How To Write An Executive Summary

How To Write An Executive Summary And Wow Investors

Kurt GraverBusiness Plan, Business Start-up Advice

The executive summary is the most important section of a business plan. You need to understand if you are writing a business plan for funding or internal strategic planning.

Most investors and lenders will not read your full 30+ page plan. The executive summary is often the only part they look at before deciding whether to continue reviewing your business more deeply.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to craft a compelling executive summary that grabs attention and communicates the core elements of your business plan.

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a 2-3 page overview that highlights the key points of a business plan. It summarizes the essential details of your company, products/services, target market, competition, marketing strategies, management team, financial projections, and growth opportunities.

The goal is to provide readers with a clear snapshot of what your business does and its potential for success. As the name implies, it’s meant for executives who need vital information quickly.

Importance of the Executive Summary

The executive summary is essential because it allows busy investors, lenders, partners and even managers in your company to:

  • Quickly understand your business model and industry
  • Identify growth opportunities, competition, and risks
  • Determine if your business plan merits further, more in-depth review
  • Make faster initial decisions about pursuing potential deals or partnerships

In other words, your executive summary must be compelling enough to convince stakeholders to keep reading your full plan to learn more.

Investors often base 80% of their initial opinion about a business plan on the executive summary alone. That’s why you need to get it right.

Executive Summary vs Business Plan

Think of your executive summary as a preview of coming attractions. At the same time, the full business plan provides all the required plot details, character development, and background research to tell the entire story.

The business plan thoroughly covers every aspect of your company, products, industry, operations, marketing strategy, financials, team, execution plan, and growth projections. It serves as an in-depth reference document.

Your executive summary briefly highlights only the most vital elements of the business plan. Its purpose is to get stakeholders excited enough to read the full plan.

Key Elements to Include

Your executive summary should provide quick high-level takeaways on:

Business Description: Short explanation of your business, mission statement, objectives, and problems solved.

Products/Services: Brief overview of your product, service or solution offerings.

Target Market: Define your target customers, their needs, and the opportunity size.

Competition: Your competitive advantage and differentiation strategy.

Management Team: Background on key team members and advisors.

Financial Information: Summary of financial projections and investment needs.

Growth Opportunities: Future expansion and profit possibilities.

Cover each element briefly in 1-2 paragraphs. Avoid too much detail – save that for the full plan.

How to Write a Compelling Executive Summary

Apply these best practices when writing your executive summary:

Hook with the Opportunity: Open by focusing on the market pain point or opportunity and how you solve it. Hook the reader on why your business is needed.

Use Clear, Concise Language: Avoid technical jargon or complex concepts. Assume readers have broad business knowledge but not familiarity with your niche.

Tell a Story: Introduce the main characters (your target customers), the problem they face, and how you resolve it.

Focus on Facts and Figures: Include concrete statistics, numbers, or data that back up your claims or market opportunity. Prove you’ve done your homework.

Adopt an Upbeat, Confident Tone: Demonstrate enthusiasm and avoid hedging words like “might” or “possibly.” Show you’re poised for success.

Close With a Call to Action: End by urging readers to review the full plan to learn more about your business. Leave them wanting more.

Executive Summary Template

Structuring your executive summary properly ensures you cover all the bases. Here is a sample template:

Introduction

  • Brief company overview
  • Mission statement
  • Product/service description

Market Analysis Summary

  • Description of market need or pain point
  • Target customers
  • Market size/trends
  • Competitive landscape

Company Overview

  • Founder backgrounds
  • Locations, facilities, team
  • Any partnerships or licensing

Products/Services Summary

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Pricing and fee structures
  • Value proposition

Marketing Plan Summary

  • Distribution channels
  • Sales and marketing strategies

Financial Information

  • Startup and ongoing costs
  • Funding required
  • Projected revenue/profits
  • Expected ROI

Growth Opportunities

  • Expansion possibilities
  • Growth strategies

Call to Action

This template allows you to cover all key information in a logical order efficiently.

Finalising Your Executive Summary

Once you’ve completed a draft executive summary:

  • Simplify: Pare it down to only the most essential information.
  • Get Feedback: Ask trusted colleagues to review and provide constructive feedback.
  • Refine: Tweak the content to ensure it’s engaging, concise, and error-free.

With a polished executive summary conveying your business’ core value compellingly, you’ll grab stakeholders’ attention to pitch the full plan.

Why the Executive Summary Matters

Think of your executive summary like a movie trailer – it provides brief but powerful snippets that excite audiences to see the full film.

As trailers drive box office success, the right executive summary sells investors on reading your complete business plan to learn more. That’s why nailing this upfront section is so critical.

With the above steps and examples, you have everything you need to craft an executive summary that successfully sells your business vision.

Explore our business planning guides for additional tips and resources on writing executive summaries or developing effective business plans.