By James Harris at February 14 2020 17:04:11
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.
So How Should I Use A Sample Business Proposal? We genuinely believe that using a sample business proposal is not a good idea unless you are only looking for a structural outline. Even in this case you would need to scan a fairly broad cross section of examples to get a representative sample to form an independent opinion. There is nothing more frustrating than a pitch which doesn't flow and where the entrepreneur is clearly "winging it". We have rejected more pitches for this reason than any other.
To pitch a project such as a public center or putting a gym inside your business, you'll want pages with titles like Benefits, Features, Recommendations, and Installation Schedule. Are you pitching the next hot health product, trying to persuade a company to carry it in their inventory? Show how they will benefit from carrying your new product by including pages explaining Benefits, Features, Return on Investment, and your Wholesale Price List. Maybe you are trying to license your new product idea for someone else to produce. If that's the case, you should include topics like Market Share, Patents, Trademarks, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution.
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.