Essential Steps To Writing A Winning Business Proposal 2018
In today’s competitive business environment, your ability to write powerful proposals could mean the life, or death, of your business. There are a lot NGOs, Corporations and even Governments ready and willing to dispense monies in millions to fund self employment and job creation and start ups, however you need to prove to them that they can trust you with their money.
When government agencies and large corporations wants to give funding to start-ups and small business, they often release what is called a Request for Proposal (RFP), a formal document outlining their set criteria for qualifying to get funding. To apply, you must submit a proposal, which will explain how your company meets that criteria and should be able to convince them to fund your company.
Now, let us look at some of these steps to assessing funding…
*1. UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS IN DETAILS*
Ensure you have clearly understood your business and its secrets and intricacies, from fundamental to technical and financial. These are key areas the panel looks at, since you’re not going to be there to explain further or give extra details on things, you better be as explicit and clear as much as possible.
This would be shown via the following “ingredients” which should “garnish” your proposal:
I. Your genuineness in presenting your application
II. Clarity in the business proposal
III. Realistic and achievable forcast., and
IV. Job creation potential
Don’t forget, every of your goal must be *SMART*
T time bound
Tell them how confident you are about your idea or existing business is. Remember you don’t have another opportunity to express this feeling than in writing. Therefore, at this point, I would advise you put in your best effort to write good and convincing proposal.
*2. APPEAL TO THE CONSCIENCE OF THE READER*
Show them you have the capability to expand and increase turnover, and also detail how you plan to get there. Outline your previous challenges and how you were able to surmount them. Emphasise on previous milestones and how you achieved them, then highlight set milestones and present clear steps on how you’ve planned to reach them.
For example, if you are an existing business, show how dogged and committed you have been first in even setting up the business, then growing the business from the when you started to where it currently is. Finally, paint a picture of the future of the business in the mind of your reader.
Break your future plans into short term goals (1-3 years), mid term (3-5 years) and long term goals (5 years upwards). Highlight where you plan *~not hope~* the business will be at all these stages.
*3. POTENTIALS FOR JOB CREATION.*
Another key focus is the ability of your business to create a good number of jobs. One of the major reasons for funding SMEs is so that they can also in turn create more jobs to reduce the dependence on government for employment. Hence, you must have that at the back of your mind when writing proposals. Choose businesses that have the potential to employ more people and will keep on employing, either directly or indirectly. Make this very clear and be explicit on this in your proposal.
*Don’t forget to be “SMART”* at every point. Never give ambiguous or vague statistics about a business you want to get funding for. Despite the fact that it is a plan (and plans cans still sometimes fail even after planning properly), you must show your reader there is at least a 75% chance of success. For instance:
Going by our financial projections and business plan/objectives, in the next *2 years* Johnbull and Sons Nigeria LTD would be able to employ *6 more staff* to add to the *current 11 staff* it has.
Not, “In the *~Future~* I will employ *~Many people~* because I *~Hope~* I will be making *~More money~*.
So be very *Specific*
Also include how much exactly each staff will earn in salaries or wages. Do not forget to include yourself on the payroll as you are also a staff of the company, it will be unrealistic not to be paid. The panel will look out for this. If you are not on the payroll, it therefore means you intend to live off on the entire profit of the business – this business is bound to fail.
Importantly, you must detail your financials in figures and calculate how profitable the business is right there on your proposal. Business is all about meeting a need *profitably!* So if there is no profit, no matter how little, you have no business going into business.
For those who may be submitting ideas (that is, you are yet to begin operations), you may be asked: “How much you have invested into your business so far?” even when you have not yet launched in business activities, *never say you have not invested anything because you have not started operating! Again, never say you have not invested anything because you have not started operating!!*
It may interest you to know that you have already invested a lot. You burnt data to gain this knowledge you are reading right now! You may have even made phone calls and paid for some form of training to obtain more information, committed your time to thinking about your business and how to make it better, you may have bought books, or even undergone an internship somewhere to gain experience, etc. Certainly, these activities have financial implications. Do you really need to be told to attach a cost to all of these? They all add up to monies you have invested (not spent) into your business – even if it is still an idea in your head.
*Please*(I am begging), endeavor to keep your financial projections within a reasonable range. Do not say you want to start importation of aeroplanes or you want to fabricate tractor parts, or even say you want to venture into the production of vaccines for HIV/ADIS! These are outrageous and do not fall in the line of a startup venture.
Don’t also come and tell you have invested #15 million already in your business (yet you’re seeking for $5,000)? 🤔🤔 How does it even sound to you?
Please, your financial projections should be that of a startup, but then, don’t fail to show its potential to grow and blossom.
Also show proper balance sheet from when you started the business till date. A shabby bookkeeping record is a major turn off to investors. If you cannot provide and defend a proper record of how you (or your accountant) have handled financial inflow and outflow in your business, then I hate to be a carrier bad news, but you may just forget about ever getting any funding from any investor in your business.
*5. SHOW COMPETENCY/KNOWLEDGE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS*
Note that it is very important you express in your writing that you have the required skill(s), experience and knowledge to manage and profitably run the business. Incompetency is a *major* red flag to any potential investor in business. You cannot say you studied medicine and intend to run a mechanic workshop; or you studied Mass communication and want to set up an agricultural farm, when you have never worked on a farm, don’t have any understanding whatsoever on the activities that go on in a farm, you do not know jack about rearing of any farm animal or even know when planting season is. If you want to venture into farming, then you must know virtually everything there is to know about the crop you intend to cultivate (I.e planting season, pesticides to use, when to use them, how to use them, what to do in case of outbreak of diseases, when to harvest, who are your customers, how you will attract them, how much is the market price for your produce, who are your local competitors, etc). I am sure if you were the investor, you will know giving funding to a person who seem very naive in his field of business (existing or proposed) is almost a waste. So think like the investor. Will you invest in your own business if you read your own proposal?
But on the contrary, there are also exceptions to this. Someone can still *acquire skills* completely different from his/her profession to run the business. In that case, *Please*don’t hesitate to express your knowledge and competency in running/managing your business irrespective of your profession. Show how, where, when and who you acquired the relevant skill from. Did you undergo an internship in a similar business venture prior to setting up yours? Or did you obtain a professional certification for it? Etc
Also, you might not have any of the aforementioned, but you could hire the services of an expert who will manage the business and ensure it runs profitably. But then, you must show that this person is a key staff to the success of your business and also prove that person’s involvement in drawing up your business plan because you also cannot write a winning business plan on a venture you have very little knowledge of. Honest, this is not a very good path to follow though. You need to personally know a few things, at least the basics, for you business. If not, you might really have to take longer convincing the panel your business is safe (and remember, you won’t be there to do the explaining).
Finally, you’re free to boast/brag of your achievements, because you never can tell what your competitive advantage(s) would be since I can also most assuredly tell you there will be several other person’s with your same business proposal.
For emphasis sake,
*Be creative with your application. Be innovate. Be original. Be genuine. Ensure your business has a potential for a social responsibility*. It is that your innovative idea about the business that makes you stand out the panel will most likely be looking out for amidst tens (if not even hundreds) of similar other proposals.
In conclusion, you would generally want to do everything humanly possible to wade the panel’s decision to picking your idea over every other person’s in the same category as you. Therefore, there are a few *extra* things you can maximize to your advantage. Some of the giant leaps you can take will include, but not limited to:
I. Getting your business registered with CAC, or have initiated the process.
II. Having NAFDAC, SON, and/or any other approval you need from the government regulatory bodies or have initiated the process (especially for those into food and beverages).
III. Engaged in research on startup and expansion phases of your kind of business. Show you still try to acquire new knowledge about improving your product, goods or service.
IV. Show your are law abiding. You should have tax clearance certificates (especially if you are registered with the CAC and operational).
If your business is not yet registered, don’t be fidget one bit! Selection is not based on registration status, but on the quality of your idea and genuine need for funding. Before you will eventually be funded, you will be asked to, and even guided on how to get every required registration, document and licences.
*TIPS TO EMBED & PITCH IN YOUR PROPOSAL*
– Can the business generate enough return on investment (ROI)? How long will it take?
– Is it scalable? What is the growth potential and possible growth rate?
-How many people can the business employ?
– What value does it add to the society?
– What is the available market? Who are your target customers? What is your market share?
– What makes your product unique from others?
– What is your unique selling point?