Often referred to as the most crucial part of a business plan, this essential element summarizes your plan’s key points and entices the reader to read the document in its entirety.
Because the executive summary is an overview of the entire plan, we always recommend writing it first. This way, it will act as a point of reference that the rest of your plan will follow. Usually, by the time you finish writing your entire plan, you will need to come back and update your executive summary, a process we call the BNF Process (Back-N-Forth Process). This process also ensures that all of your plan’s essential information makes it into the summary. If it doesn’t, you risk losing the reader, which could be highly detrimental, especially when using the plan to secure financing.
The Key Parts of An Executive Summary
What you include in your executive summary varies depending on whether your business is a start-up or already established. However, both should begin with your business’s legal name, the date of incorporation, organizational structure, and list of shareholders.
If you’re a start-up business, you’re likely to want to convince your bank, angel investors, or venture capitalist to invest in your business through start-up capital (debt or equity financing). To be successful, you’ll have to provide a rock-solid case for your business idea, which is where the executive summary becomes particularly important.
A typical executive summary for a start-up business should include:
- The business opportunity
- How your business will serve the market
- Your target market (who you think your customers will be)
- Your business model
- Your marketing and sales strategies and campaign
- Your competition and your competitive advantage (how will you differentiate yourself – maybe it’s price, or quality)
- Your financial analysis, including a summary of your three-year projections
- An introduction to your owners and key staff, including an overview of their expertise and why they are the right people to build the business
- Your implementation plan for bringing the business into the real world
- Where applicable, your funding needs (how much money you are looking for)
- Evidence of traction that proves your business model, product/service, and market research is well-founded (consumer survey results, pre-order numbers, early sales numbers)
- Evidence of financial stability, including your net worth, assets, and financial history
If your business already has a solid foundation, your executive summary will include information about your achievements and growth plans. Other information you want to include is:
- Your Mission and Vision Statement describing what your company does, your core values, and your business philosophy (2 – 3 sentences)
- Your company information (products/services, history, owners and key team members, important statistics (number of employees, locations)
- Highlights about your business: year-over-year revenue increases, profitability, increases in market share, and number of customers
- A brief financial summary
- Your goals for your business
Writing Your Executive Summary
Now that you’ve identified what you need to include in your summary, depending on the type of business you are, it’s time to start putting it together.
Using the breakdown of required information mentioned in the previous section as a guide, start writing one or two sentences about each point. Tie up your summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that addresses the reader’s likely question, “Why is this a winning business?”. The order of your executive summary should match the order of the rest of your business plan.
While you are writing your executive summary, pay attention to:
- Brevity: Your reader doesn’t want to have their time wasted. They want a concise summary that is to the point and no longer than two pages long. Background information should also be kept to a minimum. The executive summary should comprise less than 10% of your overall business plan.
- Language: Keep your language strong, positive, and upbeat and resist the urge to pad the summary with too many details or overt pleas. Eliminate buzz words, repetitive information, qualifying words, jargon, passive language, and unsupported claims.
- Flow: Try reading your executive summary aloud. Does it flow, or is it choppy? Is it clear and concise? Once you’re happy with it, ask someone who knows nothing about your business to review it as well, and provide suggestions for improvement.
- Relevancy: Tailor your executive summary to your audience, your business, and your desired outcomes. For example, if you’re looking to entice investors, your summary should highlight the opportunity your business provides investors and why the opportunity is unique.
- Tone: Reread your summary from your reader’s perspective. Does it generate interest or excitement? If not, why? Is the tone professional but optimistic?
- Legibility: Use shorter paragraphs to make the executive summary easier to digest.
A well-written executive summary should answer the following questions:
- What’s the business idea, what problem does it solve and how does it fit into the marketplace?
- How much will it cost, and how much financing are you seeking?
- What will the return be to the investor? Over what length of time?
- How will the ownership be divided?
- Who is the management team?
- What are the product and competitive strategies?
- What is your marketing plan?
- What is your exit strategy?
- What do you want the reader to take away from the document?
- What do you want to happen after they read it?
Finally, a well organized and proficiently written business plan should always ensure that your reader turns to your plan’s next page and keeps going.
However, at the end of the day, it’s the complete business plan that will get them to invest, partner, or give you a loan. This is why it’s crucial to make sure that the rest of your plan is just as thorough and compelling as the executive summary that preceded it.
At Bsbcon, we can help you craft an executive summary that checks off all the boxes so that you have a rock-solid plan you can literally take to the bank. We want to see you succeed by helping set goals to pave the way for suitable investments. Doing so, in turn, sets the best course for your business. Each of our business plans is tailor-made (no templates or plugins) and designed to be easily implementable in practice. We have business plans for bank loans, investors, immigration, and strategic purposes.
Contact us today to get started on accomplishing everything you’ve dreamed with consumer-tested, expert panel-approved business plans that outline your steps to success.