BlogStay tuned for more

The Executive Summary is usually the first section of a Formal Business Plan.

Below you can read, in detail, what the Executive Summary Section should include, depending on the purpose of your Business Plan and the target audience.

After learning more about the Executive Summary, you can check out the next Formal Business Plan Section, the Business Overview / Summary Section.

Contact us for support in assessing your Business Planning needs, and for the Preparation and Implementation of the appropriate Business Plan for your enterprise.

The Executive Summary of a Business Plan should include the following information:

  • Who you are, starting with your business name, location, and contact details.
  • What do you offer and what problem does your business solve, including a brief description of the product or service you offer and why it is necessary. Your business does not have to serve a bigger social problem, but it has to deal with a specific need or opportunity in the market.
  • Your target market. Sometimes the product itself defines the market, such as “the X component of the Y brand car dashboard”. If not, a brief description of the target market is needed.
  • The Purpose of your Business Plan. You need to state if you are looking for investors or aiming to secure a bank loan.
  • Size or scale. For an existing business, you can use recent annual sales figures, employee numbers, and more. For a Start-up, a brief description of expectations, such as the sales target for the next year or for the next three years, can be used. Simple graphical representation, instead of quoting numeric data, helps to quickly and easily transmit the information to the user.
  • Critical Information. You need to state any critical details that would be relevant to the person reading the summary. For example, that all founders or management team have significant academic qualifications related to the activities of your enterprise and/ or that they have significant experience and success record in the same industry and/ or that your enterprise has been awarded an important prize for its performance.

Remember that if your Business Plan is addressed to investors or bankers, you definitely need a good Executive Summary because many evaluators will only read the Executive Summary while others will first read the Executive Summary to decide whether to read, or not, the rest of the Business Plan.

Thus, a good Executive Summary will trigger the attention of your readers by presenting them your skills and knowledge to perform your activities effectively and why they have to read the rest of the Business Plan.

An Executive Summary that will separate from the mass and gain the interest of the reader should take into account the following:

Consider that the Executive Summary is like a sales pitch, but with limitations. A good Executive Summary sells the rest of the Business Plan, but keep in mind that this is a summary so it should not go beyond that. Therefore, it is necessary to highlight the key points, those that will lead to the success of the primary business objective of your Business Plan. The minimum information readers expect to see concern your business, your product/ service, your market, and your financial facts. Note that in the case of Business Plans addressed to bankers, unlike other cases, priority should be given to information related to your financial background, keeping in mind that financial data transparency is significant; instead of using the Section as a sale pitch.

It should be short. One page is better than two, two pages are better than five, and over five pages, could be considered exaggeration. It needs to be as short as possible in order to include all necessary information.

It should be simple. It's not just a document; it should reflect the purpose and performance of your business, so it has to be based on the functionality of your own business. Most Executive Summaries are short; sometimes they are presented in bullet-point format, with text broken into subsections. Images such as a product image or a chart showing financial data are usually welcome.

The Executive Summary is prepared after finalising all other Sections. Although the Executive Summary is at the beginning of a Formal, detailed, Business Plan, many experienced entrepreneurs and business consultants, including us, choose to write the abstract after completing the preparation of the rest of the Business Plan. This practice makes it easier to highlight the points that have already been analysed in the main sections of the Business Plan.

Organisation based on priority - importance. There is no predefined sequence for the material to be included in the Executive Summary. For optimum presentation it is imperative that the sequence is based on the level importance, leading to facts that require the greatest emphasis - attention.

Once the Executive Summary has been completed, it should be able to be used as a standalone "Summary Report/ Memo". Investors often ask Start-ups to provide a summary before asking for a complete Business Plan.

The standalone Executive Summary of a Business Plan that seeks to find investors needs to take into account the following:

  • Investors explore opportunities using summaries, not full Business Plans, but they cannot make an investment assessment without a complete Business Plan.
  • Investors expect to see previous experience in launching new businesses and/ or expertise in the same business sector.
  • Investors expect to see how much money you are trying to secure and how you will spend it.
  • Investors expect to read your Exit Strategy.
  • It should be convincing, focusing on facts.
  • Obvious clichés should be avoided.

The standalone Executive Summary of a Business Plan that aims to secure a business loan needs to take into account the following facts:
Contrary to the common misconception, bankers never assume significant risks for the business attempts of their clients. In order to gain the interest of bankers, the Executive Summary should cover the six key points explained at the beginning of this text, plus selected points that underline stability, such as balance sheet assets and financial history, illustrating that the loan is not particularly risky.

Professional bankers request a Business Plan as part of a loan application because they rightly want to know and understand your business, but they do not take any significant risks. The Executive Summary, in the case of a Business Plan aiming to secure a Business Loan, as opposed to other Business Plans, should not be regarded as a sale but rather as reassuring and descriptive.

Therefore, Executive Summaries addressing bankers need to include the following:

  • A description of your personal/ enterprise net worth (depending on whether it concerns an existing business or a Start-up). While investors want to see the experience of the management team, bankers, in addition to the background of the management team, want to see the personal net worth of business owners and/ or the value of the business.
  • Be transparent about your financial history and bankable assets. Investors emphasise on future potential growth. Bankers take into account future potential growth but put more emphasis on financial history and available bankable assets.
  • Provide facts documenting your potential stability and long-term business continuity. While investors want to evaluate potential exit strategies, bankers assess the future financial stability of their borrowers.

Executive Summaries for Internal Business Plans, Operation Plans or Strategic Plans
As explained in “Brief (Summarising) Abbreviated Business Plan”, a brief Abbreviated Business Plan does not need to have an Executive Summary, as the typical Executive Summary is required for Formal Business Plans addressed to external readers.

However, there are some types of Business Plans that appeal to internal readers, such as an Operations Plan or a Strategic Plan, in which the Executive Summary can be incorporated to clarify the purpose of the Plan and substantiate the main points covered. In the case of such Plans you do not need to include standard information everyone already knows, such as your contact information.

After reading about the Executive Summary, you can check out the next Formal Business Plan Section, the Business Overview / Summary Section.

Also, by clicking on the relevant link, below, you can read in detail about each of the remaining Sections of a Formal Business Plan:

Contact us for support in assessing your Business Planning needs, and for the Preparation and Implementation of the appropriate Business Plan for your enterprise.

Comments powered by CComment

Contact Us

We are happy to respond to any queries you may have, so feel free to contact us.