How to write an executive summary that sells your business plan

By Oran Yehiel, CPA (MBA) · Updated April 12, 2022  

Executive Summary

What is An Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise, organized document that summarizes the key aspects of your business plan.

An effective executive summary will compel readers to read more about it and set up an appointment with you for further discussion.

An effective executive summary is key to getting your business proposal in front of potential investors.

It should include a brief introduction and background information on why you believe this idea has merit and deserves funding. 

You'll also want to highlight any risks that may be involved with implementing it, so they're aware from the start about some possible shortcomings or pitfalls before agreeing to an investment meeting.

Since a business plan starts with an executive summary and helps investors determine whether it is worth moving forward with your proposal, it is the most important element for every business plan.

This article offers some tips that will help you nail your executive summary and create a lasting impression.

8 Tips for Preparing an Executive Summary:

1. Better do it yourself

This does not mean that you can't get help.

However, you need to remember the importance of building a business plan and how this exercise will benefit you. 

When you boil down your business to its core, you can identify the areas of strength and any vulnerabilities for your business.

Even though writing an executive summary might feel a bit challenging, you will eventually bear the fruit of doing it yourself and not handing it over to external consultants that will do it for you.

2. Keep it short and to the point

The executive summary should be succinct, authoritative and professional.

No one has time to read an extensive report, so your content must not exceed a few pages or paragraphs in length. 

Additionally, cutting out unnecessary detail will help you keep the message clear and focused on key points instead of redundant information that does nothing but detract from the topic at hand!

Your summary should make sense to a layperson, and checking how it comes across to someone not belonging to your circle will help ensure this!

If they tell you that they found a hard time grasping what's going on, then go back to the drawing table until simplicity prevails

3. Start with a drama

You want your readers to be captivated from the get-go, and hence, you need to ensure that you are beginning with a bang.

Including a relevant yet mind-boggling statistic or an inspirational quote might be one way of getting things started. 

It is also important that you make your business stand out right from the start – highlight things that make it unique - whether these have been done before in other businesses or not!

4. Problem, solution, and opportunity – in that order

These three elements will be the heart of your executive summary.

You should briefly discuss the problem that your company will be solving, how you're going to solve it and what the market size is.

5. Focus on what makes you different

If you want to make your business stand out right from the beginning, highlight novel technology or exceptional traction.

Your company’s uniqueness should also become clear in this section and is necessary for retaining reader attention throughout.

Your company’s uniqueness should be the crux of your executive summary – that is the only way you will be able to retain the readers’ attention all the way to the end. 

6. Work more on engaging instead of telling

See an executive summary as a promotional brochure that's so good, your reader can't resist.

You are in charge of promoting your business to potential investors.

To do so, try thinking that the executive summary is a promotional brochure rather than simply an informational report, and then strategize how you can highlight its contents for readers who might be on the fence about investing with you.

7. Add a financial summary

Once again, the point is to be concise and 

You don't need to showcase all the financial details, but do include important metrics like revenue trend, prior and present valuation, P&L report, and cash balance and projection.

These details will help potential investors determine whether they can expect a decent ROI or not.

You need to show these investors that they are going to be better off investing in your startup.

8. Be clear about your needs

If you are looking to raise venture capital, state the amount you will require, the financial runway, and the use of proceeds.

Also, if you expect future fundraising rounds, you should mention the amount you might want in the future.

An executive summary is so much more effective when your requirements are tied with your expected milestones, and your expected milestones are backed by projections and other supportive information.

Final Word

This article covered the elements that you should focus on while writing an executive summary for your startup.

If you want to learn more about drafting an executive summary and raising venture capital, please feel free to schedule a call with us.

Lastly, I wish you great success with your business.