Difference between executive summary & introduction

Written by brian hill
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The executive summary and introduction are two parts of a company's business plan. An executive summary is the full business plan -- which can be 20 to 30 pages or more -- condensed down to two or three pages. The introduction is the first section of the full business plan. It could be several pages or several paragraphs depending how difficult it is to explain what the company's products or services are and what customer need they are designed to address.

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Purpose

The executive summary is prepared for people outside the company such as potential investors or lenders. The executive summary's purpose is to save time for these busy individuals. Instead of having to study the entire plan document, the investor just has to digest this extremely condensed version presenting the most important aspects of the venture and why it represents an excellent investment opportunity. The introduction to the plan is like the first 10 minutes of a movie in which you find out what the story is going to be about. The remainder of the plan provides the full story.

Elements

The executive summary starts with a mini-introduction, and then has paragraphs that present the other sections of the plan in brief. These include market need, the company's exciting solution to that need, target customers, marketing plan, milestones reached, competitive advantage, key management team members and capital needed. The executive summary ends with a table showing the projected profit and loss statement in summarised form. The introduction discusses what business the company is in and describes the products or services the company offers. Include pictures or drawings of your products if possible. The introduction may also discuss how the founder got the original idea for the company -- the basic customer need he identified.

Composition Process

The introduction is normally written first because it covers the most basic information about the company and does not require research or financial projections to complete. It should be written in an engaging manner that clearly shows the entrepreneur's enthusiasm for her idea and why she believes her products or services will tremendously benefit the targeted customers. The executive summary is written last, after the full plan is completed, including the financial projections. The writing style for the summary is focused on brevity, providing highlights rather than lots of details. Include as many key points as you can using as few words as possible. The investor can find further explanations and answers to questions he may have in the full business plan.

What to Consider

Writing with a lack of clarity diminishes the effectiveness of both the executive summary and the introduction. Don't assume the reader has just as much knowledge as you do and will instantly see why your company's products have a tremendous market. In the case of the executive summary and the introduction -- and the full business plan -- ask experienced businesspeople you know to read them and provide feedback regarding any concepts that aren't completely clear. The executive summary in particular has to be sharp, to the point, and compelling enough that the prospective investor requests to read the entire plan or meet with you.

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