In any reading material that you create, it is important that you provide relevant background prior to the entirety of the report. It provides the reader/s the context as to what the document is about, what it’s purpose, how the flow goes, and so on. The context will make it easier for the reader/s to understand why it is important that they read the document. And since it is a background of the document as a whole, it can basically inform the reader/s the full context of a lengthy document on its own.
Providing necessary and sufficient context on your consolidated document will make it easier for your reader/s to understand why there was a need to write the document in the first place. Especially when your document presents a complex topic and is lengthy enough for people to get bored. With that in mind, having a section in your consolidated document focusing entirely on presenting a clear background and relevant information of your topic will make reading it a breeze.
An effectively structured background or context will be able to stand on its own, meaning it breaks down the topic into informative paragraphs. It contains all significant and relevant information and data that will help the reader comprehend your document as whole. With that said, it is common for documents to have an executive summary. An executive summary is the compact and brief version of all the important details on your document. It is more than just an introduction, it is a complete document on its own.
An executive summary is a section found in most consolidated documents. It is a brief yet comprehensive synopsis of the major points in the document as a whole. It provides the reader/s a background about what the purpose of the document without going further in. It basically highlights the key points made in the document and is intended to stand on its own without needing supporting pages.
A business plan, reports, investment proposals, etc., commonly use an executive summary as a review of the discussions made inside the document. An executive summary is a direct-to-the-point explanation of what you want to achieve through the document and why. It succinctly explains the purpose/s and reason/s why the document was made in the first place along with relevant supporting data.
However, it must not be mistaken with an introduction. Although they are both commonly found on the first part of a the document, an introduction is a background that aims to entice the reader to read further of the document; on the other hand, an executive summary is meant to give an overview of the document. The contents of both of those sections as well as their main purpose are different from each other. In a way, since the executive summary is meant to stand alone, it is much more well-structured, sharper, and precise than that of an introduction.
Therefore, an executive summary is an overview of the entire document. It highlights the major points that is made in the document. It provides informative context with the drive that made the writer pursue writing the document, it clearly states the purpose and aims that the writer wants to achieve with the document and so on. It is an essential part of any document since it makes the reader/s have a clear understanding on what the document is about even before proceeding to the other parts.
Your business plan is an essential document that will help you run your business; it is basically your road map to success. It details your plans on how you intend to make the business thrive. Therefore, the executive summary in your business plan should be able to clearly explain the purpose of your business and it includes information that will encourage investors to take a chance on your business. With that said, the executive summary in your business plan must have the following essential elements:
Your business plan is your ticket to achieving that investment or financing, therefore, it should contain convincing, relevant information with the business you plan to pursue. The executive summary of your business plan will help you articulately convey the purpose and share all the general idea of your business to your reader/s. To make you fully understand why it is important to include an executive summary in your business plan, here are some of its purposes:
Your executive summary in your business plan is somewhat like an expanded elevator pitch that includes more details. It should be able to accurately convey the highlights of your business plans including only the critical and most significant information and key points, while leaving out all the less important issues and factors. It helps you present a refine and concise definition of your ideas on how to start your business as well as how to make it thrive. If you think about it, a well-written executive summary functions just like a strong CV; it makes you stand out from the crowd through direct and concise presentation of relevant information.
As it should, your executive summary gives an overview of your overall business plan. It will give your reader/s a glimpse of what you will prioritize in your business should it become a reality. What ranks high in terms of importance: product development, research, or creating strategic partnerships? This will help the reader/s understand the main goals you want to achieve with your business and how you plan to achieve it. Not only that, it can encourage them to read further into your business plan to examine what you have presented.
This means that when you have already structured your executive summary, you can easily refer to it as you go on and review the contents of your business plan. It is safe to say that the executive summary of your business plan should be written last since it needs all the significant information in the key sections of the document. However, it still makes the whole process easier since during the refining and defining stage of writing the summary, you can also re-check if what you have written in those sections best represents your goals and objectives for your business.
Since you already have an idea on how important an executive summary is, be it for your business or investment plan, reports, and so on, you should now know and understand what is the most effective format to apply to your executive summary. Hence, here is an executive summary format you can refer to during your writing process:
You need to be able to present strong and intriguing introduction in your executive summary so that your reader/s will be encouraged and curious to read further. The introduction of your executive summary should be able to present a strong hook that will clearly explain what the company does and what it intends to do more in the future. This will be your best way to getting your reader/s’ attention. However, you have to remember be direct and concise in writing your introduction; the more you babble on the more you lose your reader/s’ interest.
Since your business is founded on solving existing problems your target customers have, you should clearly identify it in your executive summary. This will enable your reader/s to understand what drives you to pursue your goals for the business. You have to succinctly identify and explain the issues or problems you intend to address so that you can shed a positive light on your business.
Remember that your reader/s will most likely choose or favor a business plan that has a direct objective or a direct and clear path they intend to take, thus, identifying the issues you wish to solve will help convince them that you know where you are headed in your industry.
Since you have clearly identified and explained the issues or problems you wish to address and solve with your business, you now need to propose and present a unique solution for those issues or problems. What solutions can you offer that makes you different from the rest of the companies with almost the same concept?
This is the part of your executive summary where you explain why your ideas have merit and how it can solve those issues or problems more efficiently and cost-effectively. You have to remember that there might be existing companies that address the same issues or problems like you do, you have to offer a new and unique solution to help convince your reader/s that you are not wasting both of your time, money, and effort.
Your executive summary should not settle with merely proposing the solution/s for the identified issues or problems your business needs to prioritize. It should also focus on proving that the solutions you have proposed and presented are efficient, cheaper, and effective. You should support your claims by presenting accurate data you have gathered through experiments, surveys, and whatnot. These evidences will help support not only your solutions but your business as a whole; this can only mean that you taken your time to come up with the solutions through a rigorous and thorough process.
After presenting your key points discussed above, you have to ask and state what you need form your reader/s. State how much will it cost for your business to be fully functional. You should include the amount you are asking along with details regarding how you will return the amount that you have asked and over what period of time will you be able to return it. It is always better to back these information with additional data that will help you present your business as being capable of returning the investment, that way your reader/s will be convinced and will be confident in your abilities to pay back what you have borrowed.
Some companies or organizations may employ a standard with regard to writing a business plan or reports, therefore, you must first consult the the company or organization you are writing for so that you can tailor it to their requirements. Nevertheless, here is the most common and still effective way of writing an executive summary:
Your executive summary is supposed to be short, but complete. It is meant to stand on its own. Although there is no set standard when it comes to length of the executive summary, as a rule of thumb it is important to make it not longer than 10 percent of the entire document, or simply put, it should be one to two pages only.
The language and tone you should use when writing your executive summary should be professional. Putting emphasis on the language, it should be easily understandable for your reader/s. Avoid using technical language as your reader/s may not understand them since they don’t belong to the same industry as you. You should also avoid using business buzzwords and jargon.
Using bullet points and subheadings in your executive summary will help your reader/s easily and efficiently scan the contents on your executive summary. It will make it easier for them to find what they are looking for. Aside from that, it makes your executive summary look clean and sleek; remember that a clean format will be one of the deciding factor for your business plan.
The main goal of your business plan as a whole is to write for your audience and convince them of your goals. Obsessive usage of the first-person pronoun “I” makes the executive summary less personal. In addition, it can also undermine your persuasiveness; it can discourage your reader/s since it can make you look like you are more centered and focused on your own personal goal instead of focusing on helping the consumers and the business goals.
There is no set rule when it comes to the appearance of your content in the executive summary, it is important use the organization of your content to put emphasis on your points. Use the first part of your executive summary to highlight what you wan to get the most attention, and use the next paragraphs to put emphasis to other points according to their importance. This can also make your executive summary more cohesive and have a more smooth flow.
This is important. You should never let your reader/s read an unedited document. Proofreading your executive summary and the whole document as a whole will make you spot what things can be left out, spot misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. Editing it to perfection will help leave an impression to your reader/s that you have actually taken your time to produce a well-written document.
Writing your executive summary on the last part of your entire business plan or report writing will give you an insight on what are the most important points you need mention. Writing it last would mean that you can easily refer to your business plan or report so that you can tailor your executive summary in order to achieve the goals you have set for your business plan.
Aside from the tips in writing an executive summary, you should also know what common mistakes writers make when writing it. When you have an idea on these common mistakes, you have an idea on what to avoid. With that in mind, here are some common mistakes writers make when writing an executive summary:
An executive summary is an important, if not the most important, part of your entire document. If written effectively, it will help you convince your reader/s to help you out with your goals and objectives especially when writing a document intended to ask for investment or financing. It also helps you highlight the most major points that have been discussed in your document without having to explain the entirety of your document. This section of your document will help you grab your reader/s attention and convince them to take a chance and consider your business plan or report. We hope we have helped you better understand the concept behind an executive summary; the examples given above can be used for your reference and inspiration.