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Small Business Tips

How to Write a Business Proposal

Justine Rabideau
overhead shot of 3 young men, two shaking hands over a business proposal

Writing a compelling and professional business proposal is a must if you want to become a leading entrepreneur. Unfortunately, many prospective business owners do not understand the importance of a written offer to a potential buyer and don’t know where to start when it comes to writing a proposal.Essentially, a business proposal is a request by a business or individual to complete a specific job or project; to supply a service, or in some instances, to be the vendor of a certain product. With that in mind, what will help you stand out from other submissions? How should you format your proposal?Learn the answer to these questions and many more below.

Key sections of a business proposal

All business proposals, no matter how fancy-looking or sophisticated, are composed of three essential sections. This three-part set up allows you to be concise while delving into the deeper details of your plan. Your business proposal format should contain three sections explaining:

  • The needs of your client
  • The solution you plan to offer
  • How your solution will be implemented

Each section will contain additional information, but if your proposal does not address the three topics listed above, it may not be effective.There is no universal business proposal format, but you should utilize a format that is visually appealing and easy to read. You should avoid providing excess information and using long, complex sentences are discouraged. Keep your sentences short and to the point, and avoid complicated words and technical jargon (it’s a proposal, not a college dissertation).

Identify client challenges

When creating a business proposal outline, it is helpful to consider the challenges your client and their industry may be facing. Without this knowledge, it will be nearly impossible to write an appealing proposal. Once you identify the challenges or problems faced by your client, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the overall desired outcome?
  • When did the client first notice the problem or challenge existed?
  • What is the client’s budget?
  • Have they already attempted to rectify the problem on their own? If so, what was the result?
  • What is the deadline for the project?

Answering the previous questions can help you craft an effective solution while showing the client you understand and empathize with their predicament.

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Detail a proposed solution

Once you have a clear understanding of your client’s challenges, you can start writing a section outlining your proposed solution. This is arguably the most important part of the proposal, so you must go as deep into detail as possible.The ultimate goal of any business is to increase productivity, and in turn, increase revenue. Researching other companies in the same industry is a must, and you should support the validity of your solution using relevant case studies, statistics, excerpts from authoritative publications, and visuals. Graphs can be especially helpful if you need to simplify complex statistical data and case studies.You must also discuss the potential outcome of your solution. Help your clients visualize what their company or department will look like and achieve after you are done. Detail each primary step of your solution extensively, and be prepared to answer any questions.

Prove your worth

Since your client is more than likely accepting proposals from multiple companies or sources, you must prove you are the right choice for the job. You can do this by assembling and presenting a portfolio of your previous successes. Be sure to include positive testimonies from past clients as well.Finally, you will need to address the budget of your client, as well as their time constraints. In the final section, you can also outline any terms and conditions of your proposal. When addressing budget, you may want to show how you can save your client money in the long-run (this can be especially helpful if your services are a bit more on the expensive side).

Proofread and edit

Of course, you will also want to proofread your proposal before submitting it to a client. Simple mistakes, such as misspelt words and grammatical errors can doom your proposal and make you look unprofessional. If you are not confident in your writing ability, it can be helpful to hire a professional writer or an editor to perfect your document.Ideally, you want your business proposal to sound professional – after all, you are a business person. To do this, avoid using exaggeration, and never make promises you can’t keep (ex: “Our digital marketing services can help your business’ revenue increase tenfold!”). Unless part of your plan is to actually help a company increase its revenue tenfold, it is best to remain realistic and keep your client’s expectations reasonable.

Follow up

You won’t land every client you submit a proposal to, but you should take the time to follow up. If you haven’t heard anything in a week or more, there is nothing wrong with sending an email or making a courtesy call.

Final notes

Writing a business proposal can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. As implied above, almost any business owner can craft a powerful and convincing proposal simply by doing their homework. Of course, if you need help writing a winning business proposal, you can always reach out to a professional.

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