Write a business plan: step-by-step

Business plan executive summary - the dos and don’ts


The executive summary outlines the key points of your business plan and is usually the first section that people will read.

The executive summary sets the tone for the rest of your business plan. Here you should succinctly capture the main points of your document.  It is also your opportunity to stand out.

Follow our dos and don'ts to help you create an engaging and persuasive executive summary.

Executive summary dos

  • Explain what your business is selling in the opening paragraph - outline the most interesting thing about your company and what you are doing that nobody else is. You want to engage your reader from the very beginning with your unique selling point.
  • Provide a synopsis of the key points of your entire plan - make sure you include highlights from each section of the document.
  • Be clear and concise - no longer than two pages at most. It's advisable to write this section of your plan after you have completed the rest.
  • Use engaging language and tone - your executive plan needs to draw the reader into the rest of your business plan and ultimately your business idea.
  • Tailor the executive summary to the reader - if you want to engage with investors, highlight how much investment is required and focus on how your business is a great investment opportunity.  
  • Write the executive summary in the order of the business plan - this provides a straightforward outline of the information that is included in the business plan and creates a flow to the document.

Executive summary don'ts

  • Don't include jargon or technical language - don't assume that the reader will understand the technical aspects of your business or sector.
  • Don't include an extended table of contents - this won't engage the reader and is a replication of the contents page.
  • Don't include information that is unrealistic and can't be substantiated in the rest of the plan - an experienced investor or business person will recognise hype and this will undermine the plan's credibility.
  • Don't forget to proof read - ensure that you double check your executive summary for errors. Have it reviewed by someone who was not involved in its creation.

Download our business plan template (DOC, 874K).