As trivial as it looks, a written business proposal is the most important initial step that anyone starting a business needs to have. It doesn’t matter whether the business you intend to start is targeting the local market or a large international company; a well-crafted business proposal is the blueprint bid for any business. And benefits of a business proposal are not just for those who are starting a business; you can use your proposal to secure additional funds to expand your company, attract new investors and make long-term deals, create new partnerships and even make an offer to a client that will unlock your market potential. A business proposal increases the odds of victory in your favor by winning the hearts of your target audience. Here is how to write a good business proposal.
What is a business proposal and why do you need it?
A business proposal is a document that you create to persuade your target audience to buy a particular service or product. It often gives a solution to a particular issue. Therefore it must address and meet the needs of your client’s problems. A proposal also explains your goal, how you intend to achieve the goal and why it matters. So if you want potential clients to say yes to your business proposal, then you must know how to write it.
One of the benefits of knowing how to write a business proposal is that it helps everyone who reads it understand your business strategies, goals, realistic plans and projections. It puts everyone on the same page by answering the Why question like why they should choose your business, why are you different from your competitors, why they should trust you or why is your solution the ideal one for the client. For example, you can use a business proposal to persuade an investor or potential client to buy a new product or service. In the proposal, you will outline the benefits of the new product to the clients, the cost of production, what separates it from competitors and profile of target market including trends.
Types of business proposal
There are three types of business proposals: formally solicited, informally solicited and unsolicited
Formally solicited proposals
When a business or government agencies request for proposals, they are referred to as solicited proposals. It can often be viewed as a job application where you have to compete with other companies or brand. The proposal you will send will be in response to the request of the buyer. This type of proposal will often outline the information they want to see as well as a particular need or service that they want to outsource. With the solicited proposal, the seller can request for a proposal (RFP), request information (RFI) about your services or products, an invitation for bid (IFB) or request for quotation (RFQ).
Informally solicited proposal
When a buyer is interested in a product or service that a particular company offers then to show their interest they often put a request for a proposal from the seller.
These proposals are used by a business or company to introduce or provide a product or service to potential buyers, another companies or institutions. It can also act as a way of proposing a joint venture. In short, you are using the proposal to approach a client with the hopes of convincing them to hire your business.
Business proposal outline
Writing a business proposal is like building a home. You need to start with the outline and add details that will answer all the questions that your audience might have. The details have to be honest, and straightforward. The one thing that you need to remember when writing any business proposal is that a business proposal outline follows a specific formula. It starts with an introduction which summarizes your business and project. It’s then followed by a body which will include the pricing table, methodology, and any charts. The final part is a conclusion that tells the potential client how to proceed. As long as you have a business proposal outline that works for you then writing the proposal will never be a challenge for you.
Any business proposal outline must have three things:
- Problem statement and solution – Show that you understand the problem at hand. Do extensive research so that you can have knowledge about what your clients’ needs and communicate persuasively yet clearly. Also, know your target audience, who they are and what they value. So that you can position yourself as an expert in that particular industry. Collect all the necessary information you need to include in your business proposal.
- Pricing and methodology – You must show the method that you’re going to use to achieve the set goal of the proposal. Explain how much it’s going to cost you to provide the solution and how you’re going to solve the problem. Estimate the labor cost and include any other pricing details.
- Business proposal format – After the intro, body and conclusion outline, you will have to describe each step of the business proposal in details. You can research and get some proposal samples that are related to your industry. Business proposal sample doc can act as a reference tool and help give your final proposal a professional look.
Here is the step by step guideline of how your business proposal format should look like:
Section 1: Title page
The title page section is the main cover of your business proposal. This page will have accurate information about your name, your company or business name, the date you submitted the proposal and the name of the client or investor you’re submitting the proposal to and title of the project.
Section 2: Table of content
Include a table of contents in an outline form to help the reader know what to expect and where to find specific items of the proposal. This section is also important for long business proposals and each section should be followed by a page number.
After the table of content, you will proceed to write the body which will have an introduction, executive summary, proposal, and methodology then followed by a conclusion and appendix.
Section 3: Introduction
The introduction should act as a cover letter that can help build trust between you and the reader. Introduce your company by highlighting your accomplishments, credentials and your brand’s character in a way that relates to your investor or potential client. While the length of your introduction will depend on the type of questions your client might expect, its best to keep it under one page.
Section 4: Executive Summary
The executive summary section is where you present your case on why you are the right person for the job. Avoid summarizing every aspect of the proposal. Instead, limit your overview of the report to two to three pages. However, remember that your executive summary and tone to use will change depending on the type of client and the industry your targeting. For example, you might use a more casual tone if your target audience is a company run by recent graduates. In one page your executive summary should convince the reader why they should support your offer and why your organization is qualified to carry out the proposed project. This section should also include:
- Problem statement in one or two paragraphs
- Funding requirements
- Organization and expertise
Section 5: Proposal
In this section introduce the goal of the proposal, statement of need or what your proposal hopes to accomplish. The goals or problem stated can be divided into measurable targets. You can also include why the problem needs a solution and provide any additional information that can help make the proposal clear. Such as why you are involved with finding a solution to the problem or why previous attempts to get solutions if any have failed. You also need to define any key terms to help the reader understand the industry jargons. Remember to explain the problem the client is facing. Having a business proposal sample can give your ideas that can apply to a specific topic or the industry in question.
If your business proposal is long then its best to offer a roadmap to prevent the reader from losing focus on the key details. For example, you can say this business proposal has 6 parts. In part 1 we offer the problem or need statement, in part 2 we give you a detail of the solution, part 3 is how we intend to achieve the solution including methodology. Part 4 covers the budget, labor cost and other contract terms, part 5 we offer a summary of the proposed solution and finally part 6 is the concluding statement and any expected challenges or problems.
Section 6: Methodology
In this section, you will explain the steps you will take to fulfill your clients need. Get into details about the steps you will use to come up with the solutions. You can include charts, surveys, tables, case studies or any statistics that will better explain your proposal. Instead of using so many words, demographic studies, tables, graphs, and charts can help make your data easily digestible and more visually appealing. Fact sources will make increase the credibility of your proposal. Additionally, what they should expect to get and when you intend to complete the project. In short, give the reader an outline of how you will go about accomplishing the proposal.
Section 7: Pricing
Write an estimate of your budget to help the reader know whether they can afford what you’re bringing to the table. Depending on the type of proposal you can include labor costs, initial set up costs, ongoing monthly charges, maintenance costs and supply cost. Include the total cost that shows the accurate pricing information of the offered goods or services.
Section 8: Conclusion
This section works to conclude your proposal and calls attention to how your vision will look like after the grant is complete. This section should not be more than two paragraphs. The conclusion should restate the solution and benefits of the offered products or services. You can also include the deadline of when you expect to be through with the project.
Section 9: Appendix
If any supplementary information couldn’t fit on the body section, then add it on the appendix part of your proposal. You can even include testimonials from customers or a reference section or supporting material where your reader can get more information.
Revise your business proposal
Always review your final draft before sending it to your client. You can even give it to a co-worker or close friend to read and suggest any changes. If necessary try to shorten the proposal and check to ensure that you meet all the requirements that might make your proposal stand out.
Templates help reduce the challenge of writing a long proposal
How to write a business proposal template can help simplify your writing process by providing a framework which you can then use to add specific details about your project. Since each project is different, each of your business proposals also has to be unique in showing how it can help a potential client. Having a how to write a business proposal template will make drafting your proposal manageable and save time rather than starting from scratch.
A short example of a simple business proposal sample that states the problem and objective solution can have a draft that looks like the one below:
Proposal for customer call improvement
Problem statement: Customers are unable to get a quick internet connection because most of the recently reported problems are piled with the rest of the previously reported issues. When the customer makes a complaint, the issue is added to the folder marked internet connection problems.
Proposed solution: each customer to have a specific ID which is linked to the technician assigned to that particular location. A follow-up call will then be made by the customer care to ensure that the reported internet connection problem was resolved within 24 hours.
Methodology: The steps to obtaining the solution will involve:
- Employ new technicians who live in areas where most our target customers live.
- Program the new calling Centre system to group internet complains based on geographical location.
- Communicate the new system to all customer care representatives
- Test the new system and work ethics of the technicians.
Benefits of the solution
The new method will eliminate the pileup, and slow response to any internet complains.
Customer service will be efficient as the complaints will be directed to the right technician who will ultimately provide quick assistance.
To employ new technicians will cost $200 per person. The total amount needed for per month for approximately 200 technicians is $40,000.
The new technicians and workflow system for customer care will help reduce the time needed to fix each internet problem. This will keep our customers happy, improve our product rating which will, in turn, bring in new clients.