You’ll be more likely to get funding, credit or support for your small business idea if you create an organized and professional proposal. A well-executed business plan demonstrates that you have more than just an idea. The proposal reveals details for how you will execute your vision. Most small business plans can follow a basic structure.
Your business proposal should include a cover page, contents page, executive summary and several sections that provide information about your launch. These sections should include a product overview, market analysis, marketing plan, start-up costs, key stakeholders, financial projections and an appendix with support documents. Create an outline that includes these elements, then list the information you will include in each of your sections. Gather the support materials you will include in your appendix, such as key stakeholder biographies, budgets and sample marketing materials.
Start your proposal with an executive summary that gives your bottom-line benefits without detail or support. For example, tell the reader you have a product with a unique benefit that solves a need in the marketplace, have specific sales and profit projections, the experience to launch the business and an investment or loan requirement. Once you convince the reader it’s worth his while to read the document, you can then support your assertions in the rest of the document. It’s not uncommon to for business plan writers to write the executive summary after the rest of the report is finished.
Include a product overview section describing your product and service and what makes it unique. Discuss in the market analysis section your unique benefit, the target customer, your competition and any trends. In the marketing section, discuss how you will position, price, distribute and promote the product. List your first-year operating costs in your start-up costs section and refer the reader to a budget or budgets in your appendix section. List the people involved in the launch and their expertise in your staffing section. Provide one-, three- and five-year financial projections in the finance section. Include a summary that re-caps your executive summary findings, referencing some of your section material, but not enough to make the summary go beyond one page.
Finish your proposal with an appendix of documents, reports, sample ads or website pages, biographies and budgets. Use charts and graphs to make financial information easy to read. Include relevant magazine articles or industry research or reports. Include references of people who have worked with your or your key partners.