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Business and Management Research Guide

Use this guide for help doing general business research, including searching for credible articles, doing company and industry research, and writing a literature review

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Dan Hoiland

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is the first part of a business plan. It should be concise--no longer than a page. An executive summary is different for a new business and an established business, but it is generally used to situate your business within a market by describing your products or services, where you fit in the competitive landscape, and your future plans. 

What is included in an executive summary?

From the Small Business Administration:

If You Are an Established Business

If you are an established business, be sure to include the following information:

  • The Mission Statement – This explains what your business is all about. It should be between several sentences and a paragraph.
  • Company Information – Include a short statement that covers when your business was formed, the names of the founders and their roles, your number of employees, and your business location(s).
  • Growth Highlights – Include examples of company growth, such as financial or market highlights (for example, “XYZ Firm increased profit margins and market share year-over-year since its foundation). Graphs and charts can be helpful in this section.
  • Your Products/Services -- Briefly describe the products or services you provide.
  • Financial Information – If you are seeking financing, include any information about your current bank and investors.
  • Summarize future plans – Explain where you would like to take your business.

With the exception of the mission statement, all of the information in the executive summary should be covered in a concise fashion and kept to one page. The executive summary is the first part of your business plan many people will see, so each word should count.

If You Are a New Business

Demonstrate that you have done thorough market analysis. 
Include information about a need or gap in your target market, and how your particular solutions can fill it. 
Convince the reader that you can succeed in your target market, then address your future plans.