?The executive summary of a business plan must be a complete overview of the entire business plan (often a document twenty pages or longer), but also a concise and compelling hook which grabs your readers in one or two pages. While these may seem like contradictory directions, the completeness of the argument in the executive summary can be part of what compels readers to read the entire plan. If they see no initial reasons why the business is a bad idea, they will consider that it might be a good idea. Sum Up the Highlights The executive summary must touch on the eight major body sections of your business plan: company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, and financial plan. For each of these sections, the executive summary should use a few sentences or short paragraph at most to mention the main thrust. For example, to cover the industry analysis, the executive summary can say what the industry is, how large it is, and the top few trends or aspects of this industry which make it a good industry to enter. Support can come later, as long as no statements jump out as particularly unreasonable here. Using Supporting Data Although your individual sections of the plan hopefully contain a great deal of supporting data and statistics, only a few key data points can make their way into the executive summary because of the space limitations. Rather than giving exact quotes or statistics here, it will be enough to mention, for example, that research bares out the opportunity or that research has shown that the three chosen customer markets are in great need of a product such as what you will sell. Financial Pitch The executive summary should be clear as to the basic financial pitch that is being made. What type of investment is being asked for and on what terms? What is the total startup cost for the business? Keep in mind that funders may ask to be sent just the executive summary first and they should be able to consider what financing you will need even from this document. Even if they are sent the full plan, they will start by reading the executive summary and will expect to hear what type of investment you are seeking before they dig deeper into the plan. Eric Powers is associated with Growthink, a business plan consulting firm. Since 1999, Growthink's business plan experts have developed more than 2,000 business plans for entrepreneurs and business owners who have raised more than $1 billion in growth capital. Call 800-506-5728 today for a free business plan consultation with a professional business plan writer.