How to Start a Business - Part 1: The Executive Summary
Article Index
How to Start a Business
How to Start a Small Business
Why Small Businesses Fail
Part 1: The Executive Summary
Part 2: Market Analysis
Part 3: Company Description
Part 4: Organization And Management
Part 5: Marketing and Sales Strategies
Part 6: Service or Product Line
Part 7: Funding Request
Part 8: Financial
Part 9: The Appendix
Key Points to Consider
All Pages

Part 1: The Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important section of your business plan. It provides a concise overview of the entire plan along with a history of your company. This section tells your reader where your company is and where you want to take it. It's the first thing your readers see; therefore it is the thing that will either grab their interest and make them want to keep reading or make them want to put it down and forget about it. More than anything else, this section is important because it tells the reader why you think your business idea will be successful.
The executive summary should be the last section you write. After you've worked out all the details of your plan, you'll be in a better position to summarize it - and it should be a summary

Contents of the Executive Summary

  • The Mission Statement - The mission statement briefly explains the thrust of your business. It could be two words, two sentences, a paragraph, or even a single image. It should be as direct and focused as possible, and it should leave the reader with a clear picture of what your business is all about.
  • Date business began
  • Names of founders and the functions they perform
  • Number of employees
  • Location of business and any branches or subsidiaries
  • Description of plant or facilities
  • Products manufactured/services rendered
  • Banking relationships and information regarding current investors
  • Summary of company growth including financial or market highlights (e.g. your company doubled its worth in 12-month period; you became the first company in your industry to provide a certain service)
  • Summary of management's future plans - With the exception of the mission statement, all of the information in the Executive Summary should be highlighted in a brief, even bullet-ed fashion. Remember, these facts are laid out in-depth further along in the plan
  • If you're just starting a business, you won't have a lot of information to plug into the areas mentioned above. Instead, focus on your experience and background as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular enterprise. Include information about the problems your target market has and what solutions you provide. Show how the expertise you have will allow you to make significant inroads into the market. Tell your reader what you're going to do differently or better. Convince the reader that there is a need for your service or product, then go ahead and address your (the company's) future plans.

    To assist the reader in locating specific sections in your business plan, include a table of contents directly following the executive summary. Make sure that the content titles are very broad; in other words, avoid detailed descriptions in your table of contents.