By Jennifer Clark at February 20 2020 16:19:57
Every entrepreneur has been there. You need to write a business plan to get your idea off the ground and have no idea how to approach it. The first thing most people do is Google, "Sample business proposal." Why? Well, it's quite simple really. They want to get a head start on the process by looking at what someone else has written. It is an understandable position to take if you are under pressure and need a boost. What people don't realise is that there are inherent dangers in using a sample business proposal.
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.
There are many very good examples of sample business proposals on the Internet, but there are also some scarily bad examples being held up as first class efforts. Having spent the last 20 years as a professional banker and investor I can say this with some degree of confidence. The bottom line is that even if you do manage to stumble upon a great example it won't be relevant to your unique business or the market dynamics that pertain to your business idea. The parties who will assess your proposal and decide whether to invest are generally well trained and experienced. They read hundreds of these documents every month and can spot a copy and paste job a mile a way.
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.