The purpose of the executive summary of the business plan is to provide our readers with an overview of the business plan. Think of it as an introduction to our business. Therefore, our business plan's executive summary will include summaries of ...
- a description of our company, including our product and/or service and/or methodology solutions
- our management team
- the market and our customers including basic quantitative information
- marketing and sales strategies
- our primary competition
- our competitive advantage
- our operational strategies
- financial projections and plans
- why this is a winning business
- contact information
The executive summary will end with a summary statement, a "last kick at the can" sentence or two designed to persuade the readers of our business plan that our business is a winner.
To write the executive summary of the business plan, we will start by following the list above and writing one to three sentences about each topic. (No more!)
If we have trouble crafting these summary sentences from scratch, we will review our business plan to get us going. In fact, one approach to writing the executive summary of the business plan is to take a summary sentence or two from each of the business plan sections we've already written. (If we compare the list above to the sections outlined in the Business Plan Outline, we'll see that this could work very well.)
Then we'll finish our business plan's executive summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that answers the reader's question "Why is this a winning business?"
Tips for Writing the Business Plan's Executive Summary
- Focus on providing a summary. The business plan itself will provide the details and whether bank managers or investors, the readers of your business plan don't want to have their time wasted.
- Keep our language strong and positive. Don't weaken the executive summary of our business plan with weak language. Instead of writing, "Dogstar Industries might be in an excellent position to win government contracts", write "Dogstar Industries will be in an excellent position..."
- The executive summary should be no more than two pages long ... one page is probably better. Resist the tempation to pad your business plan's executive summary with details (or pleas). The job of the executive summary is to present the facts and entice your reader to read the rest of the business plan, not tell him everything.
- Polish our executive summary. Read it aloud. Does it flow or does it sound choppy? Is it clear and succinct? Once it sounds good to you, have someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and make suggestions for improvement.
- Tailor the executive summary of our business plan to our audience. If the purpose of our business plan is to entice investors, for instance, our executive summary should focus on the opportunity our business provides investors and why the opportunity is special.
- We should put ourselves in our readers' place... and read our executive summary again. Does this executive summary generate interest or excitement in the reader? If not, why?
- Remember, the executive summary of the business plan will be the first thing the readers of the business plan read. If our executive summary is poorly written, it will also be the last, as they will set the rest of our business plan aside unread!
[Susan Ward with editing by Jim Jindrick]