An executive summary of a business plan is an overview that summarises the key points of the document to prepare readers for the upcoming content. When done well, an executive summary entices the reader to keep reading. But, the summary can also cause readers to lose interest if you fail to hook their attention. 

This guide will show you how to write an executive summary for your small business plan to ensure you include everything you need. We’ll cover the following points:

  • What to include in your executive summary
  • How long the summary should be
  • Tips on how to create an executive summary for a business plan
  • How the right accounting software can help

What to include in an executive summary

The information to include in your executive summary depends on where you are in your business venture and what your goal is with writing a business plan. Plans for startups and established businesses typically have different purposes.

Startup companies

Say you’re a startup looking for funding from banks, angel investors, or venture capitalists. In that case, you’ll need to provide a solid case for your business idea to convince investors that it’s a good investment. 

For that reason, a typical executive summary for a startup company will include: 

  • Business opportunity – describe the need or opportunity for your solution and how your business will serve the market. 
  • Target market – describe the customer base you will target and why. Learn how to define your target market.
  • Business model – describe your products or services and how they will appeal to your target market. 
  • Marketing and sales strategy – how do you plan to market your solution to your target market? Outline any plans you have and why you believe they will work.
  • Financial projection – summarise your financial plan for at least the next three years, including expected startup costs, projected income, and your budgeting plans.  
  • Owners – describe the owners of your business (in this case, you) and the expertise they bring to the business.
  • Implementation plan – outline the plan and timeline for taking your business from the planning stage to the launch. 

Established businesses

If your business is already up and running, the purpose of your business plan is likely to secure funding to support your growth plans. For example, you may want to expand your product line or add to your existing services. 

So an executive summary for an established business typically includes:

  • Mission statement – this is where you articulate the purpose of your business by describing what your company does and outlining your core values and business philosophy.
  • Company information – share some background information about your business. Describe your solution, business set-up (freelancer or limited company), owners, business locations, and so on. 
  • Business highlights – describe how your business has evolved over time. Include things like year-on-year revenue increases, profitability, number of customers/clients, and increases in market share.
  • Financial summary – if the purpose of writing your business plan is to seek additional financing, give a brief summary of how much you’ll need and why. 
  • Future goals –  this is where you describe the goals and objectives you have for your business. If you seek financing, explain how you’ll use it to expand the business and any other ways you’ll increase its profitability.

How long should the executive summary be?

Ideally, your executive summary should be under one-two pages, but it can be longer if absolutely necessary. 

The general rule of thumb is to keep your executive summary as short as possible while still covering the relevant points. Readers will have limited time and attention to read your summary, so getting the key details out as quickly as possible is crucial. 

Tips on how to create an executive summary for a business plan

Follow the tips below to create an executive summary that provides value and grabs the reader’s attention from the get-go.

Leave it until the end

It’s best to leave your executive summary for last, so you know exactly what the key points are in your business plan. If you don’t know where to begin when writing your summary, the easiest way is to take a summary sentence or two from each business plan section. 

Focus on providing a summary

The key to a good executive summary is to avoid going into too much detail. That’s what the business plan itself is for. Your readers don’t want to have their time wasted, so keep the summary brief and to the point. 

Use strong and positive language

You want your summary to pull the reader in and encourage them to read the entire business plan. So use language that creates excitement and shows the reader what a fantastic business you are. For example, instead of writing “this could have potential to succeed in different markets…”, write “this shows excellent potential to succeed in different markets…”

Polish it up

Your executive summary should be easy to read. A great way to test how well your text flows is to read it aloud. Is it clear and concise, or does it sound choppy? Once you’re happy with how your text sounds, let someone read it who knows nothing about your business. Then ask them for suggestions for improvement. 

Tailor it to your audience

It’s important to ensure that your summary appeals to the people you expect to read it. So if your goal is to entice investors, focus on highlighting the opportunity your business provides. If the purpose is to get a small business loan, focus on aspects that traditional lenders want to see. Highlight your industry experience and show your collateral and strategies to minimise the lenders’ risk. 

Show off your efficient financial management

Your executive summary (and entire business plan) should demonstrate why your business is worth investing in. So do what you can to boost your business profitability. 

An excellent way to do this is by investing in a solution that optimises your financial management, like Countingup. This unique two-in-one business current account and accounting software lets you manage all your financial data from one simple app. 

Countingup helps you improve your financial health in several ways. Its automatic expense categorisation feature sorts your costs into HMRC-approved categories, keeping your records organised for you. The app also generates running cash flow reports and tax estimates so you can see how your business performs at any given time.

These features, along with all the other handy tools Countingup offers, give you an easy way to keep track of your expenses, income, profits and loss. This way, you can make informed decisions to improve your profitability and share them in your business plan. 

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