The company summary in a business plan—also known as the company description or overview—is a high-level look at what you are as a company and how all the elements of the business fit together. An effective company summary should give readers, such as potential investors, a quick and easy way to understand your business, its products and services, its mission and goals, how it meets the needs of its target market, and how it stands out from competitors.
Before you begin writing your company summary, remember to stick to the big picture. Other sections of your business plan will provide the specific details of your business. The summary synthesizes all of that information into one page.
A Quick Rundown of What to Include
The company summary section of a business plan should include:
- Business name
- Legal structure (i.e., sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corporation, or partnership)
- Management team
- Mission statement
- Company history (when it started and important milestones)
- Description of products and services and how they meet the needs of the marketplace
- Target market (who will buy your product or services)
- Competitive advantage (what sets you apart in the marketplace to allow you to succeed)
- Objectives and goals (plans for growth)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website has a lot of information available if you've never written a business plan before. The SBA provides examples of business plans for different types of companies.
Before you begin, you should decide whether you want to go with a traditional business plan format or a lean startup format. The traditional format is appropriate if you want to have a comprehensive, detail-oriented plan, or if you are requesting financing. The lean startup format is best for those who have a relatively simple business and want to start it quickly, or as a starting point for those who plan to refine and change the plan regularly.
No matter which type of business plan you choose, you'll need to include a company summary.
Examples and Tips
When it comes to writing the company summary, start with a concise opening paragraph such as this one:
XYZ Consulting is a new company that provides expertise in search marketing solutions for businesses worldwide, including website promotion, online advertising, and search engine optimization techniques to improve its clients' positioning in search engines. We cater to the higher education market, including colleges, universities, and professional educational institutions.
Several elements of the company summary are covered here, including the name (XYZ Consulting), history (new company), description of services (web promotion, SEO, advertising) and why it's needed (improve positioning in search engines), and the target market (higher education).
Next, you might provide more information about location, legal structure, and management, and offer more details about the company's history, objectives, goals, and strengths. This is where you can highlight all of the business' strengths and anything that might give it a competitive advantage in the field.
If the goal of your business plan is to secure funding, then you'll want to focus on areas that will appeal to investors and lending institutions, such as why you're the best person to run the business, your experience in this field, any expertise or special talents on the team, and how you plan to make the business a success. You may also want to address any areas of perceived weakness by explaining how you'll overcome them or compensate.