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Executive Summary

by Alan Gleeson

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a summary of a business idea or business plan and is designed to give the reader a flavour as to what the larger document is about. The aim of the executive summary is simply to entice the reader in to reading the complete business plan.

Typically executive summaries will be 3-4 pages in length and will represent a distillation of the key points of the business plan.

Why do I need an executive summary?

A business plan is a vital document for all businesses. The purpose of business plans vary but if your business plan is designed to achieve a particular goal e.g. secure funding you’ll need an executive summary.

In an increasingly time pressed world, with a myriad of competing demands on peoples time, the executive summary is the first port of call for those seeking to review a business plan.

If the executive summary is sufficiently compelling it is likely the reader will read further. To that end the executive summary must marry the need to be succinct along with the need to contain sufficient information to portray the opportunity in as positive a light as possible.

Where would I see an executive summary?

The executive summary is a component of a standard business plan. Typically the executive summary is the last element to be written yet is located at the start of the business plan.

What should the executive summary contain?

The executive summary is basically a shorter version of the business plan. It should contain the main sections of the business plan with only 1 -2 lines under each heading.

How do I create an executive summary?

Simply write a business plan. When it is complete distil the key messages and requirements down into 3-4 pages and this will represent your executive summary.

Executive Summary Guidelines

Here are some basic guidelines in writing an executive summary:

The executive summary should be written once you have completed your full business plan.


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It should be 3-4 pages in length and should be located at the very start of the business plan.

The aim of the executive summary is to entice the reader into reading the full business plan document.

It needs to outline the core idea as well as clearly indicating the purpose of the business plan. Is the purpose of the business plan to secure investment? If yes, how much?

It needs to be consistent with the full business plan as well as any business pitch or presentation.

Finally, the executive summary will help the reader decide whether the proposal is worthy of further investigation. Hence it needs to be both compelling, professional and needs to represent the author in the best light possible.

Executive Summary Examples

Here are some executive summary examples which will give some ideas as to the content etc.

Beauty Salon and Day Spa Business Plan Executive Summary

Wedding Consultant Business Plan Executive Summary

Executive Summary Resources

This page contains an article on what an executive summary is by Tim Berry.

This page contains an Executive Summary pod cast by Alan Gleeson.

Finally, if you’re looking for help with writing your executive summary or other parts of your business plan, Business Plan Pro can save you lots of time and effort. It contains over 500 sample business plans which can be used to help create your own plan. All of these contain full executive summaries to give you lots of ideas.

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