary. “Don’t say you will be the next Facebook, Uber or Amazon,” said Kimbarovsky. “Amateurs make this comparison to try and show how valuable their company could be. Instead, focus on providing the actual facts that you believe prove you have a strong company. It’s better if the investor gives you this accolade because they see the opportunity.”

Executive summary templates and resources

If you’re writing an executive summary for the first time, online templates can help you outline your document. However, your business is unique, and your executive summary should reflect that. An online template probably won’t cover every detail you’ll need in your executive summary. Experts recommend using templates as general guidelines and tailoring them to fit your business plan and executive summary.

To get you started, here are some popular executive summary template resources:

  • FormSwift. The FormSwift website lets you create and edit documents and gives you access to over 500 templates. It details what an effective executive summary includes and provides a form builder to help you create your executive summary. Fill out a step-by-step questionnaire and export your finished document via PDF or Word.
  • Smartsheet. The Smartsheet cloud-based platform makes planning, managing and reporting on projects easier for teams and organizations. It offers several free downloadable executive summary templates for business plans, startups, proposals, research reports and construction projects.
  • Template.net. The Template.net website provides several free business templates, including nine free executive summary templates that vary by project (e.g., business plan, startup, housing program development, proposal or marketing plan). Print out the templates and fill in your relevant details.
  • TemplateLab. The TemplateLab website is a one-stop shop for new business owners seeking various downloadable templates for analytics, finance, HR, marketing, operations, project management, and time management. You’ll find over 30 free executive summary templates and examples.
  • Vertex42. The Vertex42 website offers Excel templates for executive summaries on budgets, invoices, project management and timesheets, as well as Word templates for legal forms, resumes and letters. This site also provides extensive information on executive summaries and a free executive summary template you can download into Word or Google Docs.

Summing it all up

Your executive summary should preview your business plan in, at most, two pages. Wait until your business plan is complete to write your executive summary, and seek outside help as necessary. A thorough, engaging business plan and executive summary are well worth the time and money you put into them. 

Max Freedman contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Business Plan Executive Summary with Example

Written by Dave Lavinsky

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Executive Summary of a Business Plan

The Executive Summary is the most important part of your business plan. This is because it’s the first section in your plan, and if it doesn’t excite readers, they won’t continue reviewing it. Importantly, there is a way to ensure your executive summary is compelling and includes the key information readers expect. In this article, you’ll learn how to craft the perfect executive summary for your business plan.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

Table of Contents:

What is an executive summary, why do i need an executive summary, how long should an executive summary be for a business plan, how to write an executive summary for a business plan + template, sample executive summary, other helpful resources for writing your business plan.

An executive summary of a business plan gives readers an overview of your business plan and highlights its key points.

The executive summary should start with a brief overview of your business concept. Then it should briefly summarize each section of your business plan: your industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan and funding needs.

If presented for funding, the executive summary provides the lender or investor a quick snapshot which helps them determine their interest level and if they should continue reading the rest of the business plan.

An effective executive summary is a quick version of your complete business plan. You need to keep it simple and succinct in order to grab the reader’s attention and convince them it’s in their best interest to keep reading.

As mentioned above, your business plan is a detailed document that requires time to read. Capturing the reader’s attention with a concise format that provides an interesting overview of your plan saves them time and indicates which parts of the business plan may be most important to read in detail. This increases the odds that your business plan will be read and your business idea understood. This is why you need a well-written executive summary.

When structuring your executive summary, the first thing to keep in mind is that it should be short and comprehensive. The length of your executive summary should never exceed 3 pages; the ideal length is one or two pages.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

To write a compelling executive summary, follow the steps below and use our executive summary template as a guide:

State the Problem and/or Business Opportunity

Briefly describe your business idea, provide key information about your company history, conduct market research about your industry, identify the target market or ideal customer, explain your competitive advantage, establish relevant milestones for your business to achieve, develop a financial plan, describe the qualifications of your management team.

To help you get started, you can download our executive summary example business plan pdf here.

Whether you’re a large or small business, your executive summary is the first thing someone reads that forms an opinion of your business. Whether they decide to read your detailed business plan or push it aside depends on how good your executive summary is. We hope your executive summary guide helps you craft an effective and impactful executive summary. That way, readers will be more likely to read your full plan, request an in-person meeting, and give you funding to pursue your business plans.

Looking to get started on your business plan’s executive summary? Take a look at the business plan executive summary example below!

Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Shoutmouth.com Executive Summary

Business Overview Launched late last year, Shoutmouth.com is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet.

Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Taylor Swift receive over 5 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.

However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g., RollingStone.com, MTV.com, Billboard.com, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.

In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:

  • Create personal profiles
  • Interact with other members
  • Provide comments on news stories and music videos
  • Submit news stories and videos
  • Recommend new music artists to add to the community
  • Receive customized news and email alerts on their favorite artists

Success Factors

Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:

  • Entrepreneurial track record : Shoutmouth’s CEO and team have helped launch numerous successful ventures.
  • Monetization track record : Over the past two years, Shoutmouth’s founders have run one of the most successful online affiliate marketing programs, having sold products to over 500,000 music customers online.
  • Key milestones completed : Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 to-date to staff the company (we currently have an 11-person full-time team), build the core technology, and launch the site. We have succeeded in gaining initial customer traction with 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May.

Unique Investment Metrics

The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.

To begin, over the past five years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this target audience.

The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during a recent test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.

While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes).

Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy

While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.

Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Shoutmouth Members 626,876 4,289,580 9,577,020
Unique Visitors 2,348,050 8,390,187 18,633,659
Total Page Views (Millions) 20.7 273.5 781.0
Revenues $165,431 $2,461,127 $7,810,354
Expenses $1,407,958 $2,591,978 $2,838,423
EBITDA ($1,242,527) ($130,851) $4,971,931

Business Plan Template

Everything you need to write a killer executive summary for your business plan

What is Executive Summary—and Why Should You Care?

Executive Summary is the first and most important section of a business plan, providing a snapshot of the overall plan with the aim to compel the reader to continue reading the full document by highlighting its most important components and strengths .

Keep reading for insider tips from a professional business writer on how exactly to write a captivating executive summary that will maximize the impact and success of your business plan.

You’ll discover:

  • Why: Critical importance of an executive summary
  • What: The key elements you need to include
  • How: The best structure—length, layout and components

Importance: Why is Executive Summary Important in a Business Plan?

Executive summary is the most important part of a business plan because it is the first and only opportunity to grab readers’ interest as they review this section prior to deciding whether or not to read the rest of the document.

No matter how excellent your business idea, it is the executive summary alone that persuades a reader to spend more time with the plan to find out more about your venture.

Some financiers receive hundreds of business plans every month. Understandably, they do not read them all . Instead, they can tell in a couple of paragraphs if it is something they may be interested in.

The Executive Summary is so important, in fact, that some investors and lenders prefer to receive just the summary and financials before requesting the full business plan. So if you can hook your readers here, they will ask for more.

Similarly, senior decision-makers on many company or bank boards and committees will often read nothing else than an executive summary when approving a decision to back a business.

In other words, your Executive Summary is the  first impression  many readers will get of your business. Make sure it is a great one. Only a  clear ,  concise , and  compelling  summary of your business right up front twill persuade readers to wade through the rest of the plan.

Contents: What Should an Executive Summary for a Business Plan Include?

Executive summary brings the separate parts of a business plan together to sum up what the business is, where it is going, why it will be successful – and why it is worthy of backing . Highlight the most important and impressive facts about the company , management , offering , market , strategy and financials .

When completed, your executive summary will answer these questions for your readers:

  • What is your business all about ?
  • What are the most compelling qualities?
  • Is the business likely to succeed and why?

Executive summary is an introduction to your business, which provides a brief snapshot of your plan as a whole. To that end, concisely highlight the most important concepts and impressive features from each section of your completed plan, addressing the following areas:

Business plan sections: What readers look for:
What you sell Your basic business concept makes sense
Your audience and ideal customer
The problem you solve for customers
Market opportunity Opportunity in the market A compelling market exists for your product/service
Future of the industry
Competitive advantage Your business has significant competitive advantages
Financial Projections Funding requirements Backers have an excellent chance to make money / get money back
Financial forecast, growth plans and expected returns Your financial projections are realistic
Strategy Mission Your business has been thoroughly planned—you know where you are going and how to get there
Goals
KPIs
Company description Management team The management is capable
Track record to date
Location

Essentially, you should make it crystal clear to the that a compelling market opportunity exists for your product/service and demonstrate that your business is well-positioned to exploit it .

Remember to be brief and concise . Organize the information in a way that gives the best impression of your business to your target reader. Combine related topics if that improves the flow of the document.

If the readers of your executive summary conclude that the above elements exist in your business, they are likely to commit to reading the rest of your business plan.

So, let’s examine each of the key elements in more detail to make the reader excited about the potential of your business plan and interested to read further:

Mission Statement

Answer this question for your readers:

  • What is your business on a mission to create and why?

Aim: Convince the reader that your basic business concept makes sense.

Give a concise overview of your business idea, purpose and goals. Summarize why you have created this company and what your business is all about in one or two sentences, but no more than a paragraph.

Products and Services

Answer these questions for your readers:

  • What product(s) and/or service(s) does your business provide?
  • What problems are you solving for your target customers and how?
  • What makes your product/service different and compelling for the customers to buy?

Aim: Demonstrate to the reader that your product/service solves a real problem in the market and that the problem is worth solving.

Briefly describe the products and services your company provides and what problems you solve for your target customers, making the case for why your product will be successful:

Description:

List the products or services your company sells or plans to sell.

Problem & Solution:

Explain the need for the products or services:

  • Problem: Summarize the problem your product/service solves and why it is worth solving. In other words, what is it that your customers need and cannot find elsewhere.
  • Solution: Summarize how you will solve the problem that your customers face.

Value Proposition:

Outline why your product or service will be valuable to your customers and the advantages that will make it compelling enough for them to purchase.

Market Opportunity

  • Who are your (ideal) target customers?
  • Is there a real market demand for your product/service?
  • What is the size of the market opportunity?

Aim: Convince the reader that large and compelling market demand opportunity exists for your product/service.

List the target market you intend to reach and explain why you chose it:

Target Market:

Provide a brief description of your ideal customers and how do they break down into recognizable types or segments.

Market Analysis:

Indicate that you have done thorough market analysis by providing a summary of your market research results, including:

  • How many potential customers are there for your solution (target market)
  • What proportion of the market your company can reasonably capture (market share)
  • Forecast estimating what the future holds for the industry and market demand

Competitive Advantage

  • Who are your competitors?
  • How is the market currently divided?
  • What advantages does your company have over the competition?

Aim: Convince the reader that your business has a significant competitive edge to succeed in your target market.

This section is where you describe the gap in your target market, how your solution can fill it, and the competitive advantages that will enable you to exploit this market gap.

Hence, include information about your competition and what differentiates your business:

Competitors and Market Distribution:

Who are you up against? What other options do your customers have to address their needs? Indicate the nature of your competition and how the market is currently divided.

Competitive Advantage:

What comparative advantage does your product/service have?

Show your conclusions on your company’s competitive position and why your company will be able to compete successfully. Remember to list any important distinctions, such as patents, major contracts, or letters-of-intent.

Unique Selling Proposition:

What unique selling proposition will help your business succeed?

What makes your solution better for your customers compared to the competition?

Is competition going to get tougher?

Summarize your conclusions on whether competition is going to intensify going forward.

Company Description

Company information:.

  • Is the management team capable?
  • What are the basic details of your business?
  • What is the company’s current stage of development?
  • What are some of the milestones you’ve met?

Aim: Convince the reader that your business has the right structure and capable management team in place to succeed.

Your goal is to demonstrate that you are well-positioned to exploit the market opportunity by highlighting the positive factors in your company’s management, structure and history.

Company Details:

Include a short statement that covers the basic company details, such as the company name, when your business was formed, the names of the founders and their roles, number of employees, business location(s), and legal status.

Stage of Development:

State whether your company is a startup or continuing business, when it was founded, how far along the product or service is in its creation, and if you’ve already made sales or started shipping.

Track Record:

  • If you are an established business, provide a brief history of the company’s trading activity to date, including financial and market growth highlights.
  • If you are just starting a business, you won’t have as much information as an established company. Instead, focus on your experience and background as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular enterprise.

Management:

Briefly describe the bios of the key members of your management team , particularly those of company founders/owners , as well as the key professional advisors .

What do they bring to the table that will position your company well to take advantage of the market opportunity and make the business a success?

Highlight management’s vision and passion , along with the relevant skills , experience , qualifications , subject-matter expertise , business acumen , industry connections and other capabilities as they relate to the venture.

Operations:

Showcase the key operational features that will give the business a competitive edge.

This could include anything from an advantageous location, through innovative manufacturing technology and processes, to preferential supplier and distribution agreements – and anything in between.

Outline the strategy to achieve the company’s goals and continuously strengthen its competitive position.

Next, indicate the keys to success that you intend to use in order to implement that strategy, such as:

  • Marketing and Sales: Briefly describe the methods you will utilize to reach your target customers to market your offering and secure sales.
  • Operations and Resources: Summarize the most important resources and operational features your company will deploy to implement its strategy.

Address your plans for where you would like to take your business in the future.

Spell out the objectives you have for the company, what you plan to do:

  • Where do you expect the business to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years ?
  • What are some of the key milestones you plan to meet?
  • What are your long-term goals ?
  • What is your potential exit strategy ?

Make an educated projection for the expected performance of your business, including:

  • Sales volume and value
  • Cash flow position
  • Profitability
  • Number of employees
  • Number of locations
  • Market share
  • New products

Financial Forecast

Summarize the expected financial outlook and performance for your business, answering the following questions for your readers:

  • How much do you expect to make in the first year of your business?
  • What kind of growth do you expect to see in the following years?
  • If you do not expect your business to be profitable , do you have a strategic reason for running at a loss?
  • What are the key metrics that you need to watch?
  • Will your backers (if any) be able to get their money back and when ?
  • Are your financial projections realistic ?

In general, it is customary to indicate financial information for years one through three or five , depending on the requirements of the business plan reader. Typically, this includes Year 1 and Year 3 / 5 results; and Year 10 / long-term goals.

However, your readers can find the detail of the projected financials further on in the plan. In this section, only provide the highlights of your forecast and encourage the reader to keep reading to learn more about your company.

Funding Requirements

How will you fund your business to get it started and grow it to the next level?

  • Is it already self-sufficient?
  • Do you plan to invest your own money?
  • Do you seek outside financing?

If the business does not require any outside financing, you can note that here or just remove this section from your plan altogether.

When you are using the business plan for financing purposes, explain how much money is needed, from whom, and how you will utilize it to grow your business, hinting at an exit opportunity:

  • Existing Source of Funds: Include information about your current lenders and investors, if any.
  • Funding Requirements: Indicate how much money you are seeking, from what sources, and perhaps even under what conditions.
  • Use of Funds: Specify how the raised funds will be used.
  • Exit Strategy: Hint at how the backers will get their money out, with the expected timing and returns.

Tips: How Do You Write an Executive Summary?

Writing an executive summary is arguably the most fun – and important – part of writing a business plan.

You have already completed all the research, thinking and writing about market demand, competition, strategy, operations and financials.

All that is left to do now is to summarize the key conclusions into a coherent narrative , answering the million-dollar question:

Why is your plan worthy of backing?

Here are 7 tried and tested tips to prepare a compelling summary of your business that will convince the readers to read through the rest of your plan:

Target Audience (Tip #1)

Ask yourself: “Who will be reading my business plan?”

Since the summary is what the reader reads first, and may be the only section read at all, you can significantly improve your chances of a positive reception if you know the answer to that question before you prepare your executive summary.

Remember, your reader is only going to spend a few minutes , or even seconds , on your executive summary. This is especially true if you are targeting busy investors or lenders for whom it is not unusual to review more than 1,000 each year.

Naturally, the readers are going to focus on the issues that interest and concern them most . If you understand their priorities, you will be better able to craft the summary to “push the right buttons”. For example:

  • Bankers are likely to look for aspects of your business that minimize risk to make sure the loan is secure and they will get their money back.
  • Investors are focused on aspects that maximize the potential of your company scaling significantly and rapidly, because they will receive a share of that success.
  • Management may be interested in accessing new markets for the company.

Do your homework to discover the interests and concerns of your most likely business plan recipients, and then write and organize the summary in a way that most appeals to your target audience:

  • Place the issues most important to the reader near the top of your summary.
  • Order the sections in any way that gives the best impression of your business to your target reader.
  • In the text itself, give more emphasis to those aspects that concern your reader most.

If you are not able to identify the specific person who will read your plan, just focus on the general type of a person that is most likely to receive it and their concerns. 

However, it is not a good idea to tailor the executive summary for just one specific person or organization, especially if your plan is likely to end up in the hands multiple and/or unknown recipients.

To be on the safe side, target your summary to address general institutional concerns rather than individual preferences.

Insider Tips: Writing a Winning Executive Summary

Convey your enthusiasm (tip #2).

The Executive Summary enables the readers to quickly understand the highlights of your business and decide whether to commit more of their time to reading the full plan.

To that end, you need to motivate and entice the readers by your own optimism about how well-positioned your business is to exploit a compelling market opportunity, conveyed in a dynamic , positive and confident tone.

Write Executive Summary Last (Tip #3)

Your executive summary will be the last chapter of the business plan that you prepare.

Even though the executive summary always appears first in the completed document, it is usually crafted last after you have had a chance to carefully consider all key aspects of your business throughout the rest of the plan.

The executive summary is the place where you bring all your planning together and sum up the separate parts of your business proposal to provide an overall outline and highlight the strengths of your entire plan.

Therefore, you will find it much easier and faster to come back and produce this section once you have completed the rest of your business plan.

That way, you will have thought through all the elements of your business, work out the details, and be prepared to summarize them. This approach will not only increase the consistency and accuracy of the plan, but also help make it more compelling .

So, if you have not yet finalized the other sections of your plan, proceed to the next section, and return to the executive summary when you have completed the rest of your plan.

Once finished, the executive summary will become “ Chapter 1 ” of your business plan document.

Summarize Highlights (Tip #4)

A good summary contains highlights from all of the subsequent sections of the business plan.

To achieve that, select the key points from each section of your completed plan by summarizing conclusions you have reached in each area. Remember to focus only on the most important and impressive features of your business.

What sets your business apart from the competition? Early on in your summary, showcase your distinguishing qualities and make sure you describe your winning concept in a way that any reader can easily grasp .

Use logical writing to tell a story, freely changing the order of sections and combining related topics if that helps to improve the flow and make a good impression.

Make Each Word Count (Tip #5)

The executive summary provides a brief snapshot of your business, casting a spotlight on the most important facts and concepts from your entire business plan.

As a result, this section should be clear , concise and to the point. Make each word should count.

Avoid Jargon (Tip #6)

In case the summary read by people unfamiliar with your industry, avoid any technical jargon or provide sufficient explanatory notes .

Edit, Edit, … And Edit Some More (Tip #7)

By the time you reach the executive summary, you may be tired from all the planning and writing. However, remember that this really is the most important section of the business plan.

The best investment you can make is to spend sufficient time to perfect the summary, including ruthless editing . There are professional editors who can help you make it flawless.

Design: How Do You Design an Executive Summary?

Looks matter. Your business plan will be well researched, analysed and written, but it must also be well presented. While your plan will ultimately be judged on the quality of your business concept and strategy, you also want to make sure it gives the best first impression possible.

And nowhere is presentation more important than in the executive summary, because for all readers it will be the first page(s) they read – and some will read nothing else.

The key advice here is: Break it Up . Large, dense blocks of text intimidate readers.

Dividing the Summary text with paragraph headings, bullet points and white space makes the information on a page more inviting and appealing:

  • Paragraphs: Break up the Summary into paragraphs that roughly mirror the sections of your business plan
  • Brief: Keep each topic as brief as possible
  • Subheads: Insert informative topic headings at the beginning of each paragraph to help readers’ quick comprehension
  • Bullets: Use bullet points to highlight the most compelling information
  • Numbers: Use numbers instead of words where appropriate
  • Visuals: Include a (small) chart or graph if it helps to clarify an important point
  • Spacing: Use white space to break up the text to make the page look less intimidating. Single space text, but leave an extra line of space between paragraphs.

Because you are limited to so few pages, it may seem counterintuitive to give up space for visual considerations, but these effective techniques make your Summary much more accessible to the business plan readers.

The way you prepare and present the executive summary is an indicator of your professionalism. A polished Summary sheds a favourable light on your business. A sloppy one works against you.

Length: How long is an executive summary?

The executive summary in a business plan should be no more than 2-3 pages in length, with 1 page being perfectly acceptable and often preferable. The advantage to the busy business plan reader is that they are able to skim through this short summary in a few seconds and read it in full in less than 5 minutes .

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How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

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Here’s the good news: an executive summary is short. It’s part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report.

Here’s the bad news: it’s a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes. On one hand, executive summaries are used to outline each section of your business plan, an investment proposal or project proposal. On the other hand, they’re used to introduce your business or project to investors and other stakeholders, so they must be persuasive to spark their interest.

What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short section of a larger document like a business plan , investment proposal or project proposal. It’s mostly used to give investors and stakeholders a quick overview of important information about a business plan like the company description, market analysis and financial information.

It contains a short statement that addresses the problem or proposal detailed in the attached documents and features background information, a concise analysis and a conclusion. An executive summary is designed to help executives and investors decide whether to go forth with the proposal, making it critically important. Pitch decks are often used along with executive summaries to talk about the benefits and main selling points of a business plan or project.

Unlike an abstract, which is a short overview, an executive summary format is a condensed form of the documents contained in the proposal. Abstracts are more commonly used in academic and research-oriented writing and act as a teaser for the reader to see if they want to read on.

Executive Summary Format & Template

To put all of that information together, here’s the basic format of an executive summary. You can find this same information in our free executive summary template :

  • Introduction, be sure to know your audience
  • Table of contents in the form of a bulleted list
  • Explain the company’s role and identify strengths
  • Explain the need, or the problem, and its importance
  • Recommend a solution and explain its value
  • Justify said solution by explaining how it fits the organization
  • A strong conclusion that once more wraps up the importance of the project

You can use it as an executive summary example and add or remove some of its elements to adjust it to your needs. Our sample executive summary has the main elements that you’ll need project executive summary.

Executive summary template for Word

How to Write an Executive Summary

The pressure of writing an executive summary comes from the fact that everyone will pay attention to it, as it sits at the top of that heap of documents. It explains all that follows and can make or break your business plan or project plan . The executive summary must know the needs of the potential clients or investors and zero in on them like a laser. Fortunately, we’ll show you how to write and format your executive summary to do just that.

Executive summaries vary depending on the document they’re attached to. You can write an executive summary for a business plan, project proposal, research document, or business case, among other documents and reports. However, when writing an executive summary, there are guidelines to ensure you hit all the bases.

Executive Summary Length

According to the many books that have been written about executive summaries, as well as training courses, seminars and professional speakers, the agreed-upon length for an executive summary format should be about five to 10 percent of the length of the whole report.

Appropriate Language

The language used should be appropriate for the target audience. One of the most important things to know before you write professionally is to understand who you’re addressing. If you’re writing for a group of engineers, the language you’ll use will differ greatly from how you would write to a group of financiers.

That includes more than just the words, but the content and depth of explanation. Remember, it’s a summary, and people will be reading it to quickly and easily pull out the main points.

Pithy Introduction

You also want to capture a reader’s attention immediately in the opening paragraph. Just like a speech often opens with a joke to break the tension and put people at ease, a strong introductory paragraph can pull a reader in and make them want to read on. That doesn’t mean you start with a joke. Stick to your strengths, but remember, most readers only give you a few sentences to win them over before they move on.

Don’t forget to explain who you are as an organization and why you have the skills, personnel and experience to solve the problem raised in the proposal. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy biography, often just your name, address and contact information will do, though you’ll also want to highlight your strengths as they pertain to the business plan or project proposal .

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Executive Summary Template

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Relevant Information

The executive summary shouldn’t stray from the material that follows it. It’s a summary, not a place to bring up new ideas. To do so would be confusing and would jeopardize your whole proposal.

Establish the need or the problem, and convince the target audience that it must be solved. Once that’s set up, it’s important to recommend the solution and show what the value is. Be clear and firm in your recommendation.

Justify your cause. Be sure to note the key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. This is the point where you differentiate yourself from competitors, be that due to methodology, testimonials from satisfied clients or whatever else you offer that’s unique. But don’t make this too much about you. Be sure to keep the name of the potential client at the forefront.

Don’t neglect a strong conclusion, where you can wrap things up and once more highlight the main points.

Related: 10 Essential Excel Report Templates

What to Include in an Executive Summary

The content of your executive summary must reflect what’s in the larger document which it is part of. You’ll find many executive summary examples on the web, but to keep things simple, we’ll focus on business plans and project proposals.

Getting everything organized for your executive summary can be challenging. ProjectManager can help you get your thoughts in order and collaborate with your team. Our powerful task management tools make it easy to get everything prioritized and done on time. Try it free today.

Collaborate and organize documents such as the executive summary in ProjectManager

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

As we’ve learned above, your executive summary must extract the main points of all the sections of your business plan. A business plan is a document that describes all the aspects of a business, such as its business model, products or services, objectives and marketing plan , among other things. They’re commonly used by startups to pitch their ideas to investors.

Here are the most commonly used business plan sections:

  • Company description: Provide a brief background of your company, such as when it was established, its mission, vision and core values.
  • Products & services: Describe the products or services your company will provide to its customers.
  • Organization and management: Explain the legal structure of your business and the members of the top management team.
  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis explains the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. They describe the internal and external factors that impact your business competitiveness.
  • Industry & market analysis: This section should provide an overview of the industry and market in which your business will compete.
  • Operations: Explain the main aspects of your business operations and what sets it apart from competitors.
  • Marketing plan: Your marketing plan describes the various strategies that your business will use to reach its customers and sell products or services.
  • Financial planning: Here, you should provide an overview of the financial state of your business. Include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  • Funding request: If you’re creating your business plan to request funding, make sure to explain what type of funding you need, the timeframe for your funding request and an explanation of how the funds will be used.

We’ve created an executive summary example to help you better understand how this document works when using it, to sum up a business plan.

Executive Summary Example

For this executive summary example, we’ll imagine a company named ABC Clothing, a small business that manufactures eco-friendly clothing products and it’s preparing a business plan to secure funding from new investors.

Company Description We are ABC Clothing, an environmentally-friendly manufacturer of apparel. We’ve developed a unique method of production and sourcing of materials that allows us to create eco-friendly products at a low cost . We have intellectual property for our production processes and materials, which gives us an advantage in the market.

  • Mission: Our mission is to use recycled materials and sustainable methods of production to create clothing products that are great for our customers and our planet.
  • Vision: Becoming a leader in the apparel industry while generating a positive impact on the environment.

Products & Services We offer high-quality clothing products for men, women and all genders. (Here you should include pictures of your product portfolio to spark the interest of your readers)

Industry & Market Analysis Even though the fashion industry’s year-over-year growth has been affected by pandemics in recent years, the global apparel market is expected to continue growing at a steady pace. In addition, the market share of sustainable apparel has grown year-over-year at a higher pace than the overall fashion industry.

Marketing Plan Our marketing plan relies on the use of digital marketing strategies and online sales, which gives us a competitive advantage over traditional retailers that focus their marketing efforts on brick-and-mortar stores.

Operations Our production plant is able to recycle different types of plastic and cotton waste to turn it into materials that we use to manufacture our products . We’ve partnered with a transportation company that sorts and distributes our products inside the United States efficiently and cost-effectively.

Financial Planning Our business is profitable, as documented in our balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The company doesn’t have any significant debt that might compromise its continuity. These and other financial factors make it a healthy investment.

Funding Request We’re requesting funding for the expansion of our production capacity, which will allow us to increase our production output in order to meet our increasing customer demand, enter new markets, reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness.

If you’d like to see more executive summary examples for your business plan, you can visit the U.S. small business administration website. They have business plans with executive summary examples you can download and use.

Executive summaries are also a great way to outline the elements of a project plan for a project proposal. Let’s learn what those elements are.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Project Proposal

An executive summary for your project proposal will capture the most important information from your project management plan. Here’s the structure of our executive summary template:

  • Introduction: What’s the purpose of your project?
  • Company description: Show why you’re the right team to take on the project.
  • Need/problem: What is the problem that it’s solving?
  • Unique solution: What is your value proposition and what are the main selling points of your project?
  • Proof: Evidence, research and feasibility studies that support how your company can solve the issue.
  • Resources: Outline the resources needed for the project
  • Return on investment/funding request: Explain the profitability of your project and what’s in for the investors.
  • Competition/market analysis: What’s your target market? Who are your competitors? How does your company differentiate from them?
  • Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that describes your company’s marketing strategies, sales and partnership plans.
  • Budget/financial planning: What’s the budget that you need for your project plan?
  • Timeline: What’s the estimated timeline to complete the project?
  • Team: Who are the project team members and why are they qualified?
  • Conclusions:  What are the project takeaways?

Now that we’ve learned that executive summaries can vary depending on the type of document you’re working on, you’re ready for the next step.

What to Do After Writing an Executive Summary

As with anything you write, you should always start with a draft. The first draft should hit all the marks addressed above but don’t bog yourself down in making the prose perfect. Think of the first draft as an exploratory mission. You’re gathering all the pertinent information.

Next, you want to thoroughly review the document to ensure that nothing important has been left out or missed. Make sure the focus is sharp and clear, and that it speaks directly to your potential client’s needs.

Proofread for Style & Grammar

But don’t neglect the writing. Be sure that you’re not repeating words, falling into cliché or other hallmarks of bad writing. You don’t want to bore the reader to the point that they miss the reason why you’re the organization that can help them succeed.

You’ve checked the content and the prose, but don’t forget the style. You want to write in a way that’s natural and not overly formal, but one that speaks in the manner of your target audience . If they’re a conservative firm, well then, maybe formality is called for. But more and more modern companies have a casual corporate culture, and formal writing could mistakenly cause them to think of you as old and outdated.

The last run should be proofing the copy. That means double-checking to ensure that spelling is correct, and there are no typos or grammatical mistakes. Whoever wrote the executive summary isn’t the best person to edit it, however. They can easily gloss over errors because of their familiarity with the work. Find someone who excels at copy-editing. If you deliver sloppy content, it shows a lack of professionalism that’ll surely color how a reader thinks of your company.

Criticism of Executive Summaries

While we’re advocating for the proper use of an executive summary, it’d be neglectful to avoid mentioning some critiques. The most common is that an executive summary by design is too simple to capture the complexity of a large and complicated project.

It’s true that many executives might only read the summary, and in so doing, miss the nuance of the proposal. That’s a risk. But if the executive summary follows the guidelines stated above, it should give a full picture of the proposal and create interest for the reader to delve deeper into the documents to get the details.

Remember, executive summaries can be written poorly or well. They can fail to focus on results or the solution to the proposal’s problem or do so in a vague, general way that has no impact on the reader. You can do a hundred things wrong, but if you follow the rules, then the onus falls on the reader.

ProjectManager Turns an Executive Summary Into a Project

Your executive summary got the project approved. Now the real work begins. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you organize tasks, projects and teams. We have everything you need to manage each phase of your project, so you can complete your work on time and under budget.

Work How You Want

Because project managers and teams work differently, our software is flexible. We have multiple project views, such as the kanban board, which visualizes workflow. Managers like the transparency it provides in the production cycle, while teams get to focus only on those tasks they have the capacity to complete. Are you more comfortable with tasks lists or Gantt charts? We have those, too.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Live Tracking for Better Management

To ensure your project meets time and cost expectations, we have features that monitor and track progress so you can control any deviations that might occur. Our software is cloud-based, so the data you see on our dashboard is always up to date, helping you make better decisions. Make that executive summary a reality with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

You’ve now researched and written a persuasive executive summary to lead your proposal. You’ve put in the work and the potential client sees that and contracts you for the project. However, if you don’t have a reliable set of project management tools like Gantt charts , kanban boards and project calendars at hand to plan, monitor and report on the work, then all that preparation will be for nothing.

ProjectManager is online project management software that gives you real-time data and a collaborative platform to work efficiently and productively. But don’t take our word for it, take a free 30-day trial.

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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How to Write a Business Plan Executive Summary [Sample Template]

Executive Summary

A good executive summary is the holy grail of good business plan writing. Even though it comes after you have written and thought through every other facet of your business, it is arguably the most important part of the puzzle. As its name implies, the executive summary is a brief overview of your business plan. Call it an introduction to your business and you would be very right.

The executive summary gives time-crunched executives or VCs  that high-level overview that will either persuade them to read your plan further or toss it in a trashcan without a second thought. Even though the executive summary is the first thing that the readers of your business plan will go through, you should write it last because it summarizes everything from that start to the end of your business plan.

Also, it is usually the first and probably the most important thing that busy investors consider before deciding if your business plan is worth spending a minute on. Secondly, since it’s a summary, you will only be highlighting the main facets of what you have uncovered over the course of writing your business plan. Below is a list of what your executive summary should include:

Components of a Business Plan Executive Summary

  • Business concept (what you do or what you intend to do)
  • Business goals and vision (what you want to achieve)
  • Product/service description and differentiation (what you offer and what makes it different)
  • Target market (who you want to sell to)
  • Marketing plan (how you plan to reach your customers)
  • Current financial state (what you currently make in revenue—for existing business looking at expansion, or how much you already have on ground—for startups)
  • Projected financial state (what you foresee making in revenue)
  • The request (how much funds you are asking for)
  • The team (who runs your business)

Your business plan executive summary must provide brief information on the following areas of your business;

  • The target market : it has to describe the type of customers you will be targeting.
  • Business model : it should describe your products or services and what will make them appealing to the target market.
  • Marketing and sales strategy : it should touch briefly your plans for marketing your products or services.
  • The competition : since competition is a major part of business, so it has to describe how you plan on dealing with the completion and gaining market share. It should equally state your competitive advantage.
  • Financial analysis : it should summarize your financial plan
  • Owners/Staff : it should describe the owners and the key staff members and the expertise they bring to the venture.
  • Implementation plan : it should briefly outline the schedule for taking your business from the planning stage to opening your doors.
  • An overview of funding requirements : you need to state the amount of funding you need, and what the money would be used for.
  • Growth highlights : it should give any instances of growth and, if possible, illustrate that growth with graphs or charts.
  • Future Plans : This doesn’t have to be too detailed, but it should give anyone reading your summary an idea of where your business is heading and how you intend to get there.

Writing a business plan executive summary is not that difficult, you only need to include the summary of the details that were listed above. You executive summary should be arranged this way;

Writing a Business Plan Executive Summary – Sample Template

You can start by describing your company, your mission and vision statements. Include your Business Name and address. If you are lost for words on how to describe your company, think about how you want your employees, customers and the business community to view your company.

This intro paragraph should be attention-getting from the start. It is wise to bring in impressive attributes of your company, but be specific here. Potential investors will want to see real evidence of demonstrated skills and unique abilities. Use this section to highlight company or employee accolades, albeit briefly. Describe the organizational structure and name key employees.

The names and titles of key employees are sufficient; however, include a brief description of executive team members’ responsibilities and duties. Include a list of satellite offices, contact information for each location and how many employees would work in each location.

2. Your business offering

Write a description of what your business aims to offer to its target market. Here, you should give a description of the product or service the business expects to offer. Highlight the products or services in a way that sounds appealing and sets you apart from the competition. The aim of the executive summary is to intrigue the reader enough to read what the rest of the business plan holds.

3. Your finances

This section is where you now talk about the financial aspects of your business. Disclose all business partners, investors and banks you have business relationships with. Explain the role of each entity or individual, the amounts invested or financed, and fiduciary terms and responsibilities.

If you are proposing your business plan to additional lending institutions or investors, this information can strengthen your plan by illustrating confidence others have in your ability to operate a successful business. This section should also include sales and profit projections for the business. You are free to use charts or graphs to reflect this information if it would provide more insight than texts.

Construct the final section of your executive summary by drafting comments about your organization’s accomplishments, accolades or remarkable growth. In this section, briefly describe your plan for achieving your company’s future goals.

Having discussed how an executive plan is written, let’s go further by looking at tips on how to ensure that your executive summary is perfectly written.

8 Tips for Writing a Perfect Business Plan Executive Summary

A. you must ensure that your first paragraph is strong enough.

To attract the reader’s attention and compel them to read the rest of the summary. For example, you can start by stating a market problem that your business promises to fix.

b. Remember, it’s all a summary

So, keep it short. The business plan itself will provide the details. So, don’t waste the reader’s time or irritate them by adding unnecessary details in your executive summary.

c. Use strong and positive language

Don’t weaken or dilute your statements with inappropriate words. For example, instead of writing “Our business might just become the market winner in the next five years”, write “Our business is poised to become the market winner in the next five years.”

d. Although there is no standard page length for executive summaries

It is better to keep it within two pages. Always resist the temptation to stuff your business plan’s executive summary with details that are already covered in the rest of the plan. Remember, the summary is meant to present facts about your business and entice the reader to read the rest of the plan.

e. Fine-tune your executive summary after writing it

Read it aloud to yourself. Does it sound great to you? Does it sound clear and brief, but detailed ? If you are satisfied with it, let someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and give suggestions on how you can improve it.

f. Customize the executive summary for your target audience

If your motive is to entice investors, for instance, your summary should hammer on the benefits that investors stand to gain from the opportunity you are presenting to them. Also, use formal or informal language depending on what’s more appropriate for your target audience.

g. Read the executive summary aloud once again

Putting yourself in place of the reader this time. Does the summary trigger your interest in the business or put you off instantly? Does the summary sound too good to be true, due to the choice of words? After reading it thoroughly, make necessary adjustments.

h. Clear your vocabularies of any self-glorifying superlatives

Clichés, and overused expressions that you may not be able to back up. Avoid words like “ best ”, “ ground-breaking ”, “ cutting-edge ”, “ world class ”, etc. Investors and other readers see those words almost every day and they tend to overlook their real meanings.

In conclusion

When writing your executive summary, even though it comes first, but aim to write it last after you have written the rest of your plan. This is the only way to know what exactly you should include when writing it. You have already done the research, so use that when pulling together the salient points of the executive summary.

Also, ensure that you check, double-check and triple-check your executive summary for any errors. Grammatical and spelling errors should be eradicated. But more importantly, your financial projections should contain absolutely no errors. Just one slight financial error will make you an amateur to any savvy investor.

Again, don’t be afraid to let your passion or excitement for your business come through in your executive summary. Investors typically believe that it takes a certain kind of entrepreneur to make a successful business, so capitalize on your commitment to get the backing you need.

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Executive Summary of the Business Plan

How to Write an Executive Summary That Gets Your Business Plan Read

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

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An executive summary of a business plan is an overview. Its purpose is to summarize the key points of a document for its readers, saving them time and preparing them for the upcoming content.

Think of the executive summary as an advance organizer for the reader. Above all else, it must be clear and concise. But it also has to entice the reader to read the rest of the business plan .

This is why the executive summary is often called the most important part of the business plan. If it doesn’t capture the reader's attention, the plan will be set aside unread—a disaster if you've written your business plan as part of an attempt to get money to start your new business . (Getting startup money is not the only reason to write a business plan; there are other just-as-important reasons .)

Because it is an overview of the entire plan, it is common to write the executive summary last (and writing it last can make it much easier).

What Information Goes in an Executive Summary?

The information you need to include varies somewhat depending on whether your business is a startup or an established business.

For a startup business typically one of the main goals of the business plan is to convince banks, angel investors , or venture capitalists to invest in your business by providing startup capital in the form of debt or equity financing .

In order to do so you will have to provide a solid case for your business idea which makes your executive summary all the more important. A typical executive summary for a startup company includes the following sections:

  • The business opportunity. Describe the need or the opportunity.
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity. Explain how will your business will serve the market.
  • The target market . Describe the customer base you will be targeting.
  • Business model . Describe your products or services and and what will make them appealing to the target market.
  • Marketing and sales strategy . Briefly outline your plans for marketing your products and services.
  • The competition. Describe your competition and your strategy for getting market share. What is your competitive advantage, e.g. what will you offer to customers that your competitors cannot?
  • Financial analysis. Summarize the financial plan including projections for at least the next three years.
  • Owners/Staff. Describe the owners and the key staff members and the expertise they bring to the venture.
  • Implementation plan. Outline the schedule for taking your business from the planning stage to opening your doors.

For established businesses the executive summary typically includes information about achievements, growth plans , etc. A typical executive summary outline for an established business includes:

  • Mission Statement . Articulates the purpose of your business. In a few sentences describe what your company does and your core values and business philosophy.
  • Company Information. Give a brief history of your company —d escribe your products or services, when and where it was formed, who the owners and key employees are, statistics such as the number of employees, business locations, etc.
  • Business Highlights. Describe the evolution of the businesshow it has grown, including year-over-year revenue increases, profitability, increases in market share, number of customers, etc.
  • Financial Summary. If the purpose of updating the business plan is to seek additional financing for expansion, then give a brief financial summary.
  • Future goals. Describe your goals for the business . If you are seeking financing explain how additional funding will be used to expand the business or otherwise increase profits.

How Do I Write an Executive Summary of a Business Plan?

Start by following the list above and writing one to two sentences about each topic (depending on whether your business is a startup or an established business). No more! 

The Easy Way of Writing One

Having trouble getting started? The easiest way of writing the executive summary is to review your business plan and take a summary sentence or two from each of the business plan sections you’ve already written.

If you compare the list above to the sections outlined in the  Business Plan Outline , you’ll see that this could work very well.

Then finish your business plan’s executive summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that answers the reader’s question, “Why is this a winning business?”

For example, an executive summary for a pet-sitting business might conclude: “The loving on-site professional care that Pet Grandma will provide is sure to appeal to both cat and dog owners throughout the West Vancouver area.”

(You may find it useful to read the entire Pet Grandma  executive summary example  before you write your own.)

Tips for Writing the Business Plan’s Executive Summary

  • Focus on providing a summary.  The business plan itself will provide the details and whether bank managers or investors, the readers of your plan don’t want to have their time wasted.
  • Keep your language strong and positive.  Don’t weaken your executive summary with weak language. Instead of writing, “Dogstar Industries might be in an excellent position to win government contracts,” write “Dogstar Industries will be in an excellent position.”
  • Keep it short–no more than two pages long . Resist the temptation to pad your business plan’s executive summary with details (or pleas). The job of the executive summary is to present the facts and entice your reader to read the rest of the business plan, not tell him everything.
  • Polish your executive summary.  Read it aloud. Does it flow or does it sound choppy? Is it clear and succinct? Once it sounds good to you, have someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and make suggestions for improvement.
  • Tailor it to your audience.  If the purpose of your business plan is to  entice investors , for instance, your executive summary should focus on the opportunity your business provides investors and why the opportunity is special. If the purpose of your business plan is to get a small business loan , focus on highlighting what traditional lenders want to see, such as management's experience in the industry and the fact that you have both collateral and strategies in place to minimize the lender's risk.
  • Put yourself in your readers’ place. And read your executive summary again. Does it generate interest or excitement in the reader? If not, why? Also try giving it to a friend or relative to read, who is not engaged in the business. If you've done a good job on the executive summary, an impartial third party should be able to understand it.

Remember, the executive summary will be the first thing your readers read. If it's poorly written, it will also be the last thing they read, as they set the rest of your business plan aside unread.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. " Business Plan Guidelines ," Page 2.

Corporate Finance Institute. " Executive Summary ."

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. " How to Prepare Your Business Plan ," Page 167.

Iowa State University. " Types and Sources of Financing for Start-up Businesses ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

Clute Institute. " Using Business Plans for Teaching Entrepreneurship ," Page 733.

How to Write An Executive Summary for a Business Plan

It is important to know how to write an executive summary for a business plan, particularly if you expect an outside source to read it. 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

It is important to know how to write an executive summary for a business plan, particularly if you expect an outside source to read it. This part of your business plan will provide a brief, but thorough overview of the most critical details of your company so that you can attract investors or reach other important goals as an organization.

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary can be defined as a short introduction in your business plan. The goal of the executive summary is to highlight the key points of the plan for anyone who reads it, which helps to save time and lets them know what the rest of the business plan will include.

It is essentially an advance organizer. The executive summary can often be considered the most crucial part of a business plan. It will describe a business, which problems it will solve, the target market, and a highlight of the financials.

Every plan will not need a summary. It is crucial for the plans that are written for outsiders. It will take considerable effort to write an excellent summary. If there is no real business use for it, do not write the summary.

There are many jobs that are accomplished by an executive summary . It needs to show readers the answers to their questions by pointing to the section with detailed information about their query. It should also make it easier for anyone who has to read it while making it enjoyable, through the presentation of interesting and useful facts about a company.

What Should an Executive Summary Include?

What needs to be included in an executive summary will largely depend on the business. The summary for a start-up and an established company will vary greatly. For start-ups, the primary goal of the business plan is to get money by convincing banks, venture capitalists, or angel investors to invest in a business by providing equity or debt financing.

To accomplish this, a company will need to present a tight case for a business idea. This is where the executive summary is very important.

An executive summary needs to include the following :

  • Who are you? You need to provide the name of your business, its location, and all contact information.
  • What do you offer and what problems will your business solve ? You should include a short description of the products and services you provide and why it is needed. The business does not need to solve a huge social problem, but it needs to show why it meets a specific need in the market.
  • Who is your target market? You need to describe the type of customer you are trying to reach. Your product can define itself through its name in some cases, such as “Prius dashboard accessory.” If this is not the case, simply provide a short description of who your target customer is.
  • What is the purpose of your business plan? You need to state whether you are trying to get investments or a bank loan. The executive summary is really only needed when you are sharing your plan with outsiders.
  • Who is your competition? Talk about your competition and describe the strategies you will implement for getting a share of the market. Name your competitive advantages and how you stand out against the competition.
  • How are your finances? You should include a financial analysis to summarize your financial plan. You also need to include all projections for the next three years.
  • What is your size and scale? For instance, if you own an existing company, this information can consist of simply adding your most recent sales numbers. For a start-up, it can be a short description of your goals or aspirations for the next one to three years.
  • Are there any further critical details? You should mention any important, defining detailed information that will be important to whoever reads your summary. For example, you could include that those who founded the company are all local MBA students or any development grants you have received.

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How To Write an Executive Summary (with examples) | Proposify

development business plan executive summary

An effective executive summary can mean the difference between a client win and the recycle bin. It's arguably the most valuable component of any business proposal , but many people get confused when it comes time to put pen to paper.

An executive summary is not actually about summarizing at all; it’s about selling. Here’s how to write a proposal executive summary that seals the deal, including the 5 key components you need and some helpful dos and don'ts.

(This article was originally published on 7/4/2017 and updated on 05/16/2023)

There is so much dissent surrounding the executive summary of a proposal— Where does the executive summary go? How long should an executive summary be? How do you format an executive summary? These uncertainties can add to the already stressful task of getting a winning proposal written, designed, and delivered to the prospective client on time. It’s time to set things straight.

What is an executive summary?

The executive summary is arguably the most valuable component of any proposal. It serves as an introduction, allowing readers to quickly get acquainted with your proposal by outlining what’s to come. It gives you an opportunity to sell your proposed solution and explain why the prospective client should choose you over the competition.

The purpose of an executive summary

First of all, the term “executive summary” needs a rebrand. The name itself speaks of stuffy suits, boring, jargon-filled reports, and boardrooms filled with cigar smoke and people ready to say no.

men in a boardroom

They can’t wait to read your executive summary.

In all seriousness, the word “summary” can be misleading, and this is the first mistake people often make when it comes to writing their executive summary. They think that the purpose of an executive summary is to explain the entire proposal in 250 words. But it’s not.

The real purpose of an executive summary is to engage your prospective client. It helps the prospect quickly decide whether they're going to read the rest of the proposal, pass it on to other decision-makers, or if it's destined for the recycle bin.

So you better make it good.

The executive summary of your proposal needs to grab the reader’s attention and pique their interest. Even though you and your team spent painstaking hours writing this proposal, selecting just the right graphics, and coming up with the best solution for your potential client’s problem, they may only read this one page and then flip to your pricing table.

That’s why this section needs to be specific and persuasive, with a focus on results and benefits of your company/product/service, rather than describing features. You can save the features for the body of the proposal.

When should you write the executive summary?

Whether you write the executive summary before or after the rest of the proposal is as contentious as the debate about the best part of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: the chocolate or the peanut butter.

Some people feel that you should write the executive summary first because it can help you outline your concept and organize your thoughts for the entire proposal. That way, it acts as a guide for members of your team who are tasked with preparing sections of the proposal, ensuring that the big idea is consistent throughout, and that all necessary components are included.

Others feel strongly that you should write the executive summary after you’ve prepared the rest of the proposal because you’ve had a chance to work through the objectives and the solutions, and you’ll have a better idea of what to say and how to say it. Plus, things may have changed since you first started the proposal, so you might need to adjust your approach.

How to format an executive summary

The format of an executive summary is an important consideration that many people overlook. What do you include? How do you arrange the sections? To help you get started, here are the components of a good proposal executive summary:

The Opener: Capture their attention

You need an opener that's compelling. A way to get the potential client’s attention right away, and you do that by talking about THEM, not about you. Focus on the issue and the result, but be direct, concise, and evocative.

This is the time to hook them in — get them excited about what they’re going to read next.

The Need: We get it

Before a client hires you, they want to know that you get them. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand. This section of the executive summary is where you demonstrate your grasp of the situation. You could include a bit of your own research or a brief reference to your company’s experience dealing with a similar situation. You should also talk about how the client will benefit from solving the problem — what will change, the positive outcomes, the results.

Again, the focus here is on the prospect and their challenge, not on you and your company.

The Proposed Solution: We’ve got it

Now you’re in the spotlight. This section is where you talk about the brilliant solution you’re proposing and why it will work. But remember, this is just an overview. The prospect can read all the delicious details in the proposal, so keep it high level but still provide enough detail to convince them you have something specific and well thought out for them.

This section should start to provide your prospect with a sense of relief and get them excited about the result.

The Evidence: We can do it

It's time to show your stuff. Talk about why your company, your team, or your product is not only willing to take this challenge on, but how and why you're qualified to do so. Demonstrate what sets you apart and why they should choose you over the competition.

Maybe this is your niche market and you have lots of experience helping other companies with a similar issue. Maybe it’s a particular skill set your team possesses, your research, your algorithm, or your project management process. Or maybe you’ve won 27 Academy Awards for best picture, and you know you can make this a hit.

Talk about WHY you can make this a successful project and deliver results, but (broken record) keep it brief.

The Call to Action: Let’s do it

Keeping in mind that the purpose of the executive summary is to sell, it’s now time to close the deal.

Make the client feel like they have no other chance for happiness than to hire you and proves your solution is the one that will make their dreams come true.

Talk about why you want to work with them — a little flattery goes a long way — and about how, as partners, you will be successful.

Executive Summary Examples

Without further adieu, here are four (fictional) business proposal executive summary examples that will get your prospects excited to work with you.

1. Example of Ecommerce Executive Summary

Prospect: Gyuto -- Japanese chef knife brand Sender: ThinkBig -- Shopify design agency Project title: Shopify ecommerce Proposal

Gyuto sells what is arguably the coolest line of artisanal, sustainably-sourced kitchen knives in the world. They're handmade in Japan, capable of slicing tomatoes as thin as paper, and surprisingly affordable, considering the attention to detail. But as impressive as Gyuto knives are, you've got a static website that merely showcases low-res photos of your product line and requires customers to pick up the phone and place orders manually.

As you're well aware, placing orders manually is not sustainable. It’s severely limiting your potential for sales, and it's negatively affecting the way your customers perceive and experience the Gyuto brand. You need an ecommerce store so that customers can easily buy products from you directly at any time, from anywhere, however they want. This is the only way to grow your business online.

Lucky for you (and 1,000,000 other retailers around the world) there's Shopify. Shopify is an awesome hosted ecommerce app that empowers retailers with an easy-to-use, easy-to-manage, customizable online store and secure checkout. Shopify gives you control over the look and feel of your store and allows you to add products, manage inventory, track sales, and more. It's hassle-free ecommerce that allows you to focus on other aspects of your business.

We'll focus on implementing Shopify and leveraging its features to help drive Gyuto revenue and improve your customer experience. We'll also include powerful search and categorization so customers can easily and quickly find what they're looking for. We use best practices so that product pages convert users to add more items to their shopping cart. And then, most importantly, we’ll guide people down the conversion funnel to complete the checkout process. With this solution, we aim to grow your monthly sales by 50% within the next six months.

Here at ThinkBig, we're proud to be Shopify experts. That means we're among an elite group of developers who have been trained and approved by Shopify to help businesses like yours grow their online presence. Our Shopify status only enhances our already extensive knowledge of ecommerce trends, functionality, customer behaviour, and design. We've helped many businesses transform underperforming sites to an all-out sales boom just by improving their online shopping experience.

We love working with companies like Gyuto. Those who embrace the changes required for growth while still honouring their brand values and customer loyalty. With this attitude, a partnership with ThinkBig can transform Gyuto from mom and pop shop to family-run global online enterprise in a way that is manageable, sustainable, and profitable. We've done it for superstar brands like Dollar Shave Club, and for soon-to-be star brands like Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory.

If you're ready to increase your monthly sales by 50% in 6 months, we're ready to take you there. This proposal outlines in more detail how we'll do it, and what you can expect along the way. But your biggest expectation should be one of success.

As you can see, ThinkBig addresses all five aspects of a winning executive summary. They focus on the client with the opener, identify the prospect's need in the second paragraph, offer a solution with evidence to back it up, and include a clear call-to-action. While this sample executive summary is on the longer side, it tells the prospect exactly why ThinkBig is right for the job before they even get to the meat of the proposal.

2. Example of Marketing Executive Summary

Prospect: Pete’s Pizzeria -- Toronto pizza restaurant Sender: uGrow -- Social media marketing agency Project title: Social Media Marketing Proposal

Pete’s Pizzeria has been our favorite restaurant since the very first day we moved our offices to Toronto. The crispy-yet-fluffy crust is to die for, the sauce is otherworldly, and don’t even get us started on that fresh buffalo mozzarella you use. Surely this isn’t the first time you’re hearing this, but we have a feeling that you don’t hear it often enough. We noticed that you don’t have much of a social media presence, which is unfortunate because we think that everyone in the city should be lining up to eat at Pete’s Pizzeria.

If you weren’t already aware, social media is one of the most effective ways to expand your reach and grow your business. Without it, you’re leaving a giant, untapped pool of potential customers on the table and you risk losing existing, hungry customers to other restaurants that they follow. What you need is a social media marketing strategy to showcase your delicious restaurant in order to increase sales and customer loyalty.

Fortunately, uGrow can help. We’ll leverage Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to get your name out to millions of users. Here’s how: First, we’ll get you set up on each of the platforms and work with you to establish the Pete’s Pizzeria brand and voice. Then, we’ll take some stunning pictures of your food and write captions with trending hashtags. After that, we’ll create a consistent content calendar and posting schedule to maximize engagement. And to top it all off, we’ll manage all of the accounts to grow follower counts and increase traffic to your website. With this approach, we expect to increase your sales by 25% before year end.

At uGrow, we specialize in helping small, Toronto restaurants like Pete’s Pizzeria reach their full potential and grow their business. We’ve worked with over 75 restaurants across the city and throughout the GTA, and every one of our clients saw an increase in sales within three months of us taking over their social media. We’ve had several posts go viral, which resulted in our clients’ restaurants being completely sold out for the following weeks. All this to say: we love Pete’s Pizzeria and want to help you get the attention you deserve.

If you’re interested in increasing your sales by at least 25% by the end of the year, we can make it happen. This proposal goes into more detail on how exactly we plan to execute on your social media marketing strategy, and what you can expect once we start. Let’s get Pete’s Pizzeria trending.

In this sample executive summary, uGrow does a great job at playing to Pete’s Pizzeria’s pain points (whew!), and offers specific solutions and outcomes to build credibility with the prospect. uGrow also makes a great use of social proof to demonstrate its effectiveness with evidence from past clients.

3. Example of Cleaning Services Executive Summary

Prospect: ELC Holdings -- Property management company Sender: CLEAND -- Commercial cleaning services company Project title: Cleaning Services Proposal

With over 15,000 rentals in 3 states, ELC Holdings is one of the biggest property management companies in the midwest. Your growing portfolio of residential and commercial properties is seriously impressive, but we heard you could use some help keeping your commercial spaces in good shape. As people begin to return to the office, it’s essential that your properties are clean, safe, and compliant to public health guidelines.

As you know, maintaining commercial spaces is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of time and effort to clean even one floor, let alone 4. And that’s just one of your many buildings. But now more than ever, it’s important that your spaces are well-maintained so that your tenants feel safe and secure. It’s not an easy task, especially if you lack the staff and equipment. This is why you need commercial cleaning services.

Having spent over 25 years in the cleaning services industry, we’ve built an experienced team and an arsenal of cleaning equipment that will leave your building absolutely spotless. We offer daily, weekly, and biweekly cleaning arrangements to ensure that your buildings are always in perfect shape for your tenants. From the carpets to the ceilings and everything in between, we can help you clean and sanitize every last corner of your properties so you can rest assured that your tenants are happy.

CLEAND specializes in commercial cleaning services, and has worked with over 200 businesses across the Midwest. We currently have contracts with the United Center and the Auditorium Building in Chicago, and haven’t had a single complaint in the 10 years they’ve been using our services. We provide consistent, reliable results, and stand by our commitment to quality. In fact, if you aren’t happy with our services, we’ll pay the first month’s bill if you switch to another cleaning services company.

ELC Holdings is one of the biggest property management companies in the Midwest, and CLEAND is one of the best cleaning services companies in the area. What do you say we join forces? This proposal outlines how our services could benefit your company, and details what to expect if you choose to seize this opportunity.

This sample cleaning services executive summary immediately highlights the prospect’s pain points and explains why CLEAND is uniquely positioned to help relieve them. It incorporates all five components of a well-written executive summary and even highlights different service offerings before the prospect digs into the solutions section of CLEAND’s cleaning services proposal .

4. Executive Summary Template Example

Here's an example of an executive summary made using a customizable proposal template from Proposify's gallery.

Of course every executive summary needs to be tailored to your specific project, your potential client's needs, and your brand voice. But if you're looking for more inspiration, we have many other business proposal templates that you can customize yourself.

Proposal Executive Summary Example

Executive summary tips: The Do’s and Don’ts

Some other important points and guidelines to keep in mind when writing your executive summary:

Do: use a template for your executive summary Getting started is the hardest part of writing a proposal executive summary. If you’re struggling to get the ball rolling, consider using a business proposal template that includes a sample executive summary. This can help ensure that you cover everything an executive summary should include.

Don’t: make it too long

Some people recommend that the executive summary should be 10% of your entire proposal, but it’s best if you try to keep it to one page, two tops if it’s a larger proposal. Be mindful that if you’re working on an RFP, they may already set out a particular length limit, so you’ll want to stick to that.

Don’t: use jargon

This rule applies to everything but is especially important when writing proposals. Jargon can act as a smokescreen to mask the fact that someone doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, or it can confuse people if they’re not familiar with the same terms.

Don’t: use overly technical language

Unless you are absolutely sure that the only person who will read the executive summary is an engineer or a developer or someone who will understand exactly what you’re talking about, don’t get too technical. In some situations, you may need to reference certain details, but remember that this is a persuasive document—sell the benefits, not the features. Save the tech stuff for the proposal.

Don’t: talk about your company history

The history of your company does not belong in the executive summary. After all, the executive summary is about your prospective client, not about you. However, if it is appropriate and relevant, put it in the body of the proposal under “About Us” or something.

Do: focus on your prospective client

Think about what they want to know, not what you want to tell them. Like any piece of copy, you need to write for your audience, so make sure you think about them; what turns them off and what turns them on.

Do: mention your potential client’s company name

People like to hear their names and the same holds true for businesses. Make sure you reference your prospect’s full company name several times in the executive summary, so they feel like you’re focused on them.

Do: use plain language

The regular rules for writing apply to executive summaries. Use simple, short sentences that are clear and can be understood at almost any reading level, especially if you might be writing for people whose first language is not English. Don’t be pretentious - you’ll come off like an ass. Be concise, and be persuasive. Here are some more writing tips for writing an effective business proposal .

Do: proofread and edit

This probably goes without saying, but you really, really don’t want any typos in your executive summary. Get more than one set of eyes on your document before it goes out, and preferably someone who wasn’t involved in its creation.

We hope this executive summary guide will help turn your ho-hum executive summaries into wicked pitches of excellence. Remember to be persuasive, not pedantic. And if anyone has a suggestion on a new name for executive summary, bring it on.

Jennifer Faulkner

Director of Communications @proposify. Channeling Maria Von Trapp, Queen Elizabeth II, and my taxi-driving, yard-sale-obsessed grandmother. Professional word nerd and unapologetic disciple of the Oxford comma. Connect on LinkedIn

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An executive summary is a brief yet comprehensive overview of a larger document, such as a business plan, report, or proposal. It distills the most crucial information, enabling readers to understand the key points without going through the entire document.

Key Takeaways

  • Role and Importance:  The executive summary is often the first (and sometimes the only) part of a document that is read, making it crucial for grabbing attention and summarizing key details.
  • Essential Elements: It should include the main objectives, findings, recommendations, and conclusions of the document in a concise format.
  • Effective Communication: A well-crafted executive summary can be instrumental in decision-making processes, as it efficiently conveys critical information.

Relevance to Different Audiences

Business school students.

For students in business and management, the executive summary is a vital component of academic and professional communication. It teaches them to distill complex ideas into concise, impactful summaries.

Key Learning Points:

  • Crafting Summaries: Developing skills in summarizing extensive research or business plans.
  • Critical Thinking: Enhancing their ability to identify and articulate the most important points of a document.

Entrepreneurs and Startups

Startups and entrepreneurs often use executive summaries to pitch ideas to investors, partners, or stakeholders. An effective summary can make the difference in securing funding or support.

Key Considerations:

  • Pitching Ideas: Presenting a compelling narrative of the business idea, market potential, and financial projections.
  • Engaging Stakeholders: Capturing the interest of potential investors or partners quickly.

Business Professionals

In a corporate setting, executive summaries are essential for efficiently communicating in a time-constrained environment. They aid in decision-making and briefing senior management.

Practical Strategies:

  • Report Writing:  Summarizing key findings and recommendations of reports for upper management.
  • Time Management:  Saving readers’ time by providing a succinct overview of lengthy documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an executive summary and why is it important?

An executive summary is a concise summary that highlights the key points of a more extensive document, such as a business plan, report, or proposal. Its importance lies in its ability to quickly inform readers about the essential content of the larger document, helping them make informed decisions without reading the entire text. It’s particularly vital in the business world, where time is often limited, and decisions need to be made swiftly.

  • What are the key components of a strong executive summary?

A strong executive summary typically includes:

  • Purpose: Clearly state the purpose of the document.
  • Main Points:  Summarize the critical findings, arguments, or data.
  • Recommendations or Conclusions: Highlight the proposed actions or final conclusions.
  • Brief Overview: Provide a concise overview of the methodology, background, or context if necessary.
  • Engaging Tone: Ensure it is engaging and captures the essence of the document.
  • How can one tailor an executive summary to different audiences?

Tailoring an executive summary involves:

  • Identifying Key Interests: Focus on aspects of the document most relevant to the audience’s interests or goals.
  • Language and Complexity: Adjust the language and technicality to suit the audience’s expertise and familiarity with the subject.
  • Highlighting Benefits: Emphasize benefits or points of interest specific to the audience.
  • What are common mistakes to avoid in writing an executive summary?

Common mistakes include:

  • Being Too Vague: Failing to provide specific, clear, and concise information.
  • Over-Complicating:  Including too much detail or jargon.
  • Repeating the Document: Merely repeating the content without summarizing or synthesizing.
  • Lack of Focus: Not highlighting the most critical points or recommendations.
  • How does an executive summary differ from an introduction or abstract?

While an executive summary, introduction, and abstract all serve as overviews, their purposes differ. An executive summary condenses the entire content, including conclusions and recommendations, and is more detailed than an abstract. An introduction, however, typically provides context, sets up the content without revealing the findings or conclusions, and is part of the main document.

Related Terms

  • Business Plan: A detailed plan outlining the objectives, strategies, and financial forecasts of a business.
  • Pitch Deck: A brief presentation used by entrepreneurs to provide an audience with a quick overview of their business plan.
  • Abstract: A brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, or other scientific document.
  • Stakeholder Communication: The practice of managing and orchestrating all internal and external communications effectively.
  • Report Writing: The process of preparing and presenting information in a written format for a specific audience and purpose.

Also see: Pitch Deck , Business Plan

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COMMENTS

  1. Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

    Bottom Line. Writing an executive summary doesn't need to be difficult if you've already done the work of writing the business plan itself. Take the elements from the plan and summarize each ...

  2. How to Write an Executive Summary (+ Examples)

    Here's a streamlined approach to crafting an impactful executive summary: 1. Start with Your Business Overview. Company Name: Begin with the name of your business. Location: Provide the location of your business operations. Business model: Briefly describe how you make money, the producfs and/or services your business offers.

  3. How to write an executive summary in 10 steps

    An executive summary is used in various situations where there is a need to present a condensed overview of a longer document or report. Here are some common instances when an executive summary is used: Business proposals: When submitting a business proposal to potential investors, partners, or stakeholders, an executive summary is often ...

  4. How to Write a Killer Executive Summary

    3. Keep it short. Ideally, the executive summary is short—usually just a page or two, five at the outside—and highlights the points you've made elsewhere in your business plan. Whatever length you land on, just focus on being brief and concise. Keep it as short as you can without missing the essentials.

  5. Example Executive Summaries With Templates

    Executive summaries allow decision-makers to quickly grasp the key points of important documents and make decisions. We've collected a variety of executive summary examples and templates that you can use as models for your executive summaries. Included in this article, you'll find a business plan executive summary example, a project ...

  6. How to Write an Executive Summary in 6 Steps

    Once it's written, go back in and remove any unnecessary information. Remember, you should only be including the highlights—you have the rest of your business plan to go into more detail. The ...

  7. How to write an executive summary, with examples

    In general, there are four parts to any executive summary: Start with the problem or need the document is solving. Outline the recommended solution. Explain the solution's value. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work. Free cross-functional project template.

  8. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

    Summary. Consider the audience. Ensure that the executive summary can stand alone. Use formatting tools to good advantage. Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Proofread it. If you'd like an expert to proofread your business plan - or any of your writing - get in touch!

  9. How to Write an Executive Summary Execs Can't Ignore [+ 5 Top Examples]

    Executive Summary vs. Business Plan. All business plans have an executive summary, but not all executive summaries belong to business plans. A business plan includes a company overview, short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and even team information. Business plans are very detailed and comprehensive.

  10. How to Write an Executive Summary

    The executive summary can be either a portion of a business document (a business plan, project proposal, or report) or long articles and documents common in research-driven communities and academia. When crafted correctly, the executive summary provides an overview of the information and objectives in the larger document.

  11. How to Write an Executive Summary

    Place the executive summary near the beginning of the business plan. Before you write the executive summary, you'll have to write the rest of the business plan first. The executive summary should contain all relevant information about the business, including name, mission, services offered, market, and financial projections. Was this page helpful?

  12. How to Write an Executive Summary in 10 Steps

    Business Plans. An executive summary is a staple for writing a winning business plan. It's the most widely-used application in the business world. Your executive summary is typically the last section you write in your business plan. And it should embody key elements like: Brief description of your business, including products and services

  13. How to Write an Executive Summary

    An executive summary is a business plan overview that succinctly highlights its most essential elements. ... business plan, startup, housing program development, proposal or marketing plan). Print ...

  14. Business Plan Executive Summary with Example

    The executive summary should start with a brief overview of your business concept. Then it should briefly summarize each section of your business plan: your industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan and funding needs. If presented for funding, the executive ...

  15. Business Plan Executive Summary: The Exhaustive Guide

    Executive summary is an introduction to your business, which provides a brief snapshot of your plan as a whole. To that end, concisely highlight the most important concepts and impressive features from each section of your completed plan, addressing the following areas: Business plan sections: What readers look for: Products and services.

  16. How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

    Here's the good news: an executive summary is short. It's part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report. Here's the bad news: it's a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes.

  17. Business Plan Executive Summary [Sample Template for 2022]

    8 Tips for Writing a Perfect Business Plan Executive Summary. a. You must ensure that your first paragraph is strong enough. To attract the reader's attention and compel them to read the rest of the summary. For example, you can start by stating a market problem that your business promises to fix.

  18. Executive Summary of the Business Plan

    An executive summary of a business plan is an overview. Its purpose is to summarize the key points of a document for its readers, saving them time and preparing them for the upcoming content. Think of the executive summary as an advance organizer for the reader. Above all else, it must be clear and concise.

  19. How to Write An Executive Summary for a Business Plan

    An executive summary can be defined as a short introduction in your business plan. The goal of the executive summary is to highlight the key points of the plan for anyone who reads it, which helps to save time and lets them know what the rest of the business plan will include. It is essentially an advance organizer.

  20. How To Write an Executive Summary (with examples)

    Executive Summary Examples. Without further adieu, here are four (fictional) business proposal executive summary examples that will get your prospects excited to work with you. 1. Example of Ecommerce Executive Summary Prospect: Gyuto -- Japanese chef knife brand Sender: ThinkBig -- Shopify design agency Project title: Shopify ecommerce Proposal

  21. How To Write an Executive Summary (With Example)

    Here are several general steps to consider when writing an executive summary: 1. Research effective executive summaries. Before you write your own executive summary, it may be helpful to review summaries written by others. This is especially true for those writing an executive summary for the first time.

  22. How To Write an Executive Summary: A Comprehensive Guide

    Example of an executive summary Here's an example of a one-page investment proposal executive summary for a marketing plan: Smart Toys 555 Summer Lane, Boulder, CO [email protected] This report provides a clear, in-depth insight into Smart Toy's products, market position and competition. It also explains how additional investment in marketing can help the company stay competitive in ...

  23. How to Write a Business Plan

    1. Draft an Executive Summary and Mission Statement. T he executive summary belongs at the top of your business plan. It's your opportunity to grab your reader's attention by highlighting all ...

  24. Executive Summary » Businessplan.com

    An executive summary is a concise summary that highlights the key points of a more extensive document, such as a business plan, report, or proposal. Its importance lies in its ability to quickly inform readers about the essential content of the larger document, helping them make informed decisions without reading the entire text.