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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.

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5 Steps for Writing an Executive Summary

Table of contents.

executive summary of business plan must

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.

Along with an executive summary, a business plan will include your business’s legal structure , the products and services you sell, and a financial plan with sales forecasts .

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.”

If securing financing is your priority, read our reviews of the best business loans to compare options.

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.”

When you’re starting a new business, the first people you should hire include a product manager, chief technology officer (CTO) , chief marketing officer and chief financial officer.

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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How to Write an Executive Summary

Written by Dave Lavinsky

pen pencil and checklist

Executive Summary of a Business Plan

On this page:, what is an executive summary, why do i need an executive summary, executive summary length, key elements of an executive summary, how do i write an executive summary for a business plan, the dos and don’ts of creating a great executive summary, summary of writing a great executive summary, business plan executive summary example, executive summary frequently asked questions.

  • Other Helpful Business Plan Articles

An executive summary of a business plan is a section that gives reader an overview of the business opportunity and your entire business plan. It explains the type of business the company operates and summarizes the key facts and strategies supporting the businesses’s growth.

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.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

As mentioned above, your business plan is a detailed document that requires time to read. Capturing the reader’s attention with a concise, 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 business plan executive summary should never exceed 3 pages; the ideal length is 1-2 pages.

The following are the key elements to include in your business plan executive summary:

  • The problem statement or business opportunity — Generally there is a gap or a problem in the market which your business aims to solve. This is your problem statement and it must be included in the summary, as investors want to understand if the world truly needs your company’s products and/or services.
  • Your business idea – The next thing a reader would want to know is how you plan to approach the problem and solve it. This is your business model and it should briefly describe how your product or service can help solve the problem.
  • Company history – The best indicator of future success is past success. Your company’s history helps the reader understand how your business has evolved and grown over the years and what you’ve been able to accomplish. Even startups have generally accomplished milestones like choosing a company name, conceiving products, finding a location, etc.
  • Industry – Here you will detail the industry in which you are operating, it’s size and if any trends are positively or negatively influencing it. This gives readers a sense of the size of the opportunity you are pursuing.
  • The target market or customer – Every business has a target customer base or a target market on which they focus. Here you will detail the types of customers you target and their demographic and psychographic profiles.
  • Competition – When you venture into a market or an industry, there are generally other players with which you compete. Knowing your competition is important and market research is crucial to success. Readers of your plan want to know who your competitors are, their strengths and in what areas you will have competitive advantage. Discussing the competitive landscape is a crucial component of a strong executive summary.
  • Milestones – In addition to showing relevant milestones your company has achieved, you need to explain your timeline for key milestones or key points in the future. Include dates you hope to launch products, achieve sales milestones, hire key employees, etc.
  • Financial plan – If you are requesting funding from investors or banks, they will want to know how you are going to their funds. A brief financial summary covering key points of how and where you plan to allocate the funds should be included in the summary. For existing businesses, you should also provide a history/summary of past financial performance. Finally, for all businesses, you need to provide future financial projections so investors can determine whether they might get an adequate return from investing in you and lenders can ascertain whether or not you will be able to repay your debts.
  • Management Team – In this section, you will introduce the key members of your team. The success or failure of your company depends largely on the people involved. So, any reader surely wants to know how well equipped your team is. Mention key staff members and the experience and skills they bring, in the executive summary.

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

Your executive summary is the most important part of your business plan since it’s the first thing investors, lenders and/or other readers see. And if they aren’t impressed, they’ll stop reading and you’ll lose them forever. To give yourself the best chances of success, follow these steps to write your executive summary.

1) Complete the rest of your business plan. Your executive summary provides highlights of each section of your business plan. As such, you need to first write those sections. Then, read each section and figure out what information from each must be included in the executive summary. For instance, if your industry analysis section mentioned that your industry’s current size is $100 billion and is projected to grow by 90% per year over the next 5 years, this is an exciting statistic and opportunity that should be mentioned in your executive summary.

2) Start with a one to two line description of your company. Your executive summary must start with a simple description of your company. Readers must be able to quickly and easily understand what your company does so they can decide whether they’re interested in the opportunity. If readers can’t quickly understand what you do, many will stop reading and you’ll lose the ability to get them involved in your company.

3) Create your executive summary structure. Start by creating headers for each section of your business plan. For example, you should have a marketing plan header, a customer analysis header, etc. Then, within each header, summarize the most important point you mentioned in that section.  For example, under your marketing plan, you would write your three most important promotional tactics. Under customer analysis, you’d write a detailed one to two line description of your target customers. Then figure out the best way to organize your executive summary. You can either keep the headers, or create new headers like “business overview” and “unique success factors” in which you cut and paste the old sections as appropriate.

4) Make it shorter. Mark Twain once wrote “If I had more time, i would have written a shorter letter.” The more concise your executive summary is, the more successful it will. Read through your executive summary and aggressively edit it so you convey your key messages in the least amount of words possible.

5) Bring in outside readers. Find at least five people to read your executive summary. Ask them to spend no more than five minutes doing so. Then ask them questions about it. Did they understand what your company does? Are they able to recite back to you your company’s value proposition? If the readers are unable to understand and get excited by your executive summary, then you need to keep working on it.

There are certain mistakes often made in writing an executive summary. If these little glitches can be avoided, writing a flawless executive summary for your business plan is not difficult. So here are a few important tips and tricks for you to remember.

  • Write the summary last – You executive summary should follow nearly the same order as your detailed business plan. Which is why it is important that you write the summary only after you are done with all your research and have finished writing your detailed business plan. This ensures that you include only the most salient parts of your business plan and can write a clear and concise summary.
  • Use a positive and confident tone – The language and tone that you use in writing any document makes a huge impact on how it is received by the reader. Since the executive summary must convince the reader your plan will work, your language should be strong and assertive. For instance, instead of using words like “might” or “could” use words like “will”. Don’t let the readers doubt your capability by using weak language or tone of writing.
  • Don’t give away everything in the summary – Many a times we make this mistake of giving too much background or too many details in the summary. Details are meant for the full business plan. Your executive summary is meant to direct people towards the detailed plan, so avoid sharing everything in the summary itself.
  • Cover the bases – The executive summary must cover the important questions asked and answered by your business plan. The three most important questions are “What is the definition of the business you are in?”, “What is the market size and need?” and “How is the company uniquely qualified to succeed in that market?”
  • Simplify – define your business in a way that it can be understood within the short executive summary. To do this, you must be able to use plain language and only one or two sentences for this definition. If there are additional elements to the business which will go beyond its core or become future potential directions you will take, the executive summary is not the place to go into those. Make sure the business definition can be summed up so that anyone with only a very basic understanding of the industry can understand.
  • Make sure the logic flows – This is true within the plan as a whole, and within the executive summary. The logic of why your specific team and resources are suited for the specific market opportunity you identified and why you’ve chosen the marketing methods you have should be apparent and raise no red flags. If there is a jump in the logic – for example, it is not clear how the management team has any expertise suited for the business in question – then readers will move on to another plan rather than read on to answer that question in the body of the plan. This logic should be clear, although in concise and simplified format, even within the executive summary.
  • Ensure the content of your summary matches your business plan – The information that you share in your executive summary should match what you have in your full business plan. Make sure that there are no discrepancies between the two.
  • Avoid repeating content in the executive summary – You already have very little space to include everything you should in your executive summary. Repeating content wastes precious space.

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!

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Shoutmouth.com Executive Summary Template

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 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:

Other Resources for Writing Your Business Plan

  • How to Expertly Write the Company Description in Your Business Plan
  • How to Write the Market Analysis Section of a Business Plan
  • The Customer Analysis Section of Your Business Plan
  • Completing the Competitive Analysis Section of Your Business Plan
  • The Management Team Section of Your Business Plan
  • Financial Assumptions and Your Business Plan
  • How to Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan
  • Everything You Need to Know about the Business Plan Appendix
  • Business Plan Conclusion: Summary & Recap

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

An executive summary provides a quick overview of your business plan. It succinctly describes your business. It gives a summary of each of the other sections of your plan (e.g., marketing plan, financial plan, customer analysis, etc.). And it answers the key question that investors and lenders need to know: why is your business uniquely qualified to succeed?

What is included in an executive summary?

Your executive summary should include an overview of your business concept, a summary of each of the key sections of your plan (company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan) and answer why your business is uniquely qualified to succeed.

How long is an executive summary?

Your executive summary should be one to two pages. Remember that the goal of the summary is simply to excite the reader into continuing through your full plan. Give them a summary of the key highlights of your business and invite them to learn more by reading the full business plan.

How do you start off a summary?

If the first paragraph of your executive summary isn’t compelling enough, you’ll immediately lose readers. So, start your executive summary by clearly stating what your business does and why your company is unique. Then give a summary of each of the other sections of your plan (e.g., competitive analysis, industry analysis, etc.).

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide for Small Businesses

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How to write an executive summary for a business plan

The table of content page of a business plan.

All new businesses should have a business plan. These documents outline the goals an owner has for their new organisation and sets out a plan of action to achieve them.

Although these documents need to be as comprehensive as possible, it is usually the condensed executive summary that is the most important part of any business plan .

While some business owners will talk to a specialist business consultant before writing their executive summary, this can be expensive and is not always necessary.

But what is an executive summary and how do you write one? In this guide, we answer both of these questions and more as we take a closer look at this business plan staple. 

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a short introduction that summarises your business plan. Designed to provide a brief but compelling overview of your plan, it should do the following: - Describe the purpose of your business. - Highlight your target market. - Explain what gap in the market it aims to fill. - Outline basic start-up costs and other important financial details. This should include initial overheads costs, stock costs, start-up business insurance expenses, etc.

Despite the title, these introductions are much more than quick summaries of your plan. As the only part of the document that some of your intended audience will have time to read and digest, it has the power to make or break your entire plan. For this reason, it needs to be comprehensive while also being engaging and compelling.

How to write an executive summary

A well-written executive summary should efficiently summarise your larger business plan. To do this it should effectively communicate the major findings from your research, as well as your proposed plan of action.

Where to start

You should always start at the end. This is to say, crafting your executive summary should always be done after every other section of your business plan is finished. This makes sure you can create a summary that best represents your entire plan as accurately as possible. Trying to cut corners will only serve to undermine the time and effort you have invested into putting your business plan together.

With this in mind, below we take a look at the musts when it comes to what to include in your executive summary.

What to include

A strong executive summary can be broken down into just five small sections. These are:

1. An overview of your business

All executive summaries should start with this. This will help to ensure the reader understands who you are and what your business will do. Naturally, this section should always include the name of your business, an introduction to products/services it will provide, and any other insights about the specific industry.

2. A discussion on your target market

This section will cover the ‘gap’ in your chosen industry your business aims to fill by defining your desired target market. In order to do this, you may have to present some research that highlights the current competitive landscape of the market in question. This can help to outline the advantages of your business.

Finally, you may also want to include a brief overview of your marketing strategy here. By covering the strongest aspects of your strategy, you can stay concise while still piquing the readers interest.

3. An overview of operations

As the title suggests, this section should briefly look at how your business plans to operate on a day-to-day basis. This should include details of where your business will be based, the corporate structure, whether you will be based entirely online or have stores, etc.

4. Highlights of forecasting and projections

Your business plan should include detailed financial projections. However, for the purpose of the executive summary you only need to provide an overview of your sales forecasting projections for the first few years of business. This should include a clear break-even point that tells the reader when you expect to turn a profit.

5. An outline of your investment needs

Finally, if your business requires financial help, your executive summary should conclude by detailing these needs. This should include a clear total figure that you explain is fully costed in the business plan. Naturally, this means this number should align with projections mentioned throughout your business plan in the forecasting section of your summary.

How long should an executive summary be?

Less is more when it comes to executive summaries. They need to be brief and concise while still representing your entire plan as accurately as possible. As a rule, try to keep the whole section to one page, or two at a stretch.

Executive summary example

[Business name] GJW’s Coffee Co.

[An overview of your business]

GJW’s Coffee launched as a takeaway service in Hull in December 2021. It specialises in high quality coffee, freshly baked pastries, and handmade sandwiches. After initial success, we now want to expand the business by opening our first brick and mortar coffee house. It will be located in an area of the city which currently lacks coffee houses and cafes, despite being a high-income area with a high footfall.

GJW’s current delivery-only model offers a broad range of coffee and espresso products, all of which contain high quality coffee beans. The business caters to all customers by providing each a fully bespoke coffee service - we will make any coffee to order, down to the smallest detail. This will also be the case when we launch our coffee house.

[An overview of your target market]

As Hull has a cool climate for much of the year, hot coffee beverages are big sellers. However, we will also sell iced coffee to satisfy demand during the warmer months. Located near the city’s business district, as well as the university, young professionals, teaching staff, and students are our primary target audience.

In terms of competition, while there is a Starbucks on the university’s campus, this is small and currently cannot satisfy demand. Additionally, local customers are looking for high quality products and a relaxing, sit-in atmosphere. This chain coffee house cannot provide the level of quality and customer service that GJW’s can.

Other than that, takeaway food outlets are the only food/drink businesses located in a 2.5 mile radius of our site.  

[An overview of operations]

GJW’s is a coffee shop and bakery operated by two partners. One partner deals with the finance and administration of the business, while the other deals with sales and the day-to-day running of the company. In order to launch the business’ first brick and mortar store, each partner is providing capital from their personal savings. This will cover start-up expenses and provide financial stability for the first two months of operations. The business is based in Hull, but plans to expand in future years.

[An overview of forecasting and projections]

As demonstrated in the graph below, GJW’s anticipates a steady growth of sales over the next five years. We also anticipate the business should break even by the third month of operations. While profits are expected to be relatively low during the first two years of operations, we expect increasing growth from the third year onwards. We are projecting an initial investment of £150,000 from the two founders.

[Insert your graph here]

[An outline of your investment needs]

In order for the business to achieve its initial goals, an investment plan is required. Detailed below is a list of start-up funding requirements.

Start-up finances

- Initial expenses of £70K. This includes £30K premises renovation costs, £30K equipment purchase costs, £5K legal fees, £5K other (insurance, tax, etc.). This appears as negative earnings in our initial balance as they occurred before launch.

- Starting cash in the bank of £80K

Investment requirements

- Initial investment from founders, detailed above

- £100K 10-year loan from investors (fully costed in business plan)

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What is an executive summary in a business plan?

Including an executive summary in your business plan can grab attention and help communicate key information quickly.

A business plan written up in a notebook

What is a business plan?

A business plan is the blueprint for how your business will run. It describes your product or service, identifies your customer and the problem they face, and explains how you’ll succeed in fixing that for them.

Your business plan also helps other people understand what you do and how you do it. Groups like banks and investors will want to see your business plan before deciding to put money into your business, for example. Your accountant should also be able to easily understand what your business idea is and how you’ll make money from it.

It’s a living document that can help you clarify your ideas and maintain a clear direction as you grow. It shouldn’t be just a one-off document – you can return to it at any time and add to it or change it as your business changes.

Looking for help to build your business plan? Download our free business plan templates to get started.

The executive summary is the elevator pitch for the rest of your business plan. Use it to highlight what you do, why you do it and how you’ll succeed.

It’s often the first section that a person will read in your business plan, so this is your opportunity to ‘sell’ your idea and its potential for success.

It should explain enough that a reader could understand the key information about your business without having to read the whole document – this is especially helpful for readers who are pushed for time. However, a compelling executive summary will also grab someone’s attention enough to make them want to keep reading.

While it’s a helpful section for rushed readers, you may feel an executive summary isn’t absolutely necessary just yet. Think about your audience and the complexity of your business plan when weighing up the benefit of having an executive summary.

How does an executive summary differ from a mission statement or business objective?

A mission statement outlines the overall purpose and vision of your business, and a business objective is a specific goal or target you’ll aim for to help you achieve that vision.

The executive summary could include both your mission statement and business objectives. However, it should ultimately be a high-level overview of your whole business plan.

What to include in an executive summary

Treat your executive summary as the one and only section someone may read in your business plan. What must they know in order to understand your business?

Pull the key high-level information from other parts of your business plan, including:

  • what your business does and why you do it
  • your mission statement, if you have one
  • your target customers, the problem they face and how you solve it for them
  • the product or service you’re selling
  • any key information from competitor or market research that helps tell your story
  • a schedule to launch, or steps to implement your business plan

If you’re approaching lenders or investors for financing, include key financial information and your plans for growth in your executive summary too.

How to write an executive summary

It’s a good idea to fill in the other sections of your business plan first, before deciding what goes in an executive summary. This way, you have complete information for you to draw from.

Aim to summarise the key sections of your business plan in a few sentences using plain language that’s easy to understand. Include any important data or information that backs up your ideas, and leave out personal opinions.

Beware of copying and pasting information from other parts of your plan; the executive summary should be as specific and concise as possible. An executive summary that’s too general, or padded with unnecessary detail might lose the reader’s interest.

Think about who will read your business plan, and what they’ll be interested in. For example, if you want to connect with lenders or investors, promote the size of the opportunity for your business, and how much money you’ll need to make it a success.

There’s no strict rule about length, but it should remain clear and engaging the whole way through. Keeping to one page is a good general guide to maintain your reader’s attention without overwhelming them.

Ultimately, an executive summary should benefit your business plan by laying out critical information clearly and simply upfront. An engaging, informative summary will help key people understand your plan and your needs, so they can offer guidance and support your success.

You can find tips on business planning and more in How to start a business

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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How to Write a Business Plan Executive Summary: Tips & Example

Executive Summary Template

Free Executive Summary Template`

Ayush Jalan

Executive Summary Example

Writing a business plan involves a lot of research on various aspects of your business. However, readers don’t always have the time to read every section of your plan and may even skip some parts altogether. To make this process easier, we use an excellent executive summary.

With a business plan executive summary , you inform the reader what they are about to read and why they should care. If done right, it can help create a great first impression and motivate your readers to pay greater attention.

In this article, we’ll see what is an executive summary, how to write an executive summary, and a few tips to follow. We have also included an example to help you create one for your business.

What Is an Executive Summary in a Business Plan?

An executive summary is a list of all the important sections of your business plan. It introduces the reader to the document and provides direction to continue reading it. Simply put, it is a short outline of your business plan.

The executive summary is the first section of your business plan and usually includes not more than two pages.

It serves the following purposes:

  • It Grabs the reader’s attention
  • Saves the reader’s time
  • Helps identify the most important sections
  • Provides a quick description of your business idea

What is an executive summary in a business plan

How to Write an Executive Summary

The job of an executive summary is to communicate key points of your business plan to your readers as quickly and concisely as possible. These include the following:

Elements of Executive Summary

1. Mission Statement

First, start by establishing the core purpose of your business. Specify why your company exists and the goals you want to achieve through it. This assures the reader that you have a long-term vision.

A mission statement should be short and easy to read. Ideally, no more than a few sentences. Investors look at your mission statement to check if your values are compatible with theirs.

2. Company Info

Company Info Contains

Here, you mention a brief overview of your company . It can include the business location, owners, team members, company history, etc. If you are an established company, this is a good place to mention your achievements and experience in the industry.

If you are a startup, you can mention the qualifications and responsibilities of your key team members. This gives investors an idea of your company’s culture . If you don’t have a team yet, mention the talents you wish to hire.

3. The Problem and the Solution

Here, you mention the market pain points you identified and aim to solve. It may also include the projected demand for the products and services you intend to offer and how they help.

Investors analyze the viability of your business idea based on how competent your product is in solving the problem you’re targeting.

4. Market Analysis

After describing your product, you move on to defining your target audience and their demographics. Include a brief description of your ideal customer. It’s a good idea to add key statistics to quantify the demand for your solution.

You can also mention the market share you are looking to capture. This will help investors analyze your company’s profitability with ease.

5. Business Model

Your business model refers to the method(s) you use to generate revenue and deliver solutions to your customers. Simply put, it’s how you make money and your pricing strategies .

Remember, your business model is a direct indication of ROI for investors, so make sure to pay close attention to it.

6. Marketing and Sales

How you intend to market and sell your products is often of acute interest to readers. This includes your marketing strategies , your brand message, and image, marketing mediums, etc.

A strong description of your marketing plan will help display competence to the readers and let them know of the marketing tools you have available at your disposal to exploit.

7. Competitors

One of the biggest considerations in business decision-making is competition. If left unattended, your rivals can capture your market share and make your products look outdated. They may even undercut you by finding more efficient ways to provide solutions—lowering the demand for yours.

Given the above, it’s not surprising that stakeholders are very interested to know how you plan to survive and thrive in a competitive business environment. Explaining what makes your customers choose you over your competitors is a great start. You can also discuss your weaknesses and how you plan on tackling them.

8. Financial Overview

In this part, you outline your company’s current financial position and future projections. It includes annual revenue, sales and expenses, and milestones for the coming years.

For established companies, former years’ revenue and sales numbers can act as evidence to support forecasts. For startups, it’s a good idea to add your startup costs as it helps investors get a complete picture of your financial situation before they make a decision.

9. Funding Requirement

If you are drafting your business plan to acquire funding, know that numbers speak louder than words. Make sure what you include in this section leaves no room for incorrect assumptions or vagueness.

You may consider the following questions:

  • How much funding do you need in total ?
  • How much have you already secured?
  • How much are you seeking from this investor?
  • What do you intend to do with the funding?
  • How will the funding impact the business?

Answering these questions will help investors get a quick look at your funding requirements without having to wait till the end of your business plan. This saves time and is more efficient.

Tips on How to Write an Executive Summary

Tips to write a strong executive summary

Although the executive summary is the first section of your business plan, you should always write it at the end. This is so because once you are done with all the other sections, you can easily pick out the most important points to put in the executive summary. Here are some tips to help you in the process:

Keep it short and simple:

Avoid jargon:, use graphs and pie charts:, use bullet points:, edit thoroughly:, executive summary example, mission statement.

Joe’s Café was built on the idea of community and how food unites people. Our mission is to foster friendship, connection, and kindness. We do this by creating a hospitable environment for our customers to relax and socialize, all while we serve them the best foods and beverages.

Joe’s Café was founded in 2010 and is based in Arizona, US. We are a rapidly growing family-owned business owned by couple Julia and Joe Thomson.

We are proud to have a team of:

  • 1 accountant
  • 2 marketing executives

The problem and solution

We have identified that our customers want a place to hang out rather than buy takeout or grab a quick bite. To fulfill this need, we are planning to expand our lounge area where they can sit with friends or meet new people while enjoying our coffee.

Market analysis

Given our café’s close proximity to Wilson University, neighboring corporate offices, and residential buildings, we aim to cater to them. Our ideal customers are:

  • College students
  • Corporate employees

Marketing and sales strategy

We plan to organize a grand re-launch of our cafe after the renovation to get the word around. Further, we also plan on promoting the launch by putting up posters around the premises of the university and offices.


There are three other cafés within a 5-mile radius. However, we have a competitive edge as we are the closest to the university and offices.

Financial Overview

Our business model is a traditional brick-and-mortar model. Last year, we recorded a revenue of $50,000. Once the renovation is done, the forecasted revenues for the next three years are as follows:

  • Year 1: $100,000
  • Year 2: $117,000
  • Year 3: $123,000

Funding requests

The total cost of renovation amounts to $300,000. This includes:

  • Owner’s equity: $100,000
  • Bank loan: $150,000
  • Current funding required: $50,000

In exchange for the funding, the investor shall be entitled to 20% of Joe’s Café’s total net profit for the next 7 years.

Convey Competence with an Executive Summary

Writing a business plan is a lengthy and tedious task, and so is reading it. With an executive summary, you can give investors a quick glimpse of all the crucial parts of your business plan . This will help you look more professional and increase your chances of securing funding.

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About the Author

executive summary of business plan must

Ayush is a writer with an academic background in business and marketing. Being a tech-enthusiast, he likes to keep a sharp eye on the latest tech gadgets and innovations. When he's not working, you can find him writing poetry, gaming, playing the ukulele, catching up with friends, and indulging in creative philosophies.

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How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

Caroline Forsey

Published: August 31, 2023

Whether you're an entrepreneur looking for investors for your small business or the CEO of a large corporation, an executive summary can help you succeed and is a critical component for long-term growth.

Executive summary with examples

A short, attention-grabbing executive summary is an essential part of your business plan . Done correctly, it will ensure your company becomes or remains a key player in your industry. In this post, you’ll learn what an executive summary is and how to write one that engages investors, customers, and general audiences.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief overview of a long document, such as a business plan, proposal, or report. It's a section that grabs readers’ attention and summarizes critical information from the document, such as the problem or opportunity being addressed, objectives, key findings, goals, and recommendations.

Some documents that may have an executive summary include:

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

Ultimately, the executive summary is meant to inform readers of the most important information in the document, so they don't have to read it all and can get caught up quickly.

executive summary of business plan must

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

You're all set!

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, your company's short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and a list including each member of your management team. In this case, the executive summary is the first section of the business plan that convinces readers that it’s worth their time to read the whole thing.

Business plans are very detailed and comprehensive, and can be as short as a dozen pages or as long as 100 pages. However, a CEO or investor might not have the interest or time to read your full business plan without first getting the general gist of your company or goals through an executive summary.

Executive Summary vs. Mission Statement

Mission statements and executive summaries are typically both 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.

Ultimately, your mission statement provides direction for developing your business plan, while your executive summary describes your business plan to executives and shareholders.

Executive Summary vs. Company Description

Like mission statements and executive summaries, company descriptions can also be found in business plans as well as the “About us” page of your website . It provides an overview of your business, including essential details like company history, what your company does, unique selling points, goals, management team, and overall value proposition.

Executive Summary vs. Objective

An objective is a specific goal or target that your company takes aims to achieve its overall goal. It is a concrete, measurable outcome that guides your business’s actions and decisions. Objectives are usually set at the strategic level and are typically aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and overall strategic plan.

Company objectives are often included in executive summaries, but are not the sole focus of them.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

Writing an executive summary may not seem that necessary. After all, you can find the same information just by reading the rest of the document.

However, the executive summary serves many purposes for your document and those who read it. Here are some of the benefits of having one:

  • It saves your readers time. CEOs and investors often have limited time to review lengthy documents. An executive summary allows them to quickly grasp the main points, key findings, and recommendations without needing to read the entire document.
  • It provides clarity and conciseness. By providing a condensed overview, executive summaries help to distill complex information and present it in a manner that’s easy to understand.
  • It helps with document navigation. For longer documents or reports, an executive summary provides a roadmap for readers. It helps them navigate through the document by signaling the main sections or topics covered, improving overall document usability and accessibility.

To write an impressive executive summary that effectively embodies all the important elements of your business plan, we've cultivated a list of necessary components for an executive summary, as well as an example to get you started.

Follow Along With HubSpot's Executive Summary Template

Executive summary template from HubSpot

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How to write an executive summary.

A good executive summary tells your company’s story, contains in-depth research, conveys information with an appropriate tone, is void of clichés, and follows your business plan’s structure. These elements will ensure your executive summary is effective, informative, and impactful.

1. Tell your story.

When investors or CEO's read your executive summary, they should understand what your business is about. This is one of the first elements of your business plan, so it should set the tone.

In your executive summary, be sure to tell your story and include an overview about what your company does and why you do what you do. You can also briefly highlight important details about your company’s management.

For instance, you could talk about your founder or CEO’s qualifications and motivations. You can also provide a high-level summary of your company’s business operations and any management methods or best practices that you abide by.

You’ll also want to explain the problem or opportunity that is being addressed, and how it is valuable to investors and customers. Think of this like an elevator pitch . If someone stopped reading and you only had the executive summary to explain your company, what information would you include?

2. Highlight important data.

An executive summary, while short, should include plenty of research.

Highlight the most important findings and insights from the document, including any critical data or statistics discovered in your competitor analysis . While your business plan will flesh out the details, it's important to include your key findings in your executive summary.

You should also provide a basic rundown of your target market, how you plan on addressing their needs and pain points, and how you will reach them.

Additionally, you should include key financial information. The main points you should cover are the overall budget, the price per product/service, and your financial projections.

3. Pay attention to your tone.

Although the tone of your executive summary should be professional and concise, it should also be true to your company and target audience. Aim to convey a sense of authority and credibility while remaining accessible and engaging.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on presenting information objectively with facts and evidence.
  • Don’t voice your personal opinions or use subjective statements.
  • Strive for clarity and simplicity in your language and ensure that your message is easily understood.
  • Avoid unnecessarily complexity or convolution.
  • Don’t use hyperbole or excessive claims.
  • Use strong verbs, active voice, and concise language to make your points effectively.
  • Aim to resonate with the reader’s interests and concerns.

By striking the right balance between professionalism, clarity, and engagement, you can effectively deliver your message and compel the reader to take action or make informed decisions based on the summary.

4. Avoid cliché language.

With any style of writing, it's best to avoid clichés. Clichés can convey the wrong message or be misunderstood, which is something you want to avoid when someone reads your executive summary.

Additionally, clichés tend to overpromise and under-deliver. For example, including something like “The Best Restaurant in Town” isn‘t true because you’re untested as a business. Your executive summary should reflect the truth and who you are as a company.

To avoid clichés while writing, it’s essential to be aware of their presence. Familiarize yourself with common clichés and be mindful of them as you write. Some examples include:

  • “Thinking outside the box”
  • “Innovative solutions”
  • “Cutting-edge technology”

Instead of relying on these overused phrases, be descriptive and embrace the uniqueness of your brand when writing your executive summary. For instance, there’s no need to vaguely refer to your product as a “game-changer,” when you could explain how it benefits your target audience instead. Show, don’t tell.

By staying true to your voice and delivering an honest message, you can keep your writing fresh and your audience engaged.

5. Write it after completing your business plan.

An executive summary is a summary of your business plan. However, it‘s hard to write a summary when you haven’t written your business plan yet. That's why your executive summary should be the final thing you write.

By saving this step for last, you’re able to gain a thorough understanding of the entire plan, including your business’s goals, strategies, market analysis, and financial projections. This enables you to accurately depict the most important aspects in your summary.

If you write you executive summary first, you’re more likely to miscommunicate the essence of your business plan to executives and shareholders. Sure, you may have an outline prepare, but not having all the information can lead to inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your summary. You also risk including irrelevant details or omitting important details that come up during the planning process.

Ultimately, writing your executive summary last ensures that precisely represents the content and findings your plan.

If you don’t have a business plan yet, don’t worry; we have a comprehensive business plan template to help you create one quickly and effectively.

Featured Resource: Business Plan Template

how to write executive summary: use business plan template from hubspot

Download Your Free Template Here

Now that you know how to write an executive summary, let's dive into the details of what to include.

What to Include in Your Executive Summary

Your business plan should convey your company‘s mission, your product, a plan for how you’ll stand out from competitors, your financial projections, your company's short and long-term goals, your buyer persona, and your market fit.

Ultimately, an executive summary should provide a preview for investors or CEO's, so they know what to expect from the rest of your report. Your executive summary should include:

  • The name, location, and mission of your company
  • A description of your company, including management, advisors, and brief history
  • Your product or service, where your product fits in the market, and how your product differs from competitors in the industry
  • Financial considerations, start-up funding requirements, or the purpose behind your business plan — mention what you hope the reader will help your company accomplish

How long should an executive summary be?

While there is no hard and fast rule for the exact length, executive summaries typically range from one to three pages. However, it's important to note that the length should be determined by the document it accompanies and the content itself rather than a predetermined page count.

At the end of the day, your executive summary should engage the reader and highlight the most important points of your document while avoiding unnecessary details.

Feeling at a loss? Download a free template below that will take you through the executive summary creation process.

Executive Summary Template

executive summary template from hubspot

Download Your Free Executive Summary Template Here

In this free executive summary template, you’ll be able to outline several pieces of information, including:

  • Introduction: Explain what your executive summary contains.
  • Company & Opportunity: Explain who you are and your biggest opportunities for growth.
  • Industry & Market Analysis: Explain the state of your industry and your target market.
  • Management & Operations: Explain who your key leaders are and their roles.
  • Implementation & Marketing: Explain how you plan to deploy your product to the marketplace.
  • Financial Plan: Explain your company’s finances. Change the verbiage depending on whether you’re writing to investors or a general audience.
  • Conclusion: Summarize what you’ve covered.

Ready? Download your free executive summary template .

To understand more tactically how an executive summary should look, let’s review a few examples.

Executive Summary Examples

1. connected.

executive summary example: connected

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

executive summary of business plan must

An executive summary should be brief. This is only a part of other documents such as business plans, proposals, etc. It sums up the whole report, so anyone can get a quick overview by reading that alone.

In one sense, the executive summary is simple, but it takes work to write, considering its sensitivity. You use it to introduce your project by highlighting each part of your business document. 

It is the first thing everyone who checks out your document looks at. That is why you place it at the top and try to make it as captivating as possible.

You use it to explain the purpose of your business or project to potential clients or investors. Try to find out what they require from your organization and focus on them. 

If you need to learn how to do this, the article will explore how you can write the perfect executive summary. 

What is an Executive Summary?

A business plan, investment proposal, or project proposal are all examples of larger documents that include a brief part called an executive summary. It primarily serves to quickly summarize key elements of a business plan for stakeholders and investors, such as the company description, market analysis, and financial data.

It has a brief introduction that addresses the issue or suggestion described in the documents attached, background information, a brief analysis, and a conclusion. 

An executive summary is vital since it is intended to aid executives and investors in deciding whether to move forward with the plan. 

Executive summaries and pitch decks frequently discuss a project or company strategy’s advantages and critical selling aspects.

What to Include in a Typical Executive Summary

executive summary of business plan must

The executive summary you write depends on the document you attach it to. It could be for a business case, research proposal , project reports, business plan, etc. 

You can use the following guidelines to help you cover all the necessary things you should include in your executive summary:

Many courses and professionals agree that an executive summary should best be about five to 10 percent of the entire document. It should not be too short so that your potential clients and investors get enough information. It would help if you did not make it too long so that other parts of your document are redundant.

When writing an executive summary, you should use the appropriate language for those who will read it.

The language you use when addressing a group of lawyers should differ from the one you use for engineers. It will also be different when writing to finance professionals.

Carefully choose the words you use, the content, and the level of explanation according to your target audience. It would be best to be as formal as possible while being concise. Do not forget that they must scan it to know the necessary parts.

Catchy Introduction

The goal is to get the attention of your audience from the start. Your opening paragraph should break the ice and get the reader interested in the rest of your document. This doesn’t mean you should use jokes. 

Executive summaries are business documents and should avoid tones of familiarity. You can use questions or describe an example of the problem you want to solve for the potential client or investor. 

Next, introduce your organization and highlight its capacity to solve the reader’s problem.

The introduction should be brief. You can mention the business name, location, and contact information. List some clients you have helped to show your reader that you can solve the problem.

Relevant Information

Often, you write the executive summary after you are done with your business proposal. Many mistakenly write it first since it sits at the top of your business plan or proposal .

It should capture what is already in the entire document. Only include information unrelated to sections of your business plan or proposal.

After establishing the need and introducing your organization, you should propose your solution. Convince your target audience why your solution is best by highlighting its values. Ensure that what you offer is unambiguous.

How you conclude your executive summary is vital to its success. Although it is not a long piece of writing, you should end it by quickly hitting on the relevant information.

It would be best if you also used this to prepare the reader to explore the other parts of the document.

Common Elements Found in an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

executive summary of business plan must

Extract the vital points of your business plan when writing your executive summary. The document describes each part of your business as follows: 

  • Description of Organization
  • Product or Service
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis
  • Market Analysis
  • Market Strategy
  • Financial Strategy
  • Request for Funds

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Project Proposal

The format of an executive summary for a project proposal differs slightly from that of a business plan. This type captures the vital parts of your project management as follows:

  • Purpose of Project
  • Organization Introduction
  • Problem Statement
  • Solution Established
  • Justification of Chosen Solution (Proof)
  • Resources for Project
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Project Timeline
  • Team Description

Like other forms of writing, you should always start with a draft. At this point, you bring together the information you have gathered from your research. You ensure that they follow the required format in a seamless transition. The draft is supposed to be flawed. 

It gives you a good starting point when aiming for an excellent document. Every artist knows it is easier to transform an existing work than to bring an original idea to life.

Next, you should review the executive summary to make it concise. This is the time to ensure that it addresses the problem.

Check for the following when reviewing your document:

  • Proofread Grammar and Tone

Pay attention to the writing that you use. Don’t use complicated words, include clichés, or overly repeat words and phrases. 

You are not trying to impress them with literature, but you also want them to maintain interest before you make your points.

When you finish checking the content and grammar, you should also review the tone and style.

Your target audience determines this, as emphasized earlier. The executive summary should be formal if your reader belongs to a conservative profession. Modern companies are more casual and might get the wrong impression about your organization if the summary needs to be more formal. Know who you are addressing and do it right.

Before you sign off the document as okay, proofread it. Ensure it doesn’t have spelling or grammatical mistakes , repeated or missing words, etc.

These errors in your document show your client that you are not careful and lack professionalism. If you can’t spend time on your proposal, you shouldn’t think anyone will believe you have time for their business.

  • Pitching with a Proposal

A pitch expresses the written proposal in a presentation . Your executive summary gives you a good outline for your speech.

The intentions of your proposal should be channeled into how you speak to your audience.

List out the points from your executive summary in your slides, and then interestingly talk them through the rest of your document.

  • Choosing the Best Options

Sometimes it is difficult ticking all the boxes when writing an executive summary. You may be focused on the business proposal itself, forgetting how important the executive summary is.

You can hire a professional to do this or use an application. 

Software such as Prospero helps you to create excellent executive summaries and proposals. 

Several templates and prompts help you make business and academic documents in the correct format. According to your settings, these applications can  differentiate between business proposals and plans ; and help you craft your writing.

The documents help give your document a natural flow and tone.

How to Use Prospero’s Free Templates to Create Proposals

On your dashboard, click “Create New Proposal” to open the application wizard to show you the options available for creating the perfect business proposal . This includes an excellent executive summary.

Within the options, you should select the business case that best suits why you want to write a proposal. It would be best if you wrote it for a service, product, solicit, and unsolicited. The way you write the document for each is different. 

Working with Prospero to produce expertly prepared proposals or ideas is best. It includes several customizable features and a selection of themes for various businesses. You can also find some pre-written content, so you will only sometimes have to start from zero. See case studies here .

Through its built-in statistics, you can manage and monitor the effectiveness of your proposals, making your sales force more effective and productive.

Your chances of obtaining contracts and proposals that can advance the company will rise.

Create your first proposal today!


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Abbey Claire Dela Cruz

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