Executive summary is a way to make a lasting impression on your readers. It is simply a summarized version of a business plan, which includes all the essential points. It is also known as a management summary, and it should be such, that just going through it should be enough to give your readers the full picture of what you’re proposing.
It is considered to be the most important part of the business plan and could easily be confused with an abstract, which is also a short document, but unlike the executive summary, an abstract is read by readers who are trying to decide whether to read the whole document or not. An executive summary, on the other hand, is read in the place of the larger document.
What does an executive summary consist of? The following are points that an executive summary should have:
- The problem: There is a problem that needs solving. How is your product/ service addressing that?
- The solution: Now that the problem has been addressed, what solution does your product/ service propose?
- Brief description: Of the company and your mission statement. You can also add a team description if you want, but it’s not as important as the other 2.
- Why now? Provide a brief market analysis and give obvious reasons as to why now is the best time to launch this product/ service in the market. Graphs and other visuals could be added in this part.
- Why will you succeed? (optional) Include details about why your company will succeed. Talk about the plans that you have for your sales/ marketing.
- Expectations: Just a very brief summary of what you expect in the first 2 or 3 years. Show the profit/ loss math in this part.
- Plans for the future: What do you plan to do after/ if this plan succeeds?
Since there is no standard format that you can follow, each executive summary can be tailored according to the needs of the business plan. The length of the summary depends on the complexity of the business plan. It could either be half a page long, or it could be as long as 3-4 pages. The tone of the executive summary should be informal, as all the complicated business formalities would be covered by the main report.
A few important things that you must remember:
- It is important to maintain the order, and so, it must be written in the same order as the original plan.
- You cannot add any information in the executive summary that is not in the main report.
- Do not use business jargons.
The ideas in an executive summary should be expressed simply, clearly and to the point. For example, if you present an executive summary that is too long and too difficult for the client/ reader to understand, he/she might get bored and not pay much attention to it. They are humans too, after all, and so, don’t bore them with too many details, leave those details for the business plan.