A business proposal is a written offer from a vendor to a prospective buyer; this document must explain to buyers the capabilities of a vendor to satisfy their needs. A business proposal is often confused with a business plan, which is a formal statement of a company’s goals and its means to achieve them.
Steps for Writing a Business Proposal
- To set the foundation of your proposal, complete a comprehensive research study to make sure it is or will be needed. Determine related products, services, and track trends. Also, identify your main competitors. Try to find out what challenges your potential customers currently face. What is the best result they want to achieve with the help of your product? What information do you have to solve the problem of your customer? Search the Web. Talk to insiders, or even the heads of companies to form a complete picture.
- Write a cover letter. In the cover letter, introduce your company, its background, and credentials. Sometimes, the essence of the proposal is noted in a cover letter in brief form.
- Make the title page. The title page should contain your name together with the name of the company, the name of the person or company to which your proposal will be submitted, and the date of submission.
- Make a table of contents if the document is lengthy.
- Next, compose an executive summary. This is the most essential part of a business-proposal and must be factual, intriguing, and persuasive. Usually, in this part of a proposal, you show your potential buyers the problem, remind them how obtrusive it is, and make it clear you have a solution. After this, it is useful to give a substantiation of why your company is preferable to many others in solving this problem.
- Write the “Procedures” section. In this section, you specify all the logistical information your potential clients might need. This includes various technical details, prices, schedules, benchmarks, a management plan, a staffing plan, legal matters, and other documentation.
- Think about the less important information than presented in the text of the proposal, or additional documentation. This could go in the “Appendix” section.
Business proposals generally fall into two categories: solicited, which are written in response to an RFP (Request for Proposal)—a published requirement; and unsolicited, when bidders presuppose their products or services would be of use and a benefit to another company. Therefore, in the second case, you can choose what your proposal will be, referring to yourself.
Key Points to Consider
- The length of your executive summary may vary depending on the total length of the business proposal. Write a 1-2 page summary per 50 pages of the proposal.
- Executive summary is the part of your proposal that can singularly cause your customers to say “yes” or “no” to you.
- Bear in mind that when the proposal is accepted, positions stated in the document’s body can become legally binding.
- If you have any pictures or diagrams, include them in your business proposal. It doesn’t matter much if they are colorful or not, unless they are important for the delivery of the message. You can look as professional with a black-and-white proposal as with a colorful one.
- If you write your proposal in a response for a RFP, it would be useful to show how positions from your proposal match the demands made in the RFP whenever possible. This can be done in several ways. For instance, you can make a two-column table. One column could contain requirements from the RFP and the other, your matching positions.
- A reasonable and cost-effective price is one of the most significant advantages over competitors.
Do and Don’t
Common Mistakes When Writing a Business Proposal
– Writing a long and detailed executive summary. This section of a business proposal is not about summarizing the rest of the material stated in the proposal, but about delivering your message to a customer. It shows the solution to a client, while the rest of the proposal substantiates it.
– Giving a fulsome description of your company’s history, milestones, and achievements. Remember that your potential clients are interested in the means you offer to solve their problems and satisfy their needs, and not in a detailed biography of your organization.
– Paying more attention to formatting and appearance of your business proposal than to its content. Writing a proposal is not about introducing your company, but about persuading your potential clients of your ability to satisfy their needs and solve problems.
– Forgetting to proofread.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic business plan proposal writing tips and rules, you can check out our business plan proposal samples to link theory with practice.
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Samples for Writing a Business Proposal
SFTWare, Inc. (unsolicited) (excerpt)
Coaching Company (unsolicited)
Chess Curriculum (solicited) (excerpt)
What follows is a short proposal for a paper on the rapid growth of convenience store chains in America. Note how admirably the proposal takes advantage of the stylistic tips noted in the list on the previous page. Also note that because the proposal author took the initiative to go to a convenience store chain’s business office, she found out that the chain had an historian, who provided her with abundant and excellent data, such as that generated by exit polls, to supplement her library research. This proposal was submitted by an earth science student and received enthusiastic approval and concrete feedback from the professor.
Click here to open a sample proposal within this page.
"The Burgeoning of Convenience Stores Across the American Landscape"
by Janet Lerner
In a little over two decades we have witnessed the emergence of a new concept in retail buying for the American consumer—the convenience store. The United States government defines convenience stores as "food retailer(s) of limited lines in a freestanding sales area of 3,000 square feet, concentrating on selected fast-moving products" (Directory of Supermarkets, Grocery, and Convenience Store Chains, 1990). To this definition I would add that typically the products on the shelves of convenience stores are priced higher than those carried by their competitors.
RATIONALE FOR MY INVESTIGATION
While spreading across the country like politicians on a campaign trail, convenience stores appear to have maintained a fairly distinctive regional character. Uni-Mart and Sheetz are common names for these stores in central Pennsylvania, but in Iowa we find Casey’s, in Massachusetts Cumberland Farms, and hundreds of other names specific to a state or region. I am intrigued by the rapid growth of convenience stores, which, from my early research, seem to retain a local flavor for such a widespread national phenomenon.
Through my library research, I will examine the burgeoning of convenience stores by exploring the answers to questions such as the following:
—How does the rapid growth of convenience stores reflect demographic trends?
—What determines the location of convenience stores? (macro-geography?)
—How have the unrelated markets of food retail and gasoline sales evolved into a common store?
I also plan to interview several key executives at Uni-Mart, including Charles R. Markham, who is the executive vice-president.
Directory of Supermarkets, Grocery, and Convenience Store Chains. CGS, 1990. This is a comprehensive guide to all major and many minor stores and their data (number of stores, size, brief history, top personnel). It also includes maps that illustrate regional concentrations of stores, and provides an overview of the industry today.
Curtis, C.E. "Mobil Wants To Be Your Milkman." Forbes. February 13, 1984, pp. 44-45. This article provides a concise but informative discussion of the combining of the food retail and gas industries.