5 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Business Proposal

This article seeks to highlight some common mistakes that entrepreneurs can avoid to create 5-star proposals that bring in revenue.

A business proposal is a document that is written to proffer a certain solution or service with the intent of yielding social good or profit.

Business Proposal Writing Mistakes

Writing Proposals are at the very heart of key business transactions. A strong business proposal in Nigeria can make a case for an entrepreneur’s service or offering.

Hence the need to create a compelling copy that can seal deals and win partnerships.

Many entrepreneurs in Nigeria however, make certain mistakes that prevent them from getting their desired outcome.

Worthy of mention is the fact that not every situation requires a proposal. They are relevant in cases where a significant commitment is needed and when there is a multi-party deal to be executed.

Also, proposal drafting is usually the last piece in the jigsaw when it comes to securing partnerships. Some of the steps that need to have been taken or considered include:

  • A certainty that the proposed partnership will benefit all parties involved. It’s not a proposal when it’s self-serving with only the entrepreneur benefiting immensely.

This means that your proposed offering has to be perceived by your partners as highly rewarding to them. Therefore, the question of what’s in it for them has to be dealt with.

  • Following the above, the entrepreneur needs to know in detail what his partner’s interests are. This will include what their firm or group seeks to accomplish, what drives their business decisions, and what makes them tick. This is sure to give your proposal the needed audience.
  • Lastly, there is a need to have metrics and parameters for determining the intended success of the proposal.
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Generally, the entrepreneur should be able to articulate the entire process even before drafting a proposal.

With these taken care of, we proceed to the common mistakes entrepreneurs should avoid when drafting a winning business proposal.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Business Proposal in Nigeria

1) Proper evaluation

Most drafted proposals are not usually evaluated properly. In a bid to seal a mouth-watering deal, the entrepreneur or his team fails to give an accurate representation of the parts of the deal.

Never forget that you’re usually not the only one bidding for such partnerships. This is the reason why due diligence is paramount.

So say you are drafting a proposal to train the HR of an ad agency on effective customer acquisition techniques, your proposal should measure:

  • Brand awareness/ perception
  • Staff morale and
  • Productivity assessment

Always relate your measurement to the company’s overall objectives. This will make the company know that you have them specifically in mind first before any monetary rewards.

Also, make sure that you have short, medium, and long-term projections incorporated in your proposal.

Again, it aids proper monitoring and shows you’re paying attention to their needs.

2) What other teams bring to the table

That you’re making a proposition doesn’t mean you should provide all the tools of engagement. Many Nigerian entrepreneurs fail to add in detail what their expectations are.

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This results in a break in flow or communication down the line. Prevent the occurrence of arguments in the future by specifically itemizing what the other party is providing.

For example, it’s wrong to ask for a guarantee of the other team’s supervision of the project on weekends. Rather state that you’d need 5 members of the other party to be present onsite between 8 is-4 pm on 4 Saturdays in July.

That’s clear enough.

3) What other team will receive

This point builds on the aforementioned. Some entrepreneurs just provide general information on benefits accruing to partners in the transaction.

They then wonder why their deals didn’t pull through. Sometimes this is because when they ( partners) weighed the benefits you offered it either didn’t provide them much value or they didn’t see the sense in it at all.

So let’s say you’re seeking a firm to provide its staff with a student financial club retreat every quarter for a year, don’t just breeze through the fact that it will give the staff a sense of goodwill and make them know they are contributing to societal growth. No!

Go further, let it read something like:

“By releasing your staff to participate as mentors in our financial club retreat, the partner firm can expect a tremendous increase in employee morale.
This can be measured by the partner firm through  tracking results via post- engagement survey or annual company wide poll.”
Now you’re talking.

4) Solution

This is the meat of your proposal.

Many entrepreneurs fail to leverage this part well enough to guarantee them the deal. Their solutions lack verifiable proof and they make the mistake of assuming that the company would believe their claims. I ask why?

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“Even if it’s your maiden venture, let your partners have a sense of confidence that your solution is certainly going  to deliver.”

For example, let’s say that your company, designs software that helps students score high in major exams.

Your challenge is, you only cater for local exams but you’re looking to cover international exams too. Not a problem. You can easily convince them that the solution can also work for their international exam candidates.

Provide data showing your previous success rates. This could be via tracking performances of previous local exams the software was deployed in for your previous clients.

A newspaper excerpt or any such publication of exam success rates of your previous partners will suffice.

Such ‘evidence’ is sure to give you a nod as they (partners) have credible proof that your pilot service can make the difference and boost patronage for them.

5) About you

This is a deal-breaker. Most entrepreneurs assume their partner firms know stuff about them.

Don’t bet on that. Provide detailed information about your for-profit organization preferably as an appendix in your proposition.

Lay emphasis on your strengths and more importantly, your accomplishments. Outlining your past and current partnerships will go a long way in boosting your credibility.

Finally, the major ingredient in delivering a 5-star business proposal in Nigeria is to always see things from your partner’s view.

“Explain your point in a personal and engaging way. Let it mean the world to them. Remember, they are your most valuable asset in attaining your goals and objectives as a business.”

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