If you are a traditional business, entrepreneur, or growing your own business, there may come a time when you look to outside sources for funding to get your business or project going. The best way to do this is to create an Executive Summary. A successful summary can mean the difference between getting funders’ attention or not.
An Executive summary is a short document you would use to get more capital for a startup venture, through funding, business loans, or taking on a new partner. It’s a mini business plan that summarizes a longer proposal or report, creating an easier to read summary that you can present to potential investors.
How to create a Successful Executive Summary
The first thing you will need to do is be clear about what your executive summary is for. Your goal is to grab the reader’s interest and show them the potential in your business or project. It needs to show them that you know what you are doing. As a rule, an executive summary shouldn’t be more than 1 to 3 pages long. It should also be written in the third person. You should use paragraphs that are short and concise, and it should be written in the same order as the full business plan.
One mistake people make when creating an executive summary is to make it too long-winded by over-explaining things, or getting off-topic. You also want to make sure it doesn’t sound too much like a sales pitch. Remember, you aren’t advertising to the masses. This means no over-inflating your claims or projections. People who have the means to fund others are smart enough to know when a document is more fluff than fact.
What to include in your Executive Summary
While every executive summary will be different, there are some key elements that it should have in it. It should have most of the same data and categories as your full plan has. A basic layout should have the following:
- A summary
- Description of your company
- A market analysis
- A description of your organization
- Outline of your management team
- Your product line
- Your marketing plan
- The request for funding and what it will be used for
- Financial projections
There are 2 key things you should ask yourself before you begin to create your executive summary:
Who your intended audience will be?
Which of the contents of the paper that I am summarising do they really need to know?
These questions are important because they tell you what you need to include in the executive summary, so let’s unpack them a little: Who your intended audience will be, and what they need to know.
If you need help creating an Executive Summary, you can download one of our free templates or samples to get a better understanding of what it should look like to get you started.
Executive Summary Templates (Word)
Writing Executive Summary Template
Executive Summary Template PPT
Project Executive Summary Template
Executive Summary Example
Your intended audience
Knowing your audience is important, and it will differ between your sales pitch, executive summary, and full business plan. It is meant to serve a few potential purposes:
- To be read by others in order to determine if they need to read your full business report. This can be those who are experts in the subject you are writing about and just need a broad summary of your longer report.
- To be read by those want to see if the full report would be of interest or relevant to them.
- To be read by those who don’t want to go through the entire report. This is the group that you need to be concerned with the most, and what you put in your executive summary needs to be clear and of interest.
When you think about your intended audience, think about who you want to read your summary and why.
What your audience needs to know
Now that you know who your target audience is, start thinking about what it is that they need to know, or what you want then to do after reading your summary. This can fall under 2 sections.
First, decide whether your executive summary is meant to have people take action or if it’s for informational purposes only. Second, decide what key messages you want them to remember once they have read the summary. Always keep your intended audience in mind when writing your executive summary. If your audience is people who know a good deal about your project, you want to keep it simple and provide new or relevant points. If you are presenting your summary to a group of journalists, you will need to give as much information as possible. Remember, it’s a summary of your business plan and should talk about key points without getting yourself bogged down in details. Leave the details for the larger report.
Frequently Asked Questions
The conclusion should be used to recap findings, propose solutions to a problem, or make recommendations. If you want the audience to make a decision, make sure there is a call to action section.
There are some basic tips to create a good summary of your information:
• Always use your own words
• Only use points that are most relevant, and use key phrases and words
• Make sure the summary is much shorter than the original report
• Make sure to include source references
• Don’t include details that are unnecessary, such as supporting information.
It should be 1 to 3 pages or 5 to 10% of the original business plan.