How to Write the Executive Summary for a Business Plan

An overview of the executive summary section of a small business plan

executive summary of a biz plan
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The executive summary is the first section of your small business plan that is typically written last. It provides an overview of all of the other sections in the business plan.

The length of the executive summary does not need to be overwhelmingly long. In fact, it should be as brief as it can be while still conveying the most important parts of your business plan. It should be easy to read and be written in non-technical language.

Example of an executive summary in a small business plan

For an example of an executive summary, see Pet Grandma's Executive Summary.

What Does an Executive Summary of a Business Plan Include?

In general, your executive summary should highlight at least one important statement from each of the other sections of your business plan. Think in terms of giving the recipient what they need in order to make a decision about whether or not to invest in your business.

If the reader only reads the executive summary, he or she should have a very clear idea about your business, your goals and your strategic plan for accomplishing your goals.

The executive summary should also include basic information about your business such as your business name and location, description of your business and its products and/or services, your management team and mission statement.

Continuing reading for tips for writing an effective executive summary.

The goal of an executive summary is to get read and convince the reader that your business plan is worth reading in full, and eventually, that your business is worth investing time and/or money in. Here are a few tips for writing a highly effective small business plan executive summary that gets read by the recipient.

1. Try on the Other Shoe

When you begin to write your executive summary, think in terms of your audience. If you were a banker, an investor or a potential partner, what would convince you that this business was worth your time and money? Use this as the focus of your executive summary.

2. Start with an Outline

Go through each section of your business plan and pull out the most important sentence, statement, figure or fact from each. Your executive summary will eventually include a description of each of these key points, with explanations and transitions that make the statements flow and fit logically together.

3. Lead with Conviction

Put your most important and compelling statement at the beginning of your executive summary so it is more likely to be read. As you write, speak directly to your audience and don't be afraid to show your passion and excitement in your executive summary.

4. Use Visual Aids

A picture is worth a thousand words, even in an executive summary. If you have a graph, chart or other graphic that demonstrates one of the important points you're including in your small business plan executive summary, use it to support your key statements. You can use formatting such as subheadings, bullets and short paragraphs to make your executive summary easy to scan through and to draw attention to the most important parts.

5. Keep It Short

There aren't any rules when it comes to the length of your executive summary, but in general, you should only make it as long as you need to in order to get your point across. Be direct, clear and convincing, and avoid using overly descriptive writing.

6. Use Links

Your small business plan executive summary should be able to stand alone and be self-supporting. But that doesn't mean you don't want to give readers the option of getting more information with little effort. Use hyperlinks to allow readers to jump to other sections of the business plan and to help substantiate your claims.

7. Have It Proofread

If you have someone with a fresh set of eyes and a keen attention to detail available, ask them to proofread your executive summary for typos. It's not a bad idea to have your entire business plan proofread, but at a minimum, make sure your executive summary is perfect.