What else will make your proposal clear, well-articulated, and concise? I will tell you a little secret: Use the same language as the funding program. If it is about innovation – make sure you can demonstrate your innovation. You know how they say in a happy marriage, people will look alike after many years of living together? Well, proposal writing is like proposing a marriage. You want to look like you are a good fit (assuming you are a good fit already). This is what funding programs are looking for – perfect candidates to get married.
And this applies to all kinds of proposals: academic, from non- profits, and social enterprises.
When there is no competition…
What to say is as important as what not to say. My advice – do not say: “No competition”. Or that no one else has done it. There might not be a technology like yours. Yet it does not mean there is no competition. (Here you can read the rationale behind this: “Three Things Never To Say…”)
For both social enterprises and technology start-ups it is also important to aim for global scale. You might start small but do show how it may affect society on the global scale.
Also avoid saying things like: “this is an enormous opportunity”, “a huge market”, “40% profit increase”, “40% cost reduction” – again you can read the rationale behind this in “Three Things Never To Say…”.
It is okay to use buzzwords but make sure these are not just words. And definitely no buzzwords that are not reflecting what you are trying to do. (If you are curious, check out this video on the use of buzzwords: Introducing Carrot).
If there is specification on length, type, and font – make sure you stick to it. There was a study done in Europe where it was proved that reviewers do look at these things. Moreover, it did affect the overall proposal ranking. Here in Canada you might not be penalized for not sticking to these. But I can assure you, it does make a not-so-good impression. Which you want to avoid. You want to position yourself as a company that is easy to work with. This is your chance to show just that.
My last tip is on how to present your financials. Should you use charts? Are tables better? Or maybe just go with plain text and skip the tables? Do you show everything or just a snapshot? This topic is so broad. To me it is the same as asking who is better: introvert or extrovert? Cats or dogs?
The key is to have a balance. A bit of everything with nice flow makes it well-balanced. For example, put key measures in the chart and offer a summary in the text. Show sales, then explain highlights. For example, after you showed your sales projections in a chart, add in a sentence – by 2020, so much in sales.
Think about a book with nice illustrations here and there. The pictures are nice, but they do not explain everything. It makes you intrigued to read the whole book. At the end of the day, you do not want the reviewers to fall asleep going through the endless pages of your financial data just because you analyzed every single aspect of your business.
And a final tip. If you’re not sure what to do with this or that chart – put it in the appendices.
ConnexFund specializes in grants and funding for innovative companies and start-ups with a focus on technology and manufacturing. Many Canadian businesses are aware that there is some free money available for them. But not so many know where to find it, how to access it and how to prepare a grant application that is successful. And this is exactly what ConnexFund does!