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  • How to write an executive summary, with ...

How to write an executive summary, with examples

Julia Martins contributor headshot

The best way to do that is with an executive summary. If you’ve never written an executive summary, this article has all you need to know to plan, write, and share them with your team.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is an overview of a document. The length and scope of your executive summary will differ depending on the document it’s summarizing, but in general an executive summary can be anywhere from one to two pages long. In the document, you’ll want to share all of the information your readers and important stakeholders need to know.

Imagine it this way: if your high-level stakeholders were to only read your executive summary, would they have all of the information they need to succeed? If so, your summary has done its job.

You’ll often find executive summaries of:

Business cases

Project proposals

Research documents

Environmental studies

Market surveys

In general, there are four parts to any executive summary:

Start with the problem or need the document is solving.

Outline the recommended solution.

Explain the solution’s value.

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.

What is an executive summary in project management?

In project management, an executive summary is a way to bring clarity to cross-functional collaborators, team leadership, and project stakeholders . Think of it like a project’s “ elevator pitch ” for team members who don’t have the time or the need to dive into all of the project’s details.

The main difference between an executive summary in project management and a more traditional executive summary in a business plan is that the former should be created at the beginning of your project—whereas the latter should be created after you’ve written your business plan. For example, to write an executive summary of an environmental study, you would compile a report on the results and findings once your study was over. But for an executive summary in project management, you want to cover what the project is aiming to achieve and why those goals matter.

The same four parts apply to an executive summary in project management:

Start with the problem or need the project is solving.  Why is this project happening? What insight, customer feedback, product plan, or other need caused it to come to life?

Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives.  How is the project going to solve the problem you established in the first part? What are the project goals and objectives?

Explain the solution’s value.  Once you’ve finished your project, what will happen? How will this improve and solve the problem you established in the first part?

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.  This is another opportunity to reiterate why the problem is important, and why the project matters. It can also be helpful to reference your audience and how your solution will solve their problem. Finally, include any relevant next steps.

If you’ve never written an executive summary before, you might be curious about where it fits into other project management elements. Here’s how executive summaries stack up:

Executive summary vs. project plan

A  project plan  is a blueprint of the key elements your project will accomplish in order to hit your project goals and objectives. Project plans will include your goals, success metrics, stakeholders and roles, budget, milestones and deliverables, timeline and schedule, and communication plan .

An executive summary is a summary of the most important information in your project plan. Think of the absolutely crucial things your management team needs to know when they land in your project, before they even have a chance to look at the project plan—that’s your executive summary.

Executive summary vs. project overview

Project overviews and executive summaries often have similar elements—they both contain a summary of important project information. However, your project overview should be directly attached to your project. There should be a direct line of sight between your project and your project overview.

While you can include your executive summary in your project depending on what type of  project management tool  you use, it may also be a stand-alone document.

Executive summary vs. project objectives

Your executive summary should contain and expand upon your  project objectives  in the second part ( Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives ). In addition to including your project objectives, your executive summary should also include why achieving your project objectives will add value, as well as provide details about how you’re going to get there.

The benefits of an executive summary

You may be asking: why should I write an executive summary for my project? Isn’t the project plan enough?

Well, like we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or need to dive into your project and see, from a glance, what the goals are and why they matter.  Work management tools  like Asana help you capture a lot of crucial information about a project, so you and your team have clarity on who’s doing what by when. Your executive summary is designed less for team members who are actively working on the project and more for stakeholders outside of the project who want quick insight and answers about why your project matters.

An effective executive summary gives stakeholders a big-picture view of the entire project and its important points—without requiring them to dive into all the details. Then, if they want more information, they can access the project plan or navigate through tasks in your work management tool.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

Every executive summary has four parts. In order to write a great executive summary, follow this template. Then once you’ve written your executive summary, read it again to make sure it includes all of the key information your stakeholders need to know.

1. Start with the problem or need the project is solving

At the beginning of your executive summary, start by explaining why this document (and the project it represents) matter. Take some time to outline what the problem is, including any research or customer feedback you’ve gotten . Clarify how this problem is important and relevant to your customers, and why solving it matters.

For example, let’s imagine you work for a watch manufacturing company. Your project is to devise a simpler, cheaper watch that still appeals to luxury buyers while also targeting a new bracket of customers.

Example executive summary:

In recent customer feedback sessions, 52% of customers have expressed a need for a simpler and cheaper version of our product. In surveys of customers who have chosen competitor watches, price is mentioned 87% of the time. To best serve our existing customers, and to branch into new markets, we need to develop a series of watches that we can sell at an appropriate price point for this market.

2. Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives

Now that you’ve outlined the problem, explain what your solution is. Unlike an abstract or outline, you should be  prescriptive  in your solution—that is to say, you should work to convince your readers that your solution is the right one. This is less of a brainstorming section and more of a place to support your recommended solution.

Because you’re creating your executive summary at the beginning of your project, it’s ok if you don’t have all of your deliverables and milestones mapped out. But this is your chance to describe, in broad strokes, what will happen during the project. If you need help formulating a high-level overview of your project’s main deliverables and timeline, consider creating a  project roadmap  before diving into your executive summary.

Continuing our example executive summary:

Our new watch series will begin at 20% cheaper than our current cheapest option, with the potential for 40%+ cheaper options depending on material and movement. In order to offer these prices, we will do the following:

Offer watches in new materials, including potentially silicone or wood

Use high-quality quartz movement instead of in-house automatic movement

Introduce customizable band options, with a focus on choice and flexibility over traditional luxury

Note that every watch will still be rigorously quality controlled in order to maintain the same world-class speed and precision of our current offerings.

3. Explain the solution’s value

At this point, you begin to get into more details about how your solution will impact and improve upon the problem you outlined in the beginning. What, if any, results do you expect? This is the section to include any relevant financial information, project risks, or potential benefits. You should also relate this project back to your company goals or  OKRs . How does this work map to your company objectives?

With new offerings that are between 20% and 40% cheaper than our current cheapest option, we expect to be able to break into the casual watch market, while still supporting our luxury brand. That will help us hit FY22’s Objective 3: Expanding the brand. These new offerings have the potential to bring in upwards of three million dollars in profits annually, which will help us hit FY22’s Objective 1: 7 million dollars in annual profit.

Early customer feedback sessions indicate that cheaper options will not impact the value or prestige of the luxury brand, though this is a risk that should be factored in during design. In order to mitigate that risk, the product marketing team will begin working on their go-to-market strategy six months before the launch.

4. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work

Now that you’ve shared all of this important information with executive stakeholders, this final section is your chance to guide their understanding of the impact and importance of this work on the organization. What, if anything, should they take away from your executive summary?

To round out our example executive summary:

Cheaper and varied offerings not only allow us to break into a new market—it will also expand our brand in a positive way. With the attention from these new offerings, plus the anticipated demand for cheaper watches, we expect to increase market share by 2% annually. For more information, read our  go-to-market strategy  and  customer feedback documentation .

Example of an executive summary

When you put it all together, this is what your executive summary might look like:

[Product UI] Example executive summary in Asana (Project Overview)

Common mistakes people make when writing executive summaries

You’re not going to become an executive summary-writing pro overnight, and that’s ok. As you get started, use the four-part template provided in this article as a guide. Then, as you continue to hone your executive summary writing skills, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid using jargon

Your executive summary is a document that anyone, from project contributors to executive stakeholders, should be able to read and understand. Remember that you’re much closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders will be, so read your executive summary once over to make sure there’s no unnecessary jargon. Where you can, explain the jargon, or skip it all together.

Remember: this isn’t a full report

Your executive summary is just that—a summary. If you find yourself getting into the details of specific tasks, due dates, and attachments, try taking a step back and asking yourself if that information really belongs in your executive summary. Some details are important—you want your summary to be actionable and engaging. But keep in mind that the wealth of information in your project will be captured in your  work management tool , not your executive summary.

Make sure the summary can stand alone

You know this project inside and out, but your stakeholders won’t. Once you’ve written your executive summary, take a second look to make sure the summary can stand on its own. Is there any context your stakeholders need in order to understand the summary? If so, weave it into your executive summary, or consider linking out to it as additional information.

Always proofread

Your executive summary is a living document, and if you miss a typo you can always go back in and fix it. But it never hurts to proofread or send to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

In summary: an executive summary is a must-have

Executive summaries are a great way to get everyone up to date and on the same page about your project. If you have a lot of project stakeholders who need quick insight into what the project is solving and why it matters, an executive summary is the perfect way to give them the information they need.

For more tips about how to connect high-level strategy and plans to daily execution, read our article about strategic planning .

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How to write an executive summary in 10 steps

people-discussing-a-proposal-executive-summary-example

Whether presenting a business plan, sharing project updates with stakeholders, or submitting a project proposal, an executive summary helps you grab attention and convey key insights.

Think of it as a condensed version of a document, report, or proposal that highlights the most important information clearly and concisely. It's like a "cheat sheet" that gives you a snapshot of the main points without reading the entire thing.

Throughout the article, we'll explore some examples of executive summaries to give you a better understanding of how they can be applied. Plus, we'll provide you with ready-to-use templates and best practices for writing compelling executive summaries.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It is typically written for busy executives or decision-makers who may not have the time to read the entire document but still need to grasp its key points and recommendations. 

An effective executive summary should capture the essence of the document, highlighting the most important information in a brief and easily understandable way. It should provide a snapshot of the document's purpose, methodology, major findings, and key recommendations. The summary should be written in a way that allows the reader to quickly grasp the main ideas and make informed decisions based on the information presented.

Why do you need to write one?

For a business owner , an executive summary is one of the most important documents you will have. Like a business plan , they help you lay out the potential value of your business and your potential for success. 

Unlike a business proposal, however, an executive summary is designed to be read in a brief amount of time. That makes them ideal for a variety of uses, like project proposals and research summaries. Sending your strategic plan to a prospective investor or stakeholder likely won’t get you far. But a brief report that clearly states your key findings and what’s in it for them might help you — and your proposal — stand out. It isn't all the details. It's what gets you the meeting to share more.

An executive summary is also a business document that can travel without you. It may be presented to other leaders and potential investors. If it’s written well, it will take on a life of its own. You may find that you get support and resources from places you never imagined.

What should be included in an executive summary?

Your executive summary should include brief descriptions of who your product, service, or proposal is for and your competitive advantage. Be sure to introduce your report concisely yet clearly . Note the most important points and its overall purpose––what do you hope to achieve with this report? 

Also, include any necessary background information and statistics about the industry, high-level information about your business model, necessary financial information, or other insights you discuss in the report. Depending on your proposal, you may want to consider summarizing a market analysis of your target market.

Typically, an executive summary follows a structured format, including sections such as:

  • Introduction: Provides a brief background and context for the document.
  • Objective or purpose: Clearly states the goal of the document and what it aims to achieve.
  • Methodology: Briefly describes the approach, data sources, and methods used to conduct the research or analysis.
  • Findings: Summarizes the main findings, conclusions, or results derived from the document.
  • Recommendations: Outlines the key recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings.
  • Conclusion: Provides a concise wrap-up of the main points and emphasizes the significance of the document.

presenting-to-board-meeting-executive-summary-example

How do you write an executive summary?

When tackling an executive summary, it's all about following a structured approach to ensure you effectively communicate those crucial points, findings, and recommendations. Let’s walk through some steps and best practices to make it a breeze:

Step 1: Get to know the document

Take the time to dive into the full document or report that your executive summary will be based on. Read it thoroughly and identify the main objectives, key findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Step 2: Know your audience

Think about who you're writing the executive summary for. Consider their knowledge level, interests, and priorities. This helps you tailor the summary to their needs and make it relevant and impactful.

Step 3: Outline the structure

Create an outline for your executive summary with sections like introduction, objective, methodology, findings, recommendations, and conclusion. This way, you'll have a logical flow that's easy to follow.

Step 4: Start strong

Kick off your executive summary with a captivating opening statement. Make it concise, engaging, and impactful to hook the reader and make them want to keep reading.

Step 5: Summarize objectives and methodology

Give a brief overview of the document's objectives and the methodology used to achieve them. This sets the context and helps the reader understand the approach taken.

Step 6: Highlight key findings

Summarize the main findings, conclusions, or results. Focus on the juiciest and most relevant points that support the document's purpose. Keep it clear and concise to get the message across effectively.

Step 7: Present key recommendations

Outline the important recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings. Clearly state what needs to be done, why it matters, and how it aligns with the document's objectives. Make those recommendations actionable and realistic.

Step 8: Keep it snappy

Remember, an executive summary should be short and sweet. Skip unnecessary details, jargon, or technical language . Use straightforward language that hits the mark.

Step 9: Review and polish

Once you've written the executive summary, give it a careful review for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Make sure it captures the essence of the full document and represents its content faithfully. Take the extra step to edit out any fluff or repetition.

Step 10: Dress to impress

Consider formatting and presentation. Use headings, bullet points, and formatting styles to make it visually appealing and easy to skim. If it makes sense, include some graphs, charts, or visuals to highlight key points.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

  • Adapt your language and tone to suit your audience.
  • Keep things concise and crystal clear—say no to jargon.
  • Focus on the most important info that packs a punch.
  • Give enough context without overwhelming your reader.
  • Use strong and persuasive language to make your recommendations shine.
  • Make sure your executive summary makes sense even if the full document isn't read.
  • Proofread like a pro to catch any pesky grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Executive summary template for business plans

Here's a general template for creating an executive summary specifically for business plans:

[Your Company Name]

[Business Plan Title]

Business overview

Provide a brief introduction to your company, including its name, location, industry, and mission statement . Describe your unique value proposition and what sets your business apart from competitors.

Market analysis

Summarize the key findings of your market research. Provide an overview of the target market, its size, growth potential, and relevant trends. Highlight your understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Product or service offering

Outline your core products or services, including their key features and benefits. Emphasize how your offerings address customer pain points and provide value. Highlight any unique selling points or competitive advantages.

Business model

Explain your business model and revenue generation strategy. Describe how you will generate revenue, the pricing structure, and any distribution channels or partnerships that contribute to your business's success.

Marketing and sales strategy

Summarize your marketing and sales approach. Highlight the key tactics and channels you will use to reach and attract customers. Discuss your promotional strategies, pricing strategies, and customer acquisition plans.

Management team

Introduce the key members of your management team and their relevant experience. Highlight their expertise and how it positions the team to execute the business plan successfully. Include any notable advisors or board members.

Financial projections

Summarize your financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expected expenses, and projected profitability. Highlight any key financial metrics or milestones. Briefly mention your funding needs, if applicable.

Funding requirements

If seeking funding, outline your funding requirements, including the amount needed, its purpose, and the potential sources of funding you are considering. Summarize the expected return on investment for potential investors.

Reiterate the vision and potential of your business. Summarize the key points of your business plan, emphasizing its viability, market potential, and the expertise of your team. Convey confidence in the success of your venture.

Note: Keep the executive summary concise and focused, typically within one to two pages. Use clear and compelling language, emphasizing the unique aspects of your business. Tailor the template to suit your specific business plan, adjusting sections and details accordingly.

Remember, the executive summary serves as an introduction to your business plan and should pique the reader's interest, conveying the value and potential of your business in a concise and persuasive manner.

Executive summary examples

Every executive summary will be unique to the organization's goals, vision, and brand identity. We put together two general examples of executive summaries to spark your creativity and offer some inspiration. 

These are not intended to be used as-is but more to offer ideas for how you may want to put your own executive summary together. Be sure to personalize your own summary with specific statistics and relevant data points to make the most impact.

Example 1: executive summary for a communications business plan

Introduction:

We're thrilled to present our innovative [insert product] that aims to revolutionize the way people connect and engage. Our vision is to empower individuals and businesses with seamless communication solutions that break barriers and foster meaningful connections.

Market opportunity:

The communications industry is evolving rapidly, and we've identified a significant opportunity in the market. With the proliferation of remote work, the need for reliable and efficient communication tools has skyrocketed. Our extensive market research indicates a demand for solutions that prioritize user experience, security, and flexibility.

Product offering:

At [Company Name], we've developed a suite of cutting-edge communication tools designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Our flagship product is a unified communication platform that integrates voice, video, messaging, and collaboration features into a seamless user experience. We also offer customizable solutions for businesses of all sizes, catering to their unique communication requirements.

Unique value proposition:

What sets us apart from the competition? Our user-centric approach and commitment to innovation. We prioritize user experience by creating intuitive interfaces and seamless interactions. Our solutions are scalable, adaptable, and designed to keep up with evolving technological trends. By combining ease of use with advanced features, we deliver unparalleled value to our customers.

Target market:

Our primary focus is on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that require efficient and cost-effective communication tools. We also cater to individuals, remote teams, and larger enterprises seeking reliable and secure communication solutions. Our target market encompasses industries such as technology, finance, healthcare, and professional services.

Business model:

To generate revenue, we employ a subscription-based business model. Customers can choose from different plans tailored to their specific needs, paying a monthly or annual fee. We also offer additional services such as customization, integration, and customer support, creating additional revenue streams and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Marketing and sales strategy:

Our marketing strategy centers around building brand awareness through targeted digital campaigns, content marketing, and strategic partnerships. We'll leverage social media, industry influencers, and online communities to reach our target audience. Additionally, our sales team will engage in proactive outreach, nurturing leads and providing personalized consultations to convert prospects into loyal customers.

Team and expertise:

Our team is composed of experienced professionals with a deep understanding of the communications industry. Led by our visionary founder and supported by a skilled and diverse team, we have the expertise to drive innovation, develop robust products, and deliver exceptional customer service. We're passionate about our mission and dedicated to making a lasting impact in the market.

Financial projections:

Based on extensive market research and financial analysis, we anticipate strong growth and profitability. Our financial projections indicate steady revenue streams, with increasing customer adoption and market share. We're committed to managing costs effectively, optimizing our resources, and continuously reinvesting in research and development.

Funding requirements:

To fuel our ambitious growth plans and accelerate product development, we're seeking [funding amount] in funding. These funds will be allocated towards expanding our team, scaling our infrastructure, marketing efforts, and ongoing product innovation. We believe this investment will position us for success and solidify our market presence.

Conclusion:

In summary, [Company Name] is poised to disrupt the communications industry with our innovative solutions and customer-centric approach. We're ready to make a positive impact by empowering individuals and businesses to communicate effectively and effortlessly. Join us on this exciting journey as we redefine the future of communication. Together, we'll shape a connected world like never before.

Example 2: executive summary for a project proposal

[Project Name]

[Project Proposal Date]

Hello! We're thrilled to present our project proposal for [Project Name]. This executive summary will provide you with a high-level overview of the project, its objectives, and the value it brings.

Project overview:

Our project aims to [describe the project's purpose and scope]. It's a response to [identify the problem or opportunity] and has the potential to bring significant benefits to [stakeholders or target audience]. Through meticulous planning and execution, we're confident in our ability to achieve the desired outcomes.

Objectives:

The primary goal of our project is to [state the overarching objective]. In addition, we have specific objectives such as [list specific objectives]. By accomplishing these goals, we'll create a positive impact and drive meaningful change.

Our proposed approach for this project is based on a thorough analysis of the situation and best practices. We'll adopt a structured methodology that includes [describe the key project phases or activities]. This approach ensures efficient utilization of resources and maximizes project outcomes.

The benefits of this project are truly exciting. Through its implementation, we anticipate [describe the anticipated benefits or outcomes]. These benefits include [list specific benefits], which will have a lasting and positive effect on [stakeholders or target audience].

Implementation timeline:

We've devised a comprehensive timeline to guide the project from initiation to completion. The project is divided into distinct phases, with well-defined milestones and deliverables. Our timeline ensures that tasks are executed in a timely manner, allowing us to stay on track and deliver results.

Resource requirements:

To successfully execute this project, we've identified the key resources needed. This includes [list the resources required, such as human resources, technology, equipment, and funding]. We're confident in our ability to secure the necessary resources and allocate them effectively to ensure project success.

A project of this nature requires a well-planned budget. Based on our analysis, we've estimated the required funding to be [state the budget amount]. This budget encompasses all project-related costs and aligns with the anticipated benefits and outcomes.

Our project proposal is an exciting opportunity to address [the problem or opportunity] and create tangible value for [stakeholders or target audience]. With a clear vision, defined objectives, and a robust implementation plan, we're ready to embark on this journey. Join us as we bring this project to life and make a lasting impact. 

person-holding-one-sheet-executive-summary-example

Is an executive summary the same as a project plan?

While both are important components of project management and documentation , they serve different purposes and contain distinct information.

An executive summary, as discussed earlier, is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It provides a snapshot of the key points, findings, and recommendations. It focuses on high-level information and aims to provide an overview of the document's purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations.

On the other hand, a project plan is a detailed document that outlines the specific activities, tasks, timelines, resources, and milestones associated with a project. It serves as a roadmap for project execution, providing a comprehensive understanding of how the project will be carried out.

A project plan typically includes objectives, scope, deliverables, schedule, budget, resource allocation, risk management, and communication strategies. It is intended for project team members, stakeholders, and those directly involved in the execution.

In summary, an executive summary offers a condensed overview of a document's key points, while a project plan provides a comprehensive and detailed roadmap for executing a project.

Executive summaries vs. abstracts

An executive summary is not the same as an abstract. Executive summaries focus on the main points of a proposal. They highlight when and why a reader should invest in the company or project.

An abstract, on the other hand, concentrates on what the business does and its marketing plan. It typically doesn’t include detailed information about finances.

While it is usually compelling, it’s less of an elevator pitch and more of a summary. The goal of an abstract is to inform, not to persuade. On the other hand, the goal of an executive summary is to give readers who are pressed for time just enough information that they’ll want to look further into your proposition.

When do you use an executive summary?

An executive summary is used in various situations where there is a need to present a condensed overview of a longer document or report. Here are some common instances when an executive summary is used:

  • Business proposals: When submitting a business proposal to potential investors, partners, or stakeholders, an executive summary is often included. It provides a concise overview of the proposal, highlighting the key aspects such as the business idea, market analysis, competitive advantage, financial projections, and recommended actions.
  • Reports and research studies: Lengthy reports or research studies often include an executive summary at the beginning. This allows decision-makers, executives, or other stakeholders to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations of the report without going through the entire document.
  • Project updates: During the course of a project, project managers may prepare executive summaries to provide updates to stakeholders or higher-level management. These summaries give a brief overview of the project's progress, achievements, challenges, and upcoming milestones.
  • Strategic plans: When developing strategic plans for an organization, an executive summary is often included to provide an overview of the plan's goals, objectives, strategies, and key initiatives. It allows executives and stakeholders to grasp the essence of the strategic plan and its implications without reading the entire document.
  • Funding requests: When seeking funding for a project or venture, an executive summary is commonly used as part of the funding proposal. It provides a succinct summary of the project, highlighting its significance, potential impact, financial requirements, and expected outcomes.

In general, an executive summary is used whenever there is a need to communicate the main points, findings, and recommendations of a document concisely and efficiently to individuals who may not have the time or inclination to read the entire content. It serves as a valuable tool for understanding and facilitates quick decision-making.

5 ways project managers can use executive summaries

Project managers can use executive summaries in various ways to effectively communicate project updates, status reports, or proposals to stakeholders and higher-level management. Here are some ways project managers can use executive summaries:

  • Project status updates: Project managers can provide regular executive summaries to stakeholders and management to communicate the current status of the project. The summary should include key achievements, milestones reached, challenges encountered, and any adjustments to the project plan. It allows stakeholders to quickly grasp the project's progress and make informed decisions or provide guidance as needed.
  • Project proposals: When pitching a project idea or seeking approval for a new project, project managers can prepare an executive summary to present the essential aspects of the project. The summary should outline the project's objectives, scope, anticipated benefits, resource requirements, estimated timeline, and potential risks. It helps decision-makers understand the project's value and make an informed choice about its initiation.
  • Project closure reports: At the end of a project, project managers can prepare an executive summary as part of the project closure report. The summary should highlight the project's overall success, key deliverables achieved, lessons learned, and recommendations for future projects. It provides a concise overview of the project's outcomes and acts as a valuable reference for future initiatives.
  • Steering committee meetings: When project managers present updates or seek guidance from a steering committee or governance board, an executive summary can be an effective tool. The summary should cover the important aspects of the project, such as progress, issues, risks, and upcoming milestones. It ensures that decision-makers are well-informed about the project's status and can provide relevant guidance or support.
  • Change requests: When submitting a change request for a project, project managers can include an executive summary to summarize the proposed change, its impact on the project, potential risks, and benefits. It helps stakeholders and decision-makers quickly assess the change request and make informed decisions about its implementation.

Using executive summaries, project managers can efficiently communicate project-related information to stakeholders, executives, and decision-makers. The summaries provide a concise overview of the project's status, proposals, or closure reports, allowing stakeholders to quickly understand the key points and take appropriate action.

When should you not use an executive summary?

While executive summaries are widely used in many situations, there are some cases where they may not be necessary or suitable. Here are a few scenarios where an executive summary may not be appropriate, along with alternative approaches:

  • Highly technical documents: If the document contains highly technical or specialized information that requires a detailed understanding, an executive summary alone may not be sufficient. In such cases, it is better to provide the complete document and supplement it with explanatory materials, presentations , or meetings where experts can explain and discuss the technical details.
  • Personal or creative writing: Executive summaries are typically used for informational or analytical documents. If the content is more personal in nature, such as a memoir, novel, or creative piece, an executive summary may not be relevant. Instead, focus on providing an engaging introduction or book blurb that entices readers and conveys the essence of the work.
  • Short documents: If the document itself is already concise and can be easily read in its entirety, an executive summary may be redundant. In these cases, it is more effective to present the complete document without an additional summary.
  • Interactive presentations: In situations where you can present information interactively, such as in meetings, workshops, or conferences, it may be more effective to engage the audience directly rather than relying solely on an executive summary. Use visual aids, demonstrations, discussions, and Q&A sessions to convey the necessary information and capture the audience's attention.

Final thoughts on writing a compelling executive summary

An executive summary isn’t the kitchen sink — it’s the bells and whistles. Geared toward busy decision-makers, these one-pagers communicate your case for action and proposed solutions. When it’s written well, your audience will walk away with an understanding of what needs to be done, why it needs to happen, and why they should help it move forward. 

But writing it well doesn’t just mean spell-checking. It means tailoring your communication to an influential, yet busy and distracted audience. To be effective, you’ll need to write your proposal with empathy and an understanding of what matters to them .

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Allaya Cooks-Campbell

With over 15 years of content experience, Allaya Cooks Campbell has written for outlets such as ScaryMommy, HRzone, and HuffPost. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and is a certified yoga instructor as well as a certified Integrative Wellness & Life Coach. Allaya is passionate about whole-person wellness, yoga, and mental health.

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How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

Caroline Forsey

Published: August 31, 2023

Whether you're an entrepreneur looking for investors for your small business or the CEO of a large corporation, an executive summary can help you succeed and is a critical component for long-term growth.

Executive summary with examples

A short, attention-grabbing executive summary is an essential part of your business plan . Done correctly, it will ensure your company becomes or remains a key player in your industry. In this post, you’ll learn what an executive summary is and how to write one that engages investors, customers, and general audiences.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief overview of a long document, such as a business plan, proposal, or report. It's a section that grabs readers’ attention and summarizes critical information from the document, such as the problem or opportunity being addressed, objectives, key findings, goals, and recommendations.

Some documents that may have an executive summary include:

  • Business plans
  • Research documents
  • Project proposals
  • Annual reports

Ultimately, the executive summary is meant to inform readers of the most important information in the document, so they don't have to read it all and can get caught up quickly.

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Free Executive Summary Template

Use this executive summary template to provide a summary of your report, business plan, or memo.

  • Company & Opportunity
  • Industry & Market Analysis
  • Management & Operations
  • Financial Plan

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Executive Summary vs. Business Plan

All business plans have an executive summary, but not all executive summaries belong to business plans.

A business plan includes a company overview, your company's short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and a list including each member of your management team. In this case, the executive summary is the first section of the business plan that convinces readers that it’s worth their time to read the whole thing.

Business plans are very detailed and comprehensive, and can be as short as a dozen pages or as long as 100 pages. However, a CEO or investor might not have the interest or time to read your full business plan without first getting the general gist of your company or goals through an executive summary.

Executive Summary vs. Mission Statement

Mission statements and executive summaries are typically both found in business plans, but they serve different purposes.

A mission statement defines your organization’s purpose, values, and vision. It’s your company’s north star and communicates your core identity and reason for existence. On the other hand, an executive summary provides a high-level overview of the document.

Ultimately, your mission statement provides direction for developing your business plan, while your executive summary describes your business plan to executives and shareholders.

Executive Summary vs. Company Description

Like mission statements and executive summaries, company descriptions can also be found in business plans as well as the “About us” page of your website . It provides an overview of your business, including essential details like company history, what your company does, unique selling points, goals, management team, and overall value proposition.

Executive Summary vs. Objective

An objective is a specific goal or target that your company takes aims to achieve its overall goal. It is a concrete, measurable outcome that guides your business’s actions and decisions. Objectives are usually set at the strategic level and are typically aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and overall strategic plan.

Company objectives are often included in executive summaries, but are not the sole focus of them.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

Writing an executive summary may not seem that necessary. After all, you can find the same information just by reading the rest of the document.

However, the executive summary serves many purposes for your document and those who read it. Here are some of the benefits of having one:

  • It saves your readers time. CEOs and investors often have limited time to review lengthy documents. An executive summary allows them to quickly grasp the main points, key findings, and recommendations without needing to read the entire document.
  • It provides clarity and conciseness. By providing a condensed overview, executive summaries help to distill complex information and present it in a manner that’s easy to understand.
  • It helps with document navigation. For longer documents or reports, an executive summary provides a roadmap for readers. It helps them navigate through the document by signaling the main sections or topics covered, improving overall document usability and accessibility.

To write an impressive executive summary that effectively embodies all the important elements of your business plan, we've cultivated a list of necessary components for an executive summary, as well as an example to get you started.

Follow Along With HubSpot's Executive Summary Template

Executive summary template from HubSpot

Click to Download

How to write an executive summary.

A good executive summary tells your company’s story, contains in-depth research, conveys information with an appropriate tone, is void of clichés, and follows your business plan’s structure. These elements will ensure your executive summary is effective, informative, and impactful.

1. Tell your story.

When investors or CEO's read your executive summary, they should understand what your business is about. This is one of the first elements of your business plan, so it should set the tone.

In your executive summary, be sure to tell your story and include an overview about what your company does and why you do what you do. You can also briefly highlight important details about your company’s management.

For instance, you could talk about your founder or CEO’s qualifications and motivations. You can also provide a high-level summary of your company’s business operations and any management methods or best practices that you abide by.

You’ll also want to explain the problem or opportunity that is being addressed, and how it is valuable to investors and customers. Think of this like an elevator pitch . If someone stopped reading and you only had the executive summary to explain your company, what information would you include?

2. Highlight important data.

An executive summary, while short, should include plenty of research.

Highlight the most important findings and insights from the document, including any critical data or statistics discovered in your competitor analysis . While your business plan will flesh out the details, it's important to include your key findings in your executive summary.

You should also provide a basic rundown of your target market, how you plan on addressing their needs and pain points, and how you will reach them.

Additionally, you should include key financial information. The main points you should cover are the overall budget, the price per product/service, and your financial projections.

3. Pay attention to your tone.

Although the tone of your executive summary should be professional and concise, it should also be true to your company and target audience. Aim to convey a sense of authority and credibility while remaining accessible and engaging.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on presenting information objectively with facts and evidence.
  • Don’t voice your personal opinions or use subjective statements.
  • Strive for clarity and simplicity in your language and ensure that your message is easily understood.
  • Avoid unnecessarily complexity or convolution.
  • Don’t use hyperbole or excessive claims.
  • Use strong verbs, active voice, and concise language to make your points effectively.
  • Aim to resonate with the reader’s interests and concerns.

By striking the right balance between professionalism, clarity, and engagement, you can effectively deliver your message and compel the reader to take action or make informed decisions based on the summary.

4. Avoid cliché language.

With any style of writing, it's best to avoid clichés. Clichés can convey the wrong message or be misunderstood, which is something you want to avoid when someone reads your executive summary.

Additionally, clichés tend to overpromise and under-deliver. For example, including something like “The Best Restaurant in Town” isn‘t true because you’re untested as a business. Your executive summary should reflect the truth and who you are as a company.

To avoid clichés while writing, it’s essential to be aware of their presence. Familiarize yourself with common clichés and be mindful of them as you write. Some examples include:

  • “Thinking outside the box”
  • “Innovative solutions”
  • “Cutting-edge technology”

Instead of relying on these overused phrases, be descriptive and embrace the uniqueness of your brand when writing your executive summary. For instance, there’s no need to vaguely refer to your product as a “game-changer,” when you could explain how it benefits your target audience instead. Show, don’t tell.

By staying true to your voice and delivering an honest message, you can keep your writing fresh and your audience engaged.

5. Write it after completing your business plan.

An executive summary is a summary of your business plan. However, it‘s hard to write a summary when you haven’t written your business plan yet. That's why your executive summary should be the final thing you write.

By saving this step for last, you’re able to gain a thorough understanding of the entire plan, including your business’s goals, strategies, market analysis, and financial projections. This enables you to accurately depict the most important aspects in your summary.

If you write you executive summary first, you’re more likely to miscommunicate the essence of your business plan to executives and shareholders. Sure, you may have an outline prepare, but not having all the information can lead to inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your summary. You also risk including irrelevant details or omitting important details that come up during the planning process.

Ultimately, writing your executive summary last ensures that precisely represents the content and findings your plan.

If you don’t have a business plan yet, don’t worry; we have a comprehensive business plan template to help you create one quickly and effectively.

Featured Resource: Business Plan Template

how to write executive summary: use business plan template from hubspot

Download Your Free Template Here

Now that you know how to write an executive summary, let's dive into the details of what to include.

What to Include in Your Executive Summary

Your business plan should convey your company‘s mission, your product, a plan for how you’ll stand out from competitors, your financial projections, your company's short and long-term goals, your buyer persona, and your market fit.

Ultimately, an executive summary should provide a preview for investors or CEO's, so they know what to expect from the rest of your report. Your executive summary should include:

  • The name, location, and mission of your company
  • A description of your company, including management, advisors, and brief history
  • Your product or service, where your product fits in the market, and how your product differs from competitors in the industry
  • Financial considerations, start-up funding requirements, or the purpose behind your business plan — mention what you hope the reader will help your company accomplish

How long should an executive summary be?

While there is no hard and fast rule for the exact length, executive summaries typically range from one to three pages. However, it's important to note that the length should be determined by the document it accompanies and the content itself rather than a predetermined page count.

At the end of the day, your executive summary should engage the reader and highlight the most important points of your document while avoiding unnecessary details.

Feeling at a loss? Download a free template below that will take you through the executive summary creation process.

Executive Summary Template

executive summary template from hubspot

Download Your Free Executive Summary Template Here

In this free executive summary template, you’ll be able to outline several pieces of information, including:

  • Introduction: Explain what your executive summary contains.
  • Company & Opportunity: Explain who you are and your biggest opportunities for growth.
  • Industry & Market Analysis: Explain the state of your industry and your target market.
  • Management & Operations: Explain who your key leaders are and their roles.
  • Implementation & Marketing: Explain how you plan to deploy your product to the marketplace.
  • Financial Plan: Explain your company’s finances. Change the verbiage depending on whether you’re writing to investors or a general audience.
  • Conclusion: Summarize what you’ve covered.

Ready? Download your free executive summary template .

To understand more tactically how an executive summary should look, let’s review a few examples.

Executive Summary Examples

1. connected.

executive summary example: connected

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How to Write an Executive Summary

Folder with a light bulb emerging from it. Represents summarizing your business as an executive summary from a larger document.

9 min. read

Updated December 13, 2023

An executive summary isn’t just the beginning of your business plan – it’s your opening act, your first chance to impress potential investors, banks, clients and other stakeholders.

An effective executive summary gives decision-makers critical information about your business instantly.

Creating an executive summary is more than just a writing exercise. It requires careful crafting and strategic thinking, as well as an ability to balance the needs to be both succinct and comprehensive.

YouTube video

  • What is an executive summary?

The executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It introduces your business, the problem you solve, and what you’re asking from your readers. Anyone should be able to understand your business by simply reading this section of your plan.

While structurally it is the first chapter of your plan—you should write it last. Once you know the details of your business inside and out, you will be better prepared to write this section.

  • Why write an executive summary?

The business plan executive summary provides quick access to critical information from your more detailed business plan.

It is essential for informing anyone outside of your business. Many people—including investors and bankers—will only read your summary. Others will use it to decide if they should read the rest. For you, it is a snapshot of your business to reference when planning or revising your strategy.

Now if you’re writing a business plan solely for internal use you may not need an executive summary. However, some internal plans may necessitate writing an executive summary for assignment—such as for an annual operations plan or a strategic plan .

It takes some effort to do a good summary, so if you don’t have a business use in mind, don’t do it.

  • How long should it be?

Business plan executive summaries should be as short as possible. Your audience has limited time and attention and they want to quickly get the details of your business plan.

Try to keep your executive summary under two pages if possible, although it can be longer if absolutely necessary. If you have a one-page business plan, you can even use that as your executive summary.

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  • Executive summary outline

Two pages isn’t a ton of space to capture the full scope of your vision for the business. That means every sentence of your executive summary counts.

You will want to immediately capture the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction. Without getting too lengthy, present who you are as an organization, the problem you are seeking to solve, your skills, and why you are the best entity to solve the problem you’ve outlined.

It’s crucial to establish the need or problem your business is solving in a clear manner, in order to convince your audience that it must be addressed. Following that, recommend the solution and show its value. Be clear and firm in your recommendation, making sure to justify your cause and highlighting key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. Finally, a strong conclusion is needed to reiterate the main points and wrap up the executive summary.

What to include in your executive summary

1. business overview.

A one-sentence description that explains what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.

Summarize the problem you’re solving in the market and reference any data that solidifies that there is a need.

3. Solution

Describe your product or service and how it addresses the problem you identified.

4. Target market

Who is your ideal customer? Describe who they are, how they’ll benefit, and why they’re an attainable customer base.

5. Competition

Who are your competitors? List out any primary competition as well as alternatives that your customers may consider. Include key details about their current offerings, promotions, and business strategy.

6. Your team

In your executive summary, outline your organizational structure and current team. List out brief explanations of who you and your team are, your qualifications, and what your function will be within the business. It may be valuable to also highlight any gaps in your team and how you intend to fill them. If you have potential partners or candidates in mind, briefly mention them and expand on their qualifications within your full business plan.

7. Financial summary

Highlight key aspects of your financial plan that address sales, expenses, and profitability. Try to keep these in chart or graph form to ensure the information is easy to consume and resonates visually.

8. Funding requirements

This section is only necessary if you’re seeking out funding or pitching to investors. Be sure to throw out your financing number and reasoning upfront, rather than hiding it later on in your plan. It helps investors understand your position, what you’re asking for, and how you’ll use it.

9. Milestones and traction

Add initial sales, pre-sales, newsletter sign-ups, or anything else that showcases customer interest. Outline what steps you’ve already taken to launch your business, the milestones you’ve hit, and your goals and milestones for the next month, six months, year, etc.

Executive summary vs introduction

A common mistake some people make when starting an executive summary outline is thinking it performs the same function as the introduction to their business plan. In fact, the two serve different purposes and contain different types of information, even though they are both essential.

As we’ve discussed, the executive summary is a high-level overview of the entire business plan. The introduction, by contrast, dives deeper into your business, providing information about the nature of your business, the history of your company, your mission statement, products or services, and the specific problem that your business solves.

The introduction is more detailed, and usually comes right after the executive summary.

On the other hand, the introduction gives investors or lenders – anyone reading your business plan – a sense of why they should continue reading. Think of it more as the space to tell stakeholders why you are speaking to them. An executive summary can also serve this purpose, but the introduction is meant to speak more directly to your target audience, while an executive summary could give a larger audience a general overview of your business.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

Here are a few best practices to make writing your executive summary easier, and ultimately more effective. 

1. Think of an executive summary as your pitch

The executive summary is like an elevator pitch. You’re selling someone on reading your full plan while quickly summarizing the key points. Readers will expect it to cover certain areas of your business—such as the product, market, and financial highlights, at the very least.

While you need to include what’s necessary, you should also highlight areas that you believe will spark the reader’s interest. Remember, you’re telling the brief but convincing story of your business with this summary. Just be sure that you’re able to back it up with the right details with the rest of your business plan. 

2. Write it last

Even though the executive summary is at the beginning of a finished business plan, many experienced entrepreneurs choose to write it after everything else. In theory, this makes it easier to write since all of the information is already written out and just needs to be condensed into a shorter format. 

Now, if you’ve started with a one-page plan, this process is even easier. Just use your one-page plan as a starting point and add additional details to any sections that need it. You may even find that no changes are necessary.  

3. Keep it short

Ideally, the executive summary is short—usually just a page or two, five at the outside—and highlights the points you’ve made elsewhere in your business plan. Whatever length you land on, just focus on being brief and concise. Keep it as short as you can without missing the essentials. 

4. Keep it simple

Form follows function, so don’t overcomplicate or over-explain things. The best executive summaries are a mixture of short text, broken up with bullets and subheadings, and illustrations, such as a bar chart showing financial highlights. 

Run through a legibility test after writing your summary. Is it easy to skim through? Are the right pieces of information jumping out? If the answer to either of those questions is no, then work back through and try breaking up information or adjusting the formatting.

5. Create an executive summary outline based on importance and strengths

Organize your executive summary outline so that the most important information appears first. While there are specific components to include, there is no set order of appearance. So, use the order to show emphasis.

Lead with what you want to get the most attention, and add the rest by order of importance. For example, you may start with the problem because that can add drama and urgency that tees up the solution you provide.

Additional resources to write a great executive summary

Need more information and guidance to craft a convincing executive summary? Check out these in-depth resources and templates.

Key mistakes to avoid when writing an executive summary

Here are the critical mistakes you should avoid when writing your executive summary.

How to write your executive summary for specific audiences

The executive summary should tell your audience exactly what your business is, what it does, and why it’s worth their time. Here’s how you can take it a step further and fine-tune it for specific people.

How to develop a mission statement

Learn to put a heart behind the business and create an easy-to-understand narrative by writing a mission statement.

Executive Summary FAQ

What is in an executive summary?

The executive summary of a business plan is a brief introduction and summary of your business strategy, operations, and goals.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

An executive summary is typically written to convince someone to read your more detailed plan. For investors, it may be the only thing they look at when deciding if they’d like to hear your pitch. Loan officers may review it to determine if your business seems financially sound. And partners, mentors, or anyone else may use it to determine if they want to be involved with your business.

How do you start an executive summary?

While there is no required order for an executive summary, it’s often recommended that you lead with the problem you’re solving or the purpose of your business. This will help frame your intent for the reader, and ideally make them more interested in learning more.

How do you write a good executive summary?

A good executive summary is brief, convincing, and easy to read. Focus on keeping things short and concise, only including necessary information. Be sure to lead and highlight anything that is especially interesting or important about your business. And after writing, spend some time reviewing and reformatting to make your summary as attractive to read as possible.

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Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

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Table of Contents

  • What to include
  • Writing tips
  • Additional resources

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How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

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Here’s the good news: an executive summary is short. It’s part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report.

Here’s the bad news: it’s a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes. On one hand, executive summaries are used to outline each section of your business plan, an investment proposal or project proposal. On the other hand, they’re used to introduce your business or project to investors and other stakeholders, so they must be persuasive to spark their interest.

Writing an Executive Summary

The pressure of writing an executive summary comes from the fact that everyone will pay attention to it, as it sits at the top of that heap of documents. It explains all that follows and can make or break your business plan or project plan . The executive summary must know the needs of the potential clients or investors and zero in on them like a laser. Fortunately, we’ll show you how to write and format your executive summary to do just that.

Getting everything organized for your executive summary can be challenging. ProjectManager can help you get your thoughts in order and collaborate with your team. Our powerful task management tools make it easy to get everything prioritized and done on time. Try it free today.

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What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short section of a larger document like a business plan , investment proposal or project proposal. It’s mostly used to give investors and stakeholders a quick overview of important information about a business plan like the company description, market analysis and financial information.

It contains a short statement that addresses the problem or proposal detailed in the attached documents and features background information, a concise analysis and a conclusion. An executive summary is designed to help executives and investors decide whether to go forth with the proposal, making it critically important. Pitch decks are often used along with executive summaries to talk about the benefits and main selling points of a business plan or project.

Unlike an abstract, which is a short overview, an executive summary format is a condensed form of the documents contained in the proposal. Abstracts are more commonly used in academic and research-oriented writing and act as a teaser for the reader to see if they want to read on.

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

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Executive Summary Template

Use this free Executive Summary Template for Word to manage your projects better.

How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive summaries vary depending on the document they’re attached to. You can write an executive summary for a business plan, project proposal, research document, or business case, among other documents and reports.

However, when writing an executive summary, there are guidelines to ensure you hit all the bases.

Executive Summary Length

According to the many books that have been written about executive summaries, as well as training courses, seminars and professional speakers, the agreed-upon length for an executive summary format should be about five to 10 percent of the length of the whole report.

Appropriate Language

The language used should be appropriate for the target audience. One of the most important things to know before you write professionally is to understand who you’re addressing. If you’re writing for a group of engineers, the language you’ll use will differ greatly from how you would write to a group of financiers.

That includes more than just the words, but the content and depth of explanation. Remember, it’s a summary, and people will be reading it to quickly and easily pull out the main points.

Pithy Introduction

You also want to capture a reader’s attention immediately in the opening paragraph. Just like a speech often opens with a joke to break the tension and put people at ease, a strong introductory paragraph can pull a reader in and make them want to read on. That doesn’t mean you start with a joke. Stick to your strengths, but remember, most readers only give you a few sentences to win them over before they move on.

Don’t forget to explain who you are as an organization and why you have the skills, personnel and experience to solve the problem raised in the proposal. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy biography, often just your name, address and contact information will do, though you’ll also want to highlight your strengths as they pertain to the business plan or project proposal .

Relevant Information

The executive summary shouldn’t stray from the material that follows it. It’s a summary, not a place to bring up new ideas. To do so would be confusing and would jeopardize your whole proposal.

Establish the need or the problem, and convince the target audience that it must be solved. Once that’s set up, it’s important to recommend the solution and show what the value is. Be clear and firm in your recommendation.

Justify your cause. Be sure to note the key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. This is the point where you differentiate yourself from competitors, be that due to methodology, testimonials from satisfied clients or whatever else you offer that’s unique. But don’t make this too much about you. Be sure to keep the name of the potential client at the forefront.

Don’t neglect a strong conclusion, where you can wrap things up and once more highlight the main points.

Related: 10 Essential Excel Report Templates

What to Include in an Executive Summary

The content of your executive summary must reflect what’s in the larger document which it is part of. You’ll find many executive summary examples on the web, but to keep things simple, we’ll focus on business plans and project proposals.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

As we’ve learned above, your executive summary must extract the main points of all the sections of your business plan. A business plan is a document that describes all the aspects of a business, such as its business model, products or services, objectives and marketing plan , among other things. They’re commonly used by startups to pitch their ideas to investors.

Here are the most commonly used business plan sections:

  • Company description: Provide a brief background of your company, such as when it was established, its mission, vision and core values.
  • Products & services: Describe the products or services your company will provide to its customers.
  • Organization and management: Explain the legal structure of your business and the members of the top management team.
  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis explains the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. They describe the internal and external factors that impact your business competitiveness.
  • Industry & market analysis: This section should provide an overview of the industry and market in which your business will compete.
  • Operations: Explain the main aspects of your business operations and what sets it apart from competitors.
  • Marketing plan: Your marketing plan describes the various strategies that your business will use to reach its customers and sell products or services.
  • Financial planning: Here, you should provide an overview of the financial state of your business. Include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  • Funding request: If you’re creating your business plan to request funding, make sure to explain what type of funding you need, the timeframe for your funding request and an explanation of how the funds will be used.

We’ve created an executive summary example to help you better understand how this document works when using it, to sum up a business plan.

To put all of that information together, here’s the basic format of an executive summary. You can find this same information in our free executive summary template :

  • Introduction, be sure to know your audience
  • Table of contents in the form of a bulleted list
  • Explain the company’s role and identify strengths
  • Explain the need, or the problem, and its importance
  • Recommend a solution and explain its value
  • Justify said solution by explaining how it fits the organization
  • A strong conclusion that once more wraps up the importance of the project

You can use it as an executive summary example and add or remove some of its elements to adjust it to your needs. Our sample executive summary has the main elements that you’ll need project executive summary.

Executive summary template for Word

Executive Summary Example

For this executive summary example, we’ll imagine a company named ABC Clothing, a small business that manufactures eco-friendly clothing products and it’s preparing a business plan to secure funding from new investors.

Company Description We are ABC Clothing, an environmentally-friendly manufacturer of apparel. We’ve developed a unique method of production and sourcing of materials that allows us to create eco-friendly products at a low cost . We have intellectual property for our production processes and materials, which gives us an advantage in the market.

  • Mission: Our mission is to use recycled materials and sustainable methods of production to create clothing products that are great for our customers and our planet.
  • Vision: Becoming a leader in the apparel industry while generating a positive impact on the environment.

Products & Services We offer high-quality clothing products for men, women and all genders. (Here you should include pictures of your product portfolio to spark the interest of your readers)

Industry & Market Analysis Even though the fashion industry’s year-over-year growth has been affected by pandemics in recent years, the global apparel market is expected to continue growing at a steady pace. In addition, the market share of sustainable apparel has grown year-over-year at a higher pace than the overall fashion industry.

Marketing Plan Our marketing plan relies on the use of digital marketing strategies and online sales, which gives us a competitive advantage over traditional retailers that focus their marketing efforts on brick-and-mortar stores.

Operations Our production plant is able to recycle different types of plastic and cotton waste to turn it into materials that we use to manufacture our products . We’ve partnered with a transportation company that sorts and distributes our products inside the United States efficiently and cost-effectively.

Financial Planning Our business is profitable, as documented in our balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The company doesn’t have any significant debt that might compromise its continuity. These and other financial factors make it a healthy investment.

Funding Request We’re requesting funding for the expansion of our production capacity, which will allow us to increase our production output in order to meet our increasing customer demand, enter new markets, reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness.

If you’d like to see more executive summary examples for your business plan, you can visit the U.S. small business administration website. They have business plans with executive summary examples you can download and use.

Executive summaries are also a great way to outline the elements of a project plan for a project proposal. Let’s learn what those elements are.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Project Proposal

An executive summary for your project proposal will capture the most important information from your project management plan. Here’s the structure of our executive summary template:

  • Introduction: What’s the purpose of your project?
  • Company description: Show why you’re the right team to take on the project.
  • Need/problem: What is the problem that it’s solving?
  • Unique solution: What is your value proposition and what are the main selling points of your project?
  • Proof: Evidence, research and feasibility studies that support how your company can solve the issue.
  • Resources: Outline the resources needed for the project
  • Return on investment/funding request: Explain the profitability of your project and what’s in for the investors.
  • Competition/market analysis: What’s your target market? Who are your competitors? How does your company differentiate from them?
  • Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that describes your company’s marketing strategies, sales and partnership plans.
  • Budget/financial planning: What’s the budget that you need for your project plan?
  • Timeline: What’s the estimated timeline to complete the project?
  • Team: Who are the project team members and why are they qualified?
  • Conclusions:  What are the project takeaways?

Now that we’ve learned that executive summaries can vary depending on the type of document you’re working on, you’re ready for the next step.

What to Do After Writing an Executive Summary

As with anything you write, you should always start with a draft. The first draft should hit all the marks addressed above but don’t bog yourself down in making the prose perfect. Think of the first draft as an exploratory mission. You’re gathering all the pertinent information.

Next, you want to thoroughly review the document to ensure that nothing important has been left out or missed. Make sure the focus is sharp and clear, and that it speaks directly to your potential client’s needs.

Proofread for Style & Grammar

But don’t neglect the writing. Be sure that you’re not repeating words, falling into cliché or other hallmarks of bad writing. You don’t want to bore the reader to the point that they miss the reason why you’re the organization that can help them succeed.

You’ve checked the content and the prose, but don’t forget the style. You want to write in a way that’s natural and not overly formal, but one that speaks in the manner of your target audience . If they’re a conservative firm, well then, maybe formality is called for. But more and more modern companies have a casual corporate culture, and formal writing could mistakenly cause them to think of you as old and outdated.

The last run should be proofing the copy. That means double-checking to ensure that spelling is correct, and there are no typos or grammatical mistakes. Whoever wrote the executive summary isn’t the best person to edit it, however. They can easily gloss over errors because of their familiarity with the work. Find someone who excels at copy-editing. If you deliver sloppy content, it shows a lack of professionalism that’ll surely color how a reader thinks of your company.

Criticism of Executive Summaries

While we’re advocating for the proper use of an executive summary, it’d be neglectful to avoid mentioning some critiques. The most common is that an executive summary by design is too simple to capture the complexity of a large and complicated project.

It’s true that many executives might only read the summary, and in so doing, miss the nuance of the proposal. That’s a risk. But if the executive summary follows the guidelines stated above, it should give a full picture of the proposal and create interest for the reader to delve deeper into the documents to get the details.

Remember, executive summaries can be written poorly or well. They can fail to focus on results or the solution to the proposal’s problem or do so in a vague, general way that has no impact on the reader. You can do a hundred things wrong, but if you follow the rules, then the onus falls on the reader.

ProjectManager Turns an Executive Summary Into a Project

Your executive summary got the project approved. Now the real work begins. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you organize tasks, projects and teams. We have everything you need to manage each phase of your project, so you can complete your work on time and under budget.

Work How You Want

Because project managers and teams work differently, our software is flexible. We have multiple project views, such as the kanban board, which visualizes workflow. Managers like the transparency it provides in the production cycle, while teams get to focus only on those tasks they have the capacity to complete. Are you more comfortable with tasks lists or Gantt charts? We have those, too.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Live Tracking for Better Management

To ensure your project meets time and cost expectations, we have features that monitor and track progress so you can control any deviations that might occur. Our software is cloud-based, so the data you see on our dashboard is always up to date, helping you make better decisions. Make that executive summary a reality with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

You’ve now researched and written a persuasive executive summary to lead your proposal. You’ve put in the work and the potential client sees that and contracts you for the project. However, if you don’t have a reliable set of project management tools like Gantt charts , kanban boards and project calendars at hand to plan, monitor and report on the work, then all that preparation will be for nothing.

ProjectManager is online project management software that gives you real-time data and a collaborative platform to work efficiently and productively. But don’t take our word for it, take a free 30-day trial.

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5 Steps for Writing an Executive Summary

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Table of Contents

Anyone starting a new business must create a business plan that clearly outlines the organization’s details and goals. The executive summary is a crucial element of that business plan.

We’ll explore five steps to writing your business plan’s executive summary, including what to include and avoid. We’ll also point you toward executive summary templates to help you get started. 

What is an executive summary?

New entrepreneurs or business owners typically use a business plan to present their great business idea to potential stakeholders like angel investors . The purpose of the business plan is to attract financing from investors or convince banking executives to get a bank loan for their business . An executive summary is a business plan overview that succinctly highlights its most essential elements. 

It’s not just a general outline; the executive summary might be the only part of your business plan that busy executives and potential investors read. 

“The executive summary of a business plan is designed to capture the reader’s attention and briefly explain your business, the problem you are solving, the target audience, and key financial information,” Ross Kimbarovsky, CEO and founder of Crowdspring, told Business News Daily. “If the executive summary lacks specific information or does not capture the attention of the reader, the rest of the plan might not be read.”

While your executive summary should be engaging and comprehensive, it must also be quick and easy to read. These documents average one to four pages – ideally, under two pages – and should comprise less than 10% of your entire business plan.

How do you write an executive summary?

Your executive summary will be unique to your organization and business plan. However, most entrepreneurs and business owners take the following five steps when creating their executive summary.

  • Write your business plan first. The executive summary will briefly cover the most essential topics your business plan covers. For this reason, you should write the entire business plan first, and then create your executive summary. The executive summary should only cover facts and details included in the business plan.
  • Write an engaging introduction. What constitutes “engaging” depends on your audience. For example, if you’re in the tech industry, your introduction may include a surprising tech trend or brief story. The introduction must be relevant to your business and capture your audience’s attention. It is also crucial to identify your business plan’s objective and what the reader can expect to find in the document.
  • Write the executive summary. Go through your business plan and identify critical points to include in your executive summary. Touch on each business plan key point concisely but comprehensively. You may mention your marketing plan , target audience, company description, management team, and more. Readers should be able to understand your business plan without reading the rest of the document. Ideally, the summary will be engaging enough to convince them to finish the document, but they should be able to understand your basic plan from your summary. (We’ll detail what to include in the executive summary in the next section.)
  • Edit and organize your document. Organize your executive summary to flow with your business plan’s contents, placing the most critical components at the beginning. A bulleted list is helpful for drawing attention to your main points. Double-check the document for accuracy and clarity. Remove buzzwords, repetitive information, qualifying words, jargon, passive language and unsupported claims. Verify that your executive summary can act as a standalone document if needed.
  • Seek outside assistance. Since most entrepreneurs aren’t writing experts, have a professional writer or editor look over your document to ensure it flows smoothly and covers the points you’re trying to convey.

What should you include in an executive summary?

Your executive summary is based on your business plan and should include details relevant to your reader. For example, if your business plan’s goal is pitching a business idea to potential investors , you should emphasize your financial requirements and how you will use the funding. 

The type of language you use depends on whether your audience consists of generalists or industry experts.

While executive summary specifics will vary by company, Marius Thauland, business strategist at OMD EMEA, says all executive summaries should include a few critical elements:

  • Target audience
  • Products and services
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Competitive analysis
  • Funding and budget allocation for the processes and operations
  • Number of employees to be hired and involved
  • How you’ll implement the business plan 

When synthesizing each section, highlight the details most relevant to your reader. Include any facts and statistics they must know. In your introduction, present pertinent company information and clearly state the business plan’s objective. To pinpoint key messages for your executive summary, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What do you want the reader to take away from the document? 
  • What do you want to happen after they read it? 

“Put yourself in the business plan reader’s shoes, and think about what you would like to know in the report,” Thauland advised. “Get their attention by making it simple and brief yet still professional. It should also attract them to read the entire document to understand even the minute details.”

What should you avoid in an executive summary?

When writing your executive summary, be aware of the following common mistakes: 

  • Making your executive summary too long. An executive summary longer than two pages will deter some readers. You’re likely dealing with busy executives, and an overlong stretch of text can overwhelm them.
  • Copying and pasting from other executive summary sections. Reusing phrases from other sections and stringing them together without context can seem confusing and sloppy. It’s also off-putting to read the same exact phrase twice within the same document. Instead, summarize your business plan’s central points in new, descriptive language.
  • Too many lists and subheadings in your executive summary. After one – and only one – introductory set of bullets, recap your business plan’s main points in paragraph form without subheadings. Concision and clarity are more important for an executive summary than formatting tricks.
  • Passive or unclear language in your executive summary. You’re taking the reins of your business, and your executive summary should show that. Use active voice in your writing so everyone knows you’re running the show. Be as clear as possible in your language, leaving no questions about what your business will do and how it will get there.
  • Avoid general descriptions in your executive summary. Kimbarovsky said it’s best to avoid generalities in your executive summary. For example, there’s no need to include a line about “your team’s passion for hard work.” This information is a given and will take attention away from your executive summary’s critical details.
  • Don’t use comparisons in your executive summary. Kimbarovsky also advises staying away from comparisons to other businesses in your executive summary. “Don’t say you will be the next Facebook, Uber or Amazon,” said Kimbarovsky. “Amateurs make this comparison to try and show how valuable their company could be. Instead, focus on providing the actual facts that you believe prove you have a strong company. It’s better if the investor gives you this accolade because they see the opportunity.”

Executive summary templates and resources

If you’re writing an executive summary for the first time, online templates can help you outline your document. However, your business is unique, and your executive summary should reflect that. An online template probably won’t cover every detail you’ll need in your executive summary. Experts recommend using templates as general guidelines and tailoring them to fit your business plan and executive summary.

To get you started, here are some popular executive summary template resources:

  • FormSwift. The FormSwift website lets you create and edit documents and gives you access to over 500 templates. It details what an effective executive summary includes and provides a form builder to help you create your executive summary. Fill out a step-by-step questionnaire and export your finished document via PDF or Word.
  • Smartsheet. The Smartsheet cloud-based platform makes planning, managing and reporting on projects easier for teams and organizations. It offers several free downloadable executive summary templates for business plans, startups, proposals, research reports and construction projects.
  • Template.net. The Template.net website provides several free business templates, including nine free executive summary templates that vary by project (e.g., business plan, startup, housing program development, proposal or marketing plan). Print out the templates and fill in your relevant details.
  • TemplateLab. The TemplateLab website is a one-stop shop for new business owners seeking various downloadable templates for analytics, finance, HR, marketing, operations, project management, and time management. You’ll find over 30 free executive summary templates and examples.
  • Vertex42. The Vertex42 website offers Excel templates for executive summaries on budgets, invoices, project management and timesheets, as well as Word templates for legal forms, resumes and letters. This site also provides extensive information on executive summaries and a free executive summary template you can download into Word or Google Docs.

Summing it all up

Your executive summary should preview your business plan in, at most, two pages. Wait until your business plan is complete to write your executive summary, and seek outside help as necessary. A thorough, engaging business plan and executive summary are well worth the time and money you put into them. 

Max Freedman contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Basic Guide to Writing Executive Summary for a Strategic Plan

Table of Contents

A well-crafted executive summary for a strategic plan can be the difference between success and failure. When it comes to creating a successful business strategy, having a clear and concise executive summary is key.

Unfortunately, many executives underestimate this document’s importance or don’t know how to write one that is truly effective. This guide provides everything you need to know about writing an executive summary for your next strategic plan.

So whether you are just starting on your planning journey, or are looking for ways to improve an existing summary, read on!

What Is an Executive Summary for a Strategic Plan?

An executive summary for a strategic plan is a document that provides an overview of the key points of the business plan . It is typically used to introduce the plan to senior executives or other stakeholders. And it should be concise enough to explain the overall strategy without providing too much detail.

The executive summary should highlight how the proposed strategy will improve organizational performance and meet specific goals.

Importance of an Executive Summary

An executive summary is a concise overview of your business plan . It’s both written for the audience and for the executive to be able to understand and know the plan at a quick glance. For a growing business, an executive summary can help set the tone for investment opportunities.

Below are some key points on why an executive summary is important for your business:

  • An executive summary can provide an overview of the entire document for those who are not able to read it in its entirety.
  • It ensures that key points are communicated effectively and efficiently, thus reducing the chances of misinterpretation or misunderstandings.
  • An executive summary can help decision-makers quickly understand the gist of a strategic plan and assess its feasibility/readiness for implementation.
  • It serves as a helpful tool for rallying support from stakeholders by highlighting essential objectives and strategies contained within the document.
  • Finally, an effective executive summary reinforces that planning is essential to any successful organization – big or small.

How to Write a Great Executive Summary

Executive summaries explain complex topics in simple terms. For your plan to execute successfully, it must be easily understandable. We have broken down the steps to write a great executive summary.

The executive summary is only a snapshot of your strategic plan and should not be overly long or filled with intricate detail.

Start by taking the time to develop a well-organized and concise document that can easily be summarized. Remember, you’re trying to capture your reader’s attention early on and convince them to keep reading!

Get Straight to the Point

Your readers might be busy people, so don’t waste their time by burying the lead in your executive summary.

Make sure you hit key points right away and clearly state what outcomes you hope to achieve from implementing your strategy.

Keep It Relevant

It may be tempting to go into exhaustive detail about every aspect of your plan. But try to focus on information that is most relevant for understanding its overall purpose.

Your readers will appreciate having easy access to essential facts without feeling overwhelmed or bogged down in superfluous information.

Be Concise but Clear

It can be difficult to condense months (or even years) of careful planning into a few paragraphs. But remember: brevity is key when writing an executive summary!

Avoid using complex language or jargon that might confuse rather than inform. Simple and straightforward sentences are best to convey your ideas better.

a man holding smartphone looking at productivity wall decor

What to Include in Your Executive Summary

A business plan must be condensed into a well-written executive summary and include your company’s mission, products, and financial projections. You must outline a plan on how you’ll set yourself apart from the competitors and define your long and short-term goals. The executive summary should convey the company’s buyer persona and market fit.

An executive summary should therefore be a concise, maximum two-page overview of the information in your business plan. It should give CEOs or investors a sneak peek into the rest of your report, so they know what to anticipate.

The following details should be included in your executive summary:

  • The name, address, and mission of your company.
  • An overview of your business containing information about its management, advisors, and history.
  • Your product or service, where it fits in the market, and how it varies from those of your competitors in the sector.
  • Mention how the reader may assist your company in achieving its goals. It could be through financial considerations, start-up finance requirements, or the purpose behind your business strategy.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Executive Summary

When writing an executive summary, it is vital to avoid the following pitfalls:

  • Omitting critical information – An effective executive summary provides a high-level overview of your entire report. Make sure you do not omit any key points or facts.
  • Making assumptions about the reader’s knowledge – Do not assume that the reader knows anything about your topic or project. Always spell out acronyms and explain complex concepts in easy-to-understand language.
  • Rambling on and on – Keep your executive summary concise and to the point. Avoid lengthy explanations or digressions into unnecessary detail.
  • “Jumping” to conclusions – Take care not to draw premature conclusions based on incomplete data. Be sure to fully explore all aspects of your research before making any firm conclusions.
  • Utilizing jargon without explanation – Executive summaries are meant for a general audience. So avoid using overly technical language unless it is absolutely necessary.

An executive summary is an overview of your business plan that explains the company or project to potential investors, lenders, or other funders.

Executive summaries should be short, a standalone document that can be understood in just a few minutes. This article explores everything you need to know to write a good executive summary for a strategic plan.

Basic Guide to Writing Executive Summary for a Strategic Plan

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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The Complete Guide to Writing a Strategic Plan

By Joe Weller | April 12, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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Writing a strategic plan can be daunting, as the process includes many steps. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of writing a strategic plan, what to include, common challenges, and more.

Included on this page, you'll find details on what to include in a strategic plan , the importance of an executive summary , how to write a mission statement , how to write a vision statement , and more.

The Basics of Writing a Strategic Plan

The strategic planning process takes time, but the payoff is huge. If done correctly, your strategic plan will engage and align stakeholders around your company’s priorities.

Strategic planning, also called strategy development or analysis and assessment , requires attention to detail and should be performed by someone who can follow through on next steps and regular updates. Strategic plans are not static documents — they change as new circumstances arise, both internally and externally.

Before beginning the strategic planning process, it’s important to make sure you have buy-in from management, a board of directors, or other leaders. Without it, the process cannot succeed.

Next, gather your planning team. The group should include people from various departments at different levels, and the planning process should be an open, free discussion within the group. It’s important for leaders to get input from the group as a whole, but they don’t necessarily need approval from everyone — that will slow down the process.

The plan author is responsible for writing and putting the final plan together and should work with a smaller group of writers to establish and standardize the tone and style of the final document or presentation.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hire an external party to help facilitate the strategic planning process.

John Bryson

“It often can be helpful to have a really good facilitator to organize and pursue strategic conversations,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement .

Byson says the facilitator can be in-house or external, but they need experience. “You need to make sure someone is good, so there needs to be a vetting process,” he says.

One way to gauge a facilitator’s experience is by asking how they conduct conversations. “It’s important for facilitators to lead by asking questions,” Bryson says.

Bryson says that strong facilitators often ask the following questions:

What is the situation we find ourselves in?

What do we do?

How do we do it?

How do we link our purposes to our capabilities?

The facilitators also need to be able to handle conflict and diffuse situations by separating idea generation from judgement. “Conflict is part of strategic planning,” Bryson admits. “[Facilitators] need to hold the conversations open long enough to get enough ideas out there to be able to make wise choices.”

These outside helpers are sometimes more effective than internal facilitators since they are not emotionally invested in the outcome of the process. Thus, they can concentrate on the process and ask difficult questions.

A strategic plan is a dynamic document or presentation that details your company’s present situation, outlines your future plans, and shows you how the company can get there. You can take many approaches to the process and consider differing ideas about what needs to go into it, but some general concepts stand.

“Strategic planning is a prompt or a facilitator for fostering strategic thinking, acting, and learning,” says Bryson. He explains that he often begins planning projects with three questions:

What do you want to do?

How are we going to do it?

What would happen if you did what you want to do?

The answers to these questions make up the meat of the planning document.

A strategic plan is only effective when the writing and thinking is clear, since the intent is to help an organization keep to its mission through programs and capacity, while also building stakeholder engagement.

Question 1: Where Are We Now?

The answer (or answers) to the first question — where are we now? — addresses the foundation of your organization, and it can serve as an outline for the following sections of your strategic plan:

Mission statement

Core values and guiding principles

Identification of competing organizations

Industry analysis (this can include a SWOT or PEST analysis)

Question 2: Where Are We Going?

The answers to this question help you identify your goals for the future of the business and assess whether your current trajectory is the future you want. These aspects of the plan outline a strategy for achieving success and can include the following:

Vision statement about what the company will look like in the future

What is happening (both internally and externally) and what needs to change

The factors necessary for success

Question 3: How Do We Get There?

The answers to this question help you outline the many routes you can take to achieve your vision and match your strengths with opportunities in the market. A Gantt chart can help you map out and keep track of these initiatives.

You should include the following sections:

Specific and measurable goals

An execution plan that identifies who manages and monitors the plan

An evaluation plan that shows how you plan to measure the successes and setbacks that come with implementation

What to Include in a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning terminology is not standardized throughout the industry, and this can lead to confusion. Instead, strategic planning experts use many names for the different sections of a strategic plan.

Denise McNerney

“The terms are all over the map. It’s really the concept of what the intention of the terms are [that is important],” says Denise McNerney, President and CEO of iBossWell, Inc. , and incoming president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). She recommends coming up with a kind of glossary that defines the terms for your team. “One of the most important elements when you’re starting the strategic planning process is to get some clarity on the nomenclature. It’s just what works for your organization. Every organization is slightly different.”

No matter what terms you use, the general idea of a strategic plan is the same. “It’s like drawing a map for your company. One of the first steps is committing to a process, then determining how you’re going to do it,” McNerney explains.

She uses a basic diagram that she calls the strategic plan architecture . The areas above the red dotted line are the strategic parts of the plan. Below the red dotted line are the implementation pieces.

Strategic Plan Architecture

While the specific terminology varies, basic sections of a strategic plan include the following in roughly this order:

Executive summary

Elevator pitch or company description

Vision statement

Industry analysis

Marketing plan

Operations plan

Financial projections

Evaluation methods

Signature page

Some plans will contain all the above sections, but others will not — what you include depends on your organization’s structure and culture.

“I want to keep it simple, so organizations can be successful in achieving [the strategic plan],” McNerney explains. “Your plan has to be aligned with your culture and your culture needs to be aligned with your plan if you’re going to be successful in implementing it.”

The following checklist will help you keep track of what you have done and what you still need to do.

Writing A Strategic Plan Section

‌ Download Strategic Plan Sections Checklist

How to Write a Strategic Plan

Once you’ve assembled your team and defined your terms, it’s time to formalize your ideas by writing the strategic plan. The plan may be in the form of a document, a presentation, or another format.

You can use many models and formats to create your strategic plan (read more about them in this article ). However, you will likely need to include some basic sections, regardless of the particular method you choose (even if the order and way you present them vary). In many cases, the sections of a strategic plan build on each other, so you may have to write them in order.

One tip: Try to avoid jargon and generic terms; for example, words like maximize and succeed lose their punch. Additionally, remember that there are many terms for the same object in strategic planning.

The following sections walk you through how to write common sections of a strategic plan.

How to Write an Executive Summary

The key to writing a strong executive summary is being clear and concise. Don’t feel pressured to put anything and everything into this section — executive summaries should only be about one to two pages long and include the main points of the strategic plan.

The idea is to pique the reader’s interest and get them to read the rest of the plan. Because it functions as a review of the entire document, write the executive summary after you complete the rest of your strategic plan.

Jim Stockmal

“If you have a plan that’s really lengthy, you should have a summary,” says Jim Stockmal, President of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He always writes summaries last, after he has all the data and information he needs for the plan. He says it is easier to cut than to create something.

For more information about writing an effective executive summary, a checklist, and free templates, read this article .

If you want a one-page executive summary, this template can help you decide what information to include.

One-page Executive Summary Template

Download One-Page Executive Summary Template

Excel | Word | PDF

How to Write a Company Description

Also called an elevator pitch , the company description is a brief outline of your organization and what it does. It should be short enough that it can be read or heard during the average elevator ride.

The company description should include the history of your company, the major products and services you provide, and any highlights and accomplishments, and it should accomplish the following:

Define what you are as a company.

Describe what the company does.

Identify your ideal client and customer.

Highlight what makes your company unique.

While this may seem basic, the company description changes as your company grows and changes. For example, your ideal customer five years ago might not be the same as the current standard or the one you want in five years.

Share the company description with everyone in your organization. If employees cannot accurately articulate what you do to others, you might miss out on opportunities.

How to Write a Mission Statement

The mission statement explains what your business is trying to achieve. In addition to guiding your entire company, it also helps your employees make decisions that move them toward the company’s overall mission and goals.

“Ideally, [the mission statement is] something that describes what you’re about at the highest level,” McNerney says. “It’s the reason you exist or what you do.”

Strong mission statements can help differentiate your company from your competitors and keep you on track toward your goals. It can also function as a type of tagline for your organization.

Mission statements should do the following:

Define your company’s purpose. Say what you do, who you do it for, and why it is valuable.

Use specific and easy-to-understand language.

Be inspirational while remaining realistic.

Be short and succinct.

This is your chance to define the way your company will make decisions based on goals, culture, and ethics. Mission statements should not be vague or generic, and they should set your business apart from others. If your mission statement could define many companies in your line of work, it is not a good mission statement.

Mission statements don’t have to be only outward-facing for customers or partners. In fact, it is also possible to include what your company does for its employees in your mission statement.

Unlike other parts of your strategic plan that are designed to be reviewed and edited periodically, your company’s mission statement should live as is for a while.

That said, make the effort to edit and refine your mission statement. Take out jargon like world class, best possible, state of the art, maximize, succeed , and so on, and cut vague or unspecific phrasing. Then let your strategic planning committee review it.

How to Write a Vision Statement

Every action your company does contributes to its vision. The vision statement explains what your company wants to achieve in the long term and can help inspire and align your team.

“The vision is the highest-ordered statement of the desired future or state of what you want your business to achieve,” McNerney explains.

A clear vision statement can help all stakeholders understand the meaning and purpose of your company. It should encourage and inspire employees while setting your company’s direction. It also helps you rule out elements that might not align with your vision.

Vision statements should be short (a few sentences). They should also be memorable, specific, and ambitious. But there is a fine line between being ambitious and creating a fantasy. The vision should be clearly attainable if you follow the goals and objectives you outline later in your strategic planning plan.

Because you need to know your company’s goals and objectives to create an accurate vision statement, you might need to wait until you have more information about the company’s direction to write your vision statement.

Below are questions to ask your team as you craft your vision statement:

What impact do we want to have on our community and industry?

How will we interact with others as a company?

What is the culture of the business?

Avoid broad statements that could apply to any company or industry. For example, phrases like “delivering a wonderful experience” could apply to many industries. Write in the present tense, avoid jargon, and be clear and concise.

Vision statements should accomplish the following:

Be inspiring.

Focus on success.

Look at and project about five to 10 years ahead.

Stay in line with the goals and values of your organization.

Once you write your vision statement, communicate it to everyone in your company. Your team should be able to easily understand and repeat the company’s vision statement. Remember, the statements can change as the environment in and around your company changes.

The Difference Between Mission and Vision Statements

Mission and vision statements are both important, but they serve very different purposes.

Mission statements show why a business exists, while vision statements are meant to inspire and provide direction. Mission statements are about the present, and vision statements are about the future. The mission provides items to act upon, and the vision offers goals to aspire to.

For example, if a vision statement is “No child goes to bed hungry,” the accompanying mission would be to provide food banks within the city limits.

While many organizations have both mission and vision statements, it’s not imperative. “Not everyone has a vision statement,” McNerney says. “Some organizations just have one.”

If you choose to have only one statement, McNerney offers some advice: “Any statement you have, if you have just one, needs to include what [you do], how [you do it], why [you do it], and who you do it for.”

During the planning process, these key statements might change. “Early on in the process, you need to talk about what you are doing and why and how you are doing it. Sometimes you think you know where you want to go, but you’re not really sure,” McNerney says. “You need to have flexibility both on the plan content and in the process.”

How to Write Your Company’s Core Values

Company core values , sometimes called organizational values , help you understand what drives the company to do what it does. In this section, you’ll learn a lot about your company and the people who work with you. It should be relatively easy to write.

“The values are the core of how you operate [and] how you treat your people, both internally and externally. Values describe the behaviors you really want to advance,” McNerney says.

There are both internal and external values looking at your employees and coworkers, as well as customers and outside stakeholders. Pinpointing values will help you figure out the traits of the people you want to hire and promote, as well as the qualities you’re looking for in your customers.

Your values should align with your vision statement and highlight your strengths while mitigating weaknesses. McNerney says many organizations do not really consider or are not honest about their company’s values when working on strategic plans, which can lead to failure.

“Your strategies have to align with your values and vice versa,” she explains.

Many companies’ values sound like meaningless jargon, so take the time to figure out what matters to your company and push beyond generic language.

How to Write about Your Industry

When planning ahead for your business, it’s important to look around. How are matters inside your company? What are your competitors doing? Who are your target customers?

“[If you don’t do a thorough industry analysis], you’re doing your planning with your head in the sand. If you’re not looking at the world around you, you’re missing a whole dimension about what should inform your decision making,” McNerney advises.

Writing about your industry helps you identify new opportunities for growth and shows you how you need to change in order to take advantage of those opportunities. Identify your key competitors, and define what you see as their strengths and weaknesses. Performing this analysis will help you figure out what you do best and how you compare to your competition. Once you know what you do well, you can exploit your strengths to your advantage.

In this section, also include your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You can choose from many templates to help you write this section.

Next, identify your target customers. Think about what they want and need, as well as how you can provide it. Do your competitors attract your target customers, or do you have a niche that sets you apart?

The industry analysis carries a price, but also provides many benefits. “It takes some time and money to do [a thorough industry analysis], but the lack of that understanding says a lot about the future of your organization. If you don’t know what is going on around you, how can you stay competitive?” explains McNerney.

How to Write Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives

This section is the bulk of your strategic plan. Many people confuse goals and objectives, thinking the terms are interchangeable, but many argue that the two are distinct. You can think of them this way:

Goals : Goals are broad statements about what you want to achieve as a company, and they’re usually qualitative. They function as a description of where you want to go, and they can address both the short and long term.

Objectives : Objectives support goals, and they’re usually quantitative and measurable. They describe how you will measure the progress needed to arrive at the destination you outlined in the goal. More than one objective can support one goal.

For example, if your goal is to achieve success as a strategic planner, your objective would be to write all sections of the strategic plan in one month.

iBossWell, Inc.’s McNerney reiterates that there are not hard and fast definitions for the terms goals and objectives , as well as many other strategic planning concepts. “I wouldn’t attempt to put a definition to the terms. You hear the terms goals and objectives a lot, but they mean different things to different people. What some people call a goal , others call an objective . What some people call an objective , others would call a KPI. ” They key, she explains, is to decide what the terms mean in your organization, explain the definitions to key stakeholders, and stick to those definitions.

How to Write Goals

Goals form the basis of your strategic plan. They set out your priorities and initiatives, and therefore are critical elements and define what your plan will accomplish. Some planning specialists use the term strategic objectives or strategic priorities when referring to goals, but for clarity, this article will use the term goals.

“[Goals] are the higher level that contain several statements about what your priorities are,” McNerney explains. They are often near the top of your plan’s hierarchy.

Each goal should reflect something you uncovered during the analysis phase of your strategic planning process. Goals should be precise and concise statements, not long narratives. For example, your goals might be the following:

Eliminate case backlog.

Lower production costs.

Increase total revenue.

Each goal should have a stated outcome and a deadline. Think of goal writing as a formula: Action + detail of the action + a measurable metric + a deadline = goal. For example, your goal might be: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020.

Another way to look at it: Verb (action) + adjective (description) = noun (result). An example goal: Increase website fundraising.

Your goals should strike a balance between being aspirational and tangible. You want to stretch your limits, but not make them too difficult to reach. Your entire organization and stakeholders should be able to remember and understand your goals.

Think about goals with varying lengths. Some should go out five to 10 years, others will be shorter — some significantly so. Some goals might even be quarterly, monthly, or weekly. But be careful to not create too many goals. Focus on the ones that allow you to zero in on what is critical for your company’s success. Remember, several objectives and action steps will likely come from each goal.

How to Write Objectives

Objectives are the turn-by-turn directions of how to achieve your goals. They are set in statement and purpose with no ambiguity about whether you achieve them or not.

Your goals are where you want to go. Next, you have to determine how to get there, via a few different objectives that support each goal. Note that objectives can cover several areas.

“You need implementation elements of the plan to be successful,” McNerney says, adding that some people refer to objectives as tactics , actions , and many other terms.

Objectives often begin with the words increase or decrease because they are quantifiable and measurable. You will know when you achieve an objective. They are action items, often with start and end dates.

Use the goal example from earlier: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020. In this example, your objectives could be:

Approach three new possible clients each month.

Promote the three key product areas on the website and in email newsletters.

Think of the acronym SMART when writing objectives: Make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound.

Breaking down the process further, some strategic planners use the terms strategies and tactics to label ways to achieve objectives. Using these terms, strategies describe an approach or method you will use to achieve an objective. A tactic is a specific activity or project that achieves the strategy, which, in turn, helps achieve the objective.

How to Write about Capacity, Operations Plans, Marketing Plans, and Financial Plans

After you come up with your goals and objectives, you need to figure out who will do what, how you will market what they do, and how you will pay for what you need to do.

“If you choose to shortchange the process [and not talk about capacity and finances], you need to know what the consequences will be,” explains McNerney. “If you do not consider the additional costs or revenues your plan is going to drive, you may be creating a plan you cannot implement.”

To achieve all the goals outlined in your strategic plan, you need the right people in place. Include a section in your strategic plan where you talk about the capacity of your organization. Do you have the team members to accomplish the objectives you have outlined in order to reach your goals? If not, you may need to hire personnel.

The operations plan maps out your initiatives and shows you who is going to do what, when, and how. This helps transform your goals and objectives into a reality. A summary of it should go into your strategic plan. If you need assistance writing a comprehensive implementation plan for your organization, this article can guide you through the process.

A marketing plan describes how you attract prospects and convert them into customers. You don’t need to include the entire marketing plan in your strategic plan, but you might want to include a summary. For more information about writing marketing plans, this article can help.

Then there are finances. We would all like to accomplish every goal, but sometimes we do not have enough money to do so. A financial plan can help you set your priorities. Check out these templates to help you get started with a financial plan.

How to Write Performance Indicators

In order to know if you are reaching the goals you outline in your strategic plan, you need performance indicators. These indicators will show you what success looks like and ensure accountability. Sadly, strategic plans have a tendency to fail when nobody periodically assesses progress.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can show you how your business is progressing. KPIs can be both financial and nonfinancial measures that help you chart your progress and take corrective measures if actions are not unfolding as they should. Other terms similar to KPIs include performance measures and performance indicators .

Performance indicators are not always financial, but they must be quantifiable. For example, tracking visitors to a website, customers completing a contact form, or the number of proposals that close with deals are all performance indicators that keep you on track toward achieving your goals.

When writing your performance indicators, pay attention to the following:

Define how often you need to report results.

Every KPI must have some sort of measure.

List a measure and a time period.

Note the data source where you will get your information to measure and track.

ASP’s Stockmal has some questions for you to ask yourself about picking performance indicators.

Are you in control of the performance measure?

Does the performance measure support the strategic outcomes?

Is it feasible?

Is data available?

Who is collecting that data, and how will they do it?

Is the data timely?

Is it cost-effective to collect that data?

ls the goal quantifiable, and can you measure it over time?

Are your targets realistic and time-bound?

Stockmal also says performance indicators cannot focus on only one thing at the detriment of another. “Don’t lose what makes you good,” he says. He adds that focusing on one KPI can hurt other areas of a company’s performance, so reaching a goal can be short-sided.

Some performance indicators can go into your strategic plan, but you might want to set other goals for your organization. A KPI dashboard can help you set up and track your performance and for more information about setting up a KPI dashboard, this article can help.

Communicating Your Strategic Plan

While writing your strategic plan, you should think about how to share it. A plan is no good if it sits on a shelf and nobody reads it.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“After the meetings are over, you have to turn your strategy into action,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . “Get in front of employees and present the plan [to get everyone involved].” Hofmeyer explains his research has shown that people stay with companies not always because of money, but often because they buy into the organization’s vision and want to play a part in helping it get where it wants to go. “These are the people you want to keep because they are invested,” he says.

Decide who should get a physical copy of the entire plan. This could include management, the board of directors, owners, and more. Do your best to keep it from your competitors. If you distribute it outside of your company, you might want to attach a confidentiality waiver.

You can communicate your plan to stakeholders in the following ways:

Hold a meeting to present the plan in person.

Highlight the plan in a company newsletter.

Include the plan in new employee onboarding.

Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress.

If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise. You should be able to defend your plan and reinforce its key areas. The goal of the plan’s distribution is to make sure everyone understands their role in making the plan successful.

Remind people of your company’s mission, vision, and values to reinforce their importance. You can use posters or other visual methods to post around the office. The more that people feel they play an important part in the organization’s success, they more successful you will be in reaching your goals of your strategic plan.

Challenges in Writing a Strategic Plan

As mentioned, strategic planning is a process and involves a team. As with any team activity, there will be challenges.

Sometimes the consensus can take priority over what is clear. Peer pressure can be a strong force, especially if a boss or other manager is the one making suggestions and people feel pressured to conform. Some people might feel reluctant to give any input because they do not think it matters to the person who ultimately decides what goes into the plan.

Team troubles can also occur when one or more members does not think the plan is important or does not buy into the process. Team leaders need to take care of these troubles before they get out of hand.

Pay attention to your company culture and the readiness you have as a group, and adapt the planning process to fit accordingly. You need to find the balance between the process and the final product.

The planning process takes time. Many organizations do not give themselves enough time to plan properly, and once you finish planning, writing the document or presentation also takes time, as does implementation. Don’t plan so much that you ignore how you are going to put the plan into action. One symptom of this is not aligning the plan to fit the capacity or finances of the company.

Stockmal explains that many organizations often focus too much on the future and reaching their goals that they forget what made them a strong company in the first place. Business architecture is important, which Stockmal says is “building the capabilities the organization needs to fulfill its strategy.” He adds that nothing happens if there is no budget workers to do the work necessary to drive change.

Be careful with the information you gather. Do not take shortcuts in the research phase — that will lead to bad information coming out further in the process. Also, do not ignore negative information you may learn. Overcoming adversity is one way for companies to grow.

Be wary of cutting and pasting either from plans from past years or from other similar organizations. Every company is unique.

And while this may sound obvious, do not ignore what your planning process tells you. Your research might show you should not go in a direction you might want to.

Writing Different Types of Strategic Plans

The strategic planning process will differ based on your organization, but the basic concepts will stay the same. Whether you are a nonprofit, a school, or a for-profit entity, strategic plans will look at where you are and how you will get to where you want to go.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Nonprofit

For a nonprofit, the strategic plan’s purpose is mainly how to best advance the mission. It’s imperative to make sure the mission statement accurately fits the organization.

In addition to a SWOT analysis and other sections that go into any strategic plan, a nonprofit needs to keep an eye on changing factors, such as funding. Some funding sources have finite beginnings and endings. Strategic planning is often continuous for nonprofits.

A nonprofit has to make the community care about its cause. In a for-profit organization, the marketing department works to promote the company’s product or services to bring in new revenue. For a nonprofit, however, conveying that message needs to be part of the strategic plan.

Coming up with an evaluation method and KPIs can sometimes be difficult for a nonprofit, since they are often focused on goals other than financial gain. For example, a substance abuse prevention coalition is trying to keep teens from starting to drink or use drugs, and proving the coalition’s methods work is often difficult to quantify.

This template can help you visually outline your strategic plan for your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Download Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Excel | Smartsheet

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a School

Writing a strategic plan for a school can be difficult because of the variety of stakeholders involved, including students, teachers, other staff, and parents.

Strategic planning in a school is different from others because there are no markets to explore, products to produce, clients to woo, or adjustable timelines. Schools often have set boundaries, missions, and budgets.

Even with the differences, the same planning process and structure should be in place for schools as it is for other types of organizations.

This template can help your university or school outline your strategic plan.

University Strategic Plan Outline Word Template

‌ ‌Download University Strategic Plan Outline – Word

How to Write a 5-Year Strategic Plan

There is no set time period for a strategic plan, but five years can be a sweet spot. In some cases, yearly planning might keep you continually stuck in the planning process, while 10 years might be too far out.

In addition to the basic sections that go into any strategic plan, when forecasting five years into the future, put one- and three-year checkpoints into the plan so you can track progress intermittently.

How to Write a 3-Year Strategic Plan

While five years is often the strategic planning sweet spot, some organizations choose to create three-year plans. Looking too far ahead can be daunting, especially for a new or changing company.

In a three-year plan, the goals and objectives have a shorter timeframe and you need to monitor them more frequently. Build those checkpoints into the plan.

“Most organizations do a three- to five-year plan now because they recognize the technology and the changes in business that are pretty dynamic now,” Stockmal says.

How to Write a Departmental Strategic Plan

The first step in writing a strategic plan for your department is to pay attention to your company’s overall strategic plan. You want to make sure the plans align.

The steps in creating a plan for a department are the same as for an overall strategic plan, but the mission statement, vision, SWOT analysis, goals, objectives, and so on are specific to only the people in your department. Look at each person separately and consider their core competencies, strengths, capabilities, and weaknesses. Assign people who will be responsible for certain tasks and tactics necessary to achieve your goals.

If you have access to a plan from a previous year, see how your department did in meeting its goals. Adjust the new plan accordingly.

When you finish your departmental plan, make sure to submit it to whomever is responsible for your company’s overall plan. Expect to make changes.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Project

A strategic plan is for the big picture, not for a particular project for an organization. Instead of a strategic plan, this area would fall under project management.

If you have a failing project and need to turn it around, this article might help.

How to Write a Personal Strategic Plan

Creating a strategic plan isn’t only for businesses. You can also create a strategic plan to help guide both your professional and personal life. The key is to include what is important to you. This process takes time and reflection.

Be prepared for what you discover about yourself. Because you will be looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you might see things you do not like. It is important to be honest with yourself. A SWOT analysis on yourself will give you some honest feedback if you let it.

Begin with looking at your life as it is now. Are you satisfied? What do you want to do more or less? What do you value most in your life? Go deeper than saying family, happiness, and health. This exercise will help you clarify your values.

Once you know what is important to you, come up with a personal mission statement that reflects the values you cherish. As it does within a business, this statement will help guide you in making future decisions. If something does not fit within your personal mission, you shouldn’t do it.

Using the information you discovered during your SWOT and mission statement process, come up with goals that align with your values. The goals can be broad, but don’t forget to include action items and timeframes to help you reach your goals.

As for the evaluation portion, identify how you will keep yourself accountable and on track. You might involve a person to remind you about your plan, calendar reminders, small rewards when you achieve a goal, or another method that works for you.

Below is additional advice for personal strategic plans:

There are things you can control and things you cannot. Keep your focus on what you can act on.

Look at the positive instead of what you will give up. For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, concentrate on being healthier.

Do not overcommit, and do not ignore the little details that help you reach your goals.

No matter what, do not dwell on setbacks and remember to celebrate successes.

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How to Write an Executive Summary in 6 Steps

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When you’re starting a business, one of the first things you need to do is write a business plan. Your business plan is like a roadmap for your business, so you can lay out your goals and a concrete plan for how you’ll reach them.

Not only is a business plan essential for any business owner, but it’s also a requirement if you decide to apply for small business funding or find investors. After all, before a bank or individual hands over any money, they’ll want to be sure your company is on solid ground (so they can get their money back).

A business plan consists of several pieces, from an executive summary and market analysis to a financial plan and projections. The executive summary will be the first part of your business plan.

If wondering how to write an executive summary has kept you from completing your business plan, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain what an executive summary is and provide tips for writing your own so your business plan can start strong.

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a short, informative, and easy-to-read opening statement to your business plan. Even though it’s just one to two pages, the executive summary is incredibly important.

An executive summary tells the story of what your business does, why an investor might be interested in giving funds to your business, why their investment will be well-spent, and why you do what you do. An executive summary should be informative, but it should also capture a busy reader’s attention.

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Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Why write an executive summary?

Anyone you’re sending your executive summary and business plan to is likely busy—very busy. An entire business plan is long, involved, and deals with a lot of numbers.

Someone busy wants to get an understanding of your business, and they want to do it quickly, which is to say not by diving into a complicated, 80-page business plan. That’s where your executive summary comes in.

An executive summary provides just the opportunity to hook someone’s interest, tell them about your business, and offer a clear selling point as to why they should consider investing in your business.

Your executive summary is your chance to sell your business to potential investors and show them your business is worth not only their money but also their time.

What to include in an executive summary

By its nature, an executive summary is short. You must be able to clearly communicate the idea of your business, what sets you apart, and how you plan to grow into a successful enterprise.

The subsequent sections of your business plan will go into more detail, but your executive summary should include the most critical pieces of your business plan—enough to stand on its own, as it’s often the only thing a prospective investor will read. Here’s what your executive summary should include—consider it an executive summary template from which you can model your own.

1. The hook

The first sentence and paragraph of your executive summary determine whether or not the entire executive summary gets read. That’s why the hook or introduction is so important.

In general, a hook is considered anything that will get a reader’s attention. While an executive summary is a formal business document, you do want your hook to make you stand out from the crowd—without wasting time.

Your hook can be sharing something creative about your company, an interesting fact, or just a very well-crafted description of your business. It’s crucial to craft your hook with the personality of your reader in mind. Give them something that will make your company stand out and be memorable among a sea of other business plans.

Grab their attention in the first paragraph, and you’re much more likely to get your executive summary read, which could lead to an investment.

2. Company description summary

Now that you’ve hooked your reader, it’s time to get into some general information about your business. If an investor is going to give you money, after all, they first need to understand what your company does or what product you sell and who is managing the company.

Your company description should include information about your business, such as when it was formed and where you’re located; your products or services; the founders or executive team, including names and specific roles; and any additional details about the management team or style.

3. Market analysis

Your market analysis in the executive summary is a brief description of what the market for your business looks like. You want to show that you have done your research and proven that there is a need for your specific product or services. Some questions you should answer:

Who are your competitors?

Is there a demand for your products or services?

What advantages do you have that make your business unique in comparison to others?

To reiterate, stick to the highlights of your market analysis in your executive summary. You’ll provide a complete analysis in a separate section of your business plan, but you should be able to communicate enough in the executive summary that a potential investor can gauge whether your business has potential.

4. Products and services

Now that you’ve established a need in the market, it’s time to show just how your business will fill it. This section of your executive summary is all about highlighting the product or service that your company offers. Talk about your current sales, the growth you’ve seen so far, and any other highlights that are a selling point for your company.

This is also a good time to identify what sets your business apart and gives you a competitive advantage. After all, it’s unlikely that your business is the first of its kind. Highlight what you do better than the competition and why potential customers will choose your product or service over the other options on the market.

5. Financial information and projections

In this section of your executive summary, you want to give the reader an overview of your current business financials. Again, you’ll go more in-depth into this section later in your business plan, so just provide some highlights. Include your current sales and profits (if you have any), as well as what funding you’re hoping to acquire and how this will affect your financials in the next few years.

This is also where you can explain what funding, if any, you’ve received in the past. If you paid back your loan on time, this is an especially bright selling point for potential lenders.

6. Future plans

While asking for what funding you need is essential, you’ve also got to make clear what you’re going to use that funding for. If you’re asking for money, you want the person to know you have a plan to put those funds to good use.

Are you hoping to open another location, expand your product line, invest in your marketing efforts? This final section of your executive summary should detail where you want your business to go in the future, as well as drive home how funding can help you get there.

Tips for writing an executive summary

Even if you include each part of a good executive summary, you might not get noticed. What is written can be just as important as how it’s written. An executive summary has to strike a delicate balance between formal, personable, confident, and humble.

1. Be concise

An executive summary should include everything that’s in your business plan, just in a much shorter format. Writing a concise executive summary is no easy task and will require many revisions to get to the final draft. And while this is the first section of your executive summary, you’ll want to write it last, after you’ve put together all the other elements.

To choose your most important points and what should be included in the executive summary, go through your business plan, and pull out single-line bullet points. Go back through those bullet points and eliminate everything unnecessary to understanding your business.

Once you have your list of bullet points narrowed down, you can start writing your executive summary. Once it’s written, go back in and remove any unnecessary information. Remember, you should only be including the highlights—you have the rest of your business plan to go into more detail. The shorter and clearer your executive summary is, the more likely someone is to read it.

2. Use bullet points

One simple way to make your executive summary more readable is to use bullet points. If someone is reading quickly or skimming your executive summary, extra whitespace can make the content faster and easier to read.

Short paragraphs, short sentences, and bullet points all make an executive summary easier to skim—which is likely what the reader is doing. If important numbers and convincing stats jump out at the reader, they’re more likely to keep reading.

3. Speak to your audience

When writing your executive summary, be sure to think about who will be reading it; that’s who you’re speaking to. If you can personalize your executive summary to the personality and interests of the person who will read it, you’re more likely to capture their attention.

Personalizing might come in the form of a name in the salutation, sharing details in a specific way you know that person likes and the tone of your writing. An executive summary deals with business, so it will generally have a formal tone. But, different industries may be comfortable with some creativity of language or using shorthand to refer to certain ideas.

Know who you’re speaking to and use the right tone to speak to them. That might be formal and deferential, expert and clipped, informal and personable, or any other appropriate tone. This may also involve writing different versions of your executive summary for different audiences.

4. Play to your strengths

One of the best ways to catch the attention of your reader is to share why your business is unique. What makes your business unique is also what makes your business strong, which can capture a reader’s interest and show them why your business is worth investing in. Be sure to highlight these strengths from the start of your executive summary.

5. Get a test reader

Once you’ve written and edited your executive summary, you need a test reader. While someone in your industry or another business owner can be a great resource, you should also consider finding a test reader with limited knowledge of your business and industry. Your executive summary should be so clear that anyone can understand it, so having a variety of test readers can help identify any confusing language.

If you don’t have access to a test reader, consider using tools such as Hemingway App and Grammarly to ensure you’ve written something that’s easy to read and uses proper grammar.

How long should an executive summary be?

There’s no firm rule on how long an executive summary should be, as it depends on the length of your business plan and the depth of understanding needed by the reader to fully grasp your ask.

That being said, it should be as short and concise as you can get it. In general, an executive summary should be one to two pages in length.

You can fudge the length slightly by adjusting the margin and font size, but don’t forget readability is just as important as length. You want to leave plenty of white space and have a large enough font that the reader is comfortable while reading your executive summary. If your executive summary is hard to read, it’s less likely your reader will take the time to read your business plan.

What to avoid in an executive summary

While the rules for writing a stellar executive summary can be fuzzy, there are a few clear rules for what to avoid in your executive summary.

Your executive summary should avoid:

Focusing on investment. Instead, focus on getting the reader to be interested enough to continue and read your business plan or at least schedule a meeting with you.

Clichés, superlatives, and claims that aren’t backed up by fact. Your executive summary isn’t marketing material. It should be straightforward and clear.

Avoiding the executive summary no-nos is just as important as striking the right tone and getting in the necessary information for your reader.

The bottom line

While an executive summary is short, it’s challenging to write. Your executive summary condenses your entire introduction, business description, business plan, market analysis, financial projections, and ask into one to two pages. Condensing information down to its most essential form takes time and many drafts. When you’re putting together your business plan’s executive summary, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write it and to seek the help of friends or colleagues for editing it to perfection.

However, some tools make crafting a business plan, including your executive summary, a simpler process. A business plan template is a great place to start, and business plan software can especially help with the design of your business plan. After all, a well-written executive summary can make all the difference in obtaining funding for your business, so you’ll want all the help you can get.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

On a similar note...

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How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of writing a strategic plan for your business? Do you want to create a plan that will help you move your team forward with inspired alignment and disciplined execution? You're not alone.

Gone are the days of rigid, 5- or 10-year planning cycles that do not leave room for flexibility and innovation. To stay ahead of the curve, you need a dynamic and execution-ready strategic plan that can guide your business through the ever-evolving landscape.

At Cascade, we understand that writing a strategic plan can be dreadful, especially in today's unpredictable environment. That's why we've developed a simple model that can help you create a clear, actionable plan to achieve your organization's goals. With our tested and proven strategic planning template , you can write a strategic plan that is both adaptable and effective .

Whether you're a seasoned strategy professional or a fresh strategy planner, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step on how to write a strategic plan. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive, easy-to-follow strategic plan that will help you align your organization on the path to success.

Free Template Download our free Strategic Planning Template Download this template

Follow this guide step-by-step or skip to the part you’re most interested in: 

  • Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation

Cascade Model For Strategic Planning: What You Need To Know

  • Key Elements of a Strategic Plan

How To Write A Strategic Plan In 6 Simple Steps

3 strategic plan examples to get you started, how to achieve organizational alignment with your strategic plan.

  • Quick Overview of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Create An Execution-Ready Strategic Plan With Cascade 🚀

*Editor’s note: This article is part of our ‘How to create a Strategy’ collection. At the end of this article, you’ll find a link to each piece within this collection so you can dig deeper into each element of an effective strategic plan and more related resources to master strategy execution.

Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation 

Before we dive into writing a strategic plan, it's essential to know the basics you should cover before the planning phase. The pre-planning phase is where you'll begin to gather the data and strategic insights necessary to create an effective strategic plan.

1. Run a strategic planning workshop

The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that’s not all. 

The process of co-creating and collaborating to put that plan together with stakeholders is one of the most critical factors in strategy execution . According to McKinsey’s research , initiatives in which employees contribute to development are 3.4 times more likely to be successful. They feel like the plan is a result of their efforts, and they feel ownership of it, so they're more likely to execute it. 

💡 Tip: Use strategy frameworks to structure your strategy development sessions, such as GAP analysis , SWOT analysis , Porter’s Five Forces , Ansoff matrix , McKinsey 7S model , or GE matrix . You can even apply the risk matrix that will help you align and decide on key strategic priorities.

2. Choose your strategic planning model

Before creating your strategic plan, you need to decide which structure you will use. There are hundreds of ways to structure a strategic plan. You’ve likely heard of famous strategic models such as OKRs and the Balanced Scorecard .

But beyond the well-known ones, there's also a myriad of other strategic planning models ranging from the extremely simple to the absurdly complex.

Many strategic models work reasonably well on paper, but in reality, they don't show you how to write a strategic plan that fits your organization's needs.

Here are some common weaknesses most popular strategic models have:

  • They're too complicated. People get lost in terminology rather than focus on execution.
  • They don’t scale. They work well for small organizations but fail when you try to extend them across multiple teams.
  • They're too rigid. They force people to add layers for the sake of adding layers.
  • They're neither tangible nor measurable. They’re great at stating outcomes but lousy at helping you measure success.
  • They're not adaptable. As we saw in the last years, the business environment can change quickly. Your model needs to be able to work in your current situation and adapt to changing economic landscapes.

Our goal in this article is to give you a simpler, more effective way to write a strategic plan. This is a tested and proven strategic planning model that has been refined over years of working with +20,000 teams around the world. We call it the Cascade Strategy Model.

This approach has proven to be more effective than any other model we have tried when it comes to executing and implementing the strategy .

It’s easy to use and it works for small businesses, fast-growing startups, as well as multinationals trying to figure out how to write a fail-proof strategic plan.

We’ve created a simple diagram below to illustrate what a strategic plan following the Cascade Model will look like when it's completed:

The Cascade Model for strategic planning and execution

Rather than a traditional roadmap , imagine your strategy as a flowchart. Each row is a mandatory step before moving on to the next.

We call our platform  Cascade for a reason: strategy must cascade throughout an organization along with values, focus areas, and objectives.

Above all, the Cascade Model is intended to be execution-ready —in other words, it has been proven to deliver success far beyond strategic planning. It adds to a successful strategic management process.Key elements of a Strategic Plan

Key Elements Of A Strategic Plan

The key elements of a strategic plan include: 

  • Vision : Where do you want to get to? 
  • Values : How will you behave on the journey? 
  • Focus Areas : What are going to be your strategic priorities? 
  • Strategic objectives : What do you want to achieve? 
  • Actions and projects : How are you going to achieve the objectives? 
  • KPIs : How will you measure success?

In this part of the article, we will give you an overview of each element within the Cascade Model. You can follow this step-by-step process in a spreadsheet , or sign up to get instant access to a free Cascade strategic planning template and follow along as we cover the key elements of an effective strategic plan.

Your vision statement is your organization's anchor - it defines where you want to get to and is the executive summary of your organization's purpose. Without it, your strategic plan is like a boat without a rudder, at the mercy of strong winds and currents like Covid and global supply chain disruptions.

A good vision statement can help funnel your strategy towards long-term goals that matter the most to your organization, and everything you write in your plan from this point on will help you get closer to achieving your vision.

Trying to do too much at once is a surefire way to sink your strategic plan. By creating a clear and inspiring vision statement , you can avoid this trap and provide guidance and inspiration for your team. A great vision statement might even help attract talent and investment into your organization.

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have a vision statement like, “To be the premier bike manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.” This statement clearly articulates the organization's goals and is a powerful motivator for the team.

In short, don't start your strategic plan without a clear vision statement. It will keep your organization focused and help you navigate toward success.

📚 Recommended read: How to Write a Vision Statement (With Examples, Tips, and Formulas)

Values are the enablers of your vision statement —they represent how your organization will behave as you work towards your strategic goals. Unfortunately, many companies throw around meaningless words just for the purpose of PR, leading to a loss of credibility.

To avoid this, make sure to integrate your organization’s core values into everyday operations and interactions. In today's highly-competitive world, it's crucial to remain steadfast in your values and cultivate an organizational culture that's transparent and trustworthy.

Companies with the best company cultures consistently outperform competitors and their average market by up to 115.6%, as reported by Glassdoor . 

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have core values like:

  • Accountability

These values reflect the organization's desire to become the leading bike manufacturer, while still being accountable to employees, customers, and shareholders.

👉 Here’s how to add vision and values to your strategic plan in Cascade: 

After you sign up and invite your team members to collaborate on the plan, navigate to Plans and Teams > Teams page, and add the vision, mission and values. This will help you to ensure that the company’s vision, mission statement, and values are always at top of mind for everyone.

📚When you're ready to start creating some company values, check out our guide, How To Create Company Values .

3. Focus Areas

Your focus areas are the strategic priorities that will keep your team on track and working toward the company’s mission and vision. They represent the high-level areas that you need to focus on to achieve desired business outcomes.

In fact, companies with clearly defined priorities are more likely to achieve their objectives. According to a case study by the Harvard Business Review , teams that focus on a small number of key initiatives are more likely to succeed than those that try to do too much. 

That’s also something that we usually recommend to our customers when they set up their strategic plan in Cascade. Rather than spreading your resources too thin over multiple focus areas, prioritize three to five. 

Following our manufacturing example above, some good focus areas include:

  • Aggressive growth
  • Producing the nation's best bikes
  • Becoming a modern manufacturer
  • Becoming a top place to work

Your focus areas should be tighter in scope than your vision statement, but broader than specific goals, time frames, or metrics. 

By defining your focus areas, you'll give your teams a guardrail to work within, which can help inspire innovation and creative problem-solving. 

With a clear set of focus areas, your team will be better able to prioritize their work and stay focused on the most important things, which will ultimately lead to better business results.

👉Here’s how you can set focus areas in Cascade: 

In Cascade, you can add focus areas while creating or importing an existing strategic plan from a spreadsheet. With Cascade’s Focus Area deep-dive functionality , you will be able to: 

  • Review the health of your focus areas in one place.
  • Get a breakdown by plans, budgets, resources, and people behind each strategic priority. 
  • See something at-risk? Drill down into each piece of work regardless of how many plans it's a part of.

add focus areas in cascade strategy execution platform

📚 Recommended read: Strategic Focus Areas: How to create them + Examples

4. Strategic Objectives

The importance of setting clear and specific objectives for your strategic plan cannot be overstated. 

Strategic objectives are the specific and measurable outcomes you want to achieve . While they should align with your focus areas, they should be more detailed and have a clear deadline. 

According to the 2022 State of High Performing Teams report , there is a strong correlation between goals and success not only at the individual and team level but also at the organizational level. Here’s what they found: 

  • Employees who are unaware of their company's goals are over three times more likely to work at a company that is experiencing a decline in revenue than employees who are aware of the goals. 
  • Companies with shrinking revenues are almost twice as likely to have employees with unclear work expectations. 

Jumping straight into actions without defining clear objectives is a common mistake that can lead to missed opportunities or misalignment between strategy and execution.

To avoid this pitfall, we recommend you add between three and six objectives to each focus area .

It's here that we need to start being a bit more specific for the first time in your strategic planning process . Let's take a look at an example of a well-written strategic objective:

  • Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

This is too specific to be a focus area. While it's still very high level, it indicates what the company wants to accomplish and includes a clear deadline. Both these aspects are critical to a good strategic objective.

Your strategic objectives are the heart and soul of your plan, and you need to ensure they are well-crafted. So, take the time to create well-planned objectives that will help you achieve your vision and lead your organization to success. 

👉Here’s how you can set objectives in Cascade: 

Adding objectives in Cascade is intuitive, straightforward, and accessible from almost anywhere in the workspace. With one click, you’ll open the objective sidebar and fill out the details. These can include a timeline, the objective’s owner, collaborators, and how your objective will be measured (success criteria).

📚 Recommended read: What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples

5. Actions and projects

Once you’ve defined your strategic objectives, the next step is to identify the specific strategic initiatives or projects that will help you achieve those objectives . They are short-term goals or actionable steps you or your team members will take to accomplish objectives. They should leverage the company’s resources and core competencies. 

Effective projects and actions in your strategic plan should: 

  • Be extremely specific. 
  • Contain a deadline.
  • Have an owner.
  • Align with at least one of your strategic objectives.
  • Provide clarity on how you or your team will achieve the strategic objective.

Let's take a look at an example of a well-written project continuing with our bike manufacturing company using the strategic objective from above:

Strategic objective: Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

Project: Expand into the fixed gear market by 31st December 2023.

This is more specific than the objective it links to, and it details what you will do to achieve the objective.

Another common problem area for strategic plans is that they never quite get down to the detail of what you're going to do.

It's easier to state "we need to grow our business," but without concrete projects and initiatives, those plans will sit forever within their PowerPoint templates, never to see the light of day after their initial creation.

Actions and projects are where the rubber meets the road. They connect the organizational strategic goals with the actual capabilities of your people and the resources at their disposal. Defining projects is a vital reality check every strategic plan needs.

👉Here’s how you create actions and projects in Cascade: 

From the Objective sidebar, you can choose to add a project or action under your chosen objective. In the following steps, you can assign an owner and timeline to each action or project.

Plus, in Cascade, you can track the progress of each project or action in four different ways. You can do it manually, via milestones, checklists, or automatically by integrating with Jira and 1000+ other available integrations .  

📚 Recommended read: How to create effective projects

Measuring progress towards strategic objectives is essential to effective strategic control and business success. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. KPIs are measurable values that track progress toward achieving key business objectives . They keep you on track and help you stay focused on the goals you set for your organization.

To get the most out of your KPIs, make sure you link them to a specific goal or objective. In this way, you'll avoid creating KPIs that don't contribute to your objectives and distract you from focusing on what matters. 

Ideally, you will add both leading and lagging KPIs to each objective so you can get a more balanced view of how well you're progressing. Leading KPIs can indicate future performance while lagging KPIs show how well you’ve done in the past. Both types of KPIs are critical for operational planning and keeping your business on track.

Think of KPIs as a form of signpost in your organization. They provide critical insights that inform business leaders of their organization’s progress toward key business objectives. Plus, they can help you identify opportunities faster and capitalize on flexibility. 

👉Here’s how you can set and track KPIs in Cascade: 

In Cascade , you can add measures while creating your objectives or add them afterward. Open the Objective sidebar and add your chosen measure. 

When you create your Measure, you can choose how to track it. Using Cascade, you can track it manually or automatically. You can automate tracking via 1000+ integrations , including Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets. In this way, you can save time and ensure that your team has up-to-date information for faster and more confident decision-making.

📚 Recommended reads:

  • 10 Popular KPI Software Tools To Connect & Visualize Your Data (2023 Guide)
  • ‍ How To Track KPIs To Hit Your Business Goals

Corporate Strategic Plan 

Following the steps outlined above, you should end up with a strategic plan that looks something like this:

corporate strategy plan template in cascade

This is a preview of a corporate strategic plan template that is pre-filled with examples. Here you can use the template for free and begin filling it out to align with your organization's needs. Plus, it’s suitable for organizations of all sizes and any industry. 

Once you fill in the template, you can also switch to the timeline view. You’ll get a complete overview of how the different parts of your plan are distributed across the roadmap in a Gantt chart view.

timeline view strategic planning corporate strategy

This template will help you create a structured approach to the strategic planning process, focus on key strategic priorities, and drive accountability to achieve necessary business outcomes. 

👉 Get your free corporate strategic plan template here.

Coca-Cola Strategic Plan 

Need a bit of extra inspiration to start writing your organization’s strategic plan? Check out this strategic plan example, inspired by Coca-Cola’s business plan: 

coca-cola strategy plan template in cascade

This template is pre-filled with Coca-Cola’s examples so you can inspire your strategic success on one of the most iconic brands on the planet. 

👉 Grab your free example of a Coca-Cola strategic plan here.

The Ramsay Health Care expansion strategy

Ramsay Health Care is a multinational healthcare provider with a strong presence in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

Almost all of its growth was organic and strategic. The company founded its headquarters in Sydney, Australia, but in the 21st century, it decided to expand globally through a primary strategy of making brownfield investments and acquisitions in key locations.

Ramsay's strategy was simple yet clever. By becoming a majority shareholder of the biggest local players, the company expanded organically in each region by leveraging and expanding their expertise.

Over the last two decades, Ramsay's global network has grown to 460 locations across 10 countries with over $13 billion in annual revenue.

📚 Recommended read: Strategy study: The Ramsay Health Care Growth Study

✨ Bonus resource: We've created a list of the most popular and free strategic plan templates in our library that will help you build a strategic plan based on the Cascade model explained in this article. You can use these templates to create a plan on a corporate, business unit, or team level.

We highlighted before that other strategic models often fail to scale strategic plans and goals scales across multiple teams and organizational levels. 

In an ideal world, you want to have a maximum of two layers of detail underneath each of your focus areas. This means you'll have a focus area, followed by a layer of objectives. Underneath the objectives, you'll have a layer of actions, projects, and KPIs.

Diagram of the Cascade Model framework showing the structure for focus areas, objectives, KPIs, actions and projects

If you have a single team that’s responsible for the strategy execution, this works well. However, how do you implement a strategy across multiple and cross-functional teams? And why is it important? 

According to LSA research of 410 companies across 8 industries, highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable. And this is what Cascade can help you achieve. 

To achieve achieve organization-wide alignment with your strategic plan and impact the bottom line, there are two ways to approach it in Casade: through contributing objectives or shared objectives .

1. Contributing objectives

This approach involves adding contributing objectives that link to your main strategic objectives, like this:

diagram showing contributing objectives in the cascade model

For each contributing objective, you simply repeat the Objective → Action/Project → KPI structure as follows:

contributing objectives with kpis and actions cascade model

Here's how you can create contributing objectives in Cascade: 

Option A: Create contributing objectives within the same plan 

This means creating multiple contributing objectives within the same strategic plan that contribute to the main objective. 

However, be aware that if you have a lot of layers, your strategic plan can become cluttered, and people might have difficulty understanding how their daily efforts contribute to the strategic plan at the top level. 

For example, the people responsible for managing contributing objectives at the bottom of the plan ( functional / operational level ) will lose visibility on how are their objectives linked to the main focus areas and objectives (at a corporate / business level ). 

This approach is best suited to smaller organizations that only need to add a few layers of objectives to their plan.

Option B: Create contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective

This approach creates a network of aligned strategic plans within your organization. Each plan contains a set of focus areas and one single layer of objectives, each with its own set of projects, actions, and KPIs. This concept looks like this:

Diagram showing contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective in Cascade

This example illustrates an objective that is a main objective in the IT strategic plan , but also contributes to the main strategic plan's objective.

For example, let’s say that your main business objective is to improve customer satisfaction by reducing product delivery time by 25% in the next quarter. This objective requires multiple operational teams within your organization to work together to achieve a shared objective. 

Each team will create its own objective in its plan to contribute to the main objective: 

  • Logistics team: Reduce the shipment preparation time by 30%
  • IT team: Implement new technology to reduce manual handling in the warehouse
  • Production team: Increase production output by hour for 5%   

Here’s how this example would look like within Cascade platform:

example of contributing objectives in cascade

Although each contributing objective was originally created in its own plan, you can see how each contributing objective relates to the main strategic objective and its status in real-time.

2. Shared objectives

In Cascade, shared objectives are the same objectives shared across different strategic plans.

For example, you can have an objective that is “Achieve sustainable operations”. This objective can be part of the Corporate Strategy Plan, but also part of the Operations Plan , Supply Chain Plan , Production Plan, etc. In short, this objective becomes a shared objective between multiple teams and strategic plan. 

This approach helps you to:

  • Cascade your business strategy as deep as you want across a near-infinite number of people while maintaining strategic alignment throughout your organization .
  • Create transparency and a much higher level of engagement in the strategy throughout your organization since objective owners are able to identify how their shared efforts contribute to the success of the main business objectives.

The more shared objectives you have across your organization, the more your teams will be aligned with the overarching business strategy. This is what we call " alignment health ”. 

Here’s how you can see the shared objectives in the alignment map and analyze alignment health within Cascade:

Alignment Map and Objective Sidebar in cascade for shared objectives

You get a snapshot of how is your corporate strategic plan aligned with sub-plans from different business units or departments and the status of shared objectives. This helps you quickly identify misaligned initiatives and act before it’s too late.  Plus, cross-functional teams have better visibility of how their efforts contribute to shared objectives. 

So whether you choose contributing objectives or shared objectives, Cascade has the tools and features to help you achieve organization-wide alignment and boost your bottom line.

Quick Overview Of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Here’s a quick infographic to help you remember how everything connects and why each element is critical to creating an effective strategic plan:

The Cascade Model Overview cheatsheet

This simple answer to how to write a strategic plan avoids confusing jargon and has elements that the whole organization can both get behind and understand. 

💡Tip: Save this image or bookmark this article for your next strategic planning session.

If you're struggling to write an execution-ready strategic plan, the Cascade model is the solution you've been looking for. With its clear, easy-to-understand terminology, and simple linkages between objectives, projects, and KPIs, you can create a plan that's both scalable and flexible.

But why is a flexible and execution-ready strategic plan so important? It's simple: without a clear and actionable plan, you'll never be able to achieve your business objectives. By using the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, you'll be able to create a plan that's both tangible and measurable, with KPIs that help you track progress towards your goals.

However, the real value of the Cascade framework lies in its flexibility . By creating links between main business objectives and your teams’ objectives, you can easily scale your plan without losing focus. Plus, the model's structure of linked layers means that you can always adjust your strategy in response to new challenges or opportunities and keep everyone on the same page. 

So if you want to achieve results with your strategic plan, start using Cascade today. With its unique combination of flexibility and focus, it's the perfect tool for any organization looking to master strategy execution and succeed in today's fast-paced business world. 

Want to see Cascade in action? Get started for free or book a 1:1 demo with Cascade’s in-house strategy expert.

This article is part one of our mini-series "How to Write a Strategic Plan". This first article will give you a solid strategy model for your plan and get the strategic thinking going.

Think of it as the foundation for your new strategy. Subsequent parts of the series will show you how to create the content for your strategic plan.

Articles in our How to Write a Strategic Plan series

  • How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model (This article)
  • How to Write a Good Vision Statement
  • How To Create Company Values
  • Creating Strategic Focus Areas
  • How To Write Strategic Objective
  • How To Create Effective Projects
  • How To Write KPIs + Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

More resources on strategic planning and strategy execution: 

  • 6 Steps to Successful Strategy Execution
  • 4-Step Strategy Reporting Process (With Template)
  • Annual Planning: Plan Like a Pro In 5 Steps (+ Template) 
  • 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade) 2023
  • The Right Way To Set Team Goals
  • 23 Best Strategy Tools For Your Organization in 2023

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Report: Step By Step Guide with Examples

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Peter Caputa

Enjoy reading this blog post written by our experts or partners.

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So you have finally written a great comprehensive business report that took you weeks to create. You have included all the data from the different departments, compared it, done the analysis, made forecasts, and provided solutions to specific problems.

There is just one problem – the key stakeholders in the company don’t have enough time to go through the whole report.

Since the data and the KPIs that you included in the report are necessary for quality decision-making, you can see why this can become a huge issue.

Luckily, there is a way to present all of your key findings and not take too much of their time. This is done through executive summaries.

An executive summary is exactly what the name suggests – a summary. It is essentially a quick overview of all the most important metrics in the report. The purpose of this summary is to bring the attention of the highest-ranking members in the company to the most important KPIs that they will consider when making decisions.

While an executive summary is a rather short section, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to write. You will have to pay extra attention to every single sentence in order to avoid unnecessary information.

Do you want to learn how to create an informative executive summary? This guide will show you all you need to know.

What Is an Executive Report?

What is an executive summary in a report, how long should an executive summary be, who is the audience of an executive summary, what should be included in an executive summary report, how to write an executive summary report, common mistakes to avoid when writing executive summaries, executive report examples, executive summary templates, create executive reports in databox.

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

Executive reports are used for keeping senior managers updated on the latest and most significant activities in the company. These reports have to be concise and accurate since they will have a huge impact on the most important business-related decisions.

Working for any sort of company requires writing different types of reports such as financial reports , marketing reports , sales reports , internal reports, and more.

What all of these reports have in common is that they are very comprehensive and typically require a lot of time to go through them –way too much time, if you ask busy managers.

They include a wealthy amount of data and a bunch of different metrics which are more useful for a particular team in the company. However, the highest-ranking members tend to be more focused on only the most essential KPIs that they need for making future decisions and strategies.

This is why executive reports come in handy. They are usually only a few pages long and they include only the most relevant details and data that incurred in a specific period.

An executive summary is the brief overview section included in a long report or document. This part of the report primarily focuses on the key topics and most important data within it. It can include an overall business goal of the company or short-term strategic objectives.

This summary is primarily useful for C-level managers who don’t have time to read the whole report but want to have an insight into the main KPIs and latest business performances.

Bank officials also may use executive summaries since it’s the quickest way for them to estimate whether your company represents a good investment opportunity.

Depending on your company’s practice, executive summaries can either be placed at the beginning of the report or as a formal section in the table of contents. 

The length of the summary depends on the type of report, but it is typically one or two pages long.

To know whether you have written a good executive summary, you can ask yourself, “Are the stakeholders going to have all the information they need to make decisions?”

If the answer is yes, you have done a good job.

There is no strict rule about how long executive summaries should be. Each company is unique which means the length will always vary. In most cases, it will depend on the size of the report/business plan.

However, a universal consensus is that it should be anywhere from one to four pages long or five to ten percent of the length of the report.

This is typically more than enough space to summarize the story behind the data and provide your stakeholders with the most important KPIs for future decision-making.

The people most interested in reading the executive summary are typically the ones who don’t have time to read the whole report and want a quick overview of the most important data and information.

These include:

  • Project stakeholders – The individuals or organizations that are actively involved in a project with your company.
  • Management personnel (decision-makers) – The highest-ranking employees in your company (manager, partner, general partner, etc.)
  • Investors – As we said, this could be bank officials who want a quick recap of your company’s performance so they can make an easier investment decision.
  • Venture capitalists – Investors who provide capital in exchange for equity stakes.
  • C-level executives – The chief executives in your business.

Related : Reporting Strategy for Multiple Audiences: 6 Tips for Getting Started

The components of your executive summary depend on what is included in the overall larger document. Executive summary elements may also vary depending on the type of document (business plan, project, report, etc.), but there are several components that are considered universal.

These are the main elements you should include:

  • Methods of analyzing the problem
  • Solutions to the problem
  • The ‘Why Now’ segment

Well-defined conclusion

The purpose of the summary should typically be included in the introduction as an opening statement. Explain what you aim to achieve with the document and communicate the value of your desired objective.

This part is supposed to grab your reader’s attention, so make sure they pay extra attention when writing it.

Problems are an unavoidable element in modern-day businesses, even in the most successful companies.

The second thing your executive summary needs to outline is what specific problem you are dealing with. It could be anything from product plans and customer feedback to sales revenue and marketing strategies.

Define the problems clearly so all the members know which areas need fixing.

3. Methods of analyzing the problem

Problem analysis methods are key for identifying the causes of the issue.

While figuring out the problems and the methods to solve them is immensely important, you shouldn’t overlook the things that caused them. This will help you from avoiding similar issues in the future.

4. Solutions to the problem

Now that you’ve introduced the stakeholders to the problems, it’s time to move on to your solutions. Think of a few different ways that could solve the issue and include as many details as you can.

5. The ‘Why Now’ segment

This is one of the most important parts of your executive summary.

The ‘Why Now’ segment showcases why the problem needs to be solved in a timely manner. You don’t want the readers to get the impression that there is plenty of time to fix the issue.

By displaying urgency in your summary, your report will have a much bigger impact.

One of the ways to display urgency visually is by adding performance benchmarks to your report. In case your business is not performing well as other companies within your industry, only one image showcasing which metrics are below the median could make a compelling case for the reader.

High churn example

For example, if you have discovered that your churn rate is much higher than for an average SaaS company, this may be a good indication that you have issues with poor customer service, poor marketing, pricing issues, potentially outdated product features, etc.

Benchmark Your Performance Against Hundreds of Companies Just Like Yours

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Lastly, you should end your executive summary with a well-defined conclusion.

Make sure to include a recap of the problems, solutions, and the overall most important KPIs from the document.

Okay, so you understand the basics of executive summaries and why they are so important. However, you still aren’t sure how to write one.

Don’t worry.

Here are some of the best practices you can use to create amazing executive summaries that will impress your key stakeholders and high-ranking members.

Write it Last

Grab their attention, use appropriate language, talk strategy, include forecasts, highlight funding needs, make it short.

The most natural way to write your executive summary is by writing it at the end of your report/business plan.

This is because you will already have gone through all the most important information and data that should later be included.

A good suggestion is to take notes of all the significant KPIs that you think should be incorporated in the summary, it will make it easier for you to later categorize the data and you will have a clearer overview of the key parts of the report.

You may think that you already know which data you are going to include, but once you wrap up your report, you will probably run into certain things that you forgot to implement. It’s much easier to create an executive summary with all the data segmented in one place, than to rewrite it later.

While your primary goal when creating the executive summary is to make it informative, you also have to grab the attention of your readers so that you can motivate them to read the rest of the document.

Once they finish reading the last few sentences of the summary, the audience should be looking forward to checking out the remanding parts to get the full story.

If you are having trouble with finding ways to capture the reader’s attention, you can ask some of your colleagues from the sales department to lend a hand. After all, that’s their specialty.

One more important element is the type of language you use in the summary. Keep in mind who will be reading the summary, your language should be adjusted to a group of executives.

Make the summary understandable and avoid using complicated terms that may cause confusion, your goal is to feed the stakeholders with important information that will affect their decision-making.

This doesn’t only refer to the words that you use, the way in which you provide explanation should also be taken into consideration. People reading the report should be able to easily and quickly understand the main pain points that you highlighted.

You should have a specific part in your executive summary where you will focus on future strategies. This part should include information regarding your project, target market, program, and the problems that you think should be solved as soon as possible.

Also, you should provide some useful insights into the overall industry or field that your business operates in. Showcase some of the competitive advantages of your company and specific marketing insights that you think the readers would find interesting.

Related : What Is Strategic Reporting? 4 Report Examples to Get Inspiration From

Make one of the sections revolve around financial and sales forecasts for the next 1-3 years. Provide details of your breakeven points, such as where the expenses/revenues are equal and when you expect certain profits from your strategies.

This practice is mainly useful for business plans, but the same principle can be applied to reports. You can include predictions on how your overall objectives and goals will bring profit to the company.

Related : How Lone Fir Creative Uses Databox to Forecast, Set, & Achieve Agency & Client Goals

Don’t forget to talk about the funding needs for your projects since there is a high chance that investors will find their way to the executive summary as well.

You can even use a quotation from an influential figure that supports your upcoming projects. Include the costs that will incur but also provide profitability predictions that will persuade the investors to fund your projects.

While your report should include all of the most important metrics and data, aim for maximum conciseness.

Don’t include any information that may be abundant and try to keep the executive summary as short as possible. Creating a summary that takes up dozens of pages will lose its original purpose.

With a concise summary and clear communication of your messages, your readers will have an easy time understanding your thoughts and then take them into consideration.

Also, one last tip is to use a positive tone throughout the summary. You want your report to exude confidence and reassure the readers.

PRO TIP: How Well Are Your Marketing KPIs Performing?

Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.

Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics 4 and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:

  • Sessions . The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
  • New Contacts from Sessions . How well is your campaign driving new contacts and customers?
  • Marketing Performance KPIs . Tracking the number of MQLs, SQLs, New Contacts and similar will help you identify how your marketing efforts contribute to sales.
  • Email Performance . Measure the success of your email campaigns from HubSpot. Keep an eye on your most important email marketing metrics such as number of sent emails, number of opened emails, open rate, email click-through rate, and more.
  • Blog Posts and Landing Pages . How many people have viewed your blog recently? How well are your landing pages performing?

Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_preview

You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.

To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Get the template 

Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics 4 accounts with Databox. 

Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.

No one expects you to become an expert executive summary writer overnight. Learning how to create great and meaningful summaries will inevitably take some time.

With the above-mentioned best practices in mind, you should also pay attention to avoiding certain mistakes that could reduce the value of your summaries.

Here are some examples.

Don’t use jargon

Avoid going into details, the summary should be able to stand alone, don’t forget to proofread.

From project stakeholders to C-level executives, everyone should be able to easily understand and read the information you gather in your summary.

Keep in mind, you are probably much more familiar with some of the technical terms that your departments use since you are closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders.

Read your summary once again after you finish it to make sure there are no jargons you forgot to elaborate on.

Remember, your summary should be as short as possible, but still include all the key metrics and KPIs. There is no reason to go into details of specific projects, due dates, department performances, etc.

When creating the summary, ask yourself twice whether the information you included truly needs to be there.

Of course, there are certain details that bring value to the summary, but learn how to categorize the useful ones from the unnecessary ones.

While you will know your way around the project, that doesn’t apply to the readers.

After wrapping up the summary, go over it once again to see whether it can stand on its own. This means checking out if there is any sort of context that the readers will need in order to understand the summary.

If the answer is yes, you will have to redo the parts that can’t be understood by first-time readers.

Your executive summary is prone to changes, so making a typo isn’t the end of the world, you can always go back and fix it.

However, it’s not a bad idea to ask one of your colleagues to proofread it as well, just so you have an additional set of eyes.

Using reporting tools such as dashboards for executive reports can provide you with a birds-eye view of your company’s most important KPIs and data.

These dashboards work as visualization tools that will make all the important metrics much more understandable to your internal stakeholders.

Since executive reports on their own don’t include any visual elements such as graphs or charts, these dashboards basically grant them superpowers.

Executive reporting dashboards also make the decision-making process easier since there won’t be any misunderstandings regarding the meaning of the data.

Not only will you be able to gather the data in real-time, but you can also connect different sources onto the dashboard can use the visuals for performance comparisons.

Interested in giving executive report dashboards a try? Let’s check out some of the best examples.

Marketing Performance Dashboard

Customer support performance dashboard, financial overview dashboard, saas management dashboard, sales kpi dashboard.

To stay on top of your key user acquisition metrics, such as visit to leads conversion rates, email traffic, blog traffic, and more, you can use this Marketing Performance Dashboard .

You can pull in data from advanced tools such as HubSpot Marketing and Google Analytics to get a full overview of how your website generates leads.

Some of the things you will learn through this dashboard are:

  • Which traffic sources are generating the most amount of leads
  • How to track which number of users are new to your website
  • How to compare the traffic you are getting from your email with blog traffic
  • How to stay on top of lead generation goals each month
  • How to be sure that your marketing activities are paying off

The key metrics included are bounce rate, new users, page/session, pageview, and average session duration.

Marketing Performance Dashboard

You can use the Customer Support Performance Dashboard to track the overall performance of your customer service and check out how efficient individual agents are.

This simple and customizable dashboard will help you stay in touch with new conversation numbers, open/closed conversations by teammates, number of leads, and much more.

Also, you will get the answers to questions such as:

  • How many new conversations did my customer support agents deal with yesterday/last week/last month?
  • How many conversations are currently in progress?
  • In which way are customer conversations tagged on Intercom?
  • How to track the number of leads that the support team is generating?
  • What is the best way to measure the performance of my customer support team?

Some of the key metrics are leads, open conversations, new conversations, tags by tag name, closed conversations, and more.

Customer Support Performance Dashboard

Want to know how much income your business generated last month? How to measure the financial health of your business? How about figuring out the best way to track credit card purchases?

You can track all of these things and more by using the Financial Overview Dashboard .

This free customizable dashboard will help you gain an insight into all of your business’s financial operations, cash flow, bank accounts, sales, expenses, and plenty more.

Understanding your company from a financial standpoint is one of the most important ingredients of good decision-making.

With key metrics such as gross profit, net income, open invoices, total expenses, and dozens more – all gathered in one financial reporting software , you will have no problems staying on top of your financial activities.

Financial Overview Dashboard

Use this SaaS Management Dashboard to have a clear overview of your business’s KPIs in real-time. This customizable dashboard will help you stay competitive in the SaaS industry by providing you with comprehensive data that can you can visualize, making it more understandable.

You will be able to:

  • See how your company is growing on an annual basis
  • Have a detailed outline of your weakest and strongest months
  • Determine which strategies are most efficient in driving revenue

The key metrics included in this dashboard are recurring revenue, churn by type, MRR changes, and customer changes.

SaaS Management Dashboard

Do you want to monitor your sales team’s output and outcomes? Interested in tracking average deal sizes, number of won deals, new deals created, and more?

This Sales KPI Dashboard can help you do just that.

It serves as a perfect tool for sales managers that are looking for the best way to create detailed overviews of their performances. It also helps achieve sales manager goals for the pre-set time periods.

By connecting your HubSpot account to this customizable dashboard, you can learn:

  • What’s the average deal size
  • The number of open, closed, and lost deals each month
  • How much revenue you can expect from the new deals
  • How your business is progressing towards the overall sales goals

Sales KPI Dashboard

Although you probably understand what your executive summary should include by now, you may still need a bit of help with creating a clear outline to follow.

We thought about that too. Here are some template examples that will help you create executive summaries for different kinds of business needs.

Here is an executive summary template for a business plan:

  • [Company profile (with relevant history)]
  • [Company contact details]
  • [Description of products and/or services]
  • [Unique proposition]
  • [Competitive advantage]
  • [Intellectual property]
  • [Development status]
  • [Market opportunity]
  • [Target market]
  • [Competitors]
  • [Funding needs]
  • [Potential price of goods]
  • [Projected profit margins for year one and two]
  • [Summarize main points]

Executive summary template for marketing plan:

  • [Product description]
  • [Unique customer characteristics]
  • [Customer spending habits]
  • [Relationship to product]
  • [Access channels]
  • [Value and credibility of product]
  • [Product competitive advantage]
  • [Creative outlook]
  • [Goal statement]
  • [Forecasted cost]
  • [Next week]
  • [Next month]

Executive summary template for a research report

  • [Project topic]
  • [Name | Date]
  • [Report introduction]
  • [Background]
  • [Research methods]
  • [Conclusions]
  • [Recommendations]

Executive summary template for project executive

  • [Project name]
  • [Program name]
  • [Project lead]
  • [Prepared by]
  • [Project milestones]
  • [Status overviews]
  • [New requests]
  • [Issues summary]
  • [Project notes]

For the longest time, writing executive reports has been seen as a grueling and time-consuming process that will require many sleepless nights to get the job done right.

While there is plenty of truth to this, modern automated reporting software has revolutionized these writing nightmares.

Databox is one of those tools.

With Databox, you will be able to connect data from multiple sources into one comprehensive dashboard. Also, you are going to gain access to different types of charts and graphs that you can use for data visualization and make the report much more understandable to the readers.

Using a modernized tool like Databox will provide you with a faster, more accurate, and more efficient reporting process.

This advanced software allows you easily create your own customizable reports that can be adjusted in real-time as soon as new data emerges.

Who says executive reporting has to be a tedious process? Sign up for our free trial and see how easy creating executive reports can be. 

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Must-Have Strategy Executive Summary Templates with Samples and Examples

Must-Have Strategy Executive Summary Templates with Samples and Examples

DivyanshuKumar Rai

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Tired of getting lost in the maze of decisions while running your business? Do you find yourself constantly searching for the best path to success, with no clear direction in sight? It's time to take back control and develop a roadmap to success with a strategy executive summary.

Did you know that only 35% of businesses have a documented strategic plan in place? This lack of clarity and direction can often lead to missteps, missed opportunities, and lost revenue. A strategy executive summary is essential in keeping a business on track, help it focus on its goals and priorities, and make data-driven decisions.

Now, imagine having access to professional and effective strategy executive summary PPT templates designed to make the process of drafting an inclusive piece easier and more efficient. Look no further because you don’t have to imagine! Our Strategy Executive Summary PPT Templates are the perfect solution, offering a comprehensive and customizable toolkit to help guide you toward success.

Template 1: Strategy Executive Summary PowerPoint Template Bundle

Wish to take your business to the next level, but struggling to articulate your vision and plan effectively? The strategy executive summary is the key to unlocking your full potential and we've got the ultimate tool to help you achieve it - this comprehensive PPT Bundle.

With our easy-to-follow slides, you'll learn the exact steps to create a winning strategy executive summary, from analyzing your current situation to evaluating your results. You'll also get a deep dive into the key components of a marketing strategy executive summary, including an in-depth look at the company and team, market factors and trends, products & services, along with marketing activities.

But that's not all - our PPT Deck also covers the essential elements of a corporate strategy executive summary, including a compelling mission statement, company information, business highlights, financial summary, and future goals. For those focused on marketing, we've got you covered with a comprehensive executive summary of your marketing strategy , highlighting your business's promise to customers, engagement approach, and key success metrics & KPIs.

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Strategy Executive Summary

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Template 2: Smartphone Strategy Executive Summary PPT Template

Revolutionize Your Smartphone Strategy with our Dynamic Executive Summary PPT Template!

Do you want to polish your smartphone strategy to perfection? It's time to harness the power of data and insights with our exclusive Smartphone Strategy Executive Summary PPT Template. With its sleek and professional design, this template is the ultimate tool to showcase your company's progress and growth in a compelling and impactful way.

The template is specifically designed to highlight the executive summary of the previous year against the current year, giving you an in-depth look at the key metrics. With a focus on revenue, profits, operational cost, total customers, marketing channels, geographical presence, and product line, this PPT Layout covers the significant topics that will help stakeholders make informed decisions.

This content-ready and user-friendly template helps elevate your smartphone strategy presentation to the next level. It's perfect for executives, managers, and anyone looking to clearly communicate their strategy and achieve their business goals.

Executive Summary

The Secret to Successful Strategy Planning

Having a strategy executive summary is crucial for the success of any business operation. It is a succinct and straightforward summary of your business strategy that all stakeholders can easily understand. Our Strategy Executive Summary PPT Templates offer the complete and professional solution to help you present your strategy in an effective manner. With these templates, you can streamline the process of creating a strategy executive summary and impress your audience with a polished and well-organized presentation. 

FAQs on Strategy Executive Summary

How do you write an executive summary for a strategy plan.

An executive summary offers a quick overview of a bulky document, such as a business plan or strategy report. Its purpose is to give the reader a quick understanding of the document's key points without the reader having to go through the entire document. A well-written executive summary is an effective way to communicate the purpose, goals, and outcomes of your plan to stakeholders. Here are some steps to help you write an effective executive summary for your strategy plan:

  • Identify the purpose of the strategy plan: What problem is it solving? What opportunities is it pursuing? Be clear and concise about the purpose of your plan and the goals you are trying to achieve.
  • Outline the key components of the plan: What are the main objectives, strategies, and tactics you will use to achieve your goals? Outline these components in a briefly.
  • Summarize the key results: What are the expected outcomes of your strategy plan? How will you measure these results? Provide a summary of the key results you hope to achieve.
  • Make it readable: Write the executive summary in a clear, concise, and engaging manner that is accessible to a wide range of readers. Avoid using technical language or acronyms.
  • Use visuals: Use charts, diagrams, and graphs to illustrate the key points in your executive summary. This will make it easier for the reader to understand your plan and the results you hope to achieve.
  • Update regularly: As your plan evolves, be sure to update your executive summary to reflect the most recent developments and changes. It will ensure that stakeholders are always aware of the latest information and progress.

What is an executive summary for a strategy report?

An executive summary is a concise overview of the strategy report that provides insights, objectives, and recommendations of your business pan. It's typically written for senior executives, stakeholders, and decision-makers who need to understand the key aspects of the strategy quickly and efficiently. It summarizes the major findings of the report and provides an overview of the proposed strategy, its goals, and the steps required to achieve those goals. It should be written in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner and be easy to read and understand. 

The executive summary is usually in the first section of the report and should be written after the full report has been completed, as it provides a summary of the significant points in the report.

What should an executive summary include?

The following elements are included in an executive summary:

  • Objectives: A brief statement of purpose of the report or document.
  • Background: An overview of the background information and context of the report or document.
  • Methodology: A description of the research methods or processes used to gather information and data.
  • Key Findings: A summary of the most important findings or results of the report.
  • Recommendations: A brief summary of the key recommendations or suggestions for action based on the findings and analysis.
  • Conclusions: A summary of the overall conclusions of the report, including any implications or future considerations.
  • Key Takeaways: A list of the most important takeaways or key points that readers should remember after reading the executive summary.
  • Next Steps: Information on any follow-up actions or next steps that will be taken based on the findings and recommendations in the report.

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How to Write an Effective Executive Summary

  • Survey Tips

What is an Executive Summary?

While Alchemer has powerful built-in reporting features that are easy to use and present, sometimes you need an executive summary to preface the results of any particularly large or important online survey or research project. An executive summary efficiently summarizes a larger business plan while communicating key findings and takeaways from your research, as well as proposed courses of action. 

For example, if a company performs a competitor analysis prior to deciding whether or not to move in a different strategic direction, a business plan would be put together to articulate findings and suggest the next steps. This business plan would open with an executive summary.  

As such, an executive summary quickly becomes the most important element of any business plan.

Executive summaries should include the following components:

  • An explanation of why the research was performed
  • The results that the research yielded
  • Proposed suggestions for how management or leadership should best alter strategies based on the findings of research

Writing an executive summary can be a daunting task. It can be difficult to know where to start, what to write about, or how it should be structured.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to write an effective executive summary. 

How to Write an A+ Executive Summary

Write it last..

No matter what online survey software you use, the research you perform is only truly valuable when it’s able to inform business decisions and strategies. 

Once your online survey is performed, there is work to be done in terms of packaging your findings to leadership in a way that easily communicates the need for a new strategy. The most straightforward way to do this is to create a business plan that includes all of your research, findings, and suggestions. This business plan naturally requires an executive summary. 

Crafting the executive summary of your business plan after writing every other part of the report is the best practice. This ensures that you can build out a summary that represents the remainder of the plan as accurately as possible.

Capture the reader’s attention.

While an executive summary should be informative in nature, it should also capture the audience’s attention immediately so that they are motivated to read the remainder of the document. Even while crafting an objective presentation of your research findings and the proposed direction that your business, never forget that you want to inspire excitement in your audience!

At the end of your executive summary, your audience — whether they be an investor, banker, advisor, or executive — should be eager to read on. Your executive summary should be thorough, but it should not reveal everything. Your audience should be encouraged by the summary to read the remainder of your report if they want the full story. 

Make sure your executive summary can stand on its own.

With a clearly defined structure, an executive summary can be a standalone piece. Without one, however, it would need the support of the entire report to make an impact. Strive for the former, not the latter. 

If your executive summary can’t stand on its own, consider revising it until it can.  

A tightly informative introduction, body, and conclusion should allow someone with no prior knowledge of your business or industry to read your executive summary and understand the key findings from your research, and the primary elements of your business plan. 

Think of an executive summary as a more condensed version of your business plan.

Your executive summary should be directly aligned with the rest of your larger business plan. While writing your executive summary, read through your business plan and take the most vital information from each section. Numbers, facts, and goals in your business plan should be consistent with your executive summary.

Your executive summary should highlight the best features of your business plan. For example, if you’ve identified a primary advantage you should be leveraging, your executive summary should include this advantage.

Include supporting research.

Support the claims you make in your executive summary and the business plan with research, and cite this research via footnotes in your business plan. 

Boil it down as much as possible.

One of the most essential aspects of an executive summary is succinctness. You should condense your summary as much as possible, with the goal of getting all of the vital information onto one page. The more succinct you are, the clearer your message will be, and the more confidence your readers will have in your plan.

Start with a BANG.

Including a thought-provoking statistic, or an inspiring and relevant quote at the beginning of your summary will capture the reader’s attention and get them thinking on the track that you want them to. 

Keep things positive.

Your executive summary should focus only on the positive elements of your research and business plan. Leave the discussion of risks, obstacles, and challenges for the body section of your plan. Keep a positive tone and use upbeat language in your summary. 

The Five-Paragraph Formula for an Effective Executive Summary

An effective executive summary can be broken down into five key paragraphs. 

Paragraph 1: Provide an overview of your business.

As mentioned, you can get your readers thinking along the track you’d like them to by including a quote or statistic in the first paragraph of your executive summary. This first paragraph is also where you should provide the name and nature of your business, and relevant insights about your industry. 

Paragraph 2: Discuss target market, competition, and marketing strategy. 

Your second paragraph should include a clear and concise definition of your target market, and the need or pain point that your business will aim to solve. 

Next, outline the competitive landscape of your industry, and the advantage that your particular business possesses. 

Your marketing strategy should hinge on the three primary ways that you plan on reaching your target market. Focusing on just the three strongest points of your marketing strategy will maintain precision, and get your readers excited to explore the rest of your plan. 

Paragraph 3: Provide an overview of operational highlights. 

The third paragraph of your executive summary should provide operational highlights such as where your company offices will be located, whether or not you will incorporate or remain a sole proprietor, or whether you will serve as a brick and mortar or online business. 

Paragraph 4: Show forecasting.

Here you should make sales forecasting projections for one and two years after your business plan has been implemented. Calculate your break even point, and inform your audience of when you project to turn a profit.  

Paragraph 5: Detail your investment needs.

If your business requires financing, this is where you should go into detail about the investment needs of your business. The number you include here should be clear, and should align with your projections from the previous paragraph. 

You should now have the tools and knowledge to draft an effective executive summary to back up your online survey findings. Hopefully, this article has alleviated some of the overwhelming feelings that come with getting the ball rolling. 

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How to Write a Great Executive Summary in a Business Plan

Executive Summary Template

Free Executive Summary Template

  • March 2, 2024

10 Min Read

executive summary

We all know that pursuing investors for funding or entrepreneurs for partnership is a challenging task. But an engaging executive summary makes it easy for you.

A well-written executive summary acts as the first impression in convincing your readers of anything related to your business.

But the question is how to write one!

See, include all the sections in the summary, highlight all the main points of the business plan, keep the language simple & clear, and voila, you will have a nice executive summary.

But if you want to know more about how to write an engaging executive summary in a business plan with all the tips, then hop on, let’s begin.

What is an executive summary in a business plan?

An executive summary is a concise and compelling overview of the whole business plan. It includes and highlights all the key points of the plan as an introduction.

It should be clear, well-structured, and engaging, prompting the reader to want to learn more. It also should provide enough information to convey the business plan’s purpose.

Simply put, it is an outline of the business plan. And it helps readers to understand your business before making any decision.

Purpose of an executive summary

An Executive summary is one of the core parts of the business plan, and it has many purposes instead of just being a section, let’s see:

Concise overview

An executive summary is a short version of your business plan. Since not everyone has time to read the full plan, a well-crafted summary gives investors a quick overview of your business, helping them make decisions right there and then.

Decision-making

Executive summary plays a crucial role in the decision-making journey. As it presents all the facts and key findings of the business concisely, it helps decision-makers get a quick overview in no time. This way, readers do not have that fear of not making an informed decision.

Accessibility

An executive summary makes a document more accessible to a wider audience. Those who are not an expert in understanding all the technicalities of the plan can get the gist of the entire business plan by reading an executive summary.

Now that you know the importance of writing an executive summary, let us move forward with the topic of how to actually write one.

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how to make executive summary in strategic plan

How to write an executive summary for a business plan

1. introduce the purpose.

First things first, let your readers know what is this all about—meaning what your document is all about and which business you are doing.

Then introduce the purpose your business plan is going to address. This way you are setting the base of your business plan, giving a clear idea to the readers about why this document is important.

2. Give the company description

Here, briefly describe your company. It includes things like business name , location, owners, company history, and other such things of the business that matter.

If you are just starting up, then focus on the qualifications and responsibilities of your team members.

Highlight any key milestones or achievements demonstrating your company’s growth and success. This section should give readers a clear understanding of what your company does, why it exists, and how it has evolved.

3. State the problem and how will you solve it

Mention the problem in the market first that your product or service will help solve. This will make your readers confident about your market research and your offerings.

Then showcase the innovative solution your business will offer. Highlight the unique value proposition of your business along with it. Also, mention how your product or service is a market fit and has demand in the industry.

4. Outline market analysis

Once you have defined the problem and solution, it is time to mention the market landscape for your business. It should include the market size, expected growth, target market, and all other demographics.

Also, highlight your competitive advantage here. And mention the market share you are going to capture.

5. Define your business model

In this section, mention how your business earns the revenue and how it works. It sets a clear picture of how your company will make a profit and cover the costs.

This information is necessary for investors, so make sure to present it engagingly and realistically.

6. Give an overview of your marketing and sales strategies

Once you start the business, one of the most important things investors would want to know is how will you attract customers. Therefore, this section is all about what strategies you will implement to bring in new customers and how your business will retain them.

It includes the brand message, logo, marketing medium, and all other tools you have for marketing. Apart from that, it also showcases the seriousness of reaching the sales goal of your business.

7. Mention the team you hired or will hire

Provide an overview of the organizational structure and current team. Introduce yourself and your team members, along with their qualifications and roles in the firm.

Also, identify any gaps and the needs of other employees in the business. In short, this section gives readers a clear understanding of your team’s capabilities and how you plan to leverage their skills for the success of your business.

8. Mention your financial summary

In this part, you outline your company’s current brief financial summary and future projections. It includes annual revenue, sales and expenses, and milestones for the coming years.

For existing companies, former years’ revenue and sales numbers can act as evidence to support forecasts. For startups, it is suggested to include all the costs as it will help investors to know completely about the financial picture of your company before making any decision.

9. Funding requirement

If you are preparing your business plan’s executive summary for seeking funding, then make sure to include this section. Make sure what you include in this section and what you ask practically.

Some of the questions you need to answer in this section are:

  • How much funding do you need in total?
  • How much have you already secured?
  • How much are you seeking from the current readers?
  • Where are you going to use this funding?
  • How much will this funding impact your business?

Answering these questions will help investors get a quick look at your funding requirements without having to wait till the end of your business plan. This saves time and is more efficient.

How long should an executive summary be?

Before you write an executive summary, this question might have occurred to you a lot more times what is the ideal length of a summary, right? Worry not, let’s discuss the length here.

Keep your executive summary as short as possible, because your audience has limited time and attention span.

Generally, executive summaries are 1-2 pages long, but you can exceed this norm if necessary. However, it is necessary to consider the length of the business plan too before you finalize the length of the executive summary.

The key over here is to get the reader’s attention and highlight all the essential points of a detailed business plan.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

Understand your audience.

Before writing the summary, you need to first know and understand your audience. Consider their background, knowledge level, and expectations to ensure that the summary matches their expectations.

Keep it as an elevator pitch

Remember, executive summaries are like elevator pitches. You’re selling your business just by reading the focus points only.

Perhaps readers would want to know every aspect of your business, and with a well-written summary, they can have the essence of the business in no time.

Keep it short and sweet

Ideally, a great executive summary is about a page or two. Whatever length seems ideal to you, make sure to make it a brief and not a detailed one. Keep it as short as you can without missing the needed part.

Prefer to write it last

Though being the first sections, entrepreneurs generally choose to write the executive summary at the end, till then, they have a thorough knowledge of the entire plan.

And it is easier to write the summary after having all the focus points to write about. So, prefer writing the summary in the end.

Use a structured format and highlight the main points first

You have to present your summary in an organized structure, though change the order as per the importance. You can highlight the main things first and then gradually go to the financial plan. In short, in skim reading, your audience should get the crux.

Example of a business plan executive summary

Business Name: Elegance Bistro Location: Queens, New York Type of Business: Restaurant

Elegance Bistro is a new upscale dining establishment located in the vibrant borough of Queens, New York. Our mission is to provide an elegant and unforgettable dining experience, combining exceptional service with a curated menu of gourmet dishes inspired by global cuisine.

Despite the diverse culinary scene in Queens, there is a lack of upscale dining options that offer a refined ambiance and high-quality cuisine. Residents and visitors seeking an upscale dining experience often have to travel to Manhattan, leading to a gap in the market that Elegance Bistro aims to fill.

Elegance Bistro will provide a sophisticated dining experience that showcases the rich diversity of flavors and ingredients found in global cuisine. Our menu will feature a selection of expertly crafted dishes made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, ensuring freshness and quality in every bite.

Market Analysis

Queens is a thriving culinary destination, known for its diverse population and vibrant food scene. With a growing number of residents and tourists seeking unique dining experiences, there is a significant opportunity for a high-end restaurant like Elegance Bistro to attract a discerning clientele. There is a competition for the same, but our dining experience with appealing ambiance stands out from all.

Our curated menu includes all the culinary dishes that are popular among New Yorkers and tourists.

Our mission at Elegance Bistro is to elevate the dining experience in Queens by offering exceptional cuisine, impeccable service, and a warm, inviting atmosphere that celebrates the art of dining.

Financial Position

Based on our market research and projected sales, we anticipate generating annual revenues of $1.5 million in our first year of operation, with a net profit margin of 15%. Our startup costs are estimated at $500,000, which will be primarily used for leasehold improvements, kitchen equipment, and initial marketing efforts.

Funding Requirement

To fund our startup costs and initial operating expenses, we are seeking a total investment of $750,000. This will allow us to launch Elegance Bistro successfully and establish a strong presence in the Queens dining scene.

So, finally, you know what it takes to write an engaging executive summary. We hope this has been helpful to you in your writing journey.

If you are still confused or don’t know where to start, then you can always rely on good business plan software like Upmetrics. It will provide you with step-by-step guidance, so you don’t have to roam to and fro for the next step.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is executive summary first in the business plan.

Yes, an executive summary is the first chapter of the business plan. Yet, people prefer to write it at the last, after having the full knowledge of the whole business plan.

What writing style should I use?

An executive summary serves as the introduction to the business plan. So, ideally, it should be in a professional tone. However, whichever writing style you choose, make sure it is clear, concise, engaging, and maintains professionalism. 

What are the key elements of an effective executive summary?

Key elements of an effective executive summary are:

  • Introduction
  • Problem statement
  • Market analysis
  • Value proposition
  • Business model
  • Financial Overview
  • Implementation plan
  • Call to action

By including these key elements in your executive summary, you can effectively communicate the key points of your business and make a strong impression on your audience.

What is the best format for an executive summary?

The best format for an executive summary is one that is clear, concise, and well-organized.

It should provide a brief overview of the main points of the document, including the purpose, problem & solution, market analysis, unique value proposition, business model, financial position, team, milestones, funding requirements, and call to action.

The format should be easy to read and understand, with headings and subheadings to break up the text.

When should I update my executive summary?

You should update your executive summary whenever any necessary changes to your business impact the information in the summary.

If there are no frequent changes, then you should change your executive summary at least once in a quarter, two quarters, or a year.

About the Author

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Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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What to Include in an Executive Summary: Essential Elements for a Compelling Overview

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  • Employee Handbooks
  • May 5, 2024

What to Include in an Executive Summary: Essential Elements for a Compelling Overview

Are you seeking to distill the essence of your report into a compelling executive summary? Identifying what to include in an executive summary is crucial to grip your readers from the onset. This article presents you with the core elements that your summary must contain, from outlining objectives to framing recommendations, effectively tailored for leaders and decision-makers who hold the key to your project’s approval.

Key Takeaways

  • An executive summary is a succinct snapshot of a business document that must capture reader interest and provide a high-level overview encompassing purpose, key points, findings, and recommendations.
  • A compelling executive summary includes an engaging introduction, clear objectives that align with SMART criteria, concise key findings, actionable recommendations, and a conclusion that reinforces the central message.
  • Customizing the executive summary for specific audiences and purposes is vital, while common pitfalls include excessive length, technical jargon, and lack of proofreading, which can affect its clarity and conciseness.

The Purpose and Importance of an Executive Summary

Executive summary document with key points and main findings

An executive summary acts as a concise snapshot of a larger business document, encapsulating the most critical information. It’s a tool that piques the reader’s interest, enticing them to delve deeper into the document. It’s a valuable asset in any business plan, research report, or project proposal, and its importance cannot be overstated.

The creation of a compelling executive summary involves:

  • Engaging the reader’s interest
  • Summarizing the key points concisely
  • Revisiting the report’s purpose
  • Emphasizing the main points, findings, conclusions, or suggestions

The objective is to provide a high-level overview that enables decision-makers, such as CEOs and the management team, to decide if further action is warranted.

The prowess of an executive summary hinges on its concise analysis of issues, conclusion drawing, and recommendation of appropriate actions. It’s like a movie trailer, providing enough intrigue to get the audience interested, but withholding enough detail to make them want to see the full picture.

Essential Components of an Effective Executive Summary

Having grasped the significance of an executive summary, it’s time we examine its structure. An effective executive summary consists of several integral parts, each playing a crucial role in conveying a comprehensive, yet concise narrative of the larger document.

What to Include in an Executive Summary_ Essential Elements for a Compelling Overview

  • Introduction

The introduction serves as the opening statement of the executive summary, providing the reader with the document’s purpose and a brief overview of what follows. It’s the moment to grab and hold the reader’s attention, making a captivating opening statement crucial.

This section should contain relevant information about the organization, such as who they are and why they possess the necessary skills, personnel, and experience related to the proposal. The introduction should start with a brief segment stating the purpose and main points of the report, setting a clear outline for the reader.

The introduction is the first stepping stone in the reader’s journey through your executive summary. Like an appetizer at a fine dining restaurant, it should be enticing enough to whet their appetite for the main course to follow.

Every document has a purpose, a primary goal it seeks to accomplish. This is the heart of the objectives section in an executive summary.

In outlining the objectives, ascertain that they adhere to the SMART criteria:

  • Time-constrained

This ensures that they are clear and actionable, providing a roadmap for the document.

Moreover, the delineation of objectives must be consistent with the broader mission, vision, and strategic aims of the organization. This coherence contributes to a clear, unified narrative that aligns with the organization’s overall goals.

Key Findings

Uncovering key findings is like finding pieces of a puzzle. Each piece adds value to the overall picture, helping to form a coherent narrative. In an executive summary, the key findings section should concisely highlight the most critical results from the larger document to provide a clear overview.

However, the presentation of these findings should be clear, void of complex jargon, and able to stand alone. This means that the reader should be able to understand the main points without needing further information.

Keep in mind that an effective executive summary avoids extensive data analysis, focusing instead on delivering succinct, decision-oriented conclusions.

  • Recommendations

Following the key findings, it’s time to make recommendations. These should be clearly outlined, stating the necessary actions based on the findings and showcasing how they align with the document’s objectives to add value to the company.

The key findings section must effectively support the recommendations, convincing the reader that the suggested approaches are appropriate based on the evidence provided.

Recommendations need to be:

  • Prescriptive and actionable
  • Provide a general direction for implementation
  • Include acknowledgement of risks involved with the recommendations
  • Include strategies to mitigate these risks

By following these guidelines, you can present realistic and thorough recommendations.

Furthermore, financial details such as expected results and benefits should be included to emphasize the potential impact and value of the recommendations to the organization, especially for project team members.

The conclusion of an executive summary serves to:

  • Revisit the primary content put forward in the document
  • Recap the key problems addressed
  • Recap the solutions proposed
  • Recap the most crucial key performance indicators.

Like the final notes of a symphony, a well-crafted conclusion leaves a lasting impression on the reader, ultimately enriching the executive summary’s impact. It’s the opportunity to reiterate the key points and leave the reader with a clear understanding of the document’s purpose and the steps needed to achieve the objectives.

Employee Policies Handbook

The Employee Policies Handbook serves as a comprehensive guide outlining the expectations, rules, and regulations governing employee conduct within an organization. This handbook is designed to provide employees with clarity on various workplace policies, including but not limited to, code of conduct, disciplinary procedures, and benefits eligibility. By familiarizing themselves with the contents of the Employee Policies Handbook, employees can gain a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Moreover, the handbook serves as a reference point for managers and HR personnel when addressing employee concerns or enforcing company policies. Regular updates to the handbook ensure that it remains relevant and aligned with any changes in laws or company practices, fostering a transparent and compliant work environment. Overall, the Employee Policies Handbook plays a crucial role in promoting consistency, fairness, and compliance across all levels of the organization.

Writing Tips for Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary

Crafting a powerful executive summary with impactful language

We proceed to explore some helpful suggestions for those looking to write an executive summary that is potent and effective. Before starting, review the full report to understand its purpose, main points, and key recommendations. Always write the summary last to ensure alignment with the full document.

The language and tone of the executive summary should appeal to the intended audience, using positive and confident language to create a compelling narrative and convincing argument. Remember: brevity is the soul of wit. Keep the executive summary concise and focused on essential information. Present ideas clearly with bullet points and ensure it is proportionately short compared to the full report.

Finally, be sure to review the executive summary for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Start with a captivating opening statement and ensure it makes sense independently.
  • Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Maintain the authenticity of the brand voice.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing an Executive Summary

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

As with all writing tasks, compiling an executive summary poses its own unique challenges. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • An executive summary should be concise and avoid excessive technical language.
  • Refrain from presenting an extended table of contents.
  • Avoid including unsubstantiated information.

Ensure that the executive summary is:

  • Professional
  • Visually appealing

Neglecting to proofread can mar your credibility, so pay close attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Timing and length are also crucial. Here are some tips for writing an effective executive summary:

  • Write the executive summary last to ensure it reflects the full document’s content.
  • Limit its length to 5-10% of the full report.
  • Include the most critical details for decision-making.

Adapting Your Executive Summary for Different Purposes

An executive summary isn’t universally applicable. It demands customization to match its intended purpose. For instance, when crafting a business plan, the executive summary should begin with:

  • An engaging paragraph explaining the product or service
  • Its unique selling point
  • Key financial information
  • Competitive advantage

For a startup, the executive summary should include detailed sections on product or service description, market analysis, business model, target market and customer base, and financial projections. Meanwhile, project proposals require an executive summary focused on the project’s objectives, scope, value proposition, and the reader’s interests, knowledge level, and priorities. In this context, a well-structured project plan plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of both the startup and the project proposal.

Research reports and other industries require logically ordered sections in the executive summary, such as:

  • Methodology

Similarly, business proposals and business plans should detail specific aspects relevant to their respective industries, including marketing efforts.

What is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is a comprehensive document provided by employers to employees that outlines company policies, procedures, expectations, and benefits. It serves as a guide for employees to understand their rights and responsibilities within the organization. Typically, it covers various aspects such as code of conduct, dress code, disciplinary procedures, safety regulations, and employee benefits. The handbook aims to establish clear communication between the employer and employees, ensuring everyone is aware of the company’s policies and procedures. Additionally, it can also serve as a legal document in case of disputes or conflicts between the employer and employees. Overall, an employee handbook plays a crucial role in promoting consistency, transparency, and a positive work culture within the organization.

Customizing Your Executive Summary for Your Target Audience

For an executive summary to have impact, it must resonate with the needs of a busy and potentially distracted audience, necessitating a deep comprehension of the audience’s requirements. Customizing an executive summary for different audiences involves adapting the language and tone to their interests and level of knowledge.

Conciseness and clarity are essential, especially when the reader is pressed for time. Provide just enough information to incite further interest. Remember, the executive summary should serve as the go-to reference for stakeholders, focusing on relevant aspects, such as the market analysis and financials for investors, or the company’s background for a general audience.

Employee Handbook Builder Free

Looking for an employee handbook builder free of charge? You’re in luck! Several online platforms offer free tools to help businesses create comprehensive employee handbooks without breaking the bank. These resources typically provide templates, customization options, and guidance to streamline the handbook creation process. With an employee handbook builder free to use, businesses can ensure compliance with legal regulations and effectively communicate company policies and procedures to employees. Additionally, these tools often include updates to reflect changes in employment laws, saving businesses time and effort in manual revisions. By leveraging these free resources, organizations can establish clear expectations, promote a positive workplace culture, and mitigate potential legal risks associated with employee management.

Executive Summary Templates and Examples

An executive summary template can be a beneficial aid in piecing together a well-structured and all-encompassing overview. For instance, using a free executive summary template, the company information section should contain:

  • The company name
  • Its mission or purpose
  • Contact information
  • Information on the size and scale of operations.

For real-world application, examples from companies like:

  • Events Industry Council
  • Company Shop Group
  • FirstEnergy

Exhibit varied methodologies in crafting succinct and effective executive summaries. By studying executive summary examples, you can gain insight into what makes an executive summary compelling and effective.

An executive summary is a critical tool in business communication. By understanding its purpose and importance, knowing its essential components, and learning how to craft it effectively, you can create a compelling overview that captures your audience’s attention and provides the most important information from a larger document. Remember to adapt your executive summary to suit its purpose and to appeal to your target audience. And lastly, don’t forget to proofread!

Frequently Asked Questions

What 8 things need to be addressed in the executive summary.

The executive summary should address key components such as the problem and solution, market size and growth opportunity, competitive advantage, business model, executive team, financial projections, and funding. Additionally, make sure to include a high-level overview of project goals, scope, activities, resources, change management plan, milestones, deliverables, timeline, schedule, communication plan, success metrics, budget, and other financial details.

What do executive summaries include?

Executive summaries include a summary of the report’s key points, the report’s purpose, major points, and any results, conclusions, or recommendations.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

The purpose of an executive summary is to capture the reader’s attention and provide a brief overview of a larger document, enticing them to read further.

How should I present the key findings in an executive summary?

Present the key findings clearly and concisely, highlighting the most critical results from the larger document. This will make it easier for the reader to grasp the main points.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing an executive summary?

When writing an executive summary, it’s important to avoid using excessive technical language, presenting an extended table of contents, and neglecting to proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Avoiding these mistakes will help ensure a clear and effective executive summary.

Disclaimer:

Please be aware that the content on this page has been generated by using artificial intelligence language models and may contain errors, inconsistencies, or outdated information.

It is provided as-is without any warranties or guarantees of accuracy. We strongly recommend using this content as a starting point for further research. We disclaim any liability for damages or losses resulting from the use or reliance on this content.

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Tehsin Bhayani

AirMason was born when Tehsin was trying to create a digital culture book, but couldn’t find any solutions in the market that had all the features he needed. In 2016, AirMason officially launched. In five years, AirMason has created thousands of handbooks for more than 1,000 clients around the world.

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Learn How to Craft a Successful Business Plan (Even with No Experience)

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Take the First Step in Learning How to Write a Business Plan, Even with No Experience

Antonio Del Cueto, CPA

May 8, 2024

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Imagine your business as a spaceship blasting off into uncharted territory. It may sound exciting, but without a precise flight plan, that thrilling journey could end in a fiery crash. Similarly, most businesses don't fail because of bad ideas. They fail because they lack a clear roadmap.

This article will guide you through the process of crafting a business plan that's more than just numbers on a page. Learn the secret formulas that propel businesses from mere concepts to thriving realities.

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Reimagining Traditional Business Plan Components

Executive summary with interactive elements.

Transform the executive summary into a dynamic experience using multimedia elements such as videos and interactive timelines. These components help demonstrate the business’s mission and goals, making it more attractive to would-be investors and potential customers.

Flexible Organizational Structures

Suggest designing an adaptable organizational framework that evolves according to strategic business needs and operational demands. This is especially beneficial for entrepreneurs who might need to navigate changes without a background in HR or traditional management.

Navigating Financial Management Without a Background

Simplified accounting tools.

For many new entrepreneurs, managing finances can feel overwhelming. Leveraging simplified digital accounting tools can significantly reduce this stress by automating most of the routine bookkeeping tasks. These tools are particularly beneficial for those without a financial background, making it easier to focus on other aspects of entrepreneurship.

  • Automation : Choose tools that automate entries for sales, purchases, and payroll transactions, ensuring accuracy and saving time.
  • User-Friendly Dashboard : Opt for software with an intuitive interface that simplifies financial tracking and report generation. This feature is essential for entrepreneurs who need to quickly access financial data without navigating complex menus.
  • Integration Capabilities : It’s important to invest in software that integrates with other business tools (e.g., inventory management systems, e-commerce platforms) to streamline all financial processes.
  • Scalability : As your business grows, you’ll need accounting software that can adapt to more complex financial demands without requiring a complete overhaul.

Further reading: Mastering Accounting for Tech Companies: The Ultimate Guide to Industry Accounting in the Technology Sector

Understanding business taxes.

A basic understanding of business taxes is essential for any entrepreneur, including those running a nonprofit or other types of organizations. Here are key elements your business plan should focus on:

  • Fundamental Tax Responsibilities : Clearly outline what taxes the business is liable for, such as income, payroll, and sales taxes. This information should be specific to your business's location and structure.
  • Maximizing Deductions : Include information on how to identify and claim relevant deductions to minimize tax liability. For example, if your business has significant equipment expenses or if you’re renting office space, you should know how these affect your taxes.
  • Seeking Professional Advice : While basic tax guides are helpful, consulting with a tax advisor or strategist can provide tailored advice that ensures compliance and optimizes tax benefits. This step is integral for complex situations or where the tax implications could significantly impact business finances.

Further reading: Maximizing Your Small Business Tax Benefits: 2023 Tax Year Strategies & New Reporting Changes

Budgeting made easy.

Budgeting effectively is a core skill every business owner should develop to ensure financial stability and facilitate growth. Here’s how to incorporate straightforward budgeting strategies into your business operations:

  • Expense Tracking : Start by categorizing expenses to track where every dollar is going. Categories might include rent, salaries, marketing, and web design. This clarity helps in making informed spending decisions.
  • Financial Forecasting : Use historical data to predict future spending needs and income . This is especially important for planning major investments or when scaling operations.
  • Regular Financial Reviews : Conducting regular reviews of your budget will help you stay on track and make necessary adjustments in response to financial performance or changing market conditions.
  • Budgeting Tools : Recommend specific budgeting tools that are designed for small business needs. These tools should provide visual representations of financial data, making it easier to digest and act upon.

Each of these sections should be detailed in the business plan to demonstrate a thorough understanding and proactive management of financial aspects. This approach not only helps in securing funding (e.g., from banks or venture capital) but also in managing day-to-day financial operations efficiently.

Building Strategic Partnerships and Collaborative Networks

Cross-industry alliances.

Engaging in cross-industry alliances is a strategic move that can drive substantial business growth and innovation. These partnerships leverage complementary strengths and resources, offering a multitude of benefits:

  • Innovation through Diverse Expertise : Combining knowledge and resources from different sectors can catalyze innovative solutions that neither partner could develop alone. For instance, a tech startup could collaborate with an established manufacturing firm to optimize production processes using advanced technology, resulting in a competitive edge in the market.
  • Access to New Markets : Each industry has its unique customer base. By forming alliances, businesses can bridge their offerings to new audiences. A successful example could involve a collaboration between a software development company and a telecommunications firm to introduce a new tech product to a broader audience, utilizing the telecom firm's extensive customer network.
  • Resource Sharing : Strategic partnerships allow for the sharing of critical assets such as technology, marketing channels, and expertise, leading to cost savings and enhanced product offerings. This might involve sharing R&D facilities or co-branding efforts for joint marketing campaigns.
  • Enhanced Credibility and Brand Perception : Partnering with reputable firms in other sectors can significantly boost a company's credibility and strengthen its brand image, attracting more customers and potential investors.

Documenting cross-industry alliances in a business plan must specify the objectives, expected outcomes, and the nature of the collaboration. Include specific information on how these alliances align with the business’ strategy and how they contribute to achieving the company’s goals.

Customer Involvement in Product Development

Integrate customer feedback into the product development process for aligning products with market needs and enhancing customer satisfaction. This strategy not only improves product-market fit but also fosters customer loyalty:

  • Direct Feedback for Better Products : Involving customers early in the development process ensures that the final product meets actual user needs and solves relevant problems. This can be achieved through methods like crowdsourcing ideas, beta testing new products, and incorporating user-generated content and suggestions into product design.
  • Build Customer Loyalty : Customers who participate in the product development lifecycle are more likely to develop a deeper connection with the brand, increasing their likelihood of becoming repeat buyers and brand advocates.
  • Agile Feedback Loops : Utilizing customer feedback during product testing phases allows for quick iterations and adjustments, greatly enhancing the product’s relevance and appeal upon launch.
  • Unlocking New Ideas : Customers often see different uses for a product or identify missing features that can lead to significant innovations, helping a company stay ahead of competitors.

The business plan must include a dedicated section outlining how customer feedback will be integrated into product development processes. This section should also include pricing strategies informed by customer input to ensure market competitiveness.

For businesses seeking funding or partnership, a well-crafted business plan is essential. Including sections like Cross-Industry Alliances and Customer Involvement showcases a comprehensive approach to strategic planning and market engagement.

For simplicity and clarity, especially when presenting to potential investors, consider summarizing key strategies in a one-page overview within the larger business plan. This not only highlights the strategic vision but also ensures that readers can quickly grasp the core elements of your plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Clarity is Key : Craft a clear, concise business plan to create financial projections and ensure a solid foundation.
  • Know Your Audience : Tailor your plan to engage stakeholders, addressing related topics like brand awareness.
  • Research Matters : Thorough market research strengthens your plan, supporting its solidity.
  • Financial Focus : Develop realistic projections for revenue and expenses to fortify your business plan.
  • Stay Adaptable : Flexibility is key to evolve strategies, including those for brand awareness, to maintain relevance.

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Furniture Store Business Plan PDF Example

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  • May 7, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a furniture store

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful furniture store. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your furniture store’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a furniture store business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the retail industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your furniture store concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our furniture store business plan is structured to cover all essential aspects needed for a comprehensive strategy. It outlines the shop’s operations, marketing strategy , market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Offers an overview of your furniture shop’s business concept, market analysis , management, and financial strategy.
  • Store & Location: Describes the shop’s design, layout, and why its location is appealing to potential customers.
  • Products & Pricing: Lists the types of furniture offered by your shop, including pricing structure.
  • Key Stats: Shares industry size , growth trends, and relevant statistics for the furniture market.
  • Key Trends: Highlights recent trends affecting the furniture sector.
  • Key Competitors : Analyzes main competitors in the area and how your shop differs from them.
  • SWOT : Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis.
  • Marketing Plan : Strategies for attracting and retaining customers.
  • Timeline : Key milestones and objectives from start-up through the first year of operation.
  • Management: Information on who manages the furniture shop and their roles.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the shop’s 5-year financial performance, including revenue, profits, and expected expenses.

the business plan template for a furniture store

Furniture Store Business Plan

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Fully editable 30+ slides Powerpoint presentation business plan template.

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your furniture store’s business plan, offering a concise overview of your store and its products. It should detail your market positioning, the range of furniture and home decor items you offer, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations.

This section should also explore how your furniture store will integrate into the local market, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your store’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors.

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the store’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your furniture store’s financial plan.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

Furniture Store Business Plan exec summary

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

Store & location.

Briefly describe the furniture store’s physical environment, emphasizing its design, layout, and the welcoming atmosphere it offers to customers. Mention the store’s location, highlighting its accessibility and the convenience it offers to shoppers, such as proximity to popular shopping districts or ease of parking. Explain why this location is advantageous in attracting your target clientele.

Supply & Products

Detail the range of furniture and related products offered, from basic home furnishings to specialized items like custom-made pieces, home accessories, or eco-friendly furniture. Outline your pricing strategy , ensuring it reflects the quality of products provided and matches the market you’re targeting. Highlight any promotions, financing options, or loyalty programs that provide added value to your customers, encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty.

Make sure to cover here _ Store & Location _ Supply & Products

how to make executive summary in strategic plan

Market Overview

Industry size & growth.

In the Market Overview of your furniture store business plan, start by examining the size of the furniture retail industry and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Key Market Trends

Proceed to discuss recent market trends , such as the increasing consumer interest in personalized furniture solutions, sustainable and eco-friendly products, and innovative design styles. For example, highlight the demand for furniture that caters to specific lifestyle needs and preferences, alongside the rising popularity of environmentally conscious furniture stores.

Key Competitors

Then, consider the competitive landscape, which includes a range of furniture stores from high-end boutiques to budget-friendly options, as well as online furniture sales trends. For example, emphasize what makes your store distinctive, whether it’s through exceptional customer service, a unique range of products, or specialization in certain types of furniture. This section will help articulate the demand for furniture store services, the competitive environment, and how your store is positioned to thrive within this dynamic market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

Furniture Store Business Plan market overview

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for the furniture store , highlighting Strengths (such as quality craftsmanship and a diverse product range), Weaknesses (including high operational costs or intense competition), Opportunities (for example, an increasing trend in home improvement and interior design), and Threats (such as economic downturns that may decrease consumer spending on non-essential items).

Marketing Plan

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain customers through targeted advertising, promotional discounts, engaging social media presence, and community involvement. This could include collaborations with interior designers, staging partnerships with real estate companies, or hosting DIY furniture workshops to increase brand visibility and consumer engagement.

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for the furniture store’s opening, marketing efforts, customer base growth, and expansion objectives, ensuring the business moves forward with clear direction and purpose. This timeline should include key dates for product launches, seasonal sales campaigns, and potential entry into new markets or online expansion.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

Furniture Store Business Plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the furniture store’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the furniture store toward its financial and operational goals.

For your furniture store business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

Furniture Store Business Plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your furniture store’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your furniture store business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

Furniture Store Business Plan financial plan

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IMAGES

  1. 31 Executive Summary Examples (Guide + Free Templates)

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  2. How to write an executive summary for a business plan pdf

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  3. 20+ Executive Summary Templates

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  4. 30+ Perfect Executive Summary Examples & Templates ᐅ TemplateLab

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  5. Executive Summary Template Google Docs

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  6. Executive Summary

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VIDEO

  1. Create a Business Plan

  2. Writing a Business Plan (Lesson 24): Executive Summary

  3. How To Write An Executive Summary For A Project

  4. Stanford's Executive Program in Strategy and Organization Program Overview

  5. What is a good example of an executive summary?

  6. Strategic Planning Process

COMMENTS

  1. How to write an executive summary, with examples

    In general, there are four parts to any executive summary: Start with the problem or need the document is solving. Outline the recommended solution. Explain the solution's value. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work. Free cross-functional project template.

  2. How to write an executive summary in 10 steps

    Strategic plans: When developing strategic plans for an organization, an executive summary is often included to provide an overview of the plan's goals, objectives, strategies, and key initiatives. It allows executives and stakeholders to grasp the essence of the strategic plan and its implications without reading the entire document.

  3. How to Write an Executive Summary (+ Examples)

    Here's a streamlined approach to crafting an impactful executive summary: 1. Start with Your Business Overview. Company Name: Begin with the name of your business. Location: Provide the location of your business operations. Business model: Briefly describe how you make money, the producfs and/or services your business offers.

  4. How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

    Executive Summary vs. Business Plan. All business plans have an executive summary, but not all executive summaries belong to business plans. A business plan includes a company overview, your company's short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and a list including each member of your management team.

  5. How to Write a Killer Executive Summary

    3. Keep it short. Ideally, the executive summary is short—usually just a page or two, five at the outside—and highlights the points you've made elsewhere in your business plan. Whatever length you land on, just focus on being brief and concise. Keep it as short as you can without missing the essentials.

  6. Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

    Bottom Line. Writing an executive summary doesn't need to be difficult if you've already done the work of writing the business plan itself. Take the elements from the plan and summarize each ...

  7. How to Write an Executive Summary

    An executive summary should be clear and concise (typically one to two pages long) and present the main points in a formal tone. The purpose of an executive summary is to pique the reader's curiosity by presenting facts from the larger piece of content it is summarizing. The executive summary can be either a portion of a business document (a ...

  8. How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

    Here's the good news: an executive summary is short. It's part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report. Here's the bad news: it's a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes.

  9. How to Write an Executive Summary in 10 Steps

    Step 2: Write for Your Audience. When writing your executive summary, you want to keep your intended audience in mind always and write it for them. First off, you need to consider your reader's current level of knowledge. Then use languages and terms appropriate for your target audience.

  10. How to Write an Executive Summary

    Write the executive summary. Go through your business plan and identify critical points to include in your executive summary. Touch on each business plan key point concisely but comprehensively ...

  11. Basic Guide to Writing Executive Summary for a Strategic Plan

    An executive summary for a strategic plan is a document that provides an overview of the key points of the business plan. It is typically used to introduce the plan to senior executives or other stakeholders. And it should be concise enough to explain the overall strategy without providing too much detail. The executive summary should highlight ...

  12. Quick Guide: How to Write a Strategic Plan

    Highlight the plan in a company newsletter. Include the plan in new employee onboarding. Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress. If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise.

  13. PDF How to Write an Executive Summary

    How to Write an Executive Summary . An executive summary is a concise document, demonstrating the problem, findings and recommendation of a longer policy report. Writing an executive summary will help your audience quickly understand the policy problem and proposed solution of your report. It is intended for a busy reader; and is a

  14. How to Write an Executive Summary in 6 Steps

    Once it's written, go back in and remove any unnecessary information. Remember, you should only be including the highlights—you have the rest of your business plan to go into more detail. The ...

  15. How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

    1. Vision. Your vision statement is your organization's anchor - it defines where you want to get to and is the executive summary of your organization's purpose. Without it, your strategic plan is like a boat without a rudder, at the mercy of strong winds and currents like Covid and global supply chain disruptions.

  16. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Report: Step By Step ...

    The purpose of the summary should typically be included in the introduction as an opening statement. Explain what you aim to achieve with the document and communicate the value of your desired objective. This part is supposed to grab your reader's attention, so make sure they pay extra attention when writing it. 2.

  17. How To Write an Executive Summary (With Example)

    Here are several general steps to consider when writing an executive summary: 1. Research effective executive summaries. Before you write your own executive summary, it may be helpful to review summaries written by others. This is especially true for those writing an executive summary for the first time.

  18. Must-Have Strategy Executive Summary Templates with Samples ...

    Strategy Executive Summary Templates. The following elements are included in an executive summary: Objectives: A brief statement of purpose of the report or document. Background: An overview of the background information and context of the report or document. Methodology: A description of the research methods or processes used to gather ...

  19. How to Write an Effective Executive Summary

    Paragraph 1: Provide an overview of your business. As mentioned, you can get your readers thinking along the track you'd like them to by including a quote or statistic in the first paragraph of your executive summary. This first paragraph is also where you should provide the name and nature of your business, and relevant insights about your ...

  20. PDF How to write a strategic plan

    Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls. Challenge of consensus over clarity. Challenge of who provides input versus who decides. Preparing a long, ambitious, 5 year plan that sits on a shelf. Finding a balance between process and a final product. Communicating and executing the plan. Lack of alignment between mission, action, and finances.

  21. How to Write a Great Executive Summary in a Business Plan

    How to write an executive summary for a business plan. 1. Introduce the purpose. First things first, let your readers know what is this all about—meaning what your document is all about and which business you are doing. Then introduce the purpose your business plan is going to address. This way you are setting the base of your business plan ...

  22. What to Include in an Executive Summary: Essential Elements for a

    Write the executive summary last to ensure it reflects the full document's content. Limit its length to 5-10% of the full report. Include the most critical details for decision-making. Adapting Your Executive Summary for Different Purposes. An executive summary isn't universally applicable. It demands customization to match its intended ...

  23. How to Write a Marketing Plan Executive Summary

    Provide line-by-line budget details for individual activities and related metrics to determine their success. Example: Our marketing budget for the year is $100,000, which will be spread over the following marketing activities. 7. Summarize your overall objectives and any related strategies.

  24. Take the First Step in Learning How to Write a Business Plan, Even with

    Here are key elements your business plan should focus on: Fundamental Tax Responsibilities: Clearly outline what taxes the business is liable for, such as income, payroll, and sales taxes. This information should be specific to your business's location and structure. Maximizing Deductions: Include information on how to identify and claim ...

  25. Furniture Store Business Plan PDF Example

    The Plan. Our furniture store business plan is structured to cover all essential aspects needed for a comprehensive strategy. It outlines the shop's operations, marketing strategy, market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts. Executive Summary: Offers an overview of your furniture shop's business concept ...

  26. Federal Register :: Request for Information on the Development of the

    Request for Comment on the NIH-Wide SGM Health Research Strategic Plan FY26—FY30: NIH is developing a strategic plan to advance SGM research in FY26-FY30. This RFI invites input from interested parties throughout the scientific research, advocacy, and clinical practice communities, federal partners, those employed by the Department of Health ...

  27. Project 2025

    Project 2025, also known as the Presidential Transition Project, is a collection of policy proposals to thoroughly reshape the U.S. federal government in the event of a Republican victory in the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Established in 2022, the project aims to recruit tens of thousands of conservatives to the District of Columbia to replace existing federal civil servants—whom ...

  28. Federal Register :: USAID Acquisition Regulation: Planning, Collection

    Start Preamble AGENCY: U.S. Agency for International Development. ACTION: Final rule; correction. SUMMARY: On May 6, 2024, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published a final rule amending USAID's Acquisition Regulation (AIDAR) that implements USAID requirements for managing digital information as a strategic asset to inform the planning, design, implementation ...