How Business Plans Work

The Executive Summary

Usually, the first section of a business plan is the Executive Summary. This summary is often the most important part of your plan if you are seeking funding (and sometimes even if you aren't) because it provides a quick overview of everything else in the plan. Often this summary is the only chance your plan gets when it's in a stack with hundreds of other plans vying for the same investor's attention.

Although it comes first in the business plan, the executive summary is usually written last, after you have ironed out all of the details of your plan. So, once you have the meat of your plan written, come back to this section and write your executive summary.

The executive summary should briefly cover:

  • Statement of purpose -- The objectives of the plan... (i.e., to raise money, act as a policy guide, etc.)
  • Company background
  • The company's product or service
  • Strategy overview -- Why the product or service is unique
  • The market potential -- Research findings
  • Financial projections for at least 3 years into the future
  • The qualifications of the management team
  • Finance requirements -- How you plan on spending raised capital

Make sure you state in the summary why your business will succeed. You can also include your mission statement in your introductory/executive summary.