Find out what you should include in your executive summary, and how to write one.
- A summary should be less than 2 pages and highlight the main points of your business plan.
- Before you write your executive summary, make sure to create your business plan.
- Use an executive summary template to help you plan your business.
- This article was written for entrepreneurs and startups who are creating a business plan to attract investors. It also covers how to write an executive summary section.
datachannel.org –5 Steps for Writing an Executive Summary. Every new or existing business should have an businessplan which clearly outlines the goals and details of the organization. The executive summary is perhaps the most important section of the business plan.
Executive summaries are more than just an introduction to your business plan. Your executive summary is often the first part of your business plan that the intended audience will read. It should be thorough and thoughtful. Business News Daily interviewed business experts to determine how to create an executive summary.
What is an executive summary?
The executive summary should be a concise overview of your entire business plan. It should highlight the most important aspects of the plan. The executive summary should be more than a summary of your entire business plan. Investors and executives are often very busy, so they might only read the executive summary. You want the executive summary to convey all of the contents clearly and engagingly.
Ross Kimbarovsky (CEO and founder of Crowdspring) stated that the executive summary of a business proposal is meant to grab the attention of the reader and briefly explain your company, the problem you are solving and the target audience. The executive summary should be concise and catch the attention of the reader so that the rest of your plan is not lost.
Your executive summary should be informative and engaging, but it should still be easy to understand. These documents should not exceed 10% of your overall business plan and average between one and four pages.
What should an executive summary include?
Based on your purpose, your executive summary should contain important information that is relevant to your reader. If your goal is to attract investors, your executive summary should highlight your financial requirements and how the funds will be used. Your audience may be generalists or experts in their field. This will affect the language you use.
While the details of your executive summary may vary, Marius Thauland (business strategist at Leiekontor) said that each executive summary should contain a few key elements.
- Target market
- Services and products
- Sales and marketing strategies
- Competitive analysis
- Budget allocation and funding for processes and operations
- Number of employees to hire and be involved
- How the business plan is implemented
Highlight the most important details and provide statistics. Your introduction should include pertinent information about your company and state clearly the purpose of the business plan. What are you hoping the reader will take away from your document? What are you hoping the reader will do after reading it? These are the key messages to an effective executive summary.
Thauland said, “Put yourself in business plan reader’s shoes. Think about what you would want to see in the report.” Keep it short and professional to grab their attention. They should be able to see the whole document and understand every detail.
How to write an executive summary
While your executive summary is unique to your business plan and organization, there are some general guidelines that every entrepreneur or business owner should follow when creating their executive summary.
- Start with your business plan. An executive summary is a summary of the key topics in your business plans. It is a good idea to complete your entire business plan first. Your executive summary should only include facts and information that are available in your business plan.
- Create an engaging introduction. Your audience will determine what constitutes “engaging”. Your audience will determine what constitutes “engaging”. It may be a surprising industry fact or a short story. Whatever the case, your introduction should be relevant to your business. It is important to clearly define the purpose of your business plan as well as what the reader can expect from the document.
- Create the executive summary. Read through your business plan to identify key points that you should include in your summary. Each key point in your business plan should be covered in a concise and comprehensive way so that the reader doesn’t have to go through the entire business plan. The summary should be compelling enough to make them want continue reading. However, they should still be able to comprehend your plan by just looking at it.
- Create and edit your document. Place the most important parts at the beginning. To draw attention to the main points, a bulleted list can be useful. Double-check your document to ensure accuracy and clarity. Eliminate buzzwords, repetition, qualifiers, words, passive language, and unsupported claims. If necessary, verify that your executive summary is able to stand alone as a document.
- Get outside help. Professional writers and editors can make sure your document flows well and conveys the message you want.
When writing your executive summary, there are a few things you should avoid. Kimbarovsky advised that you avoid talking about the common qualities all entrepreneurs have, such as “your passion for hardwork” and other generalities. This will distract from the essential details of your executive summaries. Your executive summary should not be compared to other businesses.
Kimbarovsky said, “Don’t claim you will be the next Uber, Facebook or Amazon.” “Amateurs use this comparison to show how valuable their company is. Instead, you should focus on the facts that prove your company is strong. It is better to get this recognition from the investor because they see the opportunity.
Templates for executive summary
There are many online templates you can use to help you create your executive summary. Your business is unique and so your executive summary should reflect this. A template online won’t likely cover all the details you need for your executive summary. Experts recommend that you use templates as a guideline and then adapt them to your business plan and executive summary.
Here are some top executive summary templates to get you started:
- HubSpot offers a range of business resources including an executive summary template. It is user-friendly and easy to use. This template can be customized with branding and font changes, as well as added or removed sections. You can also download it in PDF or Word.
- With FormSwift , you can create and edit documents as well as access over 500 templates for various purposes. This guide provides information on how to create an executive summary and a form builder to make your executive summary . Simply fill out the questionnaire and then export your completed document to PDF or Word.
- Smartsheet a cloud-based platform for managing and planning projects. There are many free downloadable executive summaries to help with business plans. It also offers templates for proposals, marketing, launches, and other projects. Simply print the templates and enter your details.
- Template.net offers several free business templates. These include eight free executive summaries. The templates vary depending on the project (e.g. business plan, startup or housing program development, proposal, marketing strategy, etc.). Simply print the templates and enter your details.
- TemplateLab provides a one-stop shop for new business owners who are looking for templates that can be downloaded for various aspects of their business including finance, analytics, marketing, human relations, project management, and time management. There are over 30 executive summary templates and examples available.
- Vertex42 provides Excel templates for executive summaries. These templates can be used for topics such as budgets, timesheets and project management. Word templates are available for topics like legal forms and resumes. You can also download a free executive summary template into Word or Google Docs.