How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

Every company needs a business plan. They are often called upon to provide this document to other companies who may have a financial stake in the business, such as investing or lending money. Writing a business plan on your own instead of hiring someone else to do it is an ambitious task, but not an impossible one. This series of articles is designed to help you write a professional and complete business plan. In this installment, we will cover how to write the Executive Summary for your business plan. The Executive Summary is the first thing people read in your business plan, but it is best to write it last, after all of the rest of the document is complete. This is because this section is merely a summary of the other chapters, rather than one that stands completely on its own. This fact makes the Executive Summary the easiest section to write, because all of the work is already done. This will be a very brief chapter, taking up only one to two pages. While writing the Executive Summary, use strong, concise language. Be direct, avoiding passive voice, and portray your business in as positive a light as possible. When you have finished writing this chapter, proofread it carefully, then have someone else read it to make sure the summary makes sense, truly highlights the most important points of the business plan and inspires them to want to read more. It is a good idea to employ these same steps for the rest of the chapters of the business plan as well.

First Impressions Count in a Business Plan

The Executive Summary is your chance to give the reader a great first impression of your company. A concise and professional summary will show them that they will probably like what they see if they read the rest of the business plan and gives them a preview of what they will find. However, a poorly written summary will turn them off from the start. The summary will also give them the most pertinent information about your company up front for easy reference. A good way to start the Executive Summary is to give your reader the basics about your business: company name, location, what product you sell or service you provide and what the purpose of your plan is. The latter is likely to change depending on the audience, so do not forget to change it. If you are applying for a loan, say so and indicate what the amount is. If you are looking for an investor, state that. If you have specific plans for the money, you can say so briefly. Next, you will give some key pertinent facts about the business. Some things you should include here are historical and projected profits, margins, gross sales and any other useful numbers. Feel free to use an easy-to-read chart, but explain the numbers in text as well-a “so what” to give some relevance to the numbers. This is your chance to tell your reader, briefly, how your company shines.

How To Summarize a Business Plan

All that remains to do now is to get to the meat of your Executive Summary by summarizing the other chapters of the business plan. Each chapter should be summed up in just a couple of sentences-no more than three. Resist the urge to repeat a lot of the details in your summary, because that is the purpose of the rest of the plan. The Executive Summary will give the reader an idea of what the business plan contains and tell them where to find it. By leading them to the detailed chapters of the plan, you will ensure the reader will see all of the important and convincing research and background you put into them. You can write a quick summary of each chapter by hand from scratch, but you might also have summary sentences already at the end of each of the chapters that you can just copy and paste. Even if you do not, glancing at the introduction and conclusion of each chapter will give you an idea of what you should say in the summary.

Concluding the Executive Summary of the Business Plan

The end of the Executive Summary is one of the most important parts of the whole business plan. This is your chance to sell your business with an intriguing close that will make the reader want to read the rest of the plan and give you whatever you are asking for. The Executive Summary of your business plan is the last thing you write, the first thing your reader sees and the easiest piece of the document to put together. However, it is also the most important piece, because it entices the reader to read the rest of the document. Using strong, concise language and including only brief details will give the reader a good first impression and help convince them to not only read the business plan, but grant the financial request you are making with the document.