Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

Cassie Bottorff

Reviewed By

Published: Oct 17, 2022, 2:00pm

Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

Table of Contents

Components of an executive summary, how to write an executive summary, example of an executive summary, frequently asked questions.

A business plan is a document that you create that outlines your company’s objectives and how you plan to meet those objectives. Every business plan has key sections such as management and marketing. It should also have an executive summary, which is a synopsis of each of the plan sections in a one- to two-page overview. This guide will help you create an executive summary for your business plan that is comprehensive while being concise.

The executive summary should mimic the sections found in the business plan . It is just a more concise way of stating what’s in the plan so that a reader can get a broad overview of what to expect.

State the company’s mission statement and provide a few sentences on what the company’s purpose is.

Company History and Management

This section describes the basics of where the company is located, how long it has been in operation, who is running it and what their level of experience is. Remember that this is a summary and that you’ll expand on management experience within the business plan itself. But the reader should know the basics of the company structure and who is running the company from this section.

Products or Services

This section tells the reader what the product or service of the company is. Every company does something. This is where you outline exactly what you do and how you solve a problem for the consumer.

This is an important section that summarizes how large the market is for the product or service. In the business plan, you’ll do a complete market analysis. Here, you will write the key takeaways that show that you have the potential to grow the business because there are consumers in the market for it.

Competitive Advantages

This is where you will summarize what makes you better than the competitors. Identify key strengths that will be reasons why consumers will choose you over another company.

Financial Projections

This is where you estimate the sales projections for the first years in business. At a minimum, you should have at least one year’s projections, but it may be better to have three to five years if you can project that far ahead.

Startup Financing Requirements

This states what it will cost to get the company launched and running. You may tackle this as a first-year requirement or if you have made further projections, look at two to three years of cost needs.

The executive summary is found at the start of the business plan, even though it is a summary of the plan. However, you should write the executive summary last. Writing the summary once you have done the work and written the business plan will be easier. After all, it is a summary of what is in the plan. Keep the executive summary limited to two pages so that it doesn’t take someone a long time to peruse what the summary says.

It might be easier to write an executive summary if you know what to expect. Here is an example of an executive summary that you can use as a template.

sample of executive summary business plan

Bottom Line

Writing an executive summary doesn’t need to be difficult if you’ve already done the work of writing the business plan itself. Take the elements from the plan and summarize each section. Point out key details that will make the reader want to learn more about the company and its financing needs.

How long is an executive summary?

An executive summary should be one to two pages and no more. This is just enough information to help the reader determine their overall interest in the company.

Does an executive summary have keywords?

The executive summary uses keywords to help sell the idea of the business. As such, there may be enumeration, causation and contrasting words.

How do I write a business plan?

If you have business partners, make sure to collaborate with them to ensure that the plan accurately reflects the goals of all parties involved. You can use our simple business plan template to get started.

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Kimberlee Leonard has taken her professional experience as an insurance agency owner and financial advisor and translated that into a finance writing career that helps business owners and professionals succeed. Her work has appeared on, Business News Daily,,, and Kin Insurance.

Cassie is a deputy editor, collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. She is passionate about economic development and is on the board of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town. Prior to joining the team at Forbes Advisor, Cassie was a Content Operations Manager and Copywriting Manager at Fit Small Business.

How To Write an Executive Summary With Example

Make writing your executive summary easier with this example.

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

sample of executive summary business plan

How To Write an Executive Summary

What to include in an executive summary, executive summary example.

The Balance / Jo Zhou

An executive summary is a brief overview at the beginning of your business plan. It should provide a short, concise summary of your business that captures the reader's attention and gives them an interest in learning more about it. See an example of a business plan's executive summary so you can begin writing one of your own.

Key Takeaways

The executive summary goes near the beginning of the business plan but is written last. To include a summary of the different parts of your business plan, you'll need to write them first.

When you write the executive summary, keep it under two pages. The executive summary should contain brief summaries of other sections of the plan. 

The idea is to give a brief overview of your business first before going into detail about each of the different parts.

The executive summary should contain all of the important information about your business, such as:

Format the executive summary clearly and attractively, with headings for each section. Your word processing software may have a template you can use that will make your business plan look good.

It's always easier to write something if you can read an example first, so here's an executive summary example that you can use as a model for your own business plan's executive summary.

This executive summary is for a fictional company called Pet Grandma Inc.

Pet Grandma Inc. offers superior on-site pet sitting and exercising services for dogs and cats, providing the personal loving pet care that the owners themselves would provide if they were home. Our team will ensure that pet owners can take business trips or vacations knowing that their pets are in good hands.

Company and Management

Pet Grandma Inc. is headquartered in the City of West Vancouver and  incorporated  in the Province of British Columbia. The company is owned by partners Pat Simpson and Terry Estelle. Pat has extensive experience in animal care while Terry has worked in  sales and marketing  for 15 years.

The management of Pet Grandma Inc. consists of co-owners Pat Simpson and Terry Estelle. Both partners will be taking hands-on management roles in the company. In addition, we have assembled a  board of advisors  to provide management expertise. The advisors are:

Our clients are dog owners and cat owners who choose to leave their pets at home when they travel, or who want their pets to have company when their owners are at work. Pet Grandma Inc. offers a variety of pet care services, all in the pet’s home environment, including:

Across Canada, the pet care business has seen an explosion of growth over the last three years. West Vancouver is an affluent area with a high pet density. Our  market research  has shown that nine out of 10 pet owners polled in West Vancouver would prefer to have their pets cared for in their own homes when they travel rather than be kenneled and six out of 10 would consider having a pet sitter provide company for their dog when they were at work.

Competitive Advantages

While there are currently eight businesses offering pet sitting in West Vancouver, only three of these offer on-site pet care and none offers “pet visit” services for working pet owners.

Pet Grandma ’s marketing strategy is to emphasize the quality of pet care we provide (“a Grandma for your pet!”) and the availability of our services. Dog owners who work, for instance, will come home to find happy, friendly companions who have already been exercised and walked, instead of demanding, whiny animals.

All pet services will be provided by animal care-certified staff.

All employees are insured and bonded.

Financial Projections

Based on the size of our market and our defined market area, our  sales projections  for the first year are $340,000. We project a growth rate of 10% per year for the first three years.

The salary for each of the co-owners will be $40,000. At startup, we will have six trained staff to provide pet services and expect to  hire  four more this year once  financing  is secured. To begin with, co-owner Pat Simpson will be scheduling appointments and coordinating services, but we plan to hire a full-time receptionist this year as well.

Already we have service commitments from more than 40 clients and plan to aggressively build our client base through newspaper, website, social media, and direct mail advertising. The loving, on-site professional care that Pet Grandma Inc. will provide is sure to appeal to cat and dog owners throughout the West Vancouver area.

Startup Financing Requirements

We are seeking an operating line of $150,000 to finance our first-year growth. Together, the co-owners have invested $62,000 to meet working capital requirements.

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How to Write an Executive Summary

Written by Dave Lavinsky

pen pencil and checklist

Executive Summary of a Business Plan

On this page:, what is a business plan executive summary, why do i need an executive summary, executive summary length, key elements of an executive summary, how do i write an executive summary for a business plan, the dos and don’ts of creating a great executive summary, summary of writing a great executive summary, business plan executive summary example, executive summary frequently asked questions.

An executive summary of a business plan gives the reader an overview of the business opportunity and your entire business plan.  It explains the type of business the company operates and summarizes the key facts and strategies supporting the businesses’s growth. If presented for funding, the executive summary provides the lender or investor a quick snapshot which helps them determine their interest level and if they should continue reading the rest of the business plan.

An effective executive summary is a quick version of your complete business plan. You need to keep it simple and succinct in order to grab the reader’s attention and convince them it’s in their best interest to keep reading.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

As mentioned above, your business plan is a detailed document that requires time to read. Capturing the reader’s attention with a concise, interesting overview of your plan saves them time and indicates which parts of the business plan may be most important to read in detail. This increases the odds that your business plan will be read and your business idea understood. This is why you need a well-written executive summary.

When structuring your executive summary, the first thing to keep in mind is that it should be short and comprehensive. The length of your business plan executive summary should never exceed 3 pages; the ideal length is 1-2 pages.

— Go to top of page —

The following are the key elements to include in your business plan executive summary:

Your executive summary is the most important part of your business plan since it’s the first thing investors, lenders and/or other readers see. And if they aren’t impressed, they’ll stop reading and you’ll lose them forever. To give yourself the best chances of success, follow these steps to write your executive summary.

1) Complete the rest of your business plan. Your executive summary provides highlights of each section of your business plan. As such, you need to first write those sections. Then, read each section and figure out what information from each must be included in the executive summary. For instance, if your industry analysis section mentioned that your industry’s current size is $100 billion and is projected to grow by 90% per year over the next 5 years, this is an exciting statistic and opportunity that should be mentioned in your executive summary.

2) Start with a one to two line description of your company. Your executive summary must start with a simple description of your company. Readers must be able to quickly and easily understand what your company does so they can decide whether they’re interested in the opportunity. If readers can’t quickly understand what you do, many will stop reading and you’ll lose the ability to get them involved in your company.

3) Create your executive summary structure. Start by creating headers for each section of your business plan. For example, you should have a marketing plan header, a customer analysis header, etc. Then, within each header, summarize the most important point you mentioned in that section.  For example, under your marketing plan, you would write your three most important promotional tactics. Under customer analysis, you’d write a detailed one to two line description of your target customers. Then figure out the best way to organize your executive summary. You can either keep the headers, or create new headers like “business overview” and “unique success factors” in which you cut and paste the old sections as appropriate.

4) Make it shorter. Mark Twain once wrote “If I had more time, i would have written a shorter letter.” The more concise your executive summary is, the more successful it will. Read through your executive summary and aggressively edit it so you convey your key messages in the least amount of words possible.

5) Bring in outside readers. Find at least five people to read your executive summary. Ask them to spend no more than five minutes doing so. Then ask them questions about it. Did they understand what your company does? Are they able to recite back to you your company’s value proposition? If the readers are unable to understand and get excited by your executive summary, then you need to keep working on it.

There are certain mistakes often made in writing an executive summary. If these little glitches can be avoided, writing a flawless executive summary for your business plan is not difficult. So here are a few important tips and tricks for you to remember.

Whether you’re a large or small business, your executive summary is the first thing someone reads that forms an opinion of your business. Whether they decide to read your detailed business plan or push it aside depends on how good your executive summary is. We hope your executive summary guide helps you craft an effective and impactful executive summary. That way, readers will be more likely to read your full plan, request an in-person meeting, and give you funding to pursue your business plans.

Looking to get started on your business plan’s executive summary? Take a look at the business plan executive summary example below!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less! Executive Summary

Business Overview

Launched late last year, is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet .

Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Taylor Swift receive over 5 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.

However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g.,,,, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.

In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:

Success Factors

Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:

Unique Investment Metrics

The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.

To begin, over the past five years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this audience.

The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during a recent test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.

While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes).

Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy

While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.

Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:

Other Resources for Writing Your Business Plan

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

An executive summary provides a quick overview of your business plan. It succinctly describes your business. It gives a summary of each of the other sections of your plan (e.g., marketing plan, financial plan, customer analysis, etc.). And it answers the key question that investors and lenders need to know: why is your business uniquely qualified to succeed?

What is included in an executive summary?

Your executive summary should include an overview of your business concept, a summary of each of the key sections of your plan (company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan) and answer why your business is uniquely qualified to succeed.

How long is an executive summary?

Your executive summary should be one to two pages. Remember that the goal of the summary is simply to excite the reader into continuing through your full plan. Give them a summary of the key highlights of your business and invite them to learn more by reading the full business plan.

How do you start off a summary?

If the first paragraph of your executive summary isn’t compelling enough, you’ll immediately lose readers. So, start your executive summary by clearly stating what your business does and why your company is unique. Then give a summary of each of the other sections of your plan (e.g., competitive analysis, industry analysis, etc.).

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide for Small Businesses

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Executive Summary Example for an Effective Business Plan

woman making a business presentation

An executive summary lets readers know what your business plan is all about. Before they read through your reports, data, and projections, prospective investors or partners can learn more about the company and its place in the market. A well-written executive summary can transform a business plan into reality.

Elements of an Executive Summary

Effective executive summaries for business plans convince potential investors that the company is viable. Business writing is different from academic writing , so be sure that you know the difference. The executive summary should be no longer than one or two pages.

It should include:

The order of your executive summary should match the order of the rest of your business plan. If you are planning on manufacturing products, include a Products and Services section in the summary as well. Provide as much information as possible in a concise, organized document.

Example of a Startup Executive Summary

The best startup executive summary example is friendly yet formal. It invites the reader to become involved in a very exciting opportunity. Here is an example of an executive summary for a neighborhood tutoring center.

Gradvisors The mission of Gradvisors is to empower the next generation of students with the next generation of teachers. Overview Gradvisors began as a campus tutoring service at Henley High School. It was founded by Sarah McKellan and Rogelio Cruz after they completed their teaching credentials at the University of Washington. Gradvisors moved off campus and into their first location at 1874 Andersen Road on September 16 of this year. Here, Gradvisors has been able to serve the greater Santa Fe community. The Problem Although the country’s average high school graduation rate has risen to 84% in the last few years, Sante Fe schools continue to fall. According to USA Today, Santa Fe’s graduation rate is 68.6%, with only 41.7% of adults holding a high school degree. Additionally, the crime rate in Santa Fe has increased by 15.47% in the last year. Currently, there are only two places for middle and high schools to work on their homework after school: the YMCA and the Boys and Girls’ Clubs, neither of which employ full-time tutors. The Solution Gradvisors provides a place for low-performing students to work on their homework after school. The tutors at Gradvisors are students who have graduated from local schools and are currently in their college or post-graduate studies. By placing recent graduates in tutoring positions, Gradvisors aspires to begin a cycle of mentorship that improves Santa Fe’s graduation rates overall. Our Target Market Gradvisors hopes to serve middle and high schoolers who are underperforming in school, particularly those who have had encounters with law enforcement. Ideally, these students will bring their friends to the center as well. The ultimate goal is to tutor these students through graduation and bring them back as mentor tutors. Keys to Success Gradvisors is new to the Santa Fe community, but we have several advantages that are sure to lead to success. Central location to three public high schools and two middle schools Social media marketing campaign Partnership with local school administration for student recommendations Investments from Santa Fe businesses and colleges Tutors earn work experience and professional hours rather than financial compensation, lowering overhead costs Limited competition in the area Steps Forward Thanks to several grants and investments, Gradvisors has been able to serve 56 students in the last school year. We hope to reach more students and expand our tutor base in the coming year. In three years’ time, we plan to meet our costs with additional funding from investments and minimal subscription costs from students. Opportunities for Investment Currently, Gradvisors is looking for investment partners from Santa Fe business owners who care about the future of our city. We expect both a financial and educational return on investment within the calendar year. Investing in the future of a child is, ultimately, the greatest investment of all.

Want to write an executive summary with the same outline? Click below to use a printable template that will format the summary of your business plan. You can also take a look at even more examples of real-world executive summaries .

full executive summary example

Executive summary

Tips for writing an executive summary.

Need some pointers for writing your own executive summary? You’re more ready than you think. Use your business expertise and passion as your guide, with the following tips in mind:

An executive summary gets readers to turn the page. However, only a full business plan will get them to invest, partner, or give you a loan. Be sure that the rest of your plan is as thorough as your summary promises.

More Business Resources

Now that your business is ready to show the world, it’s time to get writing! If you’d like more tips on the rest of your plan, check out these strategies for writing a great proposal . You can also view dynamic examples of purpose statements to craft the perfect executive summary.

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How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

Caroline Forsey

Published: September 15, 2022

Whether you're an entrepreneur looking for investors for your small business or the CEO of a large corporation, an executive summary can help you succeed and is a critical component for long-term growth.

business owner writing an executive summary

A short, attention-grabbing executive summary is an essential part of your business plan . Done correctly, it will ensure your company becomes or remains a key player in your industry. In this post, you’ll learn what an executive summary is and how to write one that engages investors, customers, and general audiences.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief overview of your company that is located at the beginning of your business plan and on the ‘About us’ page of your website. It's a section that grabs readers’ attention and summarizes critical information regarding your company and your upcoming short-term and long-term goals.

Essentially, an executive summary is the front cover of your business plan, convincing readers that it's worth their time to read the whole thing.

A business plan includes a company overview, your company's short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and a list including each member of your management team. However, a CEO or investor might not have the interest or time to read your full business plan without first getting the general gist of your company or goals through an executive summary.

Ultimately, the executive summary is meant to inform readers of the most important information in your business plan, so they don't have to read it all and can get caught up quickly.

To write an impressive executive summary that effectively embodies all the important elements of your business plan, we've cultivated a list of necessary components for an executive summary, as well as an example to get you started.

Follow Along With HubSpot's Executive Summary Template

Executive summary template from HubSPOT

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How to write an executive summary.

A good executive summary tells your company’s story, contains in-depth research, conveys information with an appropriate tone, is void of clichés, and follows your business plan’s structure. These elements will ensure your executive summary is effective, informative, and impactful.

1. Tell your story.

When investors or CEO's read your executive summary, they should understand what your business is about. This is one of the first elements of your business plan, so it should set the tone.

In your executive summary, be sure to tell your story. What does your company do and why do you do it? Who's involved in your company? Answering these questions will help readers get excited about your company and eager to read the rest of the business plan.

2. Do your research.

An executive summary, while short, should include plenty of research. For example, your summary will include financial considerations and a competitor analysis .

While your business plan will flesh out the details, it's important to include your key findings in your executive summary. Think of this like an elevator pitch . If someone stopped reading and you only had the executive summary to explain your company, what information would you include?

3. Pay attention to your tone.

The tone of your writing tells a story itself. When you're writing anything, but especially a business document, make sure that the tone tells the story of who you are. Are you formal or more informal?

Ultimately, your tone should not only represent who you are as a company, but your target audience as well. What style of writing will represent your audience?

As you write an executive summary, don't forget to consider what your tone and writing says about you and your audience.

4. Avoid cliché language.

With any style of writing, it's best to avoid clichés. Clichés can convey the wrong message or be misunderstood, which is something you want to avoid when someone reads your executive summary.

Additionally, clichés tend to overpromise and under-deliver. For example, including something like "The Best Restaurant in Town" isn't true because you're untested as a business. Your executive summary should reflect the truth and who you are as a company.

5. Write it after completing your business plan.

An executive summary is a summary of your business plan. However, it's hard to write a summary when you haven't written your business plan yet. That's why you should write your executive summary last, so you know what you want to include.

If you don’t have a business plan yet, don’t worry; we have a comprehensive business plan template to help you create one quickly and effectively.

Featured Resource: Business Plan Template

how to write executive summary: use business plan template from hubspot

Download Your Free Template Here

Now that you know how to write an executive summary, let's dive into the details of what to include.

What to Include in Your Executive Summary

Your business plan should convey your company's mission, your product, a plan for how you'll stand out from competitors, your financial projections, your company's short and long-term goals, your buyer persona, and your market fit.

An executive summary, then, should be a short, maximum two-page synopsis of the information provided in your business plan.

Ultimately, an executive summary should provide a preview for investors or CEO's, so they know what to expect from the rest of your report. Your executive summary should include:

Feeling at a loss? Download a free template below that will take you through the executive summary creation process.

Executive Summary Template

executive summary template from hubspot

Download Your Free Executive Summary Template Here

In this free executive summary template, you’ll be able to outline several pieces of information, including:

Ready? Download your free executive summary template .

To understand more tactically how an executive summary should look, let’s review a few examples.

Executive Summary Examples

1. connected.

executive summary example: connected

Try It Yourself

Use the heading of your page to immediately describe what you do, as opposed to using “About Us” or “Executive Summary” as the title. Give readers the opportunity to get what they need above the fold and the option to read more. Note that this would not apply in an executive summary in a business plan.

2. Events Industry Council

Events Industry Council’s executive summary is short and sweet, yet provides plenty of information for readers to understand what the organization does and which products it offers. Note the brevity in the mission, vision, and values sections — that demonstrates that there’s no need to go on at length if it doesn’t suit you. The “Who we are” section has the most emphasis here, which is a powerful technique to draw readers’ attention.

Spend more time in the section that you feel your audience will care most about. If you’re pitching to investors, you might spend more time on the Market Analysis and Financials sections. If you’re writing for a general audience, you might focus on your company background.

3. Company Shop Group

One of the first things you see when visiting Company Shop Group’s About Us page is its subheading: “Company Shop Group is the UK’s leading redistributor of surplus food and household products.” Like Connected, Company Shop Group includes what it does above the fold, so that readers have the option to either keep reading or walk away knowing what the company is about. The organization also includes multimedia to engage visitors and explain its business model in a more digestible format.

Include what you do above the fold and add multimedia elements to provide an alternative way for readers to learn more about you. Videos, images, and headings can make it much easier to scan your executive summary, but be careful to only use this method for the right audience and through the right medium. (You might not include images inside a formal business plan, for instance.)

4. FirstEnergy

FirstEnergy’s executive summary is great inspiration if you’re a more corporate, formal brand. The company’s executive summary covers its mission, subsidiaries, operations, products and services, corporate responsibility values, and strategic plan goals. This is useful information for potential investors, as the company is publicly traded.

While it’s comprehensive, the executive summary remains short, using bullet points and images to break up the information and giving readers the opportunity to explore more with a sidebar menu.

Be conscious of the status of your company when writing your executive summary. If it’s publicly traded, you’ll want to include more information, such as your strategic plan and expansion opportunities. If you’re publishing your executive summary on your website, use a sidebar to allow readers to jump from page to page without leaving their place.

Start Your Executive Summary

An executive summary should be short and concise, but it should still convey who you are as a company. If you're starting a company, remember to tell your story, while also including important background and financial information. A strong executive summary will pave the way for more investors to invest in your business and more customers to trust in your brand.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Use this executive summary template to provide a summary of your report, business plan, or memo.

How to Write an Effective Executive Summary

An effective and well defined executive summary can be the key to securing funding from a bank or outside investor. See what needs to be included and what the best way to approach writing your summary is.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It should describe your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.

A good executive summary grabs your reader’s attention and lets them know what it is you do and why they should read the rest of your business plan or proposal. It’s not unusual for investors to make an initial decision just based on reading an executive summary, so it’s important to get it right. We’ll show you how to write an executive summary that sets your business plan apart from the rest.

Is an executive summary necessary?

Are you writing a business plan to show to investors or bankers? Then you need a good executive summary. Many people will read only the summary, no matter what. Others will read the summary first to decide whether or not they read the rest of the plan. The executive summary is essential in plans that are being written for outsiders. 

Now if you’re writing a business plan solely for internal use you may not need to write out an executive summary. However, there are some internal plans ––such as an annual operations plan or a strategic plan —that can use a summary to highlight necessary information and showcase a digestible version of the overall plan.

It takes some effort to do a good summary, so if you don’t have a business use for the summary, don’t do it. 

How long should an executive summary be?

The general rule of thumb is that executive summaries should be as short as possible. Your audience has limited time and attention and they want to get the details of your business plan as quickly as possible.

Try to keep your executive summary under 2 pages if possible, although it can be longer if absolutely necessary. 

You might even be able to write it on one page using a Lean Plan format. You can learn more about that one-page business plan format and download a template here .

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1. A description of your product or service and the problem your business solves

Include a brief description of the product or service you offer and why it’s necessary. Your business doesn’t need to serve a larger social problem, but it should address a need for customers or an opportunity in the market.

2. A description of your target market

Your target market is who you think your customers will be. Sometimes the product name itself defines the market, such as “Peoria’s Best Thai food,” or “Mini Cooper Dashboard Accessory.” If not, then a brief description of the target market—your primary audience, or the people you think will spend money on your solution will suffice.

3. Competition

Assuming your business has competition ( every business does !), then briefly describe how your business will differentiate itself. Are you competing on price, quality, or something else? Briefly describe what makes your business different here.

4. Financial Overview

If you’re an existing company, this might be as simple as highlighting recent annual sales and growth over the last year. For a startup, it might be a brief description of aspirations, such as a sales forecast goal for the next year or three years from now. I often recommend a simple highlights chart, a bar chart with sales and gross margin for the next three years.

5. Your Team

This is especially important for startup companies. Investors want to know who is behind the business idea and why you and your team are the right people to build the business. It also may be valuable to highlight any gaps in your team and how you intend to fill them. If you have potential partners or candidates in mind, briefly mention them and expand on their qualifications within your full business plan.

6. Funding Needs

If you are using your business plan to raise money for your business, your executive summary should highlight how much money you are looking for. Investors will want to know this upfront and not have to dig through a business plan to find this detail.

Other topics your executive summary may need to cover

Evidence of early success.

If you are a young startup and you’re writing a business plan to raise money, you will want to include evidence of “traction” in your executive summary. This can include results from consumer surveys, pre-order numbers for your product/service or even early sales numbers if you did a soft open or limited time release. It doesn’t have to be much, but any early success provides proof that your business model, product/service and market research are well-founded.

Future Milestones

You may also want to discuss future milestones that your business hopes to achieve. This is particularly important for businesses within a highly saturated or complex industry, such as medical device manufacturers and drug companies, for example. They need to explain where they are in the process of getting regulatory approvals and what steps remain.

Evidence of Financial Stability

If you’re seeking a bank loan, bankers will be looking for evidence of your financial stability, including your net worth, assets, and financial history. Read on for tips on writing an executive summary for each of those scenarios.

Tips for writing an executive summary for investors

Before you develop your executive summary for seeking investment, understand how it fits into your business plan. The executive summary can be the first section of your business plan, or you might be developing a stand-alone executive summary that you plan on handing out without the rest of the plan.

My views on this are taken from eight years as an active member in an angel investment group, and more than 10 actual angel investments, plus membership in the Angel Capital Association.

Investors use executive summaries to screen opportunities

A well-prepared executive summary is useful for angel investment platforms like Gust, AngelList, and others to gauge interest in candidates. Introductions lead to requests for email summaries, not full business plans, so you’ll want to have an executive summary ready to go that causes investors to want to see the full thing.

Investors need the full business plan to complete due diligence when reviewing candidates

We’ve never invested in a business that didn’t have a business plan and your executive summary is the key to having your business plan reviewed. The full reading of the complete business plan comes only later in the process after we’ve screened summaries down to a very few that are interesting enough to do due diligence. 

Of the group I work with, for example, three-fourths of us will read every executive summary submitted to us. All of us will read summaries for plans that pique group interest, and half of us will look at the rest of the plan only if we are still interested after reading the summary.

Mention previous startup experience, or specific industry expertise

Let the investors know about any previous startup experience or specializations from the start because this makes a huge difference. Investors often say “bet on the jockey, not just the horse.” Keep it brief, just a reference to more information to come later, but make sure you’re able to back up your claims later on.

Outline how much money you intend to raise and how it will be spent

It’s a summary, so details will come later, but investors want to know quickly whether your startup is in their normal range of interest and the use of funds makes a difference, too. Spending to build inventory for existing orders, for example, is way less risky than spending to develop a product that is in design and prototyping. 

Valuation, in this context, is controversial. Valuation is what you say your company is worth, a number that determines how much ownership you give away for investment. Some investors want summaries to specify how much money at what valuation; others want to assign the valuation themselves and don’t like startups pushing their number too early.

Mention your exit strategy

Leave the details for later, but investors want to know that you understand they don’t make money unless you achieve an exit in a few years so they can sell shares to get their return. Too many founders think investors just want them to be successful, when in fact that means very little without an eventual exit.

Be persuasive, but focus on the facts

You want to make your prospective investor want to keep reading; convince them to invest in your startup. But do understand that the persuasion is in the facts, not in the wording. What keeps them interested is the content of the summary, not the tone. Facts that prove traction, potential market, or startup experience are infinitely more powerful than mere assertions of excellence.

Avoid obvious clichés

There are severely obvious pitfalls that you can fall into if you’re not careful. For example, never mention the team’s passion or commitment—they all have that, so it’s irrelevant. If you say that your startup is disruptive, or game-changing, or the next Facebook or whatever, you lose. Instead, show that with facts and let the investors say it, not you.

Tips for writing an executive summary for a bank loan

Contrary to the common misconception, bankers don’t ever take risks on business plans. To get bankers to read on, the executive summary has to cover the six main points suggested in the beginning of this article, plus a few selected other points that highlight stability, assets on the balance sheet, and financial history, showing that the loan is not risky. With one notable exception, banking law forbids banks lending money to businesses that don’t have enough assets to cover the full value of the loan, and then some. That’s against banking regulations.

Good professional bankers ask for a business plan as part of a loan application because they legitimately want to know and understand your business, but they don’t take risks. This summary isn’t about persuading or selling, but rather reassuring and describing.

So what works for the executive summary for bankers is quite different from what works for the summary for investors.

Outline your personal net worth

Where investors want to see management team startup experience, bankers want to see the personal net worth of business owners. The more collateral, savings or other investment you have available, the more likely you are to secure the loan.

Be transparent about your financial history and bankable assets

Where investors want to see future potential growth, bankers want to see past financial history and bankable assets. Try to have every piece of financial information about yourself, current investors and any past businesses available upfront.

Give evidence of your potential stability and longevity

Where investors want to look at possible exits, bankers want their commercial borrowers to offer future stability. You don’t need to have exact numbers, but developing a financial forecast that defines growth, future cash flow, costs and sales over the next 1-3 years can serve as evidence for stability.

Risk exception for bank loans

I mentioned one notable exception to the rule that bankers don’t take risks. In the U.S., the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) has programs that work with local business banks to guarantee some of the riskier small business loans to make borrowed money available to startups and small businesses. 

Like traditional bank loans, SBA loans require a solid traditional business plan that includes a good executive summary covering the five main points suggested in the first list above. It will still benefit you to have the financial stability elements laid out as you would for a bank, but the limitations may be less strict and provide more room for riskier businesses to gain funding.

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6 Tips for writing an effective executive summary

No matter why you’re writing your executive summary, there are some general rules of thumb that make it easier, and ultimately more effective. Here are a few to keep in mind as you get started:

1. Think of an executive summary as a pitch

Think of an executive summary as being a lot like an elevator pitch , but with constraints. A good summary sells the rest of the plan, but it can’t be just a hard sell—it has to actually summarize the plan. Readers expect it to cover your business, product, market, and financial highlights, at the very least (see below for more detail on this).

Of course, you’ll highlight what will most spark the reader’s interest, to achieve this plan’s immediate business objective. But your readers expect the key points covered. It’s a summary, not just a pitch.

2. Write it last

Don’t start writing your business plan with your summary. Even though the executive summary is at the beginning of a finished business plan, many experienced entrepreneurs (including me) choose to write the executive summary after they’ve written everything else.

Ideally, the executive summary is short—usually just a page or two, five at the outside—and highlights the points you’ve made elsewhere in your business plan, so if you save it for the end, it will be quick and easy.

3. Keep your executive summary short

Be brief and concise. I know experts who recommend a single page, just a page or two, no more than five, and sometimes even longer. I say less is more. Keep it as short as you can without missing any essentials. And—I can’t resist, because I read hundreds of plans every year—one page is better than two, and two is better than five, and longer than five pages (my opinion here) is too long.

4. Keep it simple

Form follows function , so don’t over complicate or over-explain things in your summary. Most executive summaries are short texts, often with bullets, broken into subheadings. Illustrations such as a picture of a product, or a bar chart showing financial highlights, are usually a welcome addition.

5. Prioritize sections based on importance and strengths

Don’t bury the lead. Organize your executive summary so that the most important information appears first. There is no set order of appearance of the different key items included, quite the contrary, in fact— so use the order to show emphasis.

Lead with what you want to get the most attention, and follow with items in the order of importance. I tend to like summaries that start with stating a problem because that can add drama and urgency that tees up the solution in your business.

6. Use it for your summary memo

When it’s finished, repurpose it as a summary memo. It’s the first chapter of a formal plan, but you can also use it as a stand-alone “summary memo.” Investors often ask startups to send a summary memo instead of a full business plan.

It might be a short document, often attached to an email, or simply a summary in an email. You can also use it again to fill in startup profiles on investment platforms such as Gust and AngelList or to apply for an incubator or a business plan competition.

Download a template for your executive summary

If you’d like to start with a template, consider using a Lean Plan for your executive summary. It’s available as a free download here on Bplans, and it covers everything you might want to include.

View hundreds of executive summary examples

Take advantage of Bplans’ more than 500 examples of good business plans —all available online for free—to search for the sample plan that best fits your business’s profile, and then use that plan’s free example executive summary as a guide to help you through the process of writing your own.

More business planning resources

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Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry .

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You are here: Influencer Marketing Hub » Social Media » Executive Summary Examples & Tips to Write Your Own

Executive Summary Examples & Tips to Write Your Own

Jacinda Santora

If you're an influencer or content creator, you might not think you need to worry about business plans and executive summaries. But having at least an executive summary can go a long way toward showing your professionalism and how seriously you take the work that you do. We've pulled together a few executive summary examples that you can adapt and use for your own business.

Executive summaries can help you convince investors, venture capitalists, and the brands you approach for partnerships and sponsorship agreements that you're worth the investment. And some of the best executive summaries are just a single page long! Even if you've never heard of an executive summary before, you can put one together in less than an afternoon and it will give you more clarity around your business, where you want to go, and what you need to do to get there.

So, what exactly is an executive summary? And do you really need one?

3 Executive Summary Examples + Tips to Write Your Own:

What is an executive summary, 3 executive summary examples, how long should an executive summary be, parts of an executive summary.

Frequently Asked Questions

An executive summary is an overview of a certain document, often a summary of a full business plan. The length of your executive summary and what you should include will change depending on how you're using it, your industry, and the type of work you do. They're typically no more than 1–2 pages long and will give the reader all the most important information they need to make a decision about whether or not they want to partner with you.

Executive summaries aren't written in stone. Instead, they're living documents, which means that you can — and should — change them as your business grows and changes. For influencers and creators , this might mean keeping your social media metrics up-to-date and updating your competitors, niches you work with, and the services you offer.

Time is a limited and valuable resource. If you want the right people to use their precious time to learn more about you, you need to make it easy for them. Your executive summary should be comprehensive enough to cover all the pertinent information the reader will need to make a decision about you while staying within 1–2 pages (preferably just a single page).

Here are three executive summary examples and executive summary templates you can use to create your own.

Executive Summary Example #1

This executive summary is built around the launch of a new product — a new watch series. The summary starts off with two interesting statistics that are designed to keep the reader engaged and reading. In fact, this summary includes several statistics, showing that they've done their research into the need for a new watch series.

Executive Summary Example #1


Executive Summary Example #2

In this example, the company is seeking funding. As you can see, the purpose of the executive summary has changed the elements that are included and the order in which they're listed on the page.

Executive Summary Example #2


Executive Summary Example #3

This executive summary example is a bit longer than the others we've included. This might be overkill for most influencers and content creators, but we've included it here because if you're already running a successful membership site or subscription-based business , you might be looking for funding or a business loan to expand your business.

Executive Summary Example #3

Your executive summary should be as short and concise as possible. Remember, you're dealing with busy people with limited time to devote to learning about your brand and services. We recommend keeping your executive summary under two pages.

Parts of an Executive Summary

While there are no set guidelines for how your executive summary should be organized, there are certain details about your brand, products, and services that you'll want to be sure to cover. Here's the information we recommend including in your executive summary to ensure that you're including all the pertinent information your potential partners may need.

Details About Your Product or Service

Include details about your product or service along with the problem you solve. Don't worry, you don't need to offer a solution to poverty, you just need to solve a specific problem that your readers might need to solve. For influencers, this could mean sharing the benefits of partnering with you to promote a specific product (overlapping audiences, your engagement, previous influencer marketing campaign results, etc).

Description of Your Target Market

For influencers and content creators, the description of your target market varies slightly from what a brand seeking investors might include in this section. That's because your target market is probably the person who is reading your executive summary but their target audience is the one you should be considering. So, instead of describing your target market as brands in a certain industry seeking influencers, your target market for your executive summary will be whomever you can reach for the brand you're pitching.

Information About Your Competitors

Anybody who has a product or service to offer has competitors. Briefly share what it is that your competitors offer and how you differ from them. This is a great opportunity to really highlight what sets you apart from other influencers or creators.

Financial Overview

Most executive summaries will include a section about the company's finances. For influencers and creators, your readers probably aren't going to care how much money you've earned. Instead, they're going to want to know how much you've been able to bring in for the brands you represent. Here you'll want to highlight any monetary results as well as details about any improvements you've driven for traffic, engagement, referrals, and any other social media metric or other benchmark showing that you get results.

Details About Your Team

If you have a team or regularly partner with other influencers or creators, this is where you'll mention those details. Brands want to know who they're dealing with, so if you outsource any of your content creation, videography, photography, or social media posting, you'll want to share that information here.

Funding Needs

A lot of the time, businesses use their executive summary as a way to win over investors to fund them. For influencers and creators, this section will focus on what type of relationship you're looking for. If you have specific rates, share them here. If you offer packages or trade services for products , mention that too. This section is where you let the reader know how you expect to be compensated for the work you do for them.

Executive Summary Best Practices & Tips

Executive Summary Best Practices & Tips

Writing an executive summary can seem overwhelming if you have no experience with business writing or have never created a business plan. Here are some executive summary best practices and tips to help you work through creating a stellar executive summary that will have brands lining up to work with you.

Write Your Business Plan First

An executive summary is just that — a summary. It's the most important piece of your overall business plan. You may think that you don't need a business plan as an influencer or creator, but having one makes you look incredibly polished and professional. That's why we recommend writing your business plan and then using that plan to craft your executive summary.

Write an Engaging Introduction

Just like any content, your executive summary needs to grab the reader's attention and keep them engaged. The introduction to your executive summary should include a hook, something like an interesting statistic about your industry or niche, or maybe a compelling story. The introduction should be relevant to your products or services and industry as well as give readers insight into what they can expect from the rest of the summary.

Define the Problem You Can Solve

Clearly define the problem that you can solve for the brands you're pitching. What is the business need behind your product or services? What are they missing out on by not partnering with you? This is where you let your readers know that you understand their pain and can provide a solution.

Offer a Solution

Now that you've shown your reader that you understand their pain and illustrated how their business is limited without you, it's time to offer a solution. This is the "dream state," what their business can achieve with your help.

Provide Proof

It's time to sell yourself. Let your readers know that you know what you're doing. In this section, you'll include social proof as well as hard results and statistics showing how your previous partners have benefited from your work.

Close With a Call to Action

You should always let people know what their next steps should be. If you don't, they're not going to do anything at all. At the end of your executive summary, tell the reader what to do next. This can be really simple: "If you're ready to drive traffic and increase sales with influencer marketing , let's talk!" along with your contact information.

Set the Tone

The tone you used when writing your executive summary will vary depending on your audience. This requires some research into the brands you're pitching. If you're writing for corporate brands that are more conservative and straightlaced, you'll want to use more professional language. For brands that are more quirky and fun, your executive summary will be more lighthearted. This isn't a terms and conditions page, so be sure to use personal pronouns like "I," "we," and "our" instead of stuffy references to "the Company" and "the Client."

Steer Clear of Jargon and Buzzwords

Use language that is clear, concise, and free from jargon or buzzwords. While you'll be writing for a specific audience, it's important to write in a way that is easy to understand by anyone. Again, research comes into play here. If the brands you're approaching all use the same verbiage, you should absolutely use that language in your executive summary. This sends a signal to the brands that you understand their industry and market. Don't assume that they know the lingo you use as an influencer or creator, however.

Keep It Clear and Concise

As you can see in the executive summary examples we've compiled, your executive summary should be clear and concise while conveying all of the information your reader needs. Don't include more detail than necessary to convey your value and success, and steer clear from listing specific tasks and due dates.

In addition to being clear and concise, your executive summary should be able to exist unsupported. This means that your reader should be able to get all the information they need to make a decision. If they want additional information, they'll ask you for it.

Organize, Edit, and Proofread

Organize your executive summary in a logical manner (take a look at the executive summary examples above for guidance). You'll want to put the most important and salient elements at the beginning of the document. When you're done writing, be sure to edit and proofread your executive summary before sending it off to anyone. We recommend asking a peer or mentor to review it.

Executive Summary: An Important Piece to Any Business Plan

An executive summary is a great way to not only refine your own vision of where you want to go with your business but to share that information with brands you're seeking to partner with. It's a quick and easy way to share the information that matters and with the executive summary examples we've included here, you have everything you need to create your own executive summary that will win you deals.

Why do I need an executive summary?

Executive summaries provide an easy-to-consume snapshot of your products and services that investors or potential partners can review quickly and make a decision. It might be the only information a prospective partner reads about you before they make a decision.

How long should my executive summary be?

Your executive summary should be as short and concise as possible while still conveying all the important information the reader needs to make a decision. There are no universally accepted guidelines, but we recommend keeping your executive summary limited to 1–2 pages.

What should I include in my executive summary?

Your executive summary will likely include: - An introduction - Details about your product or service - A description of your target market - Information about your competitors - A financial overview - Details about your team - Your funding needs

How can I make my executive summary interesting?

Here are tips to keeping readers engaged in your executive summary: 1. Write an engaging introduction 2. Define the problem 3. Offer a solution 4. Provide proof 5. Include a call-to-action

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How To Write A Good Business Plan Executive Summary

The executive summary for a business plan is a brief, positive synopsis of the business that goes at the beginning of your business plan. 3 min read

What Is An Executive Summary?

What is an executive summary for a business plan, and how do you create one? 

An executive summary is a brief, positive synopsis of the business and goes at the beginning of your business plan. An executive summary is normally about one to two pages long, contains two-sentence overviews of each section within the plan, and covers the most important information about the business. 

Ideally, potential  investors will be able to quickly grasp the key elements of your business plan from the executive summary alone. They can then read deeper into areas they are particularly interested in.

Finally, the executive summary should be clear, succinct, and engaging while remaining succinct and professional. A dry executive summary will not entice readers to take an interest in your business.

What Goes into an Executive Summary?

The full content of the executive summary will vary depending on if the business is a startup or an established business. However, there are certain elements common to both.

Every executive summary should include:

Startups, or pre-revenue companies, should also include:

For established businesses, be sure to add:

How To Write A Business Plan Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, but it need not be the hardest to write. If you've written the plan, you've already done most of the work.

Do you want a lawyer to review your business plan?

There are plenty of  examples of executive summaries online to guide you further.

If you need help reviewing your business plan with a legal counsel business plan, you can  post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

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Executive Summary Example For A Business Plan

Executive Summary Example

The Executive Summary writing could be overwhelming. Hence we have come up with a detailed business plan executive summary example . We hope that this example explains you well and helps you with an executive summary outline that serves your objection.

Important details about the example:

The following example is explicitly drawn out for people wanting to start child care services in America. The business name/domain and other important details are fictional facts and figures. We, as a company has solely used the details to draw an example for our readers like you. Any relevance in the details and the format of the business plan’s executive summary is completely coincidental.

Executive Summary Example of a Child Care Business Plan:

Executive summary for samantha’s child care services.

child care services

Samantha’s Child Care Services is a day child care service center in Seattle, Washington.

The center offers daycare and hands-on learning facilities for children between three to five. The center is headed by Samantha Wheeler, from UCLA University with 15 years of experience working as Principal of CIS of Seattle.

The main objective of presenting this executive summary for child care is to seek investments.

Today’s children need a hands-on learning experience right from the start. They need to learn the lessons that don’t feel like ‘learning’. They should not feel forced to learn. Rather, they must enjoy it. They need a curriculum that allows them to read, write, play, and have fun.

On the contrary, the school system is failing.

Samatha Wheeler, the founder, and director of Samantha’s Child Care Services is trained and has been teaching and looking after children for more than 5 years.

According to her experience, here are the solutions Samantha’s Child Care Services offer:

Vision Statement

Our vision is to offer holistic childcare along with fun and engaging extracurricular activities to children. So that they don’t miss the joy of community.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to offer every child here fun and an international standard daycare center where kids can be groomed and prepared to be leaders of tomorrow.

Target Market

Samantha’s Child Care Services will be offering child care/development for infants aged three to five.

Our services are specifically for families where both parents (or all elders) are working professionals. And due to work obligations, can not manage child care during the day.

Which includes:

We will be targeting parents and guardians who are looking for a daycare center that offers help in the overall development of their child.

Competition and Competitive Advantages:

Direct competition:.

Indirect Competition:

Tertiary competition:, competitive advantages.

Procedure and Implementations

The current procedure at Samantha’s Child Care Services are:

Financial Summary

Samantha’s Child Services has been a side hustle for the last two years. During that time, it’s been quite stable. However, upon the thought of expansion, here are a few financial facts and figures for Samantha’s Child Care Services:

Financing Requirements

We are seeking an operating line of $100,000 to finance our first-year growth. Samantha Wheeler, the founder has invested $47,000 to meet working capital requirements.

Write executive summary for your business plan

Define your business idea

Identify business metrics.

The business metrics are also called key performance indicators . These key indicators vary with the type of business. However, here are a few metrics you can consider regardless of your business-

Pay attention to your niche

Use simple language, don’t write the executive summary first.

sample of executive summary business plan

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How to write an executive summary, with examples

Julia Martins contributor headshot

The best way to do that is with an executive summary. If you’ve never written an executive summary, this article has all you need to know to plan, write, and share them with your team.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is an overview of a document. The length and scope of your executive summary will differ depending on the document it’s summarizing, but in general an executive summary can be anywhere from one to two pages long. In the document, you’ll want to share all of the information your readers and important stakeholders need to know.

Imagine it this way: if your high-level stakeholders were to only read your executive summary, would they have all of the information they need to succeed? If so, your summary has done its job.

You’ll often find executive summaries of:

Business cases

Project proposals

Research documents

Environmental studies

Market surveys

Project plans

In general, there are four parts to any executive summary:

Start with the problem or need the document is solving.

Outline the recommended solution.

Explain the solution’s value.

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.

What is an executive summary in project management?

In project management, an executive summary is a way to bring clarity to cross-functional collaborators, team leadership, and project stakeholders . Think of it like a project’s “ elevator pitch ” for team members who don’t have the time or the need to dive into all of the project’s details.

The main difference between an executive summary in project management and a more traditional executive summary in a business plan is that the former should be created at the beginning of your project—whereas the latter should be created after you’ve written your business plan. For example, to write an executive summary of an environmental study, you would compile a report on the results and findings once your study was over. But for an executive summary in project management, you want to cover what the project is aiming to achieve and why those goals matter.

The same four parts apply to an executive summary in project management:

Start with the problem or need the project is solving.  Why is this project happening? What insight, customer feedback, product plan, or other need caused it to come to life?

Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives.  How is the project going to solve the problem you established in the first part? What are the project goals and objectives?

Explain the solution’s value.  Once you’ve finished your project, what will happen? How will this improve and solve the problem you established in the first part?

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.  This is another opportunity to reiterate why the problem is important, and why the project matters. It can also be helpful to reference your audience and how your solution will solve their problem. Finally, include any relevant next steps.

If you’ve never written an executive summary before, you might be curious about where it fits into other project management elements. Here’s how executive summaries stack up:

Executive summary vs. project plan

A  project plan  is a blueprint of the key elements your project will accomplish in order to hit your project goals and objectives. Project plans will include your goals, success metrics, stakeholders and roles, budget, milestones and deliverables, timeline and schedule, and communication plan .

An executive summary is a summary of the most important information in your project plan. Think of the absolutely crucial things your management team needs to know when they land in your project, before they even have a chance to look at the project plan—that’s your executive summary.

Executive summary vs. project overview

Project overviews and executive summaries often have similar elements—they both contain a summary of important project information. However, your project overview should be directly attached to your project. There should be a direct line of sight between your project and your project overview.

While you can include your executive summary in your project depending on what type of  project management tool  you use, it may also be a stand-alone document.

Executive summary vs. project objectives

Your executive summary should contain and expand upon your  project objectives  in the second part ( Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives ). In addition to including your project objectives, your executive summary should also include why achieving your project objectives will add value, as well as provide details about how you’re going to get there.

The benefits of an executive summary

You may be asking: why should I write an executive summary for my project? Isn’t the project plan enough?

Well, like we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or need to dive into your project and see, from a glance, what the goals are and why they matter.  Work management tools  like Asana help you capture a lot of crucial information about a project, so you and your team have clarity on who’s doing what by when. Your executive summary is designed less for team members who are actively working on the project and more for stakeholders outside of the project who want quick insight and answers about why your project matters.

An effective executive summary gives stakeholders a big-picture view of the entire project and its important points—without requiring them to dive into all the details. Then, if they want more information, they can access the project plan or navigate through tasks in your work management tool.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

Every executive summary has four parts. In order to write a great executive summary, follow this template. Then once you’ve written your executive summary, read it again to make sure it includes all of the key information your stakeholders need to know.

1. Start with the problem or need the project is solving

At the beginning of your executive summary, start by explaining why this document (and the project it represents) matter. Take some time to outline what the problem is, including any research or customer feedback you’ve gotten . Clarify how this problem is important and relevant to your customers, and why solving it matters.

For example, let’s imagine you work for a watch manufacturing company. Your project is to devise a simpler, cheaper watch that still appeals to luxury buyers while also targeting a new bracket of customers.

Example executive summary:

In recent customer feedback sessions, 52% of customers have expressed a need for a simpler and cheaper version of our product. In surveys of customers who have chosen competitor watches, price is mentioned 87% of the time. To best serve our existing customers, and to branch into new markets, we need to develop a series of watches that we can sell at an appropriate price point for this market.

2. Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives

Now that you’ve outlined the problem, explain what your solution is. Unlike an abstract or outline, you should be  prescriptive  in your solution—that is to say, you should work to convince your readers that your solution is the right one. This is less of a brainstorming section and more of a place to support your recommended solution.

Because you’re creating your executive summary at the beginning of your project, it’s ok if you don’t have all of your deliverables and milestones mapped out. But this is your chance to describe, in broad strokes, what will happen during the project. If you need help formulating a high-level overview of your project’s main deliverables and timeline, consider creating a  project roadmap  before diving into your executive summary.

Continuing our example executive summary:

Our new watch series will begin at 20% cheaper than our current cheapest option, with the potential for 40%+ cheaper options depending on material and movement. In order to offer these prices, we will do the following:

Offer watches in new materials, including potentially silicone or wood

Use high-quality quartz movement instead of in-house automatic movement

Introduce customizable band options, with a focus on choice and flexibility over traditional luxury

Note that every watch will still be rigorously quality controlled in order to maintain the same world-class speed and precision of our current offerings.

3. Explain the solution’s value

At this point, you begin to get into more details about how your solution will impact and improve upon the problem you outlined in the beginning. What, if any, results do you expect? This is the section to include any relevant financial information, project risks, or potential benefits. You should also relate this project back to your company goals or  OKRs . How does this work map to your company objectives?

With new offerings that are between 20% and 40% cheaper than our current cheapest option, we expect to be able to break into the casual watch market, while still supporting our luxury brand. That will help us hit FY22’s Objective 3: Expanding the brand. These new offerings have the potential to bring in upwards of three million dollars in profits annually, which will help us hit FY22’s Objective 1: 7 million dollars in annual profit.

Early customer feedback sessions indicate that cheaper options will not impact the value or prestige of the luxury brand, though this is a risk that should be factored in during design. In order to mitigate that risk, the product marketing team will begin working on their go-to-market strategy six months before the launch.

4. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work

Now that you’ve shared all of this important information with executive stakeholders, this final section is your chance to guide their understanding of the impact and importance of this work on the organization. What, if anything, should they take away from your executive summary?

To round out our example executive summary:

Cheaper and varied offerings not only allow us to break into a new market—it will also expand our brand in a positive way. With the attention from these new offerings, plus the anticipated demand for cheaper watches, we expect to increase market share by 2% annually. For more information, read our  go-to-market strategy  and  customer feedback documentation .

Example of an executive summary

When you put it all together, this is what your executive summary might look like:

[Product UI] Example executive summary in Asana (Project Overview)

Common mistakes people make when writing executive summaries

You’re not going to become an executive summary-writing pro overnight, and that’s ok. As you get started, use the four-part template provided in this article as a guide. Then, as you continue to hone your executive summary writing skills, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid using jargon

Your executive summary is a document that anyone, from project contributors to executive stakeholders, should be able to read and understand. Remember that you’re much closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders will be, so read your executive summary once over to make sure there’s no unnecessary jargon. Where you can, explain the jargon, or skip it all together.

Remember: this isn’t a full report

Your executive summary is just that—a summary. If you find yourself getting into the details of specific tasks, due dates, and attachments, try taking a step back and asking yourself if that information really belongs in your executive summary. Some details are important—you want your summary to be actionable and engaging. But keep in mind that the wealth of information in your project will be captured in your  work management tool , not your executive summary.

Make sure the summary can stand alone

You know this project inside and out, but your stakeholders won’t. Once you’ve written your executive summary, take a second look to make sure the summary can stand on its own. Is there any context your stakeholders need in order to understand the summary? If so, weave it into your executive summary, or consider linking out to it as additional information.

Always proofread

Your executive summary is a living document, and if you miss a typo you can always go back in and fix it. But it never hurts to proofread or send to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

In summary: an executive summary is a must-have

Executive summaries are a great way to get everyone up to date and on the same page about your project. If you have a lot of project stakeholders who need quick insight into what the project is solving and why it matters, an executive summary is the perfect way to give them the information they need.

For more tips about how to connect high-level strategy and plans to daily execution, read our article about strategic planning .

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