By Jennifer Clark at January 24 2020 16:48:17
They lead to entrepreneurs skimming over the research component leading to a proposal that is disjointed and fails to make a cohesive business case. Having a sample business proposal as a guide detracts from the entrepreneur engaging fully in the business planning process in that they will have only a cursory understanding of the finer details of their proposal. It will not prepare the entrepreneur for detailed questioning around their business strategy and by association their financial projections. We have seen this all too often in presentations for equity finance. It is glaringly obvious when someone does not understand the proposal intimately and this devastates credibility and trust, virtually nullifying your chances of convincing an investor to part with their cash.
How Will The Audience Know That I have Used A Sample? This is a common question we get asked and while we cannot speak for the entire investment community we can refer to our own experience as investors and former bankers. Here is a list of the top ten reasons why it is obvious that a sample has been used: Executive Summary is dull and formulaic without communicating why we should invest. Market information doesn't align with the specific demographics relating to the proposal or is obsolete. Entrepreneur's knowledge of the market dynamics is sketchy under questioning and it is clear that what they have written in the proposal is the sum total of their knowledge on the subject.
The only time we would recommend using a sample business proposal is if you are approaching a bank for finance and they provide an example of what they would like to see. However, banks don't provide samples, they provide templates, which is basically them trying to educate entrepreneurs before they apply for finance. In this case this is the bank endorsing a structure for the proposal so it is OK. It still leaves all the blanks to fill in though so it isn't really a full solution to your problem.
What is The Solution? This might all seem a little bleak but there is an easy solution to this dilemma and it demands a little more of your time and effort in return for a deeper understanding of your business. You have to learn to write a business proposal rather than using a sample business proposal to take a short cut. Don't do the latter as it will make the experience of approaching investors and financiers unnecessarily painful and will dilute your experience of creating your vision from scratch and your strategic understanding of your own business. Plus, you will be found out!