How to write an exceptional executive summary for business plans
What a book summary is to book, what a trailer is to the movie, what a preamble is to a constitution and what an executive summary is to your business plan.
Executive summary is an introduction, an opening statement, and your chance at a first impression.
Now that’s quite an informal way to explain. So, technically put, the executive summary for the business plan is the overview of your business. Here’s where you summarise and explain the key part of your business.
Hence, it is very important for you to be very thoughtful, concise, and equally creative with your executive summary of the business plan. In that case, it is normal to worry about the executive summary format.
Nevertheless, keep reading the article to make an exquisite executive summary outline for your business plan.
First things first: Know what details to add to your business plan's executive summary.
The executive summary outline for your business is more than just an overview. It is the part that decides the flow of the plan. Moreover, it is also a place where your readers decide if or not they should fund your business. Along with that, understand that your readers are very busy. So, always be particular about the details you want to add in your executive summary for a business plan.
Be prepared for working under word and page limits. To save your word and detail budget, use tables, numbers, graphs, and pie charts. Moreover, get clear about the objective of the business summary. Moreover, any person, no matter the age, has a reading ability similar to 5th to 7th graders. So, don’t bombard your summary for the business plan with difficult vocabulary.
The executive summary should clearly define the purpose of writing a business plan. For example, there are two main purposes of writing a business plan 1. Define a business roadmap and 2. Seek an investment. The format for writing a business summary for both reasons is different. And hence you have to be very clear with your purpose.
With such tight direction, it is normal to worry about what to add to the executive summary outline. In that case, entrepreneurs like you must add the following details in your business plan’s executive summary:
The objective of your summary for the business plan decides why your reader should read it. And what should they do about it after reading? In that case, try to be as precise as possible. On the other hand, you don’t want to cover most of your summary with the objective. So, keep it short.
In this section it is wise to introduce your product and/or service and what pain points are you addressing to hold their attention. You don’t have to explain your offer completely. Just give a brief idea through which they can understand well. Moreover, according to your purpose of writing a business summary, you should clearly mention your expectation.
It is very important to explain your target audience. So that they know what they are getting into. However, you don’t have to give the entire market situation in this section. Just a little but detailed idea would help you out. Add important details like gender, age group, niche, micro-niche, and location. Don’t forget to add important facts and figures related to your target audience.
It is very important to know who they are going up against. So, they will want to know about the competition beforehand. Write about how exactly do you stand out from your competition. Again, since this is only the executive summary for your business plan, you don’t need to go down in detail. Just explain shortly.
Add a brief comparison of your product/services against theirs. Add important categories like quality, quantity, time frame, pricing, and other points that make you different from your competitor.
Marketing and Sales Summary
Marketing and Sales are integral parts of any business. Because they communicate with your audience and drive revenue. So, add this section without fail. Be clear about the strategies and highlight promising figures. Since you have limited words to explain this by leveraging the graphs and pie charts.
This way, you will present a clear idea of the monetary flow. Along with that, you will also add a tinge of color and interest to it.
Procedures, operations, and Implementations
Here’s where you give the specific endpoints. You explain how you will set up and implement business operations.
Be clear about your operations and include what procedures they would include.
Size of your team
When the operations and procedures are clear, the team size comes into the picture. Be clear about the number of people you are going to need initially. Mention the number of partners and skill information of each. Along with that, bifurcate the team further with respect to categories.
Here, while you put in your and your partners’ portfolio, mention all the past working experience in the same line. It will give them an idea about your industry knowledge. Moreover, this will also add to your credibility.
Your executive summary outline will require your financial summary. To put it rightly, you will need details like inflow and outflow of the cash, production and infrastructure investments, partner shares, as well as the balance sheet.
The financial summary in your business summary will throw light on your financial strengths and weaknesses. This way, your investors will know how much financial support does your business need.
Mention your exit plan
The exit plan is where you transfer the ownership of the business. According to the current business plan, mention, what will you do with the business? Will you scale it? Will you share it? Will you sell it?
Your investors are always interested in knowing this. Because this gives them a little idea about their profits. So, figure out your exit plan and add it briefly. But the way, this is not a set-on-the-stone statement that you won’t be able to change later on. So, don’t stress over it much.
Things to keep in mind while making a format of an executive summary outline:
- Most of your readers are busy. So oftentimes, they will only read your business plan summary.
- If the executive summary outline doesn’t interest your readers, they might not read your business plan further.
- Your business plan’s summary will decide whether or not you’ll get the investment money.
With all these details, it is quite obvious to wonder how long should an executive summary be.
Secondly: Draw the outline of your business plan executive summary.
Once you gather the points for your executive summary outline, the next step is to write the summary. In that case, follow these tips to write an executive summary for a business plan:
Organize your content well
While writing the executive summary for your business plan, plan it like you’d plan your book. Put the most engaging and most important details first.
Organize the content in such a way that the reader is interested from start to end.
Write engaging content
Writing the entire business plan's executive summary could be tough for you if you don't have a habit of writing. In that case, here are a few guidelines you can follow:
- Write your content in simple language and use the vocabulary with respect to your industry.
- Try making your content as concise as possible and don’t use filler words or information.
- Try to make your business plan’s summary as readable as possible.
- Part your paragraph properly. None of the paragraphs must be of more than 7 to 10 sentences.
- Include pie charts and graphs wherever necessary.
- Use a bullet list as and when possible.
- Highlight important facts and figures with bold and italics fonts. This way the investors could easily skin through your business plan executive summary.
- Once you’re done with writing your content, proofread it well. Make sure you do not have any conceptual, technical, or grammatical errors.
- To ensure that your executive summary for the business plan is drafted well, you can look for a second opinion. However, make sure you don’t get swayed by too many opinions.
Work on the design part
When it comes to your business plan’s executive summary, the design is just as important. And if you’re to include graphics and covers, make sure that they match your overall brand value.
Expert's Tips for writing an executive summary:
- Write it last: write your business plan’s summary after you complete writing the entire business plan.
- Know your readers: If possible, know what kind of content your target audience likes to read. And try to frame your business plan summary similarly.
- Keep it short: Your business plan’s executive summary should only be 10% of your business plan.
- Don’t add general information: For example, they don’t want to know how your team and you are excited about the project. That is mostly visible while you make and present your executive summary for business. Your executive summary is a detailed pitch that includes the key information.
- Focus on the facts: You can write persuading content. But at the same time, keep your attention to facts and figures. What prospective investors are interested in is the content of the summary, not the tone.
- Refer to executive summary examples: Make sure your summary is authentic and unique. That’s how you stand out and grab the attention of your readers. So, refer to a few successful summaries before you start drafting yours.
On a side note: The entire process could be overwhelming. So refer to as many examples of business plan executive summary as possible. See the ones that have worked and also the ones that have failed.
This way, you’ll practically understand the dos and don’t of writing the executive summary. Moreover, to make the process fast and accurate, try upmetrics