Two Types Of Executive Summaries

One question that gets asked a lot is: How long should the Executive Summary of a business plans be? That may well depend on what the document will be used for.

The Executive Summary within an overall business plan should be succinct and to the point, usually one to two pages. The main purpose of the Executive Summary is to present a written version of the “elevator pitch” – the story you might tell a would-be investor if you had only a minute to speak with him/her during the ride up an elevator. The idea is to capture the audience’s interest and to get them to read further into the plan.

Another type of Executive Summary is the stand-alone summary. This is a document you might send out to a wide spectrum of investors in the hopes that they will become interested in your business and will request further information. Still, the idea here is not to include every detail of your plan in this 3-4 page document. You want to capture the reader’s attention and have them request a full business plan.

Either way, all Executive Summaries should include the following critical elements:

  • A brief, engaging explanation of the business
  • Data on market size and why there is a need for your business.
  • Detail on how the Company can meet this market need.

The more detailed Executive Summary should include additional elements of the business plan condensed up in a short paragraph

  • Customers: Who will the Company be targeting?
  • Competition: Who are the competitors and what advantages do you have over them?
  • Marketing Plan: How the Company will enter the market and gain position
  • Financial Plan: Financial projections, and a summary of the investment proposition
  • Management: Brief bios of key management.

The Executive Summary is the most critical component of the business plan. If it does not gain the investor’s interest attention, there is little likelihood that the rest of your plan will get any attention. Therefore, it is important to spend a sufficient amount of time developing this important part of the plan. As the saying goes, you never get s second chance to make a first impression.