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  • Project planning |
  • 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

Project plans

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 (+ Examples)

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  • March 21, 2024
  • Business Plan , How to Write

executive summary example

The executive summary is the cornerstone of any business plan, serving as a gateway for readers to understand the essence of your proposal.

It summarizes the plan’s key points into a digestible format, making it crucial for capturing the interest of investors, partners, and stakeholders.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what the executive summary is, why we use it, and also how you can create one for your business plan. Let’s dive in!

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise and compelling overview of a business plan (or simply a report), designed to provide readers, such as investors, partners, or upper management, with a quick and clear understanding of the document’s most critical aspects.

For a business plan, it summarizes the key points including the business overview , market analysis , strategy plan timeline and financial projections.

Typically, the executive summary is the first section of a business plan, but it should be written last to ensure it accurately reflects the content of the entire document.

The primary goal of an executive summary is to engage the reader’s interest and encourage them to read the full document.

It should be succinct, typically no more than one to two pages, and articulate enough to stand on its own, presenting the essence of the business proposal or report without requiring the reader to go through the entire document for basic understanding.

Why Do We Use It?

The executive summary plays a crucial role in whether a business plan opens doors to funding, partnerships, or other opportunities . It’s often the first (and sometimes the only) part of the plan that stakeholders read, making it essential for making a strong, positive first impression. As such, we use it in order to:

  • Capture Attention: Given the volume of business plans investors, partners, and lenders might receive, an executive summary’s primary function is to grab the reader’s attention quickly. It highlights the most compelling aspects of the business to encourage further reading.
  • Save Time: It provides a succinct overview of the business plan, allowing readers to understand the key points without going through the entire document. This is particularly beneficial for busy stakeholders who need to make informed decisions efficiently.
  • Facilitate Understanding: An executive summary distills complex business concepts and strategies into a concise format. Therefore, it makes it easier for readers to grasp the business’s core mission, strategic direction, and potential for success.
  • Driving Action: By summarizing the financial projections and funding requirements, an executive summary can effectively communicate the investment opportunity. Indeed the investment opportunity, whether to raise money from investors or a loan from a bank, is the most common reason why we prepare business plans.
  • Setting the Tone: The executive summary sets the tone for the entire business plan. A well-written summary indicates a well-thought-out business plan, reflecting the professionalism and competence of the management team.

How to Write an Executive Summary in 4 Simple Steps

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.

2. Highlight the Market Opportunity

  • Target Market : Identify your target market and its size.
  • Market Trends : Highlight the key market trends that justify the need for your product or service.
  • Competitive Landscape : Describe how your business is positioned to meet this need effectively.

3. Present Your Management Team

  • Team Overview: Introduce the key members of your management team and their roles.
  • Experience: Highlight relevant experience and skills that contribute to the business’s success.

4. Include Financial Projections

  • Financial Summary: Provide a snapshot of key financial projections, including revenue, profits, and cash flow over the next three to five years.
  • Funding Requirements: If seeking investment, specify the amount needed and how it will be used.

2 Executive Summary Examples

Here are 2 examples you can use as an inspiration to create yours. These are taken from our coffee shop and hair salon business plan templates.

Coffee Shop Executive Summary

strategic planning executive summary examples

Hair Salon Executive Summary

strategic planning executive summary examples

Privacy Overview

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.

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  • 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.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

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.

strategic planning executive summary examples

Table of Contents

  • What to include
  • Writing tips
  • Additional resources

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How to Write an Effective Executive Summary: Examples and Tips

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In the world of startups, first impressions can make or break opportunities. Founders, imagine presenting your vision to potential investors, only to lose their interest within minutes. The issue? A lackluster executive summary . But there’s hope. With the right approach, you can captivate your audience from the get-go, ensuring they’re eager to learn more. 

Dive in to discover a proven strategy that transforms your summary from mundane to magnetic, opening doors to success.

What is an Executive Summary?

An Executive Summary is a brief and concise summary of a longer document, report, or proposal. It provides an overview of the main points, key findings, and recommendations, allowing the reader to quickly understand the purpose and content of the document without having to read the entire text. It is often used in business plans , research reports, and other documents to provide a snapshot of the content to busy executives or stakeholders.

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Source:  Google

When Should You Employ an Executive Summary? 

An executive summary is useful whenever a document becomes lengthy or intricate, requiring a concise overview to assist busy executives and decision-makers grasp its essence.

Common scenarios where an executive summary is valuable include:

  • Business plans
  • Research papers
  • Marketing plans
  • Investment proposals

Varieties of Executive Summaries 

Before delving into the steps of composing an executive summary, let’s briefly explore the diverse types you might encounter:

  • Business Plan Executive Summary:

A concise outline of a company’s business plan, spotlighting its mission, market analysis, products/services, financial projections , and growth strategies.

  • Project Proposal Executive Summary:

A condensed rendition of a project proposal, outlining its objectives, scope, methodology, budget , and anticipated outcomes.

  • Research Report Executive Summary:

A summary of an extensive research report, delivering an overview of the study, methodology, key findings, and recommendations.

  • Marketing Plan Executive Summary:

An overview of a marketing plan, encompassing market analysis, target audience, marketing strategies , and projected results.

Components of an Executive Summary

The executive summary must be brief, usually limited to one or two pages.

It should encompass:

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If your plan involves product manufacturing, consider incorporating a Products and Services section. Provide as much relevant information as possible within a well-organized and concise document.

Before We Begin!

For startup enterprises, the executive summary assumes paramount importance. The journey toward success necessitates an in-depth understanding of the target market, coupled with meticulous research. The executive summary is like a storage place that holds all the important information from the research. It shows how much thought and effort the startup put into planning. This makes the startup more appealing to potential investors. This could lead to getting the funding needed to start and grow the startup.  

Dos and Don’ts of Writing an Executive Summary

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A Single-page Document of Executive Summary could Encompass:

  • Elevator pitch
  • Simplified description of your services (skip the convoluted “global leader” language)
  • Team introduction with images – encompassing board members and advisors
  • Distinctive aspects of your solution
  • Target market details (economic buyer and estimated numbers)
  • Strategy for expansion (go-to-market approach)
  • Initial progress and early accomplishments, including positive user feedback
  • Notable clientele list, if applicable
  • Business model clarification
  • Future company trajectory and ambitious vision
  • Key factors that set your company apart Tailored to the audience:
  • Seeking funding? Mention the required amount and its allocation – provide contact details.
  • Searching for talent? Direct applicants where to apply.
  • Targeting customers? Indicate where to make purchases.
  • Needing beta users? Provide registration information.
  • Comprehensive contact information, including email, website, online platforms, and phone number. Also, specify your company’s location.

Below are some one pager executive summary report examples : 

(Click to access examples)

(Startup Executive Summary Examples)

(Templates for startups)

Your summary has to fit all the important things investors need to decide on just one page. Usually, this includes:

  • Saying why your company is special
  • Explaining what your product or service is
  • Talking about the people who will buy your product and the market it’s in
  • Telling how your business works and what you’re planning for the future
  • Showing how much money you think you’ll make
  • Saying how much money you need
  • Sharing any other interesting things about your company and the people who started it

Making your startup’s executive summary can help you understand what your company is good at and where it needs to improve and it can help you talk about the things that investors care about when you’re trying to get their support.

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Crafting an Effective Startup Executive Summary: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

  • Craft a Compelling Introduction: 

Begin your executive summary with an attention-grabbing introduction that not only introduces your startup but also evokes curiosity and interest. Use powerful language and vivid imagery to captivate the reader from the outset. 

Let’s take the example of a startup dedicated to revolutionizing botanical perennials for the natural supplement industry:

“Botanical Bounty is an existing farm dedicated to the production of botanical perennials for the natural supplement industry and plant nurseries. The farm has existed for two years now, initially operating as a hobby for the owner who recently decided to turn the farm into a profit-making business. Due to the market’s increasing interest in naturally grown products, the farm plans to increase production and become a full-time venture. The farm’s clear advantage is its dedication to this niche market, which gives it a competitive edge.” Source: Bplans

  • Address the Problem and Propose the Solution: 

Delve into the heart of the issue your startup seeks to address. Provide comprehensive context for the problem, emphasizing its relevance and impact. Subsequently, unveil your innovative solution that promises to alleviate this pain point. 

Let’s look at a down-to-earth example of a startup focusing on improving food delivery:

“In today’s busy world, getting food delivered quickly is a challenge. People want their meals fast, but sometimes the food arrives cold or late. Our startup steps in with a simple yet effective solution. We’re introducing smart, heated delivery bags that keep food warm and fresh from the restaurant to your doorstep. No more lukewarm meals or frustrating delays. With our heated bags, you can enjoy your food just as it should be—hot and delicious.”

  • Introduce the Key Team Members: 

In the journey of launching a startup, building an effective management team is paramount. This team will drive your day-to-day operations and long-term strategic direction.

Your management team must possess a diverse range of skills and experiences to harmoniously contribute to achieving your business goals. Ensure your startup business plan’s executive summary includes a detailed segment about your management team, highlighting their roles and responsibilities.

This section should encompass:

  • Organizational structure and hierarchy
  • Role and responsibilities of each team member
  • Experience and qualifications of team members
  • Collaboration dynamics among team members
  • Management style adopted by the team
  • Decision-making processes within the team

Your management team’s section in your business plan holds significance in assuring potential investors of the strength and potential of your startup. Invest time and effort in crafting a compelling and robust presentation of your management team’s strengths.

Example from an eco-friendly home products startup: 

“Introducing the powerhouse behind our startup, the embodiment of our mission. Emma Parker, our visionary CEO, seamlessly combines expertise in sustainable design with a strong commitment to the environment. Mark Ramirez, our CFO, harmonizes financial acumen with a deep passion for sustainability. Lisa Chen, our R&D Head, infuses a dedication to green technology into every innovative product. Together, our team drives us towards a future that’s greener and brighter.”

  • Expound Your Business Model: 

Articulate your startup’s underlying philosophy and mission. Having an incredible idea isn’t enough without a strong business plan. In this part, you’ll present to investors your detailed plans and the necessary business skills to put them into action.

If you’ve already written a business plan, this is where you’ll extract the key details. If not, take a break from the executive summary and draft one. You must have a business plan before you can approach investors.

Condense your business plan into a few short sentences covering:

  • Your revenue strategy (selling units, subscriptions, hourly services, etc.)
  • The potential for your business to grow over time
  • A brief timeline outlining your future goals and a clear schedule for achieving them
  • Your team composition. Are there industry experts, academics, award winners, or notable advisors/investors?
  • Avoid diving into the nitty-gritty details; that’s what the pitch meeting is for. Provide a broad overview that demonstrates you have a solid plan.

Highlight how your customer-centric approach ensures seamless alignment between your offerings and target audience. 

Here’s an example: 

EcoTech Innovations Executive Summary:

EcoTech Innovations is positioned for success through a robust revenue strategy focused on selling waste-to-energy technology units to commercial partners. Our scalable solution offers a compelling value proposition, reducing waste disposal costs and carbon emissions. As market demand grows for sustainable solutions, our technology’s potential to disrupt and lead is significant.

With a clear roadmap, our vision is to achieve nationwide adoption within three years, targeting key sectors including hospitality, manufacturing, and municipalities. Year one focuses on technology validation and partnership establishment, followed by accelerated growth and expanding product offerings in year two. By year three, we aim to solidify market leadership and explore international expansion.

Our diverse team includes industry veterans, technology experts, and environmental specialists. Leveraging our collective experience, we are well-positioned to execute our strategic goals and navigate industry challenges. Notable advisors and investors further strengthen our foundation and endorse our innovative approach.

In summary, EcoTech Innovations is poised for sustainable growth, capitalizing on our pioneering waste-to-energy technology and a dedicated team committed to driving positive environmental impact.

  • Explore the Market Landscape: 

Embark on a comprehensive exploration of the market terrain your startup navigates. Present a thorough analysis of competitors, similar products, and current market trends. Leverage data to substantiate your understanding of the landscape and establish the viability of your startup’s concept. 

For instance, if your startup focuses on sustainable fashion, consider competitor pricing, sustainable materials, and customer preferences.


Our market analysis reveals a compelling landscape for sustainable fashion. A comprehensive study of competitors showcases that our pricing strategy aligns well, focusing on affordability while using eco-friendly materials. The demand for sustainable materials is rising, as evidenced by a 25% increase in consumer preference for eco-conscious clothing in the past year. By tapping into this trend and leveraging our unique product offerings, we position ourselves as a frontrunner in the sustainable fashion sector.

  • Outline Strategies Against Competitors: 

Engage in a strategic discussion of how your startup plans to distinguish itself from competitors. Showcase your unique value proposition (UVP) and outline tailored strategies that position your venture as an attractive alternative. Highlight your competitive advantages, whether through innovation, branding, or distribution channels. Using the refillable sustainable fashion startup, elaborate on your proactive social media campaign to amplify brand visibility and engagement.

Our startup stands out in the competitive sustainable fashion market through a refillable model. This unique approach combines eco-friendly clothing with convenience. Our branding emphasizes this innovation, supported by partnerships with local artisans for distinct designs. We’ll use a hybrid distribution model, including online sales and pop-up stores, and drive brand visibility through a dynamic social media campaign. This positions us as a leader in stylish and responsible fashion choices.

  • Detail Startup Expenditures: 

Present a comprehensive breakdown of anticipated startup expenditures. Categorize costs associated with research and development, production, marketing, distribution, and any other relevant areas. Provide transparency in your financial planning , demonstrating a meticulous approach to resource allocation. In the context of launching a mobile app, outline expenses spanning app development, design, user acquisition, server costs, and ongoing maintenance. Show where you stand financially, how much funding you seek, and how you intend to utilize it. This can be done concisely with a few bullet points:

  • Your current financial situation: How much money you’ve raised in previous rounds, your monthly operating costs.

The amount of funding you seek, both overall and from the specific investor. Strategically decide how much to ask for.

  • The allocation of funds: Break it down into percentages if you’d like, such as 30% for product development, 20% for marketing, etc.

This section is crucial. Avoid overwhelming the reader with excessive text. Summarize the essential figures using a few bullet points.

Startup Expenditure Breakdown for Mobile App Launch:

  • App Development
  • User Interface Design
  • User Acquisition
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Server Costs
  • Backend Infrastructure
  • App Store Fees
  • Content Delivery Network
  • Legal and Compliance
  • Ongoing Maintenance

Financial Snapshot:

  • Raised $500,000 in Seed Round
  • Monthly Operating Costs: $25,000
  • Funding Sought: $1,000,000
  • Product Development: 40%
  • Marketing and User Acquisition: 25%
  • Operations and Infrastructure: 20%
  • Legal and Compliance: 10%
  • Contingency: 5%
  • Discuss Return on Investment (ROI):

Conclude by outlining the mechanisms through which investors can expect returns on their investment. Elaborate on various ROI avenues, such as equity ownership, profit-sharing, or interest payments. 

Align your ROI strategy with your startup’s financial model and investor preferences, underscoring your commitment to delivering value. 

Engage in a candid discussion on ROI terms and engage potential investors in a dialogue to tailor the approach to mutual satisfaction.

Delivering Returns on Investment (ROI) for Investors:

At [Startup Name], we are committed to ensuring that our investors realize substantial returns on their investment. Our ROI strategy is carefully designed to align with our startup’s financial model and investor preferences, demonstrating our dedication to delivering value.

We offer multiple avenues for ROI, each tailored to provide investors with attractive and mutually beneficial opportunities:

  • Equity Ownership: Investors will have the opportunity to own a stake in our company, allowing them to benefit directly from our growth and success. As our startup thrives, so will our investors’ equity value.
  • Profit-Sharing: We believe in sharing success. Our investors can expect a share of the profits generated by our operations. This approach directly ties their ROI to the performance of our business.
  • Interest Payments: For those who prefer a more structured approach, we offer the option of receiving regular interest payments on their investment. This provides consistent returns over time.

Our ROI terms are open for discussion, reflecting our commitment to transparency and mutual satisfaction. We encourage potential investors to engage in a candid dialogue with us, allowing us to tailor the ROI approach to their preferences and financial goals.

At [Startup Name], we see our investors as partners on our journey to success. By choosing us, investors are not only investing in a promising venture but also becoming integral contributors to our growth story.

Invest with us, and together, we’ll shape a future of innovation, growth, and impressive returns.

  • Perfect Your Presentation

How you present your executive summary matters just as much as the content. If you can’t get investors to open and read it, your pitch might fall flat. 

Spend time crafting your sentences. Keep the pitch brief, professional, and direct. Explain who you are and why your company deserves their interest. Give them a compelling reason to read your summary.

Some Real Life Examples of Executive Summaries: 

  • Read Jeff Bezos’ 1997 shareholder letter.
  • Read Facebook’s 2012 IPO prospectus.
  • Read Tesla’s 2021 impact report foreword.

Examples of Effective Executive Summaries in different contexts: 

  • Business Plan Executive Summary Example:

Our startup, EcoLife Innovations, aims to revolutionize the consumer market with our cutting-edge eco-friendly household product. Designed to reduce plastic waste, our product addresses the growing demand for sustainable solutions. Market research reveals a 20% year-on-year increase in eco-conscious consumers. Our experienced team of engineers and marketers is poised to capture this market.

Key Points:

  • Unique Product: Our patented design offers a reusable and durable alternative to single-use plastics, resonating with environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Target Market: Millennial and Gen Z consumers seeking eco-friendly alternatives, supported by a $10 billion market opportunity.
  • Financial Projections: Projected revenue of $5 million in the first year, driven by a robust marketing strategy and strategic partnerships.
  • Sustainability Impact: Our product contributes to reducing plastic waste by 50%, aligning with global sustainability goals.

By investing in EcoLife Innovations, you’re supporting an innovative solution to a pressing environmental challenge while tapping into a lucrative market. Join us in making a lasting impact while generating impressive returns.

[Additional Contact Information and Call to Action]

  • Project Proposal Executive Summary Example:

Our proposed community development initiative, “EmpowerLocal,” aims to uplift underserved neighborhoods by creating vocational training centers. We begin with a powerful story: A single mother’s journey from unemployment to self-sufficiency through our pilot program. This initiative targets high unemployment rates, offering skill-building workshops and job placement services.

  • Program Objectives: Reduce unemployment by 30% within two years through vocational training and job placement support.
  • Methodology: Establish three training centers across targeted neighborhoods, partnering with local businesses for job placement.
  • Community Impact: By empowering residents with marketable skills, we contribute to economic growth and sustainable livelihoods.
  • Sustainability: A self-sustaining model achieved through partnerships with local businesses and government agencies.

Your support for EmpowerLocal will make a tangible difference in the lives of underserved individuals, fostering economic growth and community resilience. Join us in creating a brighter future for our neighborhoods.

Executive Summary Tools:

These tools offer templates, guides, and features to help you structure and format your executive summary effectively. Be sure to explore these tools to find the best fit your needs. Here are some tools available on the web that can assist you in crafting an effective executive summary:

  • LivePlan: 

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Source: LivePlan

It offers templates and examples that help you craft a professional executive summary. It guides you through the process of creating a business plan, including the executive summary, making it easier to organize your thoughts and present your business idea clearly.

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Source: Canva

Although primarily a design tool, Canva offers templates for business documents, including executive summaries. You can customize the template with your own text, colors, and branding to create a visually appealing executive summary.

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Source: Upmetrics

This is a business planning tool that provides templates and examples for various sections of a business plan, including the executive summary. It helps you structure your executive summary and ensures that you include all the necessary information.

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Source: Bplan

It offers a wide range of sample business plans from various industries, which can provide you with inspiration and guidance on how to craft your own executive summary.

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Source: Venngage

This is a design tool that offers templates for various business documents, including executive summaries. You can customize the template to create a visually appealing and professional executive summary.

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Source: Pandadoc

This tool offers document automation features that can help you create an executive summary quickly and efficiently. You can use their templates or create your own document from scratch.

  • Tarkenton GoSmallBiz:

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Source: GoSmallBiz

This is a comprehensive business planning tool that guides you through the entire process of creating a business plan, including the executive summary. It offers templates, examples, and tips to help you craft an effective executive summary.

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Source: Bizplan

This is an online business planning tool that guides you through the process of creating a business plan, including the executive summary. It offers templates and examples to help you structure your executive summary effectively.

Tailoring the Executive Summary to Different Audiences

Crafting an effective executive summary involves more than just summarizing the report’s content; it also requires tailoring the tone, language, and content to cater to specific target audiences. Recognizing that different stakeholders have varying interests and priorities, a customized approach ensures that the executive summary resonates with each group. Here’s how the tone, language, and content of an executive summary may vary based on the target readers:


When presenting to potential investors, the executive summary should emphasize the startup’s growth potential, market opportunity, and financial projections. The tone should be confident and visionary, showcasing the startup’s potential to generate returns on investment. The language should be business-focused and highlight key metrics such as revenue, profit margins, and market share. Additionally, the executive summary should emphasize the startup’s competitive advantage and the scalability of its business model.


For stakeholders such as board members or internal teams, the executive summary should provide a comprehensive overview of the startup’s performance, challenges, and strategic initiatives. The tone should be balanced and informative, conveying both achievements and areas for improvement. The language should be professional and technical, using industry-specific terms that resonate with the stakeholders’ expertise. The content should address key operational metrics, innovation efforts, and the alignment of strategies with the startup’s mission and values.


When targeting clients or customers, the executive summary should focus on the value proposition of the startup’s products or services. The tone should be customer-centric and solution-oriented, highlighting how the startup addresses clients’ pain points. The language should be accessible and free of jargon, making it easy for clients to understand the benefits they can expect. The content should showcase real-world examples, testimonials, and case studies demonstrating the startup’s track record of delivering value to its clients.

Partnerships and Collaborators: 

In the context of potential partnerships or collaborations, the executive summary should emphasize the mutual benefits and synergies. The tone should be collaborative and highlight how the partnership aligns with the goals of both parties. The language should emphasize shared objectives and the potential for innovation through collaboration. The content should showcase how the startup’s strengths complement the partner’s capabilities and how the combined efforts can lead to a win-win scenario.

Wrapping Up

The executive summary showcases your skill in summarizing your startup’s potential in a short and engaging way. It’s the vital link that connects curiosity to belief, capturing the core of your venture. Your executive summary isn’t just an introduction; it’s a build-up of potential, inviting stakeholders, partners, and investors to accompany you on this transformative journey. 

As you embark on this path, may your executive summary pave the road for a symphony of accomplishments, echoing the triumphant successes of your startup’s future.

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About the author: Aqsa Sheraz

Aqsa Sheraz, an accomplished writer, possesses a diverse set of skills that bring a captivating edge to her work. With a Bachelor's degree in psychology, she seamlessly integrates her understanding of human behavior with expertise in HR, Digital Marketing, SEO, and SMM. By leveraging this unique combination of talents, Aqsa expertly crafts content that not only yields tangible results but also captivates and resonates with the target audience. Her strategic optimization techniques strategically enhance brand impact, ensuring her content is both impactful and engaging.


How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

strategic planning executive summary examples

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.

#1 Strategy Execution Platform Don't plan to fail.  Break down the complexity of your plans from high-level initiative to  executable outcome.   Learn how. Book a demo!

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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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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How to Write an Executive Summary, with Examples | UPDATED 2024 Guide

How to Write an Executive Summary

About the author

Jill Romford

Jill Romford

Dec 14,2023 - Last update: Dec 14,2023

So you want to know about  how to write an executive summary you in the right place?

In the vast landscape of business, where every venture seeks its own unique foothold, the ability to articulate a compelling narrative can make all the difference. 

Imagine this: You've poured months, if not years, into developing a groundbreaking business plan, a project poised to change the game. But, in a world bustling with distractions, how do you ensure your brilliance isn't lost in the noise?

Enter the hero of your business tale—the executive summary . 

This concise document is your knight in shining armor, your envoy to the busy decision-makers who hold the keys to your success. In the chapters that follow, we embark on a journey to unravel the secrets of writing an executive summary that captivates, persuades, and propels your endeavors forward.  

Project management offers a valuable framework for planning, overseeing, and accomplishing your team's tasks efficiently. Having a quick overview of this information is often beneficial. 

However, there are instances when new project members or executive stakeholders seek a simplified perspective of your project. In such cases, presenting the project's key elements concisely becomes crucial, ensuring that the reader's attention is retained.

The most effective tool for achieving this is an executive summary company template. 

If you're unfamiliar with the process of crafting an executive summary, this article provides comprehensive guidance on planning, writing, and effectively sharing these summaries with your team.

What is an executive summary?

  An executive summary serves as a concise overview of a document, and its length and content depend on the specific document it summarizes. Typically ranging from one to two pages, the executive summary aims to provide high-level stakeholders and readers with essential information.

Consider this: If your executive summary were the only section read by your key stakeholders, would it sufficiently equip them with the knowledge needed for success? If the answer is yes, then your executive summary has effectively fulfilled its purpose.

Executive summaries are commonly found in various documents, including:

  • Business cases
  • Project proposals
  • Research papers
  • Environmental studies
  • Market surveys
  • Project plans

Typically comprising four key elements, an effective executive summary should:

  • Begin by addressing the problem or need that the document seeks to resolve.
  • Outline the proposed solution to the identified problem.
  • Articulate the value of the recommended solution.
  • Conclude by emphasizing the significance of the work presented in the document.

The objectives of an executive summary encompass:

  • Capturing the reader's attention.
  • Informing them about what to anticipate in the business plan, thereby motivating them to continue reading.
  • Offering a high-level overview of your company, encompassing both short-term and long-term goals.
  • Functioning as an elevator pitch.

Check out: Top 6 AI-Powered Project Management Tools To Use In 2023 ​

The benefits of an executive summary

You might be wondering: why should I compose an executive summary for my project? Isn't the project plan sufficient?

Well, as mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or necessity to delve into the intricate details of your project to quickly understand its goals and significance. 

Tools like AgilityPortal for work management are instrumental in capturing crucial project information, providing clarity for you and your team regarding responsibilities and timelines. 

However, the executive summary serves a different purpose; it is tailored less for team members actively involved in the project and more for external stakeholders seeking rapid insights and answers regarding the project's significance.

An impactful executive summary offers stakeholders a high-level overview of the entire project and its key points, sparing them from the need to immerse themselves in all the minutiae. 

If they desire more in-depth information, they can then refer to the comprehensive project plan or navigate through tasks using your work management tool.  

What information to include in an executive summary

  The content of an executive summary will vary depending on factors such as the nature of the business, industry, project goals, and other considerations. 

However, most executive summaries share several key elements:

  • Business or Project Overview: This section includes details such as the name, geographical location, mission statement, and overall nature of the business or project.
  • Company Description: Provide a historical background of the company, introduce the team, and mention any additional staff or partners involved.
  • Market Analysis: Present information about the project, service, or product, detailing how it will function in the market, including features and benefits.
  • Financial Outlook and Funding Requests: Discuss any financial obligations, sources of funds, and the utilization of funds in the executive summary.
  • Unique Selling Point or Proposition: Include supporting evidence demonstrating how your project, product, or service addresses a market problem or pain.
  • Solutions to Problems: Outline how your offering aims to remedy market pain or problems, showcasing your proposed solutions.
  • Financial Breakdown: Specify the areas of funding required from investors.
  • Clear, Concise Conclusion: Conclude the executive summary with a brief recap of key points and an overview of the overall goal of the project, product, or service.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

​ An effective executive summary comprises four essential components. 

To craft an outstanding executive summary, adhere to this template. 

After completing the writing process, review your executive summary to ensure it encompasses all the crucial information required by your stakeholders.  

Here are some  sample executive summary to produce a good document. 

1.  Engage the Reader with a Powerful Introduction

The initial sentences of your executive summary play a pivotal role in captivating the reader's interest and enticing them to delve deeper into your proposal. 

Initiate with a succinct yet compelling statement that underscores the fundamental problem or opportunity at the heart of your proposal.

Example Extension: ​  

In the dynamic landscape of today's competitive market, where businesses relentlessly pursue avenues to streamline operations and boost efficiency, our revolutionary technology platform emerges as a transformative solution. 

This cutting-edge innovation has the potential to redefine how companies navigate and optimize their workflow, presenting an unparalleled opportunity for progress and success in an ever-evolving business environment.

2.Precisely Outline the Problem or Opportunity ​

Prior to presenting your proposed solution, provide a lucid description of the specific problem or opportunity that your proposal aims to tackle. 

This step is essential for offering the reader a comprehensive understanding of the context and urgency surrounding your proposal. 

Example Extension:

Addressing the prevailing issue of manual data entry, our current processes are marred by inefficiency, time consumption, and an elevated risk of errors. 

This inefficacy not only poses a threat to productivity but also demands a strategic intervention. Enter our automated data capture system—a transformative solution designed to alleviate these challenges. 

By implementing this innovative system, we anticipate an impressive 80% reduction in errors, liberating valuable employee time to concentrate on more strategic and value-driven tasks.

3.Present Your Proposed Solution

​Concisely detail your envisioned solution, emphasizing its fundamental features and benefits. 

Articulate how your solution adeptly resolves the identified problem or capitalizes on the presented opportunity.

Introducing our cutting-edge cloud-based platform, meticulously crafted to seamlessly integrate with your existing systems. 

This enables the extraction, processing, and analysis of data in real-time, fostering a streamlined workflow that not only enhances accuracy but also unlocks valuable insights. 

Our solution is poised not just to resolve the previously outlined challenges but to empower your organization with the tools for informed decision-making, ushering in a new era of efficiency and effectiveness.

4. Quantify the Impact of Your Solution

 Support the effectiveness of your solution by offering tangible examples of its potential impact on the organization's business goals. 

Utilize numbers, statistics, and case studies to vividly illustrate the anticipated benefits and return on investment.

The transformative impact of our solution is quantifiable and compelling. 

Recent implementations have resulted in an impressive average of a 20% reduction in operational costs, coupled with a noteworthy 30% surge in customer satisfaction. 

Moreover, organizations embracing our solution have reported a substantial 15% increase in revenue, showcasing not just a resolution to existing challenges but a strategic investment with substantial returns on multiple fronts.

5.Summarize Key Takeaways

Recapitulate the pivotal aspects of your executive summary, reinforcing the value proposition and highlighting the potential impact of your proposal. 

Conclude with a compelling call to action, prompting the reader to progress to the next phase, whether it involves requesting a detailed proposal or scheduling a meeting.

In summary, our executive summary underscores the transformative potential of our proposed solution. 

From addressing pressing challenges to seizing lucrative opportunities, our meticulously designed plan stands as a strategic investment for success. 

As we extend this invitation to CEOs, senior management executives, investors, potential collaborators, and government officials, we envision collaborative discussions that will unlock new avenues for growth. 

Take the next step with us – request a detailed proposal or schedule a meeting, and let's embark on this journey together toward innovation and success.

Example of an executive summary

Here is an sample executive summary provided by Asana , offering a structured framework for summarizing key project details and objectives. 

Utilizing such templates can streamline the process of crafting an executive summary, ensuring that essential information is effectively communicated in a clear and organized manner.

Example of an executive summary : Asana

Here is another example provided by Forbes

Provided by Forbes

Mistakes to avoid when writing executive summaries

Developing expertise in executive summary writing takes time and practice, and that's perfectly fine. 

T o get you started, utilize the four-part template presented in this article as a roadmap. 

As you refine your executive summary writing abilities, here are some common traps to evade:

1.Writing too long or too short ​

Crafting an executive summary requires striking a balance between brevity and informativeness. Ideally, it should be succinct, constituting approximately 10% to 20% of the main document's length. 

Excessive verbosity risks inundating the reader with superfluous details, potentially diluting the core message. 

Conversely, an overly brief summary may fail to convey sufficient information, leaving the reader without a comprehensive understanding of the project or proposal's significance. 

Therefore, it is imperative to optimize the length of the executive summary, ensuring it delivers a concise yet comprehensive overview.

 2. Replicating or duplicating the content

A well-crafted executive summary is not meant to serve as an exact replica of the primary document. Its purpose lies in extracting and presenting the essential elements while steering clear of unnecessary repetition and superfluous details. 

The emphasis should be on delivering a succinct and lucid summary that encapsulates the project's core goals, objectives, and methodology without overwhelming the reader with redundant information.  

3.Lacking structure or logic

A proficiently structured executive summary adheres to a logical sequence, commencing with an engaging introduction, providing a comprehensive overview of the project's background and context, delineating the identified problem or opportunity, elucidating the proposed solution or approach, and culminating with a compelling call to action. 

Steer clear of disjointed narratives or abrupt shifts between unrelated subjects to ensure a seamless and coherent presentation.

4.Missing the hook or the call to action

The inception of an executive summary plays a crucial role in capturing the reader's attention and fostering their curiosity. Employ robust language and pertinent examples to underscore the project's importance and its potential ramifications. 

When articulating the call to action, articulate a clear directive outlining the desired next steps for the reader, be it in terms of investment, project support, or a comprehensive review of the complete proposal.

5. Not proofreading or editing

A refined and error-free executive summary serves as a testament to professionalism and a meticulous approach. It is imperative to meticulously proofread and edit your work, meticulously addressing grammatical errors, typos, and any inconsistencies. 

Ensure that the language used is not only clear and concise but also captivating to enhance the overall quality of the document.

To avoid these common mistakes, follow these guidelines

  • Know your audience: Tailor your executive summary to the specific needs and interests of your target audience. Consider their level of understanding and the information they are most likely to be interested in.
  • Start with a strong hook: Engage the reader with a captivating introduction that highlights the project's value proposition and potential impact.
  • Structure your summary logically: Follow a clear and concise flow, from background information to problem-solution-methodology-call to action.
  • Use strong action verbs: Choose verbs that convey the project's urgency and impact.
  • Quantify your results: Where possible, provide specific data and metrics to demonstrate the project's potential benefits.
  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid jargon and overly technical terms that may confuse non-experts.
  • Seek feedback: Ask colleagues or mentors to review your executive summary for clarity, effectiveness, and overall impact.

By avoiding these common mistakes and following these guidelines, you can craft an executive summary that effectively captures the reader's attention, conveys your message clearly, and persuades them to take action.  

Wrapping up:an executive summary is a important document

Executive summaries serve as an effective means to ensure that all team members are informed and aligned regarding the project's status. 

When dealing with numerous project stakeholders requiring swift comprehension of the project's objectives and significance, an executive summary proves to be an ideal tool for providing the necessary insights. 

For additional guidance on bridging high-level strategy and plans with day-to-day execution, explore our article on Standard Operating Procedures .

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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. 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.

List view in ProjectManager

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.

strategic planning executive summary examples

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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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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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When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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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


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.

Don't leave the success of your business to chance. Invest in our Holistic PPT Set today and unlock the power of strategic success!

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 Executive Summary With Example

Make Writing Your Executive Summary Easier With This Example

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

strategic planning executive summary examples

How To Write an Executive Summary

What to include in an executive summary, executive summary example.

The Balance / Jo Zhou

An executive summary is a brief overview at the beginning of your business plan. It should provide a short, concise summary of your business that captures the reader's attention and gives them an interest in learning more about it. See an example of a business plan's executive summary so you can begin writing one of your own.

Key Takeaways

  • An executive summary is a concise overview of the business plan.
  • Place the executive summary near the beginning of the business plan.
  • Before you write the executive summary, you'll have to write the rest of the business plan first.
  • The executive summary should contain all relevant information about the business, including name, mission, services offered, market, and financial projections.

The executive summary goes near the beginning of the business plan but is written last. To include a summary of the different parts of your business plan, you'll need to write them first.

When you write the executive summary, keep it under two pages. The executive summary should contain brief summaries of other sections of the plan. 

The idea is to give a brief overview of your business first before going into detail about each of the different parts.

The executive summary should contain all of the important information about your business, such as:

  • Business name
  • Business location
  • Your mission as a company
  • A history of the company
  • Management and advisors
  • Services or products offered
  • The market for your offerings
  • Your business's competitive advantages
  • Your financial projections
  • Startup financing required, if any

Format the executive summary clearly and attractively, with headings for each section. Your word processing software may have a template you can use that will make your business plan look good.

It's always easier to write something if you can read an example first, so here's an executive summary example that you can use as a model for your own business plan's executive summary.

This executive summary is for a fictional company called Pet Grandma Inc.

Pet Grandma Inc. offers superior on-site pet sitting and exercising services for dogs and cats, providing the personal loving pet care that the owners themselves would provide if they were home. Our team will ensure that pet owners can take business trips or vacations knowing that their pets are in good hands.

Company and Management

Pet Grandma Inc. is headquartered in the City of West Vancouver and  incorporated  in the Province of British Columbia. The company is owned by partners Pat Simpson and Terry Estelle. Pat has extensive experience in animal care while Terry has worked in  sales and marketing  for 15 years.

The management of Pet Grandma Inc. consists of co-owners Pat Simpson and Terry Estelle. Both partners will be taking hands-on management roles in the company. In addition, we have assembled a  board of advisors  to provide management expertise. The advisors are:

  •  Juliette LeCroix, partner at LeCroix Accounting LLP
  •  Carey Boniface, veterinarian and partner at Little Tree Animal Care Clinic
  •  John Toms, president of Toms Communications Ltd.

Our clients are dog owners and cat owners who choose to leave their pets at home when they travel, or who want their pets to have company when their owners are at work. Pet Grandma Inc. offers a variety of pet care services, all in the pet’s home environment, including:

  • Dog walking
  • Daily visits
  • 24-hour care for days or weeks
  • Administration of medications by qualified staff
  • Emergency treatment in case of illness (arranged through veterinarians)
  • Plant watering
  • Mail collection
  • Garbage/recycling

Across Canada, the pet care business has seen an explosion of growth over the last three years. West Vancouver is an affluent area with a high pet density. Our  market research  has shown that nine out of 10 pet owners polled in West Vancouver would prefer to have their pets cared for in their own homes when they travel rather than be kenneled and six out of 10 would consider having a pet sitter provide company for their dog when they were at work.

Competitive Advantages

While there are currently eight businesses offering pet sitting in West Vancouver, only three of these offer on-site pet care and none offers “pet visit” services for working pet owners.

Pet Grandma ’s marketing strategy is to emphasize the quality of pet care we provide (“a Grandma for your pet!”) and the availability of our services. Dog owners who work, for instance, will come home to find happy, friendly companions who have already been exercised and walked, instead of demanding, whiny animals.

All pet services will be provided by animal care-certified staff.

All employees are insured and bonded.

Financial Projections

Based on the size of our market and our defined market area, our  sales projections  for the first year are $340,000. We project a growth rate of 10% per year for the first three years.

The salary for each of the co-owners will be $40,000. At startup, we will have six trained staff to provide pet services and expect to  hire  four more this year once  financing  is secured. To begin with, co-owner Pat Simpson will be scheduling appointments and coordinating services, but we plan to hire a full-time receptionist this year as well.

Already we have service commitments from more than 40 clients and plan to aggressively build our client base through newspaper, website, social media, and direct mail advertising. The loving, on-site professional care that Pet Grandma Inc. will provide is sure to appeal to cat and dog owners throughout the West Vancouver area.

Startup Financing Requirements

We are seeking an operating line of $150,000 to finance our first-year growth. Together, the co-owners have invested $62,000 to meet working capital requirements.

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Marketing Plan

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Table of Contents

A marketing plan is essential when you are launching a new business or product. This plan guides your marketing activities, which can include building brand awareness, establishing your competitive advantage, growing your customer base and attracting new leads.

Marketing plans can be complex because they provide a lot of detail about your overall marketing goals and supporting activities. That’s why it’s important to also write an executive summary for your marketing plan.

What is an executive summary for a marketing plan?

As the name suggests, an executive summary provides a high-level overview of your marketing plan. Its primary purpose is to reduce complex topics and projects within your greater marketing plan to the basics and show your short-term and long-term goals. In one or two pages, it describes the key results of your marketing research and provides an overview of your brand objectives, marketing goals and related activities. 

A marketing plan executive summary is usually one or two pages that provide an overview of the marketing plan.

How to write a marketing plan executive summary

The executive summary should cover the main parts of your marketing plan, as well as information about your company and brand, your products or services, the market, and your overall direction. While the marketing plan is typically written in sections separated by subheadings, the executive summary is usually written as a series of paragraphs, with each paragraph focusing on one section of the marketing plan.

Here’s how to write your executive summary and what information you should include in each paragraph:

1. Write an introduction.

Your executive summary should begin with an introduction that briefly explains what the reader can expect. It provides valuable context and will make the subsequent points easier to understand. Concisely explain the project, the purpose of your marketing plan, and the key benefits it provides to potential customers. Keep the introduction simple, short and direct.

Example : This plan is presented for XYZ Company, which sells widgets for the IT industry. We’ve created a new widget for the healthcare industry, and our marketing plan will show that we have a unique opportunity to expand into a new market.

2. Describe your company and team.

Briefly describe your business, including its history, structure, customer base and sales figures. List the main people involved with the business, including their positions and responsibilities, their respective skills and experience, and their responsibilities with respect to achieving your marketing goals . Include relevant external service providers (e.g., accountants, marketing experts and suppliers) and your company’s name, location and contact information.

Example : XYZ Company has been around since 2010 and is based in Anaheim, California. We sell widgets for the IT industry, which are designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs.

3. Outline market factors and trends.

Describe the marketplace and industry sectors in which you sell your products and services, and the main trends that affect them. List the factors that influence the market, the innovations that are taking place, and the main drivers or players involved.

Example : There are several large companies and a few smaller specialty companies that sell similar widgets to the IT industry. Innovations in this market can cause disruptions, but only when they provide significant benefits in cost savings or efficiencies.

4. Describe products or services being marketed.

Describe your products or services and explain their key features and benefits. Outline your products’ or services’ unique selling propositions to show how they differ from or are better than competitors’ offerings.

Example : We’ve created a new widget for the healthcare industry, which is outside our current market. This new product provides healthcare companies with greater efficiencies and cost savings not currently offered by existing products. Similar products exist in other industries, but there are currently no widgets designed specifically for the healthcare industry.

5. Define your customer base and related marketing activities.

Describe the key aspects of your target audience, as well as how you identify those customers. Briefly explain where you find your target customers and how you will reach them. Outline your promotional strategy, including its main objectives and related timelines. Describe your key marketing priorities and how they relate to specific business activities (e.g., entering a new market or creating new products). Explain what methods you will use to distribute your products or services.

Example : Our target market is large healthcare companies, including hospitals, clinics and manufacturers of healthcare devices. We plan to do a marketing campaign through direct sales and social media marketing. [Learn more about how to design an email marketing campaign you can include in your marketing plan/executive summary.]

6. Define any financial plans and projections.

Clearly define key financial information related to short-term and long-term marketing activities. 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.

Briefly describe the project’s goals and the strategies that will be implemented to achieve those goals. Conclude with a couple of sentences that will encourage the reader to review your marketing plan.

Example : We’ve developed a marketing plan that will help us to quickly reach key stakeholders in the healthcare industry and become the main provider of widgets to this market. We will use our experience in selling to the IT industry to showcase the benefits of our widget.

Additional tips for writing an executive summary

These tips should help you create an effective executive summary of your marketing plan:

Write the executive summary last.

The executive summary is a brief overview of your marketing plan. Write the complete marketing plan before you provide a summary of that plan. Once you have all of the information for your marketing plan, you can decide what’s important enough to include in the executive summary. 

Whoever reads the executive summary should come away with a complete understanding of your marketing goals. Tell your story. Explain what your company does and why you chose to do what you do. Talk about what matters to you, the people who are helping you meet your goals, and what you want to achieve with your marketing.

Telling your brand’s story will entice readers and encourage them to read the full marketing plan.

Take notes.

When you’re creating your marketing plan, make note of anything that stands out. This could include interesting statistics, memorable moments, key findings about your competitors, anecdotes from leadership, ideas to support promotion and newsworthy events. Check out what your favorite brands are doing, note anything interesting you’ve read in a blog or article, or recall an interesting tool or technology that you can apply to your business. These ideas can be inspiration for an engaging executive summary.

Do your research.

Your executive summary must contain key data and findings, including an analysis of the market and your competition, as well as budgetary and financial considerations. Your full marketing plan will provide more details, but the executive summary should contain important research data to get your reader interested in your marketing plan.

Watch your language.

An executive summary is a professional document, so you should write in a professional manner. However, the language should also reflect who you are as a person and as a company.

Your executive summary tells your story. What is your style? What is your audience’s style? The tone of this document should match the tone of your marketing material and your company.

Avoid clichés and hyperbole, as they come off as inauthentic and can rub readers the wrong way. Clichés tend not to match the reality of your situation, as they can overpromise on what you can actually deliver. Is your company the best in its category among all competitors? What determines “best”? Ensure any claims you make are specific and measurable.

Remember the marketing.

Keep in mind that the purpose of your executive summary is to market your business. The summary should concisely position what you’ve written in the marketing plan in a way that compels the reader to continue. Include a brief explanation of the most important and interesting information and the key takeaways that will matter to the reader. [Learn more about effective offline marketing tactics you could potentially include in your marketing plan.] 

Keep it current.

Your marketing plan should change over time, and so should your executive summary. Include any updates to your products, services or technologies, or any significant changes in your market and competition. For example, COVID-19 forced many companies to change their marketing strategies and business practices. Your executive summary should reflect the changes your company has made to its marketing plan to deal with the changes in the market.

Treat your executive summary as a living, breathing document that is subject to changes, just like your marketing plan. Write it with the expectation that it will change over time to reflect any serious changes in your business’s market.

Importance of the executive summary in a marketing plan

A marketing plan has several benefits:

  • It helps you understand the needs of your target audience.
  • It enables you to market your products to meet your customers’ specific needs.
  • It determines what content you should produce to support your marketing efforts.
  • It describes your competitive advantage and unique selling points.

The marketing plan is your guide to marketing your business effectively. The executive summary highlights the most important goals, actions and research results of your marketing plan. It is designed to grab readers’ attention and ensure they quickly understand where your business is going and how it plans to get there.

Additional reporting by Sean Peek.


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Strategic Plan

  • Executive Summary

This strategic plan builds upon a decade of growth and success in providing world-class education, research, and outreach and engagement benefiting Michigan, the nation and people around the globe. That decade flows from a storied history, strengths built over time, and the unique character of the Spartan community, known for its collaborative, innovative spirit and determination to make a difference. But great institutions never stand still. And neither will we. Our trajectory is positive, and our will is legendary. We can and will achieve more in the decade ahead. The needs we were built to serve demand no less.

Between 2010 and 2020, we grew from 47,278 to 49,809 students while improving student graduation rates from 77% to 81% and closing graduation gaps. The graduation rate for Hispanic/Latinx students increased 10 percentage points, and graduation rates for African American/Black students increased 8 percentage points. These are positive trends, but we are committed to doing more. Graduation rates for African American/Black students still lagged the average by 18 percentage points in 2020 and Hispanic/Latinx students were 9 points below the average. While the 2020 graduation rate for American Indian/Alaska Native students was 81%, previous years have fallen significantly short of this percentage and been highly variable due to a small number of students enrolled (ranging between 41% and 71% between 2016 and 2019). The graduation rate for Asian students was 87% in 2020, 6 percentage points above the average.

We must continue striving to ensure we are an engine of opportunity for every student admitted to MSU and that each learns, thrives and graduates. We will focus investment on effective student support systems, particularly for first- and second-year students, to put them on a positive trajectory toward graduation. This includes comprehensive and seamless advising from admission through graduation, redesigning gateway introductory courses to ensure strong learning to launch students’ academic careers and providing comprehensive, holistic support for students’ physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.

The past decade saw our total research expenditures rise from $431 million to nearly $726 million in 2019. MSU now ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 2 nationally in expenditures from the U.S. Department of Energy and No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 9 nationally in expenditures from the National Science Foundation. Our research, scholarship and creative endeavors generate new knowledge to address the most complex societal problems and lay the groundwork for future generations to tackle the yet-to-be-known challenges of tomorrow. To continue to lead, we must aggressively pursue external resources and partnerships that give us the platforms necessary to develop solutions to the big problems that confront us globally. We will elevate visibility of the arts at MSU, enriching the student experience and deepening learning with opportunities for creative expression and engagement with cultural experiences. We will seek like-minded partners to expand our scope and reach, support multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary grant proposals that span the sciences, arts and humanities, and forge new partnerships with industry to commercialize MSU inventions and enhance economic impact.

During the past 10 years, we also continued to invest in community partnerships both near and far, expanding academic program offerings, research opportunities and outreach and engagement efforts in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and through our membership in the Alliance for African Partnership. Building on the strengths of these efforts and MSU’s more than 100-year legacy of work through Extension, which works in every county in Michigan, we will continue to support initiatives that produce problem-based solutions in real-world contexts at the regional, national and international levels, working in partnership with those communities most affected. We have a unique opportunity to build upon our strengths across health, business, education, communications, the sciences and the arts to enhance quality of life for people by improving health and the systems that affect health, specifically by addressing disparities in access and quality of health care.

Underpinning our work in each of the aforementioned areas is a commitment to people. We must continue to build a campus environment that is vibrant, welcoming, respectful and safe for all and supports individuals in conducting their best work. Diversity of thought and ideas is a prerequisite for tackling the great societal challenges we face, and an inclusive and equitable campus culture where we foster an ethical framework for teaching, learning and leading is necessary to ensure that diversity of thought is celebrated and heard. By investing in mentoring as well as professional, career and leadership development, we can make MSU a workplace of choice that supports an innovative, creative and diverse faculty and staff.

Our progress over the past decade has been supported through careful institutional stewardship of resources as well as the generosity and support of our alumni, supporters and friends who donated more than $1.8 billion during the Empower Extraordinary campaign. To achieve our aspirations, we must provide exemplary stewardship of institutional resources to foster the long-term sustainability of MSU. This includes aligning our fiscal, physical, technological and human resources through comprehensive Financial and Budget, Facilities and Land Use, and Sustainable Information Technology plans, along with launching our next capital campaign to provide the margin of excellence necessary to remain a leading global research university making a significant difference in the lives of the citizens of Michigan and addressing critical issues for people everywhere, today and tomorrow.

Finally, the past decade has been marked with challenges. As an institution, we have reflected deeply, learned, and become better and stronger today. We have committed to continue to listen and learn from our students, faculty, staff and all stakeholders in all aspects of our mission and operations. The strategic plan and its implementation provide an avenue to structure continued engagement around the university’s priorities.

Impact for Michigan

MSU is often called Michigan’s State University, and for good reason.

Professor Joan Rose

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Next Section: Strategic Vision

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