What is a good format for a one page business plan executive summary?


We are applying for angel investment for our startup and we're working on putting together our one page executive summary. What is the typical flow/format of an executive summary?

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asked Oct 6 '11 at 07:05
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2 Answers


Ideally, an executive summary is no more than two, single spaced pages, using twelve point font. The layout should use ample white space and sections should be accented with bold or underlined text. Like a pitch, there are critical sections that need to be included. These sections, in order of appearance, are:

  1. Centered Company Name and Executive Summary: It should be obvious from across the room that this is an executive summary. Centering that fact, in a larger font, primes the reader for what is to come.
  2. Elevator Pitch (100-150 words): This is the most important paragraph you will ever write. It's the lede that hooks the reader. A dull or flat first paragraph will ensure your summary gets circularly filed. Make it bold. Make it stand out. Make it grab the reader. Distill the essence of your company in this first paragraph. Doing this shows that you can focus on what is important and that you know your business. Any business, I don't care how complicated, can be distilled into a paragraph. Revise this first paragraph until it flows like water when read. Say it out loud. Craft the words so they do the maximum amount of work while not over complicating it.
  3. Customer Pain (150 words): Describe why what you are proposing solves a customers pain or problem. This should also be part of the elevator pitch but here, you need to elaborate to convince the reader to read on. Give statistics like customer savings, performance improvement, etc. Again, make the words crisp but not overly complex. Use market jargon if appropriate but make sure it's properly defined.
  4. Market (100-150 words, tables help): Define your target market. How big is it? Who are the major customers? What is the size and scale of the dollars you are going after? Add a table to break out the various sub-markets so that it is clear where you will focus.
  5. Product Offering (150-200 words, pictures help): Explain your product offering. This should include technical advantages as well as form, fit and function. It's also good to put in any issued or filed patents.
  6. Competitors (100 words): Describe any competitive threats that are present or may be present. Along with these threats, explain why your solution will beats them.
  7. Customers/Partners (100-150 words): Summarize your lead customers and partnerships. This should be your top one or two for each. Elaborate on your relationship so that it is clear where it's at. Make sure to list any signed agreements.
  8. Management (150-200 words): Brief bios (a short paragraph each) of your executive team. Keep the content relevant to the present venture. List recent accomplishments as well as successful exits.
  9. Schedules, Milestones and Capital (150-200 words, maybe a table): Start this section with any capital raised to date as well as how it was raised. Explain how these initial funds were used. Next, state the amount you want to raise and what those funds will be used for. Give some details as to the milestones, along with dates, that this new round of funding achieves. As space permits, describe any additional round that may be required to launch the product or become profitable. In some cases, a table might be the best way to show this.
  10. Contact Information: Include who to contact about additional questions or to setup a meeting.
answered Oct 6 '11 at 14:00
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • +1 Nice list ... but I wouldn't read all of that in a summary. I would expect all of that to be in the body of the business plan. – Robin Vessey 13 years ago
  • @RobinVessey. It will all be in the business plan -- just more expanded. Remember that this is a summary of your idea and it should give a crisp snapshot of what your idea is. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago


Basically they should run like your elevator pitch.

The basics, do a 2 line paragraph for each of these

  • State the problem / opportunity. "People waste $500 per month on X "
  • State your solution, and what makes it work. "For $20 per month we will automate that away from them "
  • Run over the key points of the next 12 to 24 months of making it happen. "We need to build it and market it, our break even is (4 peoples wages, plus servers, plus marketing, plus other stuff) ".
  • State what you need / issues you need help addressing. "While great at code we don't know anyone and haven't done marketing before so we are looking for people to help us here ".
  • If you have space left say the people and key skills you have. "I've done a lot of coding, built stuff in these industries "

Now depending on what your pitching and who your pitching to, you will need to vary this but ... this should cover the basics.

answered Oct 6 '11 at 14:01
Robin Vessey
8,394 points

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