Brevity is key. A good executive summary ranges from half a page to two pages; anything longer and you risk losing your reader's attention or appearing unfocused. A safe bet is to keep it under one page.
Although it leads off the business plan, the executive summary should be written last. That way, you can cull information from the rest of the report, and make certain there are no inconsistencies.
The executive summary is also the best place to describe your mission statement. Develop a concise description, no more than a few sentences, that explains:
- Why your business exists
- What its goals are
- How you will achieve those goals
- Filling a void in the marketplace
- Offering a better product than what currently exists
- Offering a comparable product, but at a better price than your rivals
The next issue to address is the status of your business. It may still be only in the idea stage. Perhaps you've already raised a little money. Or, it may be that you are fully operational and looking to expand. Investors will interpret your current business position as a signal as to how much capital is needed to advance your company, and whether or not this matches the type of opportunity they are looking for.
The final part of the executive summary will focus on critical factors that will determine your chance for success. These items will be specific to your business, but may include:
- Low staff turnover
- A technology patent
- A strategic partnership
- Externalities, such as the continuation of a marketplace or economic trend