November 30, 1999 in SBIR/STTR News

Don’t Let the Snake Bite You

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“Well, if it were a snake, it would have bitten you!”  Ever heard that expression?  It means that something is right in front of you and is so blatantly obvious, but for some reason, you don’t see it.  Our eyes are wonderful things, but occasionally they play tricks on us.  We miss seeing objects because we are not looking for them, or we see what we think we see, rather than see what is actually there.  This is often the case when writing a proposal.

You’ve worked on your proposal for weeks and you know the material so well, but sometimes you’re too close.  You leave out words or key concepts and don’t even realize it.  It might not be as clear as you think it is.

Misplaced or missing key concepts are hard to catch unless you have an outsider’s perspective.  Give your proposal to someone outside your company to review.  Ask them if it is clear; see if they can summarize what you've said.  If not, then you need re-engineer your proposal—it needs to be scientifically sound, but it also needs to be written in simple, precise sentences.

The staff of the SBIR Assistance Program regularly review and critique proposals.  We know what the agencies are looking for in a proposal, and we can assess it for clarity and soundness.  Since we want to give you the opportunity to actually implement our suggestions and make corrections, don’t wait until the last minute to send it to us.  Send your rough draft (or at least part of it) to us no less than a week before the submission deadline.  We will review it and give you suggestions for improvement.

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