Having a strong, clear business plan is one of the best tools you can have when you are starting up a new retail venture. Your business plan outlines the concept, scope and aspirations of your business. One of the main aims of a business plan is to help you attract investors or secure funding or loans from financial institutions. 

In this regard, the most critical aspect of your business plan is the executive summary. This is often the first thing, and sometimes the only thing, that a potential investor will read. It should concisely detail the objectives of your business and your unique selling points (USPs), and provide information on your financial goals and how you expect to meet them. It has to be clear, precise, compelling and informative.

Distilling all the detailed information in a business plan down to one easy-to-read summary can be an incredibly difficult task. It is no wonder that most new business owners struggle when trying to write an executive summary of their business plan. 

If you are finding it tough to come up with a way to write your executive summary, do not despair! We have put together a short guide on the best ways to write an executive summary for a business plan. The tips in this article are applicable whether you are opening a new bricks-and-mortar retail store or launching an online e-commerce venture. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about writing a great executive summary. 

Summary:

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

It is important to note that an executive summary is not designed to act solely as a preface to your business plan. Nor is it supposed to be a simple abstract of the business plan. The main aim of the executive summary is to provide the reader with a snapshot of the business plan. Your executive summary should be tightly organized and give the reader a clear overview of the most important aspects of your business plan. 

The majority of investors, bankers, CEOs and lenders will not want to waste their time going through a densely written 80-page document. They are going to want pertinent information quickly, which is why the executive summary is absolutely critical. Most people who look at your business plan will only read the executive summary. Very rarely will any potential investor go through an entire business plan in one go. 

Your executive summary has to be strong, well-written, specific and prompt the reader to want to know more. If it is too long, does not contain relevant information, or is poorly written, then investors and lenders are not going to take your proposal seriously. Without a robust executive summary, you will not be invited to any further meetings and may miss out on crucial funding. 

How to write an executive summary for your business

Step 1: Choose the right approach

There are a few different approaches you can take when starting to write an executive summary for your business plan. Some people put together their entire business plan and then go back and work on the executive summary. This approach can be helpful as you have already written out all the information the executive summary needs to contain. 

Another approach is to write out your executive summary first. This can help to provide you with a clear idea of what your business plan should contain. It is also possible to use a combination of these two techniques. You can write out a short paragraph on the main points of your business and then use that as the basis for the rest of the business plan. When you are done writing the plan, you can go back and flesh out the executive summary properly. 

Step 2: Create a great opening 

Just like the introductory bars of a song or the start of a book or movie, the opening of your executive summary should be catchy and compelling. Make a short statement about the vison you have for your business or the concept behind your venture. Share your passion for your business with the reader. But be careful! Do not overdo it and always match your tone to your audience and your type of business. 

Step 3: Describe the strengths of your business

Inform the reader just why your business is viable and why it will stand out in the marketplace. Talk about your target market and the demand there is for your products or services, and provide an overview of any demographics research you have done. 

Step 4: Mention your marketing strategy

The next step is to make sure you provide information on your marketing and sales strategies. How will you promote your product or service? Will you be launching digital marketing campaigns? What social media channels will you concentrate on? A good marketing strategy is a vital component of a business plan, so feel free to go into some detail.

Step 5: Talk about your competition

Chances are you are not alone in the marketplace. Identify your main competitors and outline their strengths and weaknesses. Provide details on the ways in which you intend to outcompete your competitors and secure your share of the market. 

Step 6: Lay out your financial analysis

Next is one of the most important parts of your executive summary, the financial analysis. Does your business require funding? If so, how much will you need and over what timeframe? How are you planning to manage your finances? What is your projected profit and loss within the first three years? 

Be realistic: do not just go for blue sky scenarios. Talk about any potential risks to the profitability of the business and how you will address them. Businesspeople are numbers people, so pay attention to how you lay out your financial analysis. If charts and graphs will help to back up your analysis, then include them. 

Step 7: Introduce your team or yourself

Who are the people behind the business? What are their backgrounds? What skills or talents do they bring to the business? Does your team have any prior business experience? Potential investors will want to know who is going to be running the business on a day-to-day basis and what their experience and credentials are. 

Step 8: Describe how you will launch your business

Outline how you will deploy your business. What is the timeframe from the moment you receive funding to the moment you open for business? 

If necessary, you can rearrange the order of these steps. For instance, if your team is a key USP, you may want to mention them earlier in the summary. Make sure to carefully review your executive summary once it is written to ensure there are no mistakes.

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Important tips on writing an executive summary

Write for your audience – Make sure your tone matches your audience’s expectations. Don’t present a fun, dynamic business idea in a dry way. Likewise, don’t be too casual when presenting a serious proposal. If necessary, write different summaries for each audience. 

Don’t assume knowledge – Try and write your summary as if the reader has no knowledge about business. This can be tricky as you do not want to seem condescending. 

Show you are confident – Don’t be shy about going into detail about why your business is so great. Investors will want to see that you believe in and are confident about your venture. 

Be logical in your layout – Don’t have a sprawling mass of words that don’t lead into each other in a logical way. Try and make the points flow. 

Brevity is key – Executive summaries should not be long documents. They are designed to provide key information quickly. Aim for a page (no more than two pages at most). 

What are the different types of executive summaries?

It can be helpful to think about the type of executive summary you want to write. Knowing what category your summary falls into will help you to tighten it up and make it concise. The executive summary for a business that requires funding will be different from the executive summary for a business that is seeking partnerships with retail outlets. 

Generally speaking, there are two main types of executive summaries for business plans. One is the stand-alone summary. This is where only the executive summary is provided. The other is a complete business plan that has an executive summary attached to it. Which type should you choose? It will depend on the audience. 

Using a stand-alone executive summary

If you are trying to secure investors or partners, then using a stand-alone executive summary can be a good way to introduce yourself and your business. People who are pressed for time, such as CEOs or bankers, are more likely to take a look at a slim document rather than a large amount of information. 

Providing a complete business plan with an executive summary

If your potential partners or investors already know about your business or have read your summary, they may wish to have mroe detailed information. A business plan with an executive summary attached to it will provide the reader with an in-depth, complete view of your business.

An example of an executive summary

Executive Summary for A Better World Clothing Company

  • Our Vision

Fast fashion commands a large share of the retail clothing market, However, many consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of cheap clothing. A Better World Clothing Company produces affordable fashion from sustainable materials. 

  • Our Audience

We intend to appeal to consumers who are concerned about the ethical aspects of the clothing they purchase. 

  • Why We Are Different

A Better World Clothing Company only uses sustainable and environmentally friendly materials for our clothing. We work with talented designers to produce ethical clothing that is fashionable and affordable. We are a real alternative to big-box brands. 

  • Our Marketing Strategy

Our marketing team have devised a multi-channel digital campaign that will precisely target our intended audience. We have created a series of advertisements that appeal to both younger people who are worried about environmental issues and older people who are concerned about making sustainable choices. These campaigns will feature on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

  • Our Competition

Although there is some competition in the ecologically responsible clothing sector, we are confident that we can secure a significant market share. The exclusive designs and targeted marketing of A Better World Clothing Company will enable us to outcompete our competitors.

  • What We Need To Succeed

We anticipate sales of £100,000 in the first year with a 15% growth rate during the next two years. By year three, we project 60% gross margins.

A Better World Clothing Company is seeking £105,000 in startup funds to finance the first year of business. Our owners have already invested £25,000 to provide working capital. We wish to secure a loan of £80,000 to provide the rest of the funds. 

  • Our Team

A Better World Clothing Company is operated by Mike Ownes and Sarah Mills. Both Mike and Sarah have years of experience in the fashion industry and are passionate about the environment. 

  • The Rollout

We anticipate that the deployment of the business will take six months. During this time, we will launch various promotions and digital marketing campaigns to generate buzz around the products.

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Where to find more help with launching your business

Starting a new retail business isn’t easy. To give entrepreneurs the helping hand they need, Ankorstore offers the Ankorstart programme. Ankorstart is totally free, non-binding and provides support and guidance for new retail business owners.

FAQ

  • Why is the business plan executive summary important?

The executive summary of a business plan is a way for investors to get a quick overview of your venture. It provides them with all the information they need in a concise and compelling way.

H3 What should a business plan executive summary include?

The executive summary for your business plan should include your concept, your goals as a business, your marketing strategies, financial analysis, analysis of your market and competitors, details of your team and a deployment plan. 

  • How long should the executive summary be?

An executive summary should not be an overly long document. The ideal length is one page, but two pages are also acceptable.

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