Tackling the business proposal

You’ve finally made the decision to buy a business – now what? It’s time to write the business proposal.

The cornerstone of any purchase, sale, negotiation or pitch, the proposal is the formal blueprint of your business that outlines its background, present state and ambitions from a purely commercial perspective. A summation of your ideas and goals for the business should be captured in a methodical and professional format on paper; it ought to be used to convince financial and marketing professionals of its credibility and prospect for growth, as well as acknowledge all the stakes and risks involved in the process of acquiring a new firm.

It's all well and good to have an agenda organised in your mind, but what do you need to incorporate in the paper copy that can be submitted to marketing clients and banks for loans? It goes without saying that a well-written proposal will convince the unconvinced of your knowledgeable and professional nature, so consider the following checklist of things to include to show staff, customers and suppliers you really know your business inside out.

The executive summary
The opening section of your entire proposal ought to be a comprehensive summary of the business you’re buying. Provide basic details like how long it’s been running for, the market sector, its strengths and weaknesses, your future goals for growth and improvement, and the risks involved. Highlight the business’s USPs (unique selling points), and where you see it going in the next few years.

Know your market
You must be clear about the current state of your business, and what sort of market climate you’re entering as your make your purchase. Good knowledge of your target audience and the services you offer your customers is vital, and can be discussed in relation to market trends. Consider your competitors and their place in the market you’re entering; you need to be able to demonstrate why your product or service will surpass that of your rivals by emphasising your USPs. Summarise the business’s growth potential, which can be examined through demographics.

Promoting and managing
An idea might sound good in theory, but how does it work in practise? Talk in depth about your marketing and sales strategies, and how you intend to promote your business in the market you’re entering. Note your target customers and how you may choose to communicate your product or service to them – be it over social media, PR companies, advertisements, etc.

You’ll definitely need a team to support you, so you need to consider your staff and skills needed to make your product or service viable, and in which capacity you’ll need them to make your business model work. Full management information should to be included, such as key staff and skills needed, working and opening hours, supplies required, and most importantly, the expenses of it all.

The financial aspect
Financial information will provide the quantitative limitations and projections for growth. Discuss in detail how much investment you need, the costs of production and maintenance, and the finances you need for insurance purposes. Factor in any losses you may have, and also explore your potential profits based on market research and current business trends. Ensure that you are realistic in your figures, as an overly ambitious balance sheet will appear ill-planned to investors and staff alike.

Risks and opportunities
A good business proposal will outline the risks, both financial and otherwise, as well as any projections you have for the future. Look beyond just the immediate aftermath of your purchase, and prepare for extenuating circumstances in order to estimate the level of insurance and financial coverage needed to protect the business. Explore any goals you have for the business as well, as it will show direction and growth – two things investors will want to see in a proposal.

As with anything to do with the purchase of a new company, it’s worth having a professional adviser (or friends!) look over your plans and criticise and comment on your strategies and intentions. Having it down all on paper in the form of an executive business proposal will simply make the process that much easier and straightforward.