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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

Updated on May 3, 2013

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short paragraph describing the key features of a business. Executive summaries are used as abstracts to business plans or are often in the introduction so as to summarize why your business is, or has the potential to be successful.

To write an executive summary, you will want to think about what it is that makes your business profitable. There are two ways to go about writing an executive summary depending on whether you are writing it before or after you have started your business. In both cases, the executive summary's format will remain the same.

In an executive summary in a business proposal (meaning the business does not exist at that time), the writer will have to prove that their business will be profitable. A company that has been in business for several years will prove their profitability with numbers that have been generated during that time.

When do I write an Executive Summary?

You will want to include an executive summary at the beginning of a business proposal or plan to show your investors why they should put their money into your company. A good executive summary will be a paragraph long (about five to seven sentences) and will clearly describe what makes your business profitable. Illustrate ways to improve your business and show how the investors will get a return on their investment.

Are you writing a business proposal?

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Executive Summary Outline for a Business Proposal

Below are four topics that should be translated into at least five sentences that describe your company before you have started your business.

  • The Model: Describe the concept of your business, why it will work and be successful, and how your business model will cause your success.
  • The Plan: Describe important key features of your business that will make the company flourish. For example, discuss a problem that your business finds a solution to, describe your profit margins, what plans you have in place, or the excellent team you put together.
  • The Competition: Show the reader that you have knowledge of the competition and why that doesn't affect your success.
  • The Future: If your plan is put into effect, what will come of it? How profitable will your company be in a year, two years, and beyond? Be confident and base your numbers on solid market research.

How important is your team?

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Executive Summary Outline for a Business Plan

Below are five topics that should be translated into at least five sentences that describe your company after it has been in business for several years.

  • The Model: You need to describe how your business model is allowing you to control a portion of the market. How is your business different from your competitors?
  • The Team: An important part about a small business is the team. Describe what talents they have that will allow you to expand your business.
  • The Past: Describe how your business is doing financially and how the addition of systems/employees/markets has allowed you to increase profitability and efficiency. Also make sure to mention any debt you have and illustrate how you are dealing with it.
  • The Plan: Explain how you plan to increase revenue over time with expansion, alternative methods and the like.
  • The Future: Describe what will happen after your plan (above) has been put into effect. This strong statement should convince your investors or other readers to believe that you will be successful. Be sure to give reasonable numbers that reflect the actual market.


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