How to Write an Executive Summary

No matter if you are presenting a business plan or an investment proposal, you need to preface your report with an executive summary. Executive summaries serve several important purposes, making them critical documents that can be challenging to write.

Executive summaries are used to introduce your project or business to investors, which is why they must be persuasive to catch their attention. The executive summary should cover your report’s major details, but you shouldn’t bore the reader with detail.

Let the report’s analysis, charts, and glowing reviews speak for themselves. During this section, you should grab your reader’s attention and tell them what you do and why they should read the rest of your business plan or proposal.

This article explains what an executive summary is, what benefits it has, what should be included, and how to write one. To help you accomplish this, we’ll show you how to write an executive summary that sets your business plan apart from the rest.

How to write an executive summary

What Is An Executive Summary?

The executive summary is commonly used by businesses to secure traditional funding from banks and other lenders. Effective executive summaries can quickly and persuasively convey the potential benefits of an investment and help secure capital.

An executive summary is an essence and an essential part of the business plan. It provides a short, concise, and optimistic overview of the business, aims to capture the intended stakeholders’ attention, and provides them with a thoughtful glimpse of business nature. It should describe your business, the problem it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.

The Executive Summary concise the Company’s mission and goals, how a business will start or perform its operations, and how it is looking forward to the future outlooks keeping in view the market and industry trends.

Is It Necessary To Write An Executive Summary?

Executive summaries are intended to capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to read further for more information. If your executive summary provides enough value to the reader, then they might be motivated to take action without actually reading your entire business plan.

Many of the people who read business plans, including lenders, investors, and executives, simply don’t have time to read the entire document, so executive summaries let them absorb the key points and quickly assess multiple proposals at once.

What To Include In An Executive Summary

An executive summary should be as short as possible. You need to get your business plan across to your audience quickly since they have limited time. Ideally, your executive summary should be under 2 pages, but you can extend it if you have to.

  • Introduction –draws a complete picture of the organization’s aims and objectives and how they will be achieved.
  • Describe your product or service and the problem your business solves- Explain your product or service and why it is necessary. It’s not essential for your business to solve a larger social issue, but it should address a customer need or market opportunity.
  • Target market – Include a clear and concise definition of your target market, as well as the need or pain point that you hope to solve.
  • Competition identifies the competition, competitive advantages, and strategies for getting market share. Do you compete on price, quality, or something else? Describe what makes your company different.
  • Marketing and sales strategy – briefly outline the plans for marketing products/services.
  • Financial Overview- Here you should make sales projections for the next five years after your business plan is implemented. Identify your break-even point, and inform your audience when you expect to turn a profit.
  • Management – The following is a brief history of the organization, its management, staff, and partners. A potential investor wants to know who is behind the business idea and why you and your team are the best for the job. 
  • Funding Needs- The executive summary of your business plan should state how much money you are seeking for your business. Investors will want to know this in advance and not have to dig through a business plan for it.
  • Evidence of Financial Stability-  A banker will look for evidence of your financial stability, such as your net worth, assets, and financial history, when you apply for a loan.

The Executive Summary includes information about achievements, growth plans, expansion plans, and established business marketing strategies. An executive summary outlined for an established business includes: 

  • Business information – Gives a brief history of the business, when and where it was formed, products or services, owners and key employees, statistics such as the number of employees, and business locations.
  • Business highlights – define the business’s evolution and how it has grown, including year-over-year revenue increases, profitability, increases in market share, and customer numbers.
  • Financial Summary – if the purpose of updating the business plan is to seek additional financing for expansion, it gives a brief financial summary.
  • Future goals – describes the goals for the business. If the business seeks financing, explain how additional funding will be used to expand the business or otherwise increase profits.

How To Write An Effective Executive Summary

Whatever your reasons for writing an executive summary are, there are a few general rules of thumb that will make it easier, and ultimately more effective. Keep these in mind as you begin:

Attract The Reader’s Attention.

In addition to being informative, a good executive summary should also capture the audience’s attention immediately so that they feel compelled to read the rest of the report.

It should be thorough, but it shouldn’t divulge everything. Investors should be able to read your executive summary and feel like they have a general understanding of your business concept, your abilities, and the kind of information they’ll find inside the plan,” Ferriolo said. “This is your chance to draw them in and make them want to know more.”

Consider Revising Your Executive Summary Until It Can Stand Alone.

It should be easy for a person without prior knowledge of your business or industry to grasp the key findings from your research, as well as the primary parts of your business plan, with a tightly informative introduction, body, and conclusion.

Write It Last

Your business plan shouldn’t begin with your summary. Many experienced entrepreneurs (including me) like to write the executive summary after they’ve finished their full business plan.

Keep Your Executive Summary Short

Keep it short and to the point. I know experts who recommend a single page, just a page or two, no more than five, and sometimes even longer. For me, less is more. Keep it concise without omitting anything essential.

Start Off Strong

You can capture the reader’s attention by beginning your summary with a thought-provoking statistic or a related and inspiring quote.

Keep A Positive Attitude

The executive summary should highlight only the positive aspects of your research and business plan. You should leave the discussion of risks, obstacles, and challenges for the body of your plan. Maintain a positive tone throughout your summary.

Sections Should Be Prioritized Based On Importance And Strength

The most important information should appear at the top of your executive summary. You should begin with the most important item and follow up with items in order of importance. A summary that starts with a problem often inspires drama and urgency, which tees up the solution in your business.

Provide Supporting Research.

Make sure you provide research to support the claims you make in the executive summary and cite this in the footnotes of a business plan.

Joseph Ferriolo

Director at Wise Business Plans®
Joseph Ferriolo is the Director of Wise Business Plans. He has overseen over 15,000 written business plans during his tenure, raising over $1BN in funding and providing 30K+ consulting hours for startup companies.

Latest Blogs