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Make a Strong First Impression: How an Executive Summary Template Can Help

Learn how to write an executive summary in this guide and access our executive summary template.

No matter the size of the business, there’s always a time when a first impression can make all the difference. When it’s time for you to pitch a new idea, seek investors, gain a partner, or do anything else that involves other entities, you have to make sure you’re communicating your ideas clearly and effectively.

For a business, communication usually starts with a business plan, and the executive summary of the business plan can make or break a proposal. For these and more reasons, you should do everything you can to make sure your executive summary shows your business proposal in the best possible light.

The executive summary summarizes and succinctly introduces all the important aspects of your business plan. You want a summary that attracts, compels, and engages. However, because various types and approaches to producing an executive summary exist, it can help to have a better understanding of what considerations you should put into this, the most important part of your overall business plan. And, a business executive summary template or executive brief template can help you do just that.

Here’s what you need to know about the executive summary part of a business plan and how an executive summary template can help you to achieve your business goals, including a free template you can start with right now.

What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a clear and comprehensive introduction to an overall business plan. The business plan will have far more information throughout and contain extensive documentation to explain your proposal. However, the executive summary represents a condensed version of all that information.

Executive summary definition

As it’s the first part of a business plan, it’s the first thing someone will read. The summary will include the most critical points of the plan so that the person reading it can easily and quickly digest it without needing to pour over every detail of the entire business plan.

Consider that many investors, executives, and potentially interested parties may not have the time to sift through an entire document that can be hundreds of pages, so your executive summary must do the heavy lifting for your business plan. That summary represents your introduction, and you want to make an excellent first impression.

Why Are Executive Summaries Important?

Executive summaries are important for several reasons. These documents can play a crucial and significant role for any business, startup, or person with an idea they want to pursue. And while that may sound a little nebulous, there are many concrete reasons why an executive summary holds a lot of importance.

Importance of an executive summary


Your executive summary will communicate your very complex idea in a very simple way. A straightforward document that cuts right to the heart of your proposal will convey the necessary information, highlight the most important details, and generally speak for you.

This can help a great deal if you’re not sure how to verbally boil down the entirety of your idea and plan to a few words or an elevator pitch.


Because your executive summary must have conciseness and clarity, it can easily show the amount of work you’ve put in to make your business plan a reality. In addition, the summary can become a quick reference at any point because it will include reliable information the rest of the business plan can readily support and verify.

When done correctly, the summary shows your level of commitment and accountability.


Because your summary will have the most important information right up front, it can become easier for people to make quick decisions based on it. Those in charge of making decisions can do so with confidence and not waste time or worry that the information isn’t the wrong information to base a swift decision on.

All three of these things work together in your favor when you have an executive summary that’s putting in the work for you and your business goals.

What Are the Key Components of An Executive Summary Template?

A business executive summary template will have sections that correlate with the typical executive summary of a business plan. As they’re templates, it’s up to you to make sure you get things right, but they’re a good way to figure out how to write a business plan.

An executive summary reads like a succinct version of your full business plan and should only consist of one or two pages. As something of a miniature version of your business plan, the summary should contain a project overview of each individual section of your plan or proposal, with emphasis on each of their key points.

For this reason, executive summary templates will usually have the most common sections of a business plan, which represent the key components of all business plans.

1. Introduction

The introduction needs to capture the attention of the reader while explicitly articulating the main purpose or objective of the document. Start strong but keep things brief to help usher the reader on to the next part of the summary.

2. Company Overview

Your company overview should contain relevant information about your company, such as the name, address, contact information, and partners. Here, you can also state the value proposition of your business. Feel free to summarize your company’s mission, goals, or history here as well. However, keep things brief.

3. Product or Services

This section should explain what you’re proposing, how it solves a problem or pain point, and a quick rundown of any market research you have to support your proposal. You can also explain how your product or service will meet a specific need for a specific type of customer.

4. Target Audience

Explain that specific type of customer, or your target market, in this section. Define your audience, their demographics, and any other relevant information concerning them. Your reader should know exactly who you intend your business plan for and why.

5. Competition

The competition section should include a market analysis that shows precisely how you stand out or differentiate from the competition. If you have a competitive advantage of any type, you should also make a mention of that fact here.

This section will also show you did your due diligence with your competitor analysis, including analyzing the factors against you or barriers you might face. That will show your level of confidence in your undertaking.

6. Financial Summary

The financial summary will include information about your budget and how you plan to use funds in pursuit of your business goals. If you’re specifically seeking funding, then this section will outline how you plan to use the funds you seek. This section gives you a good opportunity to show off your financial acumen and give the reader a feeling that you won’t squander or misuse funds.

7. Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy will tell the reader how you intend to carry out your business plan. How will you reach your target audience? How much will you spend on those marketing efforts? Give an overview of your marketing plan to show you’ve thought it through and are ready to begin this process.

8. Team

The team section allows you to give some details about your team, business partners, and company structure. Include some details about your project management. If you have people on your team with stellar credentials or accolades, mention them in this section as well.

9. Conclusion

Your conclusion should wrap things up, summarize key points, and refresh the reader on your overall purpose. An executive summary template should contain all these sections, but different types of executive summary templates exist to accommodate different goals and business types.

A template can help you learn how to write an executive summary, but you still have to make sure you put in the work to make the summary truly stand out.

What Are the Different Types of Executive Summary Templates?

Various types of executive summary templates exist, and many of them have customization features that will allow you to tailor the document to your specific needs. Typically, a summary will accompany either a business plan, project proposal, or research report. These different scenarios often call for different summary considerations.

For example, a business plan and research report will not need the same types of information. A larger business seeking funding will have a different approach to its executive summary than a solopreneur starting their own business and seeking the same thing. A project executive summary template may not need all the information as one for a business plan executive summary template.

If you look at templates that cover different scenarios, you will see the format, level of detail, and length of the documents aren’t all the same between types. However, it’s sometimes a good idea to complete a primary executive summary and create others for specific purposes from it.

Free Executive Summary Template

Free executive summary templates are a great way to start drafting your executive summary. We've provided a free executive summary template you can use for your own business or project. Fill it out with your information to create a professional executive summary you can use right now. You can also look at some business plan examples to see how it all goes together.

Executive summary template

Write Compelling Executive Summaries

Your executive summary needs to tell a story about your business and its goals. You want it to have clear, concise, persuasive language. However, you also need the details of the summary and the rest of your plan to have the right information and data to back it up.

To that end, you will need the proper tools to craft your executive summary properly. Mailchimp offers many marketing tools that can help to make both your executive summary and your plan a success.

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