Writing Your Business Plan, Step 1: The Executive Summary

May 5, 2009 at 6:51 am 6 comments

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Creative Commons License

Today is step 1 of 13 in the writing of our business plan.  We begin with the writing of the Executive Summary.  Most people will tell you to come back to this later and write the executive summary last.  I like to do a bit of both.  I write a very skeletal executive summary that ends up being rewritten much later.  The reason I like to do this is because I think the Summary is a nice place to begin and a good way to gather general thoughts.

Are you ready to start typing?  (Or at least brainstorming?)

About the Executive Summary

This section is typically everything about your company in a nutshell (typically 1-2 pages long).  It explains the following basics of your business:

  • Owners of the business (Who?)
  • Your product or service (What?)
  • Your customers (Why? Who?  How?)
  • History of the business (When? How?)
  • Your industry (Where? Who?)
  • If you are applying for a loan or seeking investors, you would use the Executive Summary to explain precisely how much money you want, how you will use it, and how you will repay it (What? When?  How?)

Tips for Writing

Here are my tips (and a little inspiration) for working on this section:

  • Keep it Simple
    When I started my career in accounting, I was often told that my writing was too “flowery”.  I had to learn how to write analytically in “business” speak.  This is scarier than it sounds!  Your business plan should have your voice, but should also be concise and professional.  If you ever feel you are going down a tangent, reel it back in and keep it simple.
  • Be Enthusiastic
    This is your business.  This is your passion.  Let that shine.
  • Little by Little
    A business plan is rarely ever written in one day.  Approach a little bit each day or week.  Start by sketching notes to the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How of your business.  Flesh those out throughout the week.
  • Schedule Time for Writing
    It’s hard to fit in time to write the business plan.  Make an appointment with yourself (much like you would with a client).  Literally put it on your calendar – and don’t cancel your appointment!  If it helps, meet with a colleague for coffee once a week and work on your business plans together.  I did this with Kelly Simants of Sweet Pea Events.  Not only were we “locked in” to work on our business plans, but also we were able to share ideas with one another.
  • Use Your Art
    Chances are you a very talented artist and are skilled at expressing yourself in your art.  (I hear you: “Michelle – there’s a reason I didn’t go to business school!”)  So, use your art.  If you are a photographer, get outside and shoot pictures of the Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How of your business.  Use that as your inspiration over the next 5 weeks of business planning.
  • There is NO place for PERFECTION
    This is the most important point (and I’m going to continue drilling this):  Do not strive for perfection; strive for excellence.  It is in striving for perceived perfection that we are unable to act or complete important projects like this.  The Business Plan is something that is constantly evolving, constantly changing.  Write a section, review it, edit it.  But, do NOT come back to it a million times.  Move on to the next section.  A yoga instructor once told me that there is no perfection in yoga.  Every day we strive to become better at it.  This is true with everything in life: including the writing your business plan.

Next step

After writing your executive summary, you’ll have a nice basic foundation on which to begin your writing.  Remember: we’ll come back to the executive summary at the end of our writing and reconstruct it.  Tomorrow we’ll be using some of our thoughts from the Executive Summary to write the General Company Description.


Entry filed under: 13 Step Business Plan, Excercises, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Plan It, Strategy, Time Management.

13 Steps to Writing Your Business Plan ~ Introduction Writing Your Business Plan, Step 2: The Company Description

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sweetchic Events  |  May 5, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Thanks for the gentle reminder about the importance of the business plan… I have been meaning to write one for the past year, but have been dreading the process. I have written before in business school, but it took SO LONG!

    • 2. Michelle Loretta  |  May 5, 2009 at 7:17 am

      It does take long! But, little by little and it gets done. It’s so valuable to do… just to get it all out there and have focus. I’m hoping that by breaking it down into 13 steps, people feel like it is achievable and that they have a partner in writing. 😉

  • […] your business.  If you are stuck, you may want to review the tips for business plan writing that I laid out on Day 1.  On Monday, we’ll get into writing about your Products and Services. Possibly related posts: […]

  • 4. Danielle Richards  |  May 8, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you for reminding me to put to paper what is in my head !

  • […] made it to step 7 in the writing of our business plans.  YAY!  Let me remind you that writing a business plan is a work in progress.  So keep at it – even if you don’t have […]

  • […] you remember when we started this?  We first worked on the Executive Summary.  In Step 1, we wrote a draft for this.  Now, we are going to go back and refine it.  Go back, […]


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