The executive summary for a business plan averages one to four pages – ideally, under two pages – and should be less than 10% of the total business plan. Although you want your executive summary to be engaging and detailed, it has to be quick, precise, and easy to read.
Have it in mind that the primary aim of every executive summary is to provide a compact version of the main document and to genuinely attract and hold the attention of the reader(s). Every new and existing business is expected to have a business plan that explicitly states its goals and objectives, and without doubt, the most vital part of that business plan is the executive summary.
Note that an executive summary is more than just a simple introduction to the business plan. It is most often the only part of the business plan that the intended audience wants to read, and that is why it needs to be detailed and compact.
Since the readers of the business plans and reports (investors, lenders, and C-level executives) will most often not have the time to scan through every part of the lengthy documents they receive, a well-written executive summary can help you get their attention and subsequently achieve your intended result.
Since the executive summary is the initial representation of the complete document, it is expected to cover the vital parts of the proposal and summarize the points that are elaborated in the final document.
Components of an Executive Summary for a Business Plan
The components of the executive summary will most definitely vary depending on the specifics of the main document, its purpose, and the intended target audience. However, some major parts are still expected to be present in the majority of the summaries. Executive summaries are always expected to include a few key elements:
- Target market
- 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 the business plan will be implemented
How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan
As no two business plans are the same, have in mind that no two executive summaries are ever the same way. To ensure you put together a clear, succinct, and engaging executive summary, here are a few general steps to take when writing an executive summary for your business plan;
Write Your Business Plan First
Since the executive summary is the initial representation of the complete document and is expected to cover the vital parts of a plan or proposal and summarize the points that are elaborated in the final document, it is often helpful you first write the entire business plan before the executive summary.
Once you are done with the main document, you can then use only facts and key details found in the business plan to put together your executive summary.
Write a Captivating Introduction
The information and fact you detail in your executive summary will depend on your audience. Maybe your introduction includes a surprising industry fact or even a brief story about your business; nevertheless, it is expected to be engaging and relevant to your business and grab the attention of your audience.
Also, remember to present necessary company information and explicitly state the objective of the business plan. What do you want the reader to understand from the document? What do you want to occur after they read it? These are all major messages for an effective executive summary.
Write the Executive Summary
After you must have written your business plan and a captivating introduction, take your time to identify important points to use for your executive summary.
Ensure to highlight each key point of your business plan in a way that is compact, yet detailed enough that the reader must not go through the lengthy document to understand your points. While it is recommended you make your summary engaging enough that they want to keep reading, also make sure they understand your agenda and points from just your summary.
Edit and Organize Your Document
At this point, organize your executive summary to align with the contents of your business plan, ensuring that the most important components come first. You can leverage a bulleted list to draw attention to your very vital points. Don’t forget to double-check the document for accuracy and clarity.
Do away with any buzzwords, repetitive information, qualifying words, jargon, passive language, and unsupported claims. Make sure that your executive summary can adequately act as a stand-alone document if need be.
Leverage the Expertise of a Professional
Truth be told, most entrepreneurs are not writing experts. Owing to that, it is recommended you seek the expertise of a professional writer or editor who can look over your document to ensure it flows smoothly and covers all the essential points you are eager to pass across.
Since the executive summary is the initial representation of the complete document, it is expected to cover the most vital parts of a plan or proposal and touch on the points that are further detailed in the final document. Although it shouldn’t be too long, it will have to include crucial details that are relevant to your reader depending on the primary objective of your business plan.