How to Write an Executive Summary for your Business Plan

I help clients assess Business Plans. Part of this is checking that the numbers add up but also to see if the project in question is worth investing in. How do we know that from a fifty page document? We don’t always know, of course. But, we can make certain deductions just by looking at the first ten pages. Or even the first five. To be honest, the Executive Summary is the first hurdle you need to master if you want to get investment. Let’s look at how to do it right.

Executive Summary for Business Plan Template

Business Plan – Executive Summary

Executive Summary Checklist

Like we said above, first impressions count. For this reason, you need to pay special attention to the Executive Summary. If your clients or investors don’t get past the Executive Summary, then the rest of your document will go unread.

This also raises the question: Should you write your Executive Summary before or after you’ve written your Business Plan? Some business writers prefer to do it first, others write it after the entire document is completed. I write it at the end as I want the complete text before me. That way, I can digest the document and write the Executive Summary based on what I’ve read.

The following is one suggested approach for an Executive Summary. Change this to suit your needs. In the Executive Summary, include the following:

Introduction

  • Brief description of your product or service
  • Identify when, where, and how the company was established
  • Provide the current status, including funding, of your organization

Problem Definition

  • What problem does the solution solve?
  • How important is it to users over the next [x] years?
  • What is the business and/or technical road map?
  • Who are the customers and their needs?

Market Opportunity

  • What is the market size?
  • What is the timing of market development?
  • What are the key market drivers?
  • What are the inter-dependencies of this market to other markets, businesses or the government?
  • What are the supply and distribution channels?
  • Has the market been validated by a customer / partner?
  • What is the marketing and sales strategy?

Competitive Analysis

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What are your advantages and the competitive products/services?
  • What business models have been successful?

Management Team

  • Who are the key management personnel? Cross-reference to Appendix if necessary.
  • What is their track-record?
  • How will you complete the management team if all the key members are not yet identified?

Technology

  • How unique is the technology?
  • Can any parts be patented?
  • What is the current development status of product/service?
  • How will the products be tested?

Financial Analysis

Conclusions and final writing tips

While this looks like a lot of work, the key is to select the parts that you want to highlight in the Executive Summary and move the rest to the main document.

Most Executive Summaries are one to two pages max.

With this is mind, write the text and get all the information down first. Then revise the material and see where you can refine the wording to reduce the word count, for example, by merging points together and remove filler text. Also, look for phrases that can be pruned and made shorter. For example?

Instead of

In the event of

Write

If

Instead of

We have come to the conclusion that

Write

We decided

Instead of

The purpose of this document is to

Write

This document… (The purpose of is redundant)

Look for ways to remove these fillers. You’ll sharpen the prose in the process and give your document a nice, polished tone.

What have I missed?

About the Author: Ivan Walsh provides Business Tips for Smart People on Klariti.com. His also runs the popular Business Planning Blog at https://www.ivanwalsh.com. Follow him on Twitter at ivanwalsh.

PS: You can get the Business Plan Template from our partner Klariti.com here.

Download these MS Office and Apple templates today

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan