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How to Write an Executive Summary (+ Examples)

The executive summary is the cornerstone of any business plan, serving as a gateway for readers to understand the essence of your proposal.

It summarizes the plan’s key points into a digestible format, making it crucial for capturing the interest of investors, partners, and stakeholders.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what the executive summary is, why we use it, and also how you can create one for your business plan. Let’s dive in!

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise and compelling overview of a business plan (or simply a report), designed to provide readers, such as investors, partners, or upper management, with a quick and clear understanding of the document’s most critical aspects.

For a business plan, it summarizes the key points including the business overview, market analysis, strategy plan timeline and financial projections.

Typically, the executive summary is the first section of a business plan, but it should be written last to ensure it accurately reflects the content of the entire document.

The primary goal of an executive summary is to engage the reader’s interest and encourage them to read the full document.

It should be succinct, typically no more than one to two pages, and articulate enough to stand on its own, presenting the essence of the business proposal or report without requiring the reader to go through the entire document for basic understanding.

Why Do We Use It?

The executive summary plays a crucial role in whether a business plan opens doors to funding, partnerships, or other opportunities. It’s often the first (and sometimes the only) part of the plan that stakeholders read, making it essential for making a strong, positive first impression. As such, we use it in order to:

  1. Capture Attention: Given the volume of business plans investors, partners, and lenders might receive, an executive summary’s primary function is to grab the reader’s attention quickly. It highlights the most compelling aspects of the business to encourage further reading.
  2. Save Time: It provides a succinct overview of the business plan, allowing readers to understand the key points without going through the entire document. This is particularly beneficial for busy stakeholders who need to make informed decisions efficiently.
  3. Facilitate Understanding: An executive summary distills complex business concepts and strategies into a concise format. Therefore, it makes it easier for readers to grasp the business’s core mission, strategic direction, and potential for success.
  4. Driving Action: By summarizing the financial projections and funding requirements, an executive summary can effectively communicate the investment opportunity. Indeed the investment opportunity, whether to raise money from investors or a loan from a bank, is the most common reason why we prepare business plans.
  5. Setting the Tone: The executive summary sets the tone for the entire business plan. A well-written summary indicates a well-thought-out business plan, reflecting the professionalism and competence of the management team.

How to Write an Executive Summary in 4 Simple Steps

Here’s a streamlined approach to crafting an impactful executive summary:

1. Start with Your Business Overview

  • Company Name: Begin with the name of your business.
  • Location: Provide the location of your business operations.
  • Business model: Briefly describe how you make money, the producfs and/or services your business offers.

2. Highlight the Market Opportunity

  • Target Market: Identify your target market and its size.
  • Market Trends: Highlight the key market trends that justify the need for your product or service.
  • Competitive Landscape: Describe how your business is positioned to meet this need effectively.

3. Present Your Management Team

  • Team Overview: Introduce the key members of your management team and their roles.
  • Experience: Highlight relevant experience and skills that contribute to the business’s success.

4. Include Financial Projections

  • Financial Summary: Provide a snapshot of key financial projections, including revenue, profits, and cash flow over the next three to five years.
  • Funding Requirements: If seeking investment, specify the amount needed and how it will be used.

2 Executive Summary Examples

Here are 2 examples you can use as an inspiration to create yours. These are taken from our coffee shop and hair salon business plan templates.

Coffee Shop Executive Summary

Hair Salon Executive Summary

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