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How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive Summary

An Executive Summary summarizes your entire business plan in two or three pages. This is a tall order and can be very difficult to accomplish. You want the Executive Summary to be concise and brief, yet complete, encompassing and inclusive. This article will show you how to write an Executive Summary that is effective, concise, yet adequately covers your entire business plan. This article will also provide an overview on the sections of a Business Plan which are important to include in your Executive Summary and explain different uses for an Executive Summary.

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First, you must fully develop and complete your Business Plan before writing your Executive Summary. Then pick out the important sections of the Business Plan to put in the Executive Summary. Order the sections in a format that makes logical sense and outline the important parts of each section. With the outline in hand, write your first draft Executive Summary. This first draft will typically be ten to twenty pages long. Take the draft and condense it into five to seven pages in length. We will call this your Long Version Executive Summary, which is really a mini-version of your Business Plan. Working off the Long Version, you will condense it into the final two to three page Executive Summary, hitting on the most important aspects of your Business Plan. It will take at least three renditions of outlining, writing and condensing to develop an Effective Executive Summary.

Tip – For a step by step process and guide on developing a phenomenal Executive Summary, please see the ABC Business Plan Book.

So at this point, you are probably asking: What are the important sections of a Business Plan to include in an Executive Summary?


Here is a suggested Fourteen Section Executive Summary Format to use. Customize and adapt for your own use and purpose.

  • Section One: Company Information
  • Section Two: Business Plan Purpose & Objectives
  • Section Three: Company Goals & Vision
  • Section Four: Company Mission Statement
  • Section Five: Company Description
  • Section Six: Company Purpose
  • Section Seven: Company Situation
  • Section Eight: Founders, Management & Principals’ Capabilities
  • Section Nine: Products & Services
  • Section Ten: The Competition
  • Section Eleven: Keys to Success
  • Section Twelve: Finance
  • Section Thirteen: Sales Projections / Growth & Expansion Goals
  • Section Fourteen: Return on Equity/ Return on Investment


As we already stated, the Executive Summary gives the user a quick Overview of the important facts contained in your Business Plan. The Long Version of the Executive Summary can be used as a standalone document, as a mini-Business Plan, to succinctly explain your Business and generate interest in your opportunity, products and services.

The Long Version Executive Summary can be sent to a Venture Capital Firm, along with your Venture & Investment Overviews (see our Business Plan Workbook for details on these Overviews), to generate and gauge initial interest. If the VC Firm indicates interest, you can then send your custom tailored (to their investment objections and requirements) Funding Business Plan which will contain the Short Version Executive Summary. Long and Short Versions of your Executive Summary can be used as a Sales Document; to approach new suppliers and customers; to accompany a Loan Package to a Lender; to accompany your Marketing Plan or Strategic Plan- it is an initial stand-in for your Business Plan. The Executive Summary is not just an Overview, but a tool to be used to accomplish your business goals.

This article comes from a Chapter in our Business Success Guide. For more information about our book, please visit:  The Business Success Guide