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How to Write Winning Business Proposals: Examples & Free Templates (2023)
By Aditya Sheth , May 25, 2023
The great Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” If a business doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make money and by extension the business fails. That’s why you need to write business proposals .
A well-written business proposal can often mean the difference between winning or losing a prospective client.
In this in-depth guide to creating business proposals, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals — all by using easy-to-edit professional business proposal templates .
Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):
What is a business proposal.
- How to write a business proposal step by step
What should you include in a business proposal?
Business proposal format, what are the types of business proposals, more business proposal examples + writing and design tips.
- FAQs about business proposals
Looking for a shortcut? Watch this quick video for an overview of everything to include in your business proposal:
An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.
A business proposal outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client . It can be general like this business proposal example:
Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:
Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:
To design a business proposal that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points . Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.
Return to Table of Contents
How to write a business proposal step by step
Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to know what it comprises. At a high level, your effective business proposal should include the following:
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- The problem statement
- The proposed solution
- The timeline
Pricing, billing, and legal
- Terms and conditions
- The acceptance
Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.
Business proposal title
A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring it in favor of a competitor’s.
What makes a good title page? Here are the essential elements to include:
- Your name along with your company’s name
- The name of the prospect (or their business)
- The date you’re submitting the proposal
The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know. The title also offers a strong tangible benefit to the prospective buyer. Honestly, “Who doesn’t want to grow their business?”
Return to business proposal content sections
The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes your proposal scannable and easy to read.
The people you will be pitching to are usually C-level executives. These are busy people who don’t have time to read your entire proposal in one go.
That’s why most of the business proposal examples in this list include a table of contents.
Adding a table of contents to your document makes it easy for them to go through it at their own pace. They can also skim through parts of the proposal that they deem more important. You can see how this abstract business proposal template uses the table of contents:
You can also make your business proposal template easier to navigate by adding hyperlinks to the document, particularly in the table of contents. This way your clients can jump to specific sections without having to scroll through the entire document.
It’s easy to add hyperlinks in the Venngage editor. Select the text you’d like to turn into a link, then click the link icon in the top bar. From there, select the page you want to link to! Then download your completed design as an Interactive PDF .
The executive summary is a staple in all kinds of annual reports , leadership development plan , project plans and even marketing plans . It is a concise summary of the entire contents of your document. In other words, write a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over and that highlights your value proposition.
The goals of your executive summary are:
- Introduce your company to your buyer
- Provide an overview of your company goals
- Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
- Include any other relevant details
This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with:
Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go. This sets the right tone for the rest of your proposal. It also gives your buyer a reason to continue reading your proposal.
Pro Tip: Try to write an executive summary such that, even if your prospective client doesn’t read the entire proposal (with a good executive summary, they most likely will), they should have a clear idea about what your company does and how you can help them.
The point of writing a business proposal is to solve a buyer’s problem. Your goal is to outline the problem statement as clearly as possible. This develops a sense of urgency in your prospect. They will want to find a solution to the problem. And you have that solution.
A well-defined problem statement does two things:
- It shows the prospect you have done your homework instead of sending a generic pitch
- It creates an opportunity for you to point out a problem your prospect might not be aware they had in the first place.
This bold business proposal template above clearly outlines the problem at hand and also offers a ray of hope i.e. how you can solve your prospect’s problem. This brings me to…
The good stuff. In the proposed solution section, you show how you can alleviate your prospective buyer’s pain points. This can fit onto the problem statement section but if you have a comprehensive solution or prefer to elaborate on the details, a separate section is a good idea.
Spare no details regarding the solution you will provide. When you write a business proposal, explain how you plan to deliver the solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and other relevant details.
For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics :
At this point, the prospect you’re pitching your solution to likes what they’re reading. But they may not trust you to deliver on your promises. Why is this?
It’s because they don’t know you. Your job is to convince them that you can fix their problem. This section is important because it acts as social proof. You can highlight what your company does best and how qualified your team is when you write a business proposal for a potential client.
This free business proposal template showcases the company’s accolades, client testimonials, relevant case studies, and industry awards. You can also include other forms of social proof to establish yourself as a credible business. This makes it that much more likely that they will say yes!
Pro Tip: Attaching in-depth case studies of your work is a great way to build trust with a potential client by showcasing how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients in the past. Our case study examples post can show you how to do just that.
To further demonstrate just how prepared you are, it’s important to outline the next steps you will take should your buyer decide to work with you.
Provide a timeline of how and when you will complete all your deliverables. You can do this by designing a flow chart . Or add a roadmap with deadlines. Pitching a long-term project? A timeline infographic would be a better fit.
If you look at this abstract business proposal template below, even something as simple as a table can do the trick.
The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your potential client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.
On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal.
The key to good pricing is to provide your buyer with options. A pricing comparison table can help with this. You want to give your client some room to work with. Make sure you’re not scaring off your client with a high price, nor undervaluing yourself.
Breaking up your pricing in stages is another great way to make sure your potential client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:
The legal aspects can slot right into the terms and conditions section. Alternatively, you can add them to the signature section of the proposal to keep things simple.
Summarize everything you have promised to deliver so far. Include what you expect from your prospective buyer in return. Add the overall project timeline from start to end, as well as payment methods and payment schedule. This way, both of you will be clear on what is being agreed on.
This step is very important as it outlines all the legal aspects of the deal. That is why the terms and conditions section of your proposal needs to be as clear as possible.
I recommend consulting a lawyer or your legal team when working on this section of the business proposal. If you’re a business veteran and understand the legalities of your business, you can use the same terms and conditions across all your proposals.
The final step of this whole process. Your client has read your business proposal and they want to buy what you have to offer.
Add a small section at the end of your proposal to get the necessary signatures. This way, you and your client can sign the proposal and the partnership becomes official.
Be sure to also include your contact information in your business proposal template. It acts as a gentle prompt to your client to contact you in case they have any questions.
A business proposal usually aims to answer the following questions:
- Who you are and what your company does
- The problem your buyer is facing
- The solution your company offers to alleviate the problem
- How your company will implement this solution effectively
- An estimate of resources (time, money, etc) required to implement the solution
You can see how this sample business proposal template covers the above points.
Notice how this proposal template addresses the same project like in one of the previous templates, but uses a completely different design style (more retro, while the previous business proposal template is more modern and minimalistic).
You can remove or add more sections depending on the goal of your business proposal. Essential, your business proposal can follow this format:
- Pricing, billing and legal
We go into detail on how you can write a business proposal (plus different business proposal templates you can apply the tips to) in the next section . But you can also click on the format items above to learn how you can best write them!
If you aim to create a holistic business proposal, feel free to just edit from the two templates right above. You can also add your brand colors and logo to your design, using My Brand Kit :
Here’s another example of a business proposal template that you can edit:
Generally, there are three types of business proposals:
1. Formally solicited
A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal.
In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer. You simply need to write the business proposal for your buyer to evaluate so you can begin the sales process .
2. Informally solicited
Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn’t an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and asks for a proposal so they can evaluate it.
An informally solicited proposal requires a lot more research from your end. These types of proposals are usually created out of informal conversations. They are not based on official requests which often contain more detail.
Think of this as a marketing brochure or a cold email . Unsolicited business proposals will often take a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to business proposals. Unsolicited proposals lack any understanding of the buyer or their requirements.
But with additional market research , personalization and identifying customer pain points , you can propose a customized solution based on your buyer’s needs. This can be a very persuasive approach, such as in this business proposal example:
Now that you know how to write a business proposal, let’s look at how you can optimize your proposal to deliver results!
Below you’ll find some winning business proposal templates and examples to get you started. I’ve also included some design tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your next business proposal:
1. Know your audience
If you have some clarity on who your ideal buyer is — their pain points, their budget, deadlines, among other things — you’ve already won half the battle.
If you are a business that helps clients with everything from running giveaways or helping grow their blog , identify which customers to pitch. This is a sure-shot way to close the deal.
Mapping user personas for your ideal buyer can help bring some clarity. It will also help you position your business proposal correctly. This improves the chance of your buyer moving your business proposal to the “Yes!” pile.
2. Put your brand front and center
If your company follows certain brand guidelines, incorporate them in your business proposal templates. Consider how business proposal examples like the one below highlight brand identity :
From the color palettes to the company logos , everything follows their brand guidelines. The result: a business proposal that’s consistent across the board.
Pro Tip: Switching this template to match your brand assets is actually pretty easy. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature allows you to import your color palettes, logos as well as font choices. Any Venngage template can now be your template.
You can also consider this sample business proposal template:
Design companies sure do know their design. They did a phenomenal job keeping their brand colors consistent while opting for a black design. This unique color scheme also makes their white logo prominent throughout the proposal.
3. Try less text, more visuals
Have you ever read a proposal and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is all text and has no images, I love it!”? Yeah, me neither.
The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the “less is more” principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that’s much more scannable.
Want to keep things strictly professional? Instead of icons, you can always add your team’s headshots. This shows your buyer exactly who they’ll be working with.
Check out this formal business proposal format for some inspiration:
4. Switch up your business proposal designs
It doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond once in a while. Jazz up your business proposal template with some extra colors. This helps make your business proposal more engaging. It also helps your buyers retain information faster.
The business proposal example alternates between black, white and grey backgrounds. It still manages to maintain consistency in its branding . Just switching up your backgrounds once in a while can also bring in some variety to an otherwise standard business proposal.
This SEO business proposal sample proves that it’s possible to switch up the colors in every other page. But it still maintains the same color scheme across the entire proposal just like a professionally designed website :
Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.
FAQ about business proposals
What is the purpose of a business proposal.
A business proposal aims to streamline the B2B sales process (which is often complex) between you as a seller and a buyer.
It does this by serving the dual purpose of acting as a source of information. The proposal also acts as a sales pitch aimed at convincing your buyer why they should buy what you have to offer.
What are the best practices for business proposal design?
- Do a thorough spell-check. The goal of your business proposal is to convince your buyer why you’re the perfect person for the job. A proposal with typos or grammatical errors communicates the opposite. A thorough spell-check before you send your proposal is a must.
- Keep things clear and readable: Clarity is an important aspect that you have to ensure in your business proposal. If you want your proposal to hit home and make an impact on the buyer, you have to write it in an understandable way. To keep things clear and readable, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can, for one, take care to use easy wording and segmented sentences from the get-go. You can also try paraphrasing the hard parts of your proposal once you are done writing it.
- Let your brand shine. As discussed before, writing a business proposal is all about knowing your ideal buyer and focusing on their pain points. But that doesn’t mean your business proposal template has to be boring. Demonstrate how different you are compared to other companies. You can do this through your brand guidelines , by using more visuals, switching up your proposal design or showing off your personality in your writing .
- Create a business proposal PDF. Downloading your business proposal in PDF format allows you to attach other collaterals with your business proposal. These can include a company explainer video or case studies showcasing the work done with past clients. Also, who doesn’t love saving paper?
How long should your business proposal be?
The length depends on the scope of the work as well as the complexity of the project. Here is a one-page business proposal template:
Can your business proposal template really be one page? Yes, as long as you understand who your buyer is and their pain points. You should also have the ability to communicate everything your ideal buyer needs to know about your business in a succinct manner.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous how about just two pages? Often, clients prefer if you go straight to the point and avoid all the fluff.
For example, this green modern marketing proposal template wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks:
Need more inspiration? Check out this blog on the 5 marketing proposal examples that’ll help elevate your business.
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding how many pages you should include in your business proposal template. And at the end of the day, “the only rules are the ones you set for yourself”.
At the end of the day, writing winning business proposals that sell is all about you understanding your buyer, their potential pain points and positioning yourself as someone who can alleviate those pain points.
Now that you know how to write compelling business proposals, what are you waiting for?
Take action and start creating your own business proposals to close more deals and grow your business today!
More business communications templates + writing tips you might be interested in…
31 Consulting Proposal Templates to Close Deals
How to Write a Project Proposal [10+ Templates]
20+ Professional Business Letterhead Templates + Branding Tips
How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]
How to Write a Business Proposal — 2022 Guide and Template
A business proposal can make or break your chances of securing a new client. Write a great one, and you’ll likely snag their business.
Write a poor one, and you might lose out—even if you’re offering the best service out there. So, how do you write a business proposal? What is the proper format? What do you need to include?
While it all depends on your industry, and whether or not you’re offering a product or service, writing a business proposal is pretty straightforward. We’ll answer all those questions and more throughout the course of this guide.
What to expect with this business proposal guide
Whether you’re starting fresh or need to look at a specific section, here’s what we’ll be covering in this guide.
- What a business proposal is
- The differences between a business proposal and a business plan
- The format of a business proposal
- How long to make your business proposal
How to write a business proposal
You can download a free business proposal template here to start writing up your own proposal as you work through this article. By the end, you’ll be prepared to develop a well-written business proposal that can explain your business clearly and win more clients. Let’s get started.
What is a business proposal ?
A business proposal is a document you’d send to a prospective client, outlining the service you’re offering, and explaining why you’re the best person for the job.
It’s a pitch 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.
What are the different types of business proposals?
A business proposal can be either solicited or unsolicited. With a solicited proposal, the prospective client will put out a request for proposals; with an unsolicited business proposal, you are approaching a client in hopes of attracting their business, even though they did not explicitly request a proposal.
While both are commonplace, a solicited proposal is an easier sell, as your prospective client has already decided that they want to make a purchase or use a service, and they’re evaluating possible vendors or businesses.
With a solicited proposal, your prospective client might have issued an RFP, or “request for proposal.” This is exactly what it sounds like—they want you to send over a business proposal so they can take a look at it.
Differences between a business proposal and a business plan
A business proposal is not the same as a business plan . This is the most common misconception, but while there are areas of overlap (like your executive summary ) the two are different.
That being said, you can certainly pull information from your business plan while writing your business proposal—in fact, that’s a great way to start.
But don’t confuse the two; they are distinct and separate. In short, a business plan represents the cohesive strategy of how your business operates and makes money. A business proposal is an official pitch to clients selling your products or services.
A business proposal outlines a particular product or service offered by an established business to a prospective client.
You’re trying to sell your prospective client on your product or service, not on your business itself. You’re not after funding, as you are with a business plan, you’re trying to make a sale.
A business proposal is also not an estimate; although you’ll likely touch on costs and pricing in your business proposal, an estimate is much more informal and just a quick look at the costs, not the whole picture.
What goes into a business proposal?
Your business proposal should address the three Ps:
- Problem statement: What your customer’s current problem is
- Proposed solution: How your business solves that problem better than other solutions
- Pricing: How much that solution costs compared to alternatives
If you’re stuck on how to start, maybe try brainstorming first; start with these three points, and you’ll have a rough, bare-bones version of your business proposal.
Once you’ve done that if you’re ready to go more in-depth, here is a step-by-step look at how to format your business proposal.
Your business proposal should start with a title page, which should include your name, the name of your company, the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your proposal, and the date submitted.
Table of contents
Depending on how long your business proposal is, a table of contents is a nice touch. Include it after your title page, and before you launch into any details. If you’re delivering it as a PDF, including anchor links down to each section, so it’s easy to get to specific areas.
Introduce your proposal with a great executive summary, one that really sells your business and the products or services you provide—it’s about why you’re the right company for the job. You can draw from your business plan’s executive summary here, too.
Statement of problem, issue, or job at hand
Following your executive summary, go on to discuss the problem that the client is currently facing. Think of “problem” or “issue” loosely; after all, their main problem may just be finding the right person to complete their project. But be sure you understand why they want the product or service they’re seeking. If the proposal is for developing a brand new website, make sure you understand what they want to get out of the site—better sales, more content management flexibility.
This is the place to show your new client that you understand their needs , and fully grasp the issue they are trying to solve. Take this opportunity to restate the issue they are facing in your own words so that they know you understand what they are looking for.
Approach and methodology
This section shows how you plan to tackle your potential client’s problem, and the steps you’ll take to carry out your plan.
This is where you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how you actually plan to fulfill your client’s needs. While earlier sections might have been a bit surface-level, this section of the business proposal is where you’ll go into detail about what steps you’ll take to solve their problem.
Be careful of going into too much detail, though—keep the jargon to a minimum. Your client should be able to follow along and get a clear sense of your plan, but you don’t want to drown them in minutiae.
Go ahead, brag a little—this is the section of your business proposal where you get to convince your potential client why you are the most qualified person to take on the job.
You can mention any relevant education, industry-specific training, or certifications you have, your past successful projects of a similar nature, years of experience, and so on.
Schedule and benchmarks
Be clear with your potential client: How long will your proposed project take?
Making sure you and your prospective client are on the same page from the outset will help make sure that the relationship stays positive for both of you, and that you don’t set your client up with unrealistic expectations.
While you might be tempted to underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project, don’t. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver!
If you’re offering a product, this section might not be applicable to you, so feel free to omit it. The business proposal format is flexible, so tailor it to suit your business and industry.
Cost, payment, and any legal matters
Here is where you get down to brass tacks and state the cost, and payment schedule if necessary.
How you structure this section will largely depend on the particular project or service you are offering. A section entitled “Fee Summary” may be sufficient if one-time payment is required; otherwise, a “Fee Schedule” list or pricing table might be more appropriate. Always refer back to the client’s RFP whenever possible, to make sure you’re supplying them with all the information they need to help make their decision.
If there are any legal issues to attend to, such as permits or licensing, include this information here. Feel free to add a section entirely devoted to handling the legal side of the project if need be.
This is your final sell—don’t be afraid to detail for your prospective client all they have to gain by choosing you to complete the project.
Impress upon your clients why you are the best choice, and all the ways in which their business will benefit from choosing you and your business as their solution.
How long should a business proposal be?
When it comes to the format of a business proposal, this is the million-dollar question without an answer. Remember in school, when you’d ask your teacher how long an essay should be, and they’d reply, “as long as it takes to answer the question.”
The same applies to your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the scope of the project, and the client’s specifications in terms of detail and elements included.
That being said, the tighter your initial proposal can be and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch it to clients. Start by following the business proposal format above as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and securing new clients.
Editor’s note: This article was originally written in 2018 and updated for 2021.
Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.
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Sales | How To
How to Write a Business Proposal (+ Template & Examples)
Published February 27, 2023
Published Feb 27, 2023
REVIEWED BY: Jess Pingrey
WRITTEN BY: Bianca Caballero
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This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management .
Manage Sales With CRM
Free Business Proposal Template
- 1 Determine Sales Proposal Requirements
- 2 Gather Necessary Information
- 3 Design Your Proposed Solution
- 4 Calculate Pricing
- 5 Draft Your Proposal
- 6 Edit Your Proposal Draft
- 7 Send Your Proposal
- 8 Follow Up With Your Recipient
- 9 Best Practices in Writing Sales Proposals
- 10 Bottom Line
A business proposal is a document sent to a prospective client that outlines a firm’s product or service offerings. It also explains how you will provide a solution, the cost, timeline, and qualifying information, such as your background and prior work experience. In this article, we outline eight steps for how to create a business proposal, offer a free proposal template, and provide best practices for writing proposals.
Creating a sales proposal can feel tedious, especially if you’re drafting it from scratch each time. We’ve created a free template that you can use as a resource for your sales proposal.
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Free Sales Business Proposal Template
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💡 Quick Tip:
Use ClickUp for free to see your entire sales funnel in one place.
- ✓ Free forever, unlimited users
- ✓ Manage all leads, emails and tasks
- ✓ Create presentations, lead forms, and contracts
- ✓ Professional workspace templates
After you’ve downloaded our free template above, you can now customize it according to your business needs as you follow the steps to writing a proposal below:
1. Determine Sales Proposal Requirements
The first step in learning how to write a business proposal is knowing what needs to be included. Government agencies, public universities, and large corporations typically use requests for proposals (RFPs). These are formal solicitation requests for products or services in which the requirements are normally laid out line by line and must be followed precisely.
If you are writing a proposal for a potential customer undergoing your unique sales process , include things a decision-maker would like to see. For instance, pricing, timelines, and the proposed solution regarding quantities and the mode of product or service delivery are critical purchasing factors enclosed in the document.
Pro tip: ClickUp is a free-forever project management tool that helps teams:
- Create professional proposals
- Collaborate with shared tasks and team chat
- Assign tasks to teammates
ClickUp project management board (Source: ClickUp )
2. Gather Necessary Information
Gathering essential information and materials for your proposal can be complex because each potential client may want different details. This could demand other personnel to get involved in pulling the documents and information needed. For instance, some may only request the price and proposed solution, while others will ask for your background story, client reference lists, and work samples to show you’re qualified.
While learning how to write a proposal for business purposes, you may have to dig around your file database for company information, employee biographies, marketing materials, and pricing sheets. Keeping all resources needed for a proposal in one place makes this process easier. Use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track your proposal progress and acquire what’s needed to draft it in one place.
Pro tip: HubSpot is a popular CRM platform that lets you monitor opportunities using sales pipelines and store documents—all in one system. You can utilize the Sales Documents feature to store, share, and customize templates and materials you’ll need for your proposals.
HubSpot’s deals and opportunities pipeline (Source: HubSpot )
HubSpot’s Sales Documents library (Source: HubSpot )
3. Design Your Proposed Solution
Your proposed solution involves the processes, materials, product quantities, and personnel required to fulfill the offerings or address your customer’s problem statement. Additionally, it should be included in the scope of work section in the proposal. For businesses that only provide a product, such as equipment for a manufacturing plant, this step could be as easy as knowing the quantity and having a logistics plan for delivery and installment.
For more service-based businesses, such as business consultants or content development services, there will likely be more steps and deliverables to complete the work. Regardless of your business, you can use the five W’s and an H methodology to construct a proposed solution that addresses your prospect’s primary pain points:
- Who: Who will be involved, do the work, manage, and be a point of contact for the prospect?
- What: What solutions or products will be delivered, and what resources, processes, or technology will be used?
- Where: Where will work be done or delivered to?
- When: When will the work start and be completed, what are the key milestones throughout the project, and when is each deliverable expected to occur?
- Why: Why did you choose this particular solution for this customer’s needs?
- How: How will work be done, managed, and checked for high quality and customer satisfaction?
For example, a business-to-business (B2B) content writing business might be trying to address a statement of needs issued by a client: “We would like to express thought leadership on the topic of the Zero Trust Cybersecurity Framework.” In this case, the business could use the solution in this business proposal example:
The objective of this business proposal is to demonstrate how ABC Writing Agency can promote the thought leadership of Cybersecurity Corp. for the Zero Trust Security Model. We believe the best course of action is to research and copyright a branded e-book (roughly 4,000 words) regarding Zero Trust Security, the details of the solution, its benefits, and the modern-day security challenges it solves (what) with the final product completed in August 2022. (when) The e-book will use your logo and branding scheme to convey your personal grasp on the subject and thought leadership using a series of direct quotes and statistical callouts. (why)
To ensure high-quality work and client satisfaction, we will begin with an initial call to construct a detailed outline discussing the sections, style guides, tone, and to retrieve direct quotes. Following an initial draft, multiple rounds of edits will take place between Cybersecurity Corp. and ABC Writing Agency to develop a final draft. (how)
The project will be led by our senior editor, Collin Buchanan, and content manager, Jake Cunningham, who comes from the world of cybersecurity. Our team will utilize and manage freelancers experienced in writing e-books on technical topics to research and copyright the asset. (who) All work will be completed by us virtually and delivered via Google Docs. (where)
4. Calculate Pricing
Once you know how you’ll provide your product or service, the next step in writing a proposal is formulating the costs to specify in the document’s pricing section. This is one of the toughest steps because of all the factors that need to be considered, such as product cost and other expenses. That’s why it is critical to accurately communicate your costs to avoid losing a deal for overcharging—or worse—winning a deal with significantly underestimated costs.
As you price everything, you can either do a flat fee, hourly rate, per-unit charge, or some combination of the three. Sometimes, it’s best to work backward by establishing your desired probability first in the form of a percent like 20% profit or a flat dollar amount such as $10,000 above the work cost.
For example, you want to make a 20% profit on the work for an equipment installation job for a manufacturing business, and you’re pricing using a flat fee. You’ve itemized the costs as the following:
- 1 x $80,000 manufacturing equipment = $80,000
- 3 installation/delivery employees x 5 hours x $32 per hour = $480 wages
- $480 employee wages x 7% employer payroll tax = $33.6 payroll tax
- $480 employee wages x 20% benefits and workers’ compensation = $96 benefits and compensation
- $200 for the delivery truck and gas = $200 for delivery costs
When you add all the itemized expenses, the total cost for this installation job will be around $80,809. To get the total, you need to charge this customer to meet your desired profitability, and multiply it by 20% to get $16,162. Add that to your total cost ($80,809 + $16,162), and $96,971 is the flat fee you will charge for the installation job.
Pro tip: Struggling to visualize your pricing process? Try using these seven free estimate templates . Designed for various business types, these templates allow you to outline and itemize the costs of providing work to share with your customers to help win more deals easily.
5. Draft Your Proposal
Now that you know your proposal requirements, have gathered the necessary information, determined the proposed solution, and calculated pricing, you are ready to draft the document. Following along with our free template, your draft will consist of the following elements:
The title page leans more toward showing the professionalism of your business than providing information. There should be a specific title establishing the purpose, such as “ABC Writing Agency Proposal for Cybersecurity Corp. to Promote Thought Leadership on Zero Trust Security.”
Also, be sure to indicate who the proposal was prepared for in terms of the decision-making person and their company name. Add your logo to the front and the contact information for the primary point of contact for your business so they can contact you with further questions.
Table of Contents
Use a table of contents to break down each part of the proposal for business so they can easily navigate through it. Because of the digital age we live in, we recommend linking your table of contents electronically to each associated section. That way, those reading your proposal can go to any part of the document by clicking on the table of contents.
The executive summary takes everything in your proposal and compresses it into one paragraph. Essentially, if a reader reads this section, they should be able to grasp the general idea of your solution. Here’s a business proposal example using the content writing example above:
With over 10 years of experience in writing high-quality marketing assets, we are eager to assist Cybersecurity Corp in its endeavor to promote thought leadership on Zero Trust Security. We plan to achieve this by writing a comprehensive e-book using engaging copy, stat callouts, and direct quotes from your leaders to help associate the security framework with your brand.
Here’s your time to talk about your inception story, mission statement , founding purpose, and company history. You can also provide biographies and professional pictures of your company founders, leaders, and key personnel that might be involved in the work you provide.
This is also the time to express your unique selling proposition . In other words, addressing the question “why choose us” over competitors. Lastly, if you’ve had any recognition or won any company awards, this is the section to highlight those successes.
Scope of Work
This section correlates with creating your proposed solution in step three as you present it in an actionable business plan. Describe the work that will be completed and the tangible deliverables associated with it.
In this small business proposal example, we see how a content writing business might construct a scope of work:
We will provide content writing services to create predetermined marketing assets for Cybersecurity Corp. This includes researching online data for usable information, interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) for additional insights and quotes, copywriting drafts, inserting callouts, and making edits per revision requests made by Cybersecurity Corp. Deliverables for the scope of work above include:
- 1 x outline developed by ABC Writing Agency and approved by Cybersecurity Corp.
- 1 x drafted e-book (max. 4,000 words) delivered by Google Doc
No matter how long your scope of work is, it’s crucial to avoid industry or technical jargon that the general audience may not understand. Take the time to review the scope of work and translate any statements that may be misunderstood or confusing.
Be sure to indicate how long you expect it to take to complete the entire scope of work. It’s also a good idea to provide estimates for each milestone or individual deliverable you set. Whenever possible, present the information visually to help your reader absorb it better. Below is a sales proposal timeline example for a sales consulting business and its milestones.
Pricing or Price Estimate
For this section, take the price calculation you did in step four and present it to the potential customer. While you should itemize it to show where the price comes from, avoid adding your desired profitability, as that should be private to your business. Make sure it’s clear as to how each item is priced, whether that be hourly, per unit, or a flat fee.
This section should also be used to explain payment expectations, e.g., when invoices must be paid by, how much money is required upfront vs after work is completed, refund policy, and if other billable expenses can be included automatically or require client approval.
Be upfront with your estimate if you don’t know how many units you’ll need or how many hours it will take to accomplish your business offering. Provide an explanation and an estimated range.
Conclusion, Terms & Appendix
The final sections should include additional information that could be useful to your prospective client. A conclusion should express your gratitude for the opportunity and explain the next steps to move forward. Terms (or terms and conditions) can be added in a proposal or in the service agreement to cover legal aspects of a working contract, like contract dispute policies, confidentiality, rules on subcontracting, etc.
The appendix is optional but would utilize visuals or supplemental documents to enrich your proposal. For instance, you might include links to sample work, a client reference list, or a catalog of options for materials or software vendors from which the client can choose.
6. Edit Your Proposal Draft
Once you have completed the first draft of your proposal, run it by multiple departments to ensure it is comprehensive and accurate. Some things to consider as you review it for potential revisions:
- Has strong readability: The proposal uses appropriate style, tone, and structured sentences to create a clean flow of information understood by the specific reader.
- Avoids grammar and technical errors: The proposal avoids punctuation, spelling, or other errors related to proper writing mechanics.
- Addresses requirements: The proposal contains all the information and sections required to meet the reader’s or customer’s needs and objectives.
Use editing tools such as Grammarly to evaluate your business proposal writing for enhanced quality. Grammarly lets users upload text into a system to check for grammar and spelling mistakes as well as for engagement and readability of content. There’s also a plagiarism check feature to evaluate the text to billions of pages online. You can even adjust style preferences when subscribing to Grammarly Business to ensure it meets all your goals.
Grammarly Business’ in-line writing suggestion (Source: Grammarly Business )
Pro tip: Use graphic design tools like Canva to give your sales proposal the professional touch it needs. Canva is a user-friendly platform with thousands of free templates for presentations, marketing materials, social media posts, and proposals for business. Users of all design skill levels can easily turn regular copies into visual masterpieces.
Canva’s sales proposal templates (Source: Canva )
7. Send Your Proposal
Now that your proposal is drafted, edited, and has the aesthetics it needs, it’s time to send the document for review. More formal submissions for RFPs may require that you submit them in person, electronically, or both, so review those provisions carefully before sending them in.
Some sales plans incorporate unsolicited proposals to new leads to present problems they didn’t know existed with viable solutions they could offer. In these cases, they use the proposal to get their foot in the door and create sales opportunities.
When taking this course of action, it’s important to add context to the unsolicited proposal. For instance, in a sales email , briefly introduce yourself, your business, and what services you provide. Furthermore, indicate why you wanted to send a proposal to them specifically and let them know they can reach out if they wish to discuss it further.
8. Follow Up With Your Recipient
Even after you send a proposal, the process is not over. Make time to follow up to confirm the contact received the proposal and see if they have any questions. Because of the proposals’ details, there are usually other clarification steps in the procurement process, such as interviews, client meetings , or sales presentations before work begins.
We recommend using a customer relationship management (CRM) system with task management capabilities to ensure sales reps don’t forget to reach out to a prospect after a proposal is initially sent. A CRM like Pipedrive lets you design and assign tasks to team members from within a project. You can also create projects that are linked to open or won deals.
Pipedrive’s project and task management feature (Source: Pipedrive )
Best Practices in Writing Sales Proposals
Now that you know the steps in how to write a business proposal, there are a few tips you can practice and maintain to produce thoughtful and effective proposals.
Keep It Simple
When learning how to make a business proposal, remember to write short, simple sentences. While there is no strict rule on the business proposal format or length, make sure it is straightforward and easy to understand. Avoid loading it with too much business jargon and fancy words. Instead, strike the sweet spot between conveying essential information and ensuring anyone who reads it can understand it.
Outline Major Sections & Pertinent Information
The first thing to do when learning how to do a business proposal is to outline all the major sections of your document. This should also include all the pertinent information that you want to get across. The business proposal outline will help you stay focused on the main points of the document and keep your ideas from drifting away.
Add Data & Visuals
Capture your prospect’s attention by including quantitative data and figures highlighting your offerings and the value of your company. For example, you can show your month-on-month sales trends as proof of your stellar performance. Adding visual elements like charts and graphs can also help make your proposal more engaging.
Pro tip: Maximize the use of visualization tools from your CRM. For example, Pipedrive allows you to create a sales flow chart based on reports, making it easier to generate the best data to make your offerings more appealing.
Increase Credibility With Social Proof
Assert your company’s credibility. Many prospects won’t readily believe your claims about your business and are most likely to trust the word of their own peers and other customers. To help build your credibility and gain their trust, include social proof, such as reviews and testimonials from your own customers.
Use a Call to Action (CTA)
After the prospect reads your proposal, direct them to the next step. Use a call to action with a verb that defines what they should do to act on their interest in your proposal. Examples of CTAs are “Subscribe today” or “Download this guide now.” You can also use a CTA with a no-obligation statement like “Sign up, it’s free” for prospects who perceive risks in taking action.
Another excellent idea when adding CTAs is to create a sense of urgency to make your prospect feel that now is the best time to subscribe to your service. Some people are motivated to do something right away for fear of missing out (FOMO). That said, phrases like “Limited-time offer” and “On sale now for 20% off” can trigger action from prospects.
Stay True to Your Brand
Each company has a different brand voice and personality. Staying true to your business brand is a great way to stand out among your competitors. For instance, if your company sells baby clothes, it is best to use language that parents with babies can relate to, like “cute and cuddly” or “snug and comfy.” Use a more formal tone of voice in your proposal if you are selling office wear.
Many business owners and sales managers would like to standardize their proposal-writing system. However, it can be tricky to address the unique needs of every solicited and unsolicited opportunity to get the correct information in order and present their proposed solutions. Our how-to sales proposal examples and free template will help you streamline your bidding process to win more deals.
About the Author
Find Bianca On LinkedIn
Bianca Caballero is a subject matter expert at Fit Small Business who covers Sales and Customer service topics. Prior to working at FSB, she was in field sales and territory management. When she launched her career as a writer, she worked with companies from the US, Australia, and China. She gained expertise in writing and editing news, health, technology, and business articles. At present, she uses her decade-long writing experience to provide FSB readers with the best answers to their questions.
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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan
By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021
A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice.
Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.
A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:
- Product goals and deadlines for each month
- Monthly financials for the first two years
- Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
- Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years
Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.
While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.
For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .
Business Plan Steps
The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:
- Executive summary
- Description of business
- Market analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Description of organizational management
- Description of product or services
- Marketing plan
- Sales strategy
- Funding details (or request for funding)
- Financial projections
If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.
Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.
Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?
Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.
How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business
In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.
Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:
Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?
There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.
The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans
A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.
In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.
Step 1: Executive Summary
The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:
- What is the vision and mission of the company?
- What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?
See our roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.
Step 2: Description of Business
The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:
- What business are we in?
- What does our business do?
Step 3: Market Analysis
In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:
- Who is our customer?
- What does that customer value?
Step 4: Competitive Analysis
In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:
- Who is the competition?
- What do they do best?
- What is our unique value proposition?
Step 5: Description of Organizational Management
In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.
Step 6: Description of Products or Services
In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.
Questions to answer in this section are as follows:
- What is the product or service?
- How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?
Step 7: Marketing Plan
In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:
- Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
- What channels will you use to reach your target market?
- What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
- If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
- How will you measure success?
Step 8: Sales Plan
Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What is the sales strategy?
- What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
- What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
- What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
- What are the metrics of success?
Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)
This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:
- How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
- How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
- What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?
Step 10: Financial Projections
Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years.
While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:
- How and when will the company first generate a profit?
- How will the company maintain profit thereafter?
Business Plan Template
Download Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet
This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.
For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy.
If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.
How to Write a Simple Business Plan
A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.
Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .
- Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company.
- Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision.
- Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
- Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
- Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
- Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
- Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
- Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
- Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting.
- Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.
Simple Business Plan Template
Download Simple Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Smartsheet
Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.
Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates .
How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup
A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.
While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:
- Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
- List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
- Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
- Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
- Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.).
- Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
- Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
- Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.
Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.
See our wide variety of startup business plan templates for more options.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan
A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.
In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.
Download free financial templates to support your business plan.
Tips for Writing a Business Plan
Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.
- Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
- Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
- Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
- Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
- Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”
Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.
Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.
“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”
Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”
Resources for Writing a Business Plan
While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.
Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.
How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business
A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships.
Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.
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How to Write a Proposal and Get What You Want (Free Templates)
A proposal has a lot of different purposes, but there’s only one good way to write one: the way that pulls together all of the information in a concise and persuasive way and helps you get what you want … whether that’s a whole new software system, or just a tweak to your marketing strategy.
This Process Street article isn’t about a business proposal — also known as a quote — but instead about the document required when formally pitching an idea for action and execution by managers or department heads .
To explain how to write a proposal document and get what you want, we’ll go through the following:
Free proposal writing template
When are proposals necessary, why are proposals important, examples of proposals, how to write a proposal: step-by-step, last steps before submitting the proposal, more free proposal writing checklists, even more free proposal writing checklists, customize your proposal checklists with process street.
Let’s get started.
If you fancy taking a quick look at a free interactive template, that will help you write your proposals right away, feel free to dive straight into this!
Writing a Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide
There are more templates, like this one, further down in this post, so stick around.
Any project you don’t have the clearance or authority to start without a higher-up’s approval, you need to submit a proposal for.
According to SSWM , a proposal is “a detailed description of a series of activities aimed at solving a certain problem”.
That problem could be anything, from:
- Process improvement
- Cost reduction
- A new marketing strategy
If it’s an idea you need to ask permission to execute, or to get action on, it needs a proposal.
A proposal is a way to pitch an idea and state your requirements, so it’s important for supervisors because they can get information in writing (not casually in the elevator), and be able to act knowing the full implications of their decision.
They’re also a chance for you to make a structured, logical argument and lay down everything in favor of your idea. A well-written proposal shows your manager you care about the cause, and it’s not just a mid-meeting whim you blurted out.
To write a top proposal you need to scrutinize it before you present it.
It’s a broad topic, but it’s best explained with examples.
- Proposal for Process Improvement
- Proposal for Server Replacement
- Proposal for Cost Savings
Below is a simple proposal example with some basic sections.
Now let’s take a look at how to write a proposal — whether it’s as simple as the one above, or more complex.
Here’s the general structure of a proposal:
As you can see, a proposal generally consists of:
- Introduction : A brief overview of the problem, solution, costs, and benefits.
- Issue : The main definition of the issue, including subject, purpose, main argument, background information and importance.
- Solution : The main definition of the solution, including your step-by-step plan, the benefits, and how potential obstacles will be overcame.
- Qualifications : Overview of the personnel required, experience.
- Conclusion of the costs and benefits, and wrap-up : Balance the cost against the benefit, reinforce your point one last time.
1. Identify and define your reader
Just like with any kind of persuasion, it helps if you understand how to appeal to your audience. Who will be reading your proposal and deciding if it’s accepted or rejected? What do they care about? What kind of language and benefits would resonate with them? This is the first step because it’s an important thing to keep in mind as you go along and as information that informs the way you write from here on.
2. Define the problem your proposal will solve
Who : Who will the proposal affect?
What : What’s the reason for you to write the proposal in the first place? Explain the current situation and the problems that come with it.
3. Define the solution
How : How are you going to solve the problem? Explain step-by-step in detail.
Who : Identify the personnel you need, along with their prior experience to add persuasion to the proposal
4. Conclusion: costs, benefits and wrap-up
Reiterate : The purpose and main argument
Costs : Break down the projected costs involved for different elements of the project
Benefits : Break down the benefits to the organization, monetary and non-monetary, to persuade the reader there’ll be a return on investment
Thanks : Thank the reader for their time.
Contact information : Where can the reader get in touch with you? Make sure to be crystal clear to make the details easily discoverable.
Clear writing is your best friend when you’re trying to write persuasively. For that reason, there are a few checks to run before you submit your proposal.
Remember, what’s clear to you might not always be clear to other people.
1 .Check for jargon (then destroy it)
Although jargon is popular in the business world, not everyone shares the equal love for it. It’s terms like right-size, blue sky (verb), turn-key, and synergize. They might mean something to you, or make you feel intelligent, but there are simpler alternatives that will help people understand what you mean !
2. Change the passive voice to the active voice
The passive voice is defined as :
“The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of an active sentence (such as Our troops defeated the enemy) appears as the subject of a sentence with passive voice (e.g. The enemy was defeated by our troops).”.
It’s a long-winded way of expressing something that could be expressed in simple terms:
The passive voice sounds distant and even deceptive, and, since the reader might even just be skimming your proposal, you don’t want to add extra words to cloud your point.
3. Proofread the proposal
Install a tool like Grammarly and check the proposal in an online text editor. Grammarly will manage to pick up on anything that is grammatically incorrect and sometimes even flags up stylistically poor phrases. Poor spelling and grammar will only discredit the value of what you’re saying and could be a problem that leads to your proposal being rejected.
As promised, check out the below five templates that have each been designed by the team at Process Street — makers of the finest remote work software for processes around — to help you write winning proposals.
Proposal Template Checklist Process
This proposal template is a checklist that should be used alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit. Use it to make sure that all the elements have been considered, that the proposal contains everything it needs to and that it meets all set requirements.
Click here to access the Proposal Template Checklist Process!
Business Proposal Template Checklist
Whether your business proposal is solicited or unsolicited, use this business proposal template checklist to ensure you include all the required information in your proposal and cover key areas such as these the problem the organization is facing, the proposed solution, the budget, and a key CTA.
Click here to access the Business Proposal Template Checklist!
How to Write a Grant Proposal Checklist
Use this template to make sure your grant proposal includes all the relevant information, that it contains everything it needs to, and that it meets all stated RFP requirements.
Click here to access the How to Write a Grant Proposal Checklist!
Research Proposal Example Checklist
Use this template to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.
Click here to access the Research Proposal Example Checklist!
Project Proposal Template Checklist
Use this template, alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit, to set the project vision, define the project requirements, describe the deliverables, and specify the deadlines.
Click here to access the Project Proposal Template Checklist!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, give these alternative proposal writing templates a go too.
- Bid Proposal Template Checklist
- Budget Proposal Template
- Construction Proposal Template Checklist
- Consulting Proposal Template Checklist
- Continuation Project Proposal Template
- Contractor Proposal Template Checklist
- Event Proposal Template Checklist
- Marketing Proposal Template Checklist
- Project Proposal Template
- Renewal Project Proposal Template
- Simple Proposal Format Checklist
- Sponsorship Proposal Template Checklist
- Supplemental Project Proposal Template
- Website Proposal Template Checklist
If the above templates don’t quite fit your company, industry, or the proposal document you are writing, don’t worry!
Process Street to the rescue!
Process Street is super-powered checklists . We are a super-charged, state of the art BPM SaaS platform which allows you to create templates and run individual checklists from these. You can check tasks off as you work through them, set deadlines, request approvals, assign various tasks , and work through your proposal workflows with ease.
Watch this to get an idea about who we are and what we do:
To help you customize your proposal writing template, and make your proposal wriitng easier, you can use all these different types of Process Street features:
- Dynamic due dates
- Task permissions
- Conditional logic
- Approval tasks
- Embed widget
- Role assignments
You can also connect your templates to thousands of apps through Zapier , webhooks, or API access to automate your proposal processes and workflows.
If you’re unfamiliar with process automation, what it means, and the benefits it can bring to your business, watch this Process Street webinar on automation:
Remember, if you want to get access to any of our proposal writing checklists, just click the links above and they will be added to your Process Street account where you can use them over and over again. Or, if you haven’t yet signed up for a Process Street account, click here and start your free trial.
Has this guide helped you out? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street .
I am strongly looking forward to learning how to write a proposal, thanks
Thanks Honar, it’s an honor to have you here 😉
I am looking forward to learning how to write a great proposal. Thanks for posting this site.
Practice makes perfect, just keep it up and you will get there!
Looking forward for you to checklist and using it to edit my proposal…. thx a lot
Awesome, and remember you can sign up for a free account for life, no credit card required to run up to 5 checklists for proposals or anything else!. Check out more about Process Street here: https://www.process.st/product/
I really loved your paper on how to write a proposal. I looked up others and found total satisfaction when I came across yours! Thanks again Tanya Palacios
We are very pleased to hear that.
thanks a lot for helping me understand proposal writing more clearly. Am very grateful.
Of course, proposal writing can be tricky, but if you follow the templates we provide you will quickly see it’s not that difficult. Proposals follow the same structure most of the time, once you learn that structure it’s easy to create proposals quickly.
Very nice and excellent advice and coaching on proposals writing. I will always keep in touch for more information.
Excellent writing Benjamin. Definitely agree with the destroying jargons part. There’s no need for these kinds of words for project proposals. Anyway, here’s an informative step-by-step guide that I’d like to share regarding writing project proposals: https://www.freenvoices.com/how-to-write-project-proposal . I believe that this will complement your well-written article and your readers too. 🙂
Great post Evatt, thanks for sharing!
I am in the process of drafting a proposal for a multi-million deal. Looking forward to getting pointers to make my proposal a seller!
After reading your post,it now became crystal clear that proposals are not easy…But thanks alot. You’re a good teacher
Hey Vitalis, yes they take some practice but you will get there. Just keep it up!
i want to write proposal for study PhD but i dont know how to write it can you send to me example thank you very much best regards
Hi Mays, There’s some good advice here in regards to writing a PhD proposal: https://www.findaphd.com/advice/finding/writing-phd-research-proposal.aspx
My personal advice would be to really demonstrate strength when outlining your methodology. This section is a great opportunity to display deep knowledge of methodological approaches and their academic grounding. Make sure to cite the foundational texts for the approach you want to take and to reference current academic discussions pertinent to your particular application of that approach. If you can find a recently published PhD thesis which takes a similar methodological approach to you own then you can read through their methodology section to give yourself both inspiration and a great starting point for building a methodology reading list for yourself.
Best of luck!
Además, asimismo desarrolla otros proyectos de formación en línea sobre marketing digital y nuevas tecnologías con la finalidad de instruir a emprendedores de qué forma crear un proyecto digital para vender sus conocimientos.
Your blog is very informative. Nice you tried to provide a crystal clear information on this topic!
Nice one, at least have got an idea now about proposal writing
Appreciate the guidelines on how to write an explicit formal proposal.
You are most welcome Ogoh, we’d love any feedback you may have in the future!
Appreciate for providing knowledge on proposal writing
I’m really happy to learn from this paper.I’ve increased my knowledge in proposal writing.Thanks
Wow! You’re really doing a nice work, really haven’t got it detailed and simplified before.
Nice job. I am a professional proposal writer in lagos Nigeria and I must confess that you have done a good job on this article. I learnt a few new things. Keep up the god work
Thanks Mr Sam, always good to have the support of an expert.
the explanation is very complete I am happy to be able to find articles on various types of letters and I can learn here thanks for all the articles
We tried our best Zaki, thanks for the kind words
nice suggestions. thanks
Thanx for the great work U have done towards my exprienc on Proposal writing.May God bless U.
You did a great job in outlining all the nitty-gritty of writing a great proposal in this article. Kudos!
Thank for sharing this knowledge
It was a pleasure!
Write a comment…great work but I need a proposal on how to start car wash business inside school
Thank you for the little experience I have achieved on proposal writing. Can you give me a broad idea on a proposal I wan to write, I want to do a Clean City proposal…
Hey Darious, check out these posts we wrote on sustainability: https://www.process.st/corporate-sustainability/ https://www.process.st/sustainable-business/
so grateful for the information.
Very happy to learn how to write a proposal from you.
Very happy to help you 🙂
Very informative, really appreciated your expertise. I learned quite a bit. Thank you, I’m all set, also number two (2.) Change the passive voice to the active voice is something for me to remember when I’m writing.
Yes that’s a great tip!
It is really great, I would like to know more about writing a great proposal about enhancing bank customer service
Sounds like an important project, you might also enjoy this post: https://www.process.st/enterprise-risk-management/
I sincerely appreciate you for this brilliant presentation. I still need to know more about the solicited proposals. Thanks!
I would like to know how to write a good proposal .
I’m looking forward to be the best in writing proposal, in the organization
Good luck with your endeavors Paul!
I want to learn how to write project proposals
I have an idea of how to write the proposal but would am unsure and would rather see what the experts have to say about it. Thanks!
I want to write a proposal to get a generator for my hospital as a back up
This piece has given me a clearer understanding on how to and what to look out for in writing a proposal. But I will be more grateful if u can give me a template and points on how to write a proposal to a state government to train their young people on drug abuse and how to minimize the current menace it is causing to our society. Thanks, it was a nice experience.
Glad to hear you liked it. We don’t have any templates specific to that use case, but we will look to create some more soon. Cheers, Adam
Glad you enjoyed the experience 🙂
Thanks very much for the well explained presentation.
Hello. This is very good and helpful, I need help to write a proposal for freelancing and content writing. Thanks
I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but we have an article here about pitching to TechCrunch: https://www.process.st/write-for-techcrunch/
I hope it helps!
You are most welcome!
I never knew on how to write a proposal but now I have got something from you thank you. But I would like an example of a professional proposal …… as for me am writing a proposal on the need to make clubs for youth of East Africa based science, technology and arts plz I need it very soon even today
We don’t currently have any examples for you, but we are working on a set of processes to follow to help people write proposals like these. It should be published in a few weeks.
For the time being, perhaps look at what different organizations say they want. Here are a few examples from the UK:
– Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action (CAVA) have this document where they ask people to send them proposals to start youth programmes. They explain what they are looking for and how they will judge the proposal.
– Here is another example but this time from an organization in Manchester, UK. This has instructions and requirements, and you can use its specifications as inspiration for how to create your proposal.
I hope some of this makes the proposal writing process clearer.
Best of luck, Adam
This may also help: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
Good luck with your proposal Naomi! Sounds like it’s for a great cause..
Thats great. I have learned alot thanks.
I need to know how to write a proposal writing. Can u give an example plzz…..
Hi Sapioamoa, you can find a collection of examples here: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
I hope this helps! Adam
i thank you for that and now i am requesting for help, i am a student first year and my ambition is to help the orphans i would like you to help me how to write a proposal of that kind. thank you.
Hey Deo. It sounds like you’re doing great work. Check out these proposal templates . They should help you!
thank you so much sir
Living in a rural setting in Uganda- am writing a proposal to ask for financial donations to buy agricultural inputs, medical assistance etc for my community- this website has helped to put ideas together and to hopefully come out with a winner! Thank you!.
That’s great to hear we’ve been able to help! Best of luck Catherine!
am very greatful to receive such an skillful knowledge from you,but may i pls receive a sample of how to write a proposal for starting a small scale printing firm just in kenya.
thank you in advance
Thanks for the kind comment, Elijah. You might be able to find some more useful information in our most recent article about proposals (with lots more templates) here: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
Nice one. Thanks for this.
Glad to hear it helped, Deji!
Glad you enjoyed this, Lillian! ⭐️
This is what i was looking for so long. Thanks for summing up all these informations about how to write a proposal. I’m really glad that you add these free template 🙂
Awesome, glad you enjoyed the templates. Was there a particular one that you found most helpful?
Are you still free to give feedback? Happy New Year btw.
Sure we are here to give feedback! Just leave your question about proposal writing in the comments and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
I feel this is among the most vital information for me.
And i’m glad reading your article. But want to statement on few normal things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is truly excellent : D. Excellent activity, cheers
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Hi,have learned a lot from you,could you please help me to write a proposal how to spend on projects in a christian organization Thanks
Not sure how that would be any different, but if you have a specific question about writing proposals I’d be happy to answer it 🙂
Thanks sir for your post. I’am very greatful to receive such an skillful knowledge from you
Any organization needs a visual identity these days. It includes a unique logo, colors, wordmark, typeface, and some visual elements like illustrations and iconography that makes a memorable first impression and sets the brand apart from the competitors.
Am glad to have gotten more ideas than I expected on how to write a proposal. All in one article.
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How to Write a Business Proposal [Steps, Tips, & Templates]
You need to send a business proposal, and you want it to close. But how can you improve your chances?
Every year, we analyze the proposals sent with our software to discover what makes closing more likely. We used this research to craft this very guide .
To help you write better business proposals, we’ve curated the essential proposal format, a step-by-step process, plenty of templates to help you get started, and strategies for following up.
From images to esignatures, keep reading for data-backed insights into the most successful proposals.
What’s in this guide:
What is a business proposal?
Basic proposal format, what to prepare before writing a business proposal, how to write a business proposal in 7 steps, 8 business proposal templates, 5 ideas to take your business proposal to the next level, what to do after you send a business proposal, using analytics for business proposal insights.
A business proposal is sent by a salesperson or account manager to a prospective client in order to pitch a product or service. A great proposal should include an executive summary or cover letter, details on the project timelines and deliverables, what makes the company the right choice for the job, and pricing and payment details.
Business proposals are typically sent from one business to another for all sorts of different services, such as enterprise software subscriptions, interior design, accounting, marketing, event catering, etc.
The purpose of a business proposal is to:
Sell your product or service with details, client results, testimonials, etc.
Clarify what is and isn’t included in the proposal to accurately manage expectations
Layout terms and conditions to protect both parties
Lock in the deal right away with esignatures built into the proposal
Large corporations and government agencies will typically send out a request for proposal to competing companies and then choose the best (or cheapest) one.
A business proposal is very different from a business plan, because it is typically written to clarify a paid engagement between two companies. This might be a short project or a long contract. A business plan, on the other hand, is typically an internal document crafted to chart a businesses path forward towards goals, such as market expansion, revenue growth, new product lines, etc.
Types of business proposals
There are many different types of business proposals. They are typically broken down by industry.
Here are some common types of business proposals, by industry :
Real estate and construction
Proposals can also be categorized based on the type of offering :
Later on in this guide, we include a variety of proposal templates. Depending on what you selling, you might find it easier to begin with a template designed for your industry or for the type of offer you’re selling (such as a one-off project). So be sure to peruse through the previews of each proposal so that you can see which template will save you the most time.
Business proposal example
An excellent business proposal addresses the client’s pain points and showcases the proposed solution.
Here’s an example business proposal to inspire you. The accounting proposal kicks things off with an attractive cover page.
All in all, it includes the cover page, an executive summary letter, an about us section, team photos and bios, a project summary, a breakdown of the proposed services, a pricing section, onboarding steps, and a contract with esignatures.
The services breakdown offers a great example of how to categorize your services and provide hourly estimates.
After researching over 1 million proposals, we found that winning proposals are most likely to include all of the following.
Here’s the idea proposal structure :
1. Cover page
The cover page, also called a title page, should be kept simple. It prominently features a photograph or graphic design that is on-brand, you can use graphic design templates as a starting point. It also usually includes the project name, or the client name, as well as your company name. Some companies might include contact information on the cover page, while others will save that for a separate page.
Check out this cover page , which is bright, bold, and on-brand.
2. Executive summary
The executive summary is essentially your pitch.
It’s your shot at capturing the client’s attention and showing them that you have an approach that will exceed their expectations.
It’s typically written in paragraph form (1 to 3 paragraphs) but can also include a bulleted list for a more skimmable style.
Make sure that your executive summary includes:
A quick description of the client’s problem or starting point
How your company will serve the client and why you’re suggesting this unique approach
Why your company is the best choice (average results, unique selling propositions, differentiators, awards, etc.)
This content marketing proposal offers an excellent example of an executive summary. Though in this proposal, the section is instead titled “Focus and Objectives.” What makes it great is that it’s on brand, goal-oriented, personable, and skimmable.
3. Approach or solution
In this section, you write about your process and why you approach things the way you do. For example, a Facebook marketing agency might say that they believe that creative work is essential to advertising success, and that’s why they devote 90% of their time to developing videos, images, and copy.
Some companies will craft a custom approach section for each client, while others will re-use the section again and again. It all comes down to the number of services you offer and how much or how little you customize your work.
In corporate training, it’s essential to clarify your approach so the client knows why your system will be effective. In this training template example , their process shows the essential steps in their proprietary approach.
4. About the company
This is your chance to brag. In your company bio, be sure to mention all of the important things that set your company apart. That might include your management style, the talent you have on your team, your average client retention rate or contract length, and any accolades.
With their location, awards, and team structure, this About Us page is an excellent example of how to sell yourself with authority.
Use the deliverables section to summarize exactly what the client will receive from the engagement.
A TikTok ads management firm might include 15 ad creatives per month in their deliverables, for example. While an accounting firm might list the reports that will be sent weekly or monthly, along with the bookkeeping service.
In a construction project, on the other hand, the company might showcase the different milestones that the project will hit, and when these milestones are expected to be completed.
In this proposal , the Deliverables section is titled “Scope of Services,” and it includes a list of all of the services that the prospective client will receive. Deliverables are mentioned within the scope, including a logo, brand colors, business cards, and brand guidelines.
6. Social proof or work samples
No matter what you sell, prospective clients will want to know that you have the right experience for the job.
Social proof can come in the form of written testimonials and case studies, video testimonials and case studies, portfolio photographs, G2 and Capterra badges, and rating averages from Google, Trustpilot, or other review sites.
For an architecture firm, construction company, or website designer, work examples can prove more powerful than testimonials. Prospects want to see what you can do. This architecture proposal showcases the company’s work on a rehabilitation project.
The pricing section is of course the one that your clients will read again and again and deliberate over. That’s why it’s so important to make it clear, simple, and well-formatted.
Tables are a great way to showcase what’s included in the total project cost or to provide package options.
Similar to interior design and construction services, event planning typically includes both hourly costs and hard costs (for products and venues). Here’s an example of an event management proposal that includes a breakdown of the hourly work and the hard costs.
8. Terms and conditions
When you use modern proposal software , you can build a contract right into your proposal, eliminating the need for separate contract software.
Your proposal should include legal jargon that can protect both you and your client. You might have a statement of work and a master service agreement or terms and conditions.
In this website design proposal , there are 6 pages in total for the contract section. The potential client can easily click around to view all of these pages and share the proposal with their legal team if needed.
For proposals that are longer than 8 pages, it’s wise to include a table of contents. If you use Proposify as your proposal software, then every proposal will automatically have the table of contents on the left-hand side, making it easier for the potential client to click around and review important sections multiple times.
A lot goes into writing a proposal. Before you can get to the writing part, you need to prepare.
This means talking with the client to figure out their needs, using your experience to pitch the best project, and talking with colleagues who will be involved in the project to see if they agree on the services you plan to propose.
You might also need to talk with your legal department and ask them for a contract template that you can include at the end of the proposal so that when the client signs off, it's legally binding.
Everything you need to prepare to write a business proposal:
An understanding of the client's needs
Your determination of the best approach
Details that will get the client to say yes
Agreement with internal colleagues
The pricing options you want to offer
Knowledge of who needs to sign off
Legal contract language or templates
To be a good writer , you must be concise, specific, and detailed. It really is that simple. The more examples and details you provide, the better.
That said, it does help to follow a process so that you can be sure you’re providing everything that the decision-makers expect and more.
Here are the 7 essential steps for writing a business proposal:
Step 1. Determine the client’s needs
The first step is to figure out what your client needs.
As mentioned in our section on preparation above, you’ll need to speak with your client. If this is a new client, it might take two to five sales calls to collect all of the information you need. For an existing client, you can probably figure out what to include in their renewal proposal with just one call.
But of course, asking your client what they need isn’t enough. You need to use your expertise to choose the best solution for them, even if it’s not what they want or expect.
Step 2. Kick off your proposal with a template
Once you’ve done your due diligence, the next step is to choose a proposal template so you’ll save time on both writing and designing.
You can use a template that matches your specific business or click around to find one with all the sections and a design style you like. Even if it’s not created for your specific industry, it’ll be easy to update the content to match your service or product.
Check out our full library of proposal templates.
Step 3. Write the evergreen messaging about your company
It’s always smart to tackle writing section by section. This way, you don’t get overwhelmed.
We recommend starting with the sections that are relevant to your business and that can be reused again and again. Your value propositions should guide the content.
Tackle these sections:
The cover page
The approach section
The about us page and team bios
The social proof or portfolio pieces
By starting off with what makes your company special, you’ll break the ice during your writing process and also create your own custom template that you can use for further proposal writing.
Step 4. Craft the meat of the proposal (executive summary, approach, deliverables, etc.)
By now, you should have chosen a template and written your core company messaging.
Now it’s time to write the meat of the proposal.
In this step, you’ll be catering your proposal to the new client. A startup will require a different proposal than a small business, and the same goes for an enterprise.
Here are some of the things you might need to write:
The unique methodology or approach you’ll offer this client (if it changes per client)
The problem statement or executive summary
The client’s goals
The scope of work
The project process and timelines
You can fill in your template’s sections and take a peek at other templates to get inspiration and see if there are any additional sections or details you should add.
Step 5. Add in the project total or pricing options
Next, you should calculate your fees.
Depending on your business, you might add up flat rates, product costs, or hourly estimates to come up with a fixed project total. Or, you might present a price range that the project will likely fall between (making it clear that additional hourly costs could arise. Or perhaps, you’ll offer a pricing table with different options to choose from.
Step 6. Add legal terms and conditions and esignatures
When you use proposal software (instead of just a PDF or Google slides), you can add a contract directly to your proposal.
If you already have approved contract language from your legal department, you can simply add it to the contract section of your proposal in Proposify. If not, you’ll need to chat with your legal team or business lawyer to ensure you’re adding all the right stipulations.
Proposals with esignatures close 35% faster and are 426% more likely to be accepted. So be sure to assign an esignature both to yourself and your client.
Step 7. Finalize the design and review all of the content before sending
Now it’s time to review and finalize your proposal. Check for errors, places in the template you forgot to fill out, and wording that can be improved.
Make sure the graphic design is on point too. Switch out the template with your own brand colors and fonts. You can have a designer on your team handle this, or handle style customization yourself (with no design experience necessary).
The best way to write a business proposal? With a template of course.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best templates for different types of businesses. And for each, we show you the proposal sections included to help you pick the right one for you.
Keep in mind that with any of these proposals, you can add and remove sections and also customize any page with text, headlines, images, videos, fee tables, and more.
1. Business consulting proposal template
This consulting proposal template can be used by any type of consulting firm.
Proposal sections :
2. Advertising Proposal Template
With this advertising proposal template, you can showcase your digital or traditional advertising services. The template includes TV, web, radio, and magazine, but you can update it to reflect your pitch.
Who Are We?
Your Advertising Media Mix
3. Branding Proposal Template
Perfect for branding consultants, logo designers, and messaging strategists, this branding proposal template includes the project scope and timeline to help you clarify your process to potential clients.
Overview & Goals
Scope of Services
Sample Case Study
4. Commercial Lease Proposal Template
This commercial lease proposal template can be used for leasing office buildings, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and event spaces.
Meet Our Team
Terms and Conditions
5. Construction Bid Template
Use this construction bid template for new construction projects or renovations. It includes a detailed cost estimate table and a required deposit.
6. Catering Proposal Template
This catering proposal template is perfect for corporate projects but can work for weddings or personal events as well. You can use it for conferences, luncheons, retreats, or any other type of event.
7. Corporate Photography Proposal Template
With a beautifully designed portfolio section and a very detailed pricing table and print options, this is the perfect template for corporate photography . It also includes tips for success, so clients know how to make the most of their photoshoot time.
What We Offer
Tips for Success
8. Financial Services Proposal Template
You can use this financial services proposal template to pitch financial services like risk management, budgeting, and investment management.
Services and Fees
Looking to kick up your proposals a notch?
Try one of these smart ideas:
1. Make your pricing dynamic
Dynamic pricing means that clients can choose what they want and that will automatically change the project total that they sign off on.
Proposals with options and add-ons have a 35.8% higher closing rate . Try giving package options and including add-ons such as ancillary services or maintenance work.
2. Create graphic designs for timelines and processes
Winning business proposals often include informative visuals to help clients understand your process at a glance.
You could create a graphic for project phases, milestones, or big deliverables.
3. Get creative with your social proof
Client testimonials are an easy starting point when it comes to social proof.
But can you do better? Can you get more creative and stand out from other consulting firms?
Here are some ways to improve your social proof game:
Include visuals for your average ratings (for example 4 and a half stars filled in).
Add any badges or graphics available from review sites like G2 and Trustpilot.
Film professional case study videos and embed them in your proposal.
Create a screenshare video where you talk through your digital portfolio samples.
Include an informal video testimonial from your client.
Add a video showing your team at work (ie, on the job site, running a workshop, speaking, etc.)
Write mini case studies with before and after transformations, result data, etc.
4. Have an “excludes” section
Is there something that is definitely not included in your proposal? Do clients often assume it’s included or do they get confused?
If so, try adding a section that describes everything that isn’t included in the proposal. You could mention that you don’t offer these services, or state that they’re available at an additional fee (if you want to upsell them).
5. Include videos for introductions or complex concepts
When you add a video to your proposal, you increase its chances of closing by 41% .
Here are some video ideas to try:
Informal intros filmed with Loom
Professional videos of your team at work
Case study videos
Quick descriptions of complex deliverables, methodologies, etc.
You sent the proposal. Now what?
Here’s what to do next.
Sign it yourself
Make sure you sign the proposal right away (before your client opens it). This offers a more professional presentation and makes it more likely that your new client will add their signature too.
Be prepared to follow up
Project proposals don’t always close all by themselves. As any good salesperson knows, follow-up is essential.
With Proposify, you can set up automated reminders. When we analyzed over 1 million proposals sent with our software, we found that proposals with pre-scheduled reminders have a 35% higher closing rate than those without.
Make adjustments to the proposal to close the deal
It’s okay to make changes. In fact, proposals that get revised are actually more likely to close than ones that don’t. When a client asks for revisions, it means they’re interested.
You might need to adjust your proposal document for its scope, deliverables, timeframe, or payment schedules.
Save different proposal templates
After you’ve created one proposal, you should save it as a template and give it a name. You might also want to duplicate it and adjust it to create a new proposal template. For example, if you offer SEO services , you might want to have one proposal for an SEO audit and another one for your monthly SEO retainer.
Create email templates
You can also create and store email templates that will save you time in the long run.
Try creating different templates for sending, reminders, and thank yous. If you offer different types of services, you can craft a unique sending template for each one.
Get feedback from clients on both won and lost proposals
One of the best ways to improve is to take feedback. Whether you win or lose the proposal, find out why.
Here are some tips on how to do this:
Won - When you win a proposal, you might ask the client why they decided to move forward with you on their first strategy call. Or, have their account manager ask the same question and pass the info to you.
Lost - If a client doesn’t sign the proposal after 3 weeks, you can send a quick email with something like, “Just looking for some feedback. Can you let me know why you decided not to move forward? Thanks.”
In today’s digital world, a business proposal should be more than a formal document.
When you use the right tool to create and send your proposal, you should be able to gather important insights and trends.
Viewing metrics for a specific client
With Proposify, you can see the activity for every proposal. Know when clients are opening and viewing proposals so you can follow up in a way that matches their activity.
Average viewing metrics
Proposify also offers average viewing metrics that help you benchmark your views:
Average time to view
Average length of viewing
Average views per proposal
This is great for gauging how a new client compares with past activity.
Average closing metrics
You can also check your average closing rate and track it over time.
Check these closing metrics:
Try setting goals for improving your closing rate and then check your progress each month.
Insights by proposal type
Segment viewing and closing metrics by workspace, client name, or stream. A stream is a custom category that you can use for different service types, client industries, etc.
And lastly, you can check your growth trends to find out how much you’re earning in new contracts and existing contracts. This is great for seeing your past revenue growth and for forecasting.
New won proposals (chart)
Active income (chart)
Start with a solid understanding of your client’s goals and needs. Use a template to save time creating messaging and tables that will seal the deal. Then, try advanced techniques like dynamic pricing and videos to improve your closing rates even further.
Sign up for Proposify free for 14 days or get started with one of our templates .
How to Create a Business Proposal That Closes Deals
June 28, 2022
Winning Proposal Structure Tips (What The Research Says)
June 21, 2022
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October 31, 2023
How to Write a Business Plan Step-By-Step
October 31, 2023 • Block Advisors
- A business plan outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, and more.
- Business plans vary in length and complexity but should always include an explanation of what your business will do and how it will do it.
- Business plans serve as a guide for business owners and employees and are key to boosting investor confidence.
Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or just getting your first small business idea off the ground, creating a business plan is an important step. Good business planning will help you clarify your goals and objectives, identify strategies, and note any potential issues or roadblocks you might face.
Not every business owner chooses to write a business plan, but many find it to be a valuable step to take when starting a business. Creating a business plan can seem daunting and confusing at first. But taking the time to plan and research can be very beneficial, especially for first-time small business owners.
If you want to learn how to create a business plan or if you feel you just need a little business plan help, read on!
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan serves as a comprehensive document that outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, leadership, and more details essential to its success. Think of the plan as the who, what, and why of your new business:
Who are the major players in your business?
What goods or services do you offer and why are they important?
Why are you in business and why should customers choose you?
Business plans can range in complexity and length, but, at their core, all plans explain what the business will do and how it will do it. A business plan serves as a guide for business owners and employees and should boost investor confidence. Some important advantages of business plans include:
- Shows investors you have an in-demand product or service, a solid team to achieve business goals, and the potential for growth and scalability.
- Increases the likelihood of securing a business loan, locking in investments, or raising capital. >>Read: A Guide to Raising Capital as a Small Business Founder
- Helps recognize partnership opportunities with other companies.
- Identifies and defines competitors within your given industry.
Looking for an examples of a successful business plan? Check out the SBA’s business plan page for walkthroughs of different business plan outlines.
How to Write a Business Plan: 10 Simple Steps
Starting with a blank page is undoubtedly intimidating. So, begin with a structured business plan template including the key elements for each section. Once your outline is complete, it’ll be time to fill in the details. Don’t worry, you’ll know how to write a business plan in no time. We’ve broken each section down to help you write a business plan in a few simple steps.
1. Brainstorm and Draft an Executive Summary for Your Business Plan
This will be the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your business’ written elevator pitch. In this high level summary, include a mission statement, a short description of the products or services you will be providing, and a summary of your financial and growth projections.
This section will be the first part people read, but you may find it easier to write it last. Writing it after building out the rest of your plan may help you condense the most important information into a concise statement. You’ll need to streamline your thoughts from the other sections into a one page or less summary.
2. Create a Business Description
In this next section, describe your business. Add more specific details than the executive summary. You should include your business’s registered name, the address of your business’s location, basic information about your business structure , and the names of key people involved in the business.
The company description should also answer these two questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you plan to do?
Explain why you’re in business. Show how you are different from competitors. Tell investors why they should finance your company. This section is often more inspirational and emotional. Make sure you grab the reader’s attention. The goal is to get them to believe in your vision as much as you do.
What business structure is right for my company?
Answer these six questions to help you find your fit
3. Outline Your Business Goals
This section should serve as an objective statement. Explain what you want to accomplish and your timeline. Business goals and objectives give you a clear focus. They drive your business to success, so dream big. Include objectives that will help you reach each goal. Don’t forget to make your goals and objectives SMART – that is, they should be:
S pecific | M easurable | A ttainable | R elevant | T ime-bound
4. Conduct and Summarize Market Research
Next, outline your ideal customer with some research. Do the math to estimate the potential size of your target market. Make sure you are choosing the right market for your product, one with plenty of customers who want and need your product. Define your customer’s pain points. Explain your expertise in relation to the market. Show how your product or service fills an important gap and brings value to your customers. Use your findings to build out a value proposition statement.
5. Conduct a Competitive Analysis
In a similar way, you’ll also want to conduct and include a competitive analysis. The purpose of this analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in your market, strategies that will give you a competitive advantage, and how your company is different. Some people choose to conduct a competitive analysis using the SWOT method .
6. Outline Your Marketing and Sales Strategies
Your marketing sales strategy can make or break your business. Your marketing plan should outline your current sales decisions as well as future marketing strategies. In this section, you should reiterate your value proposition, target markets, and customer segments. Then, include details such as:
- A launch plan
- Growth tactics and strategies
- A customer retention plan
- Advertising and promotion channels (i.e. social media, print, search engines, etc.)
7. Describe Your Product or Service
By this point, your products or services have probably been mentioned in several areas of the business plan. But it’s still important to include a separate section that outlines their key details. Describe what you’re offering and how it fits in the current market. Also include details about the benefits, production process, and life cycle of your products. If you have any trademarks or patents, include them here. This is also a good time to ask yourself, “Should my plan include visual aids?”
[ Read More Must-Have Tips to Start Your Small Business ]
8. Compile Financial Plans
Financial health is crucial to the success of any business. If you’re just starting your business, you likely won’t have financial data yet. However, you still need to prepare a budget and financial plan. If you have them, include income statements , balance sheets , and cash flow statements . You can also include reporting metrics such as net income and your ratio of liquidity to debt repayment ability.
If you haven’t launched your business yet, include realistic projections of the same information. Set clear financial goals and include projected milestones. Share information about the budget. What are the business operations costs? Ensure you are comprehensive when considering what costs you may need to prepare for.
9. Build a Management and Operations Plan
Identify your team members. Highlight their expertise and qualifications. Outline roles that still need to be filled now to establish your company and later as the business grows. Read More: 8 tax steps to take when hiring employees >>
Include a section detailing your logistics and operations plan. Consider all parts of your operation. Create a plan that provides details on suppliers, production, equipment, shipment and fulfillment, and inventory. This shows how your business will get done.
10. Create an Appendix – A Place for Additional Information and Documents
Lastly, assemble an organized appendix. This section can contain any other relevant information a reader might need to enhance their understanding of other sections. If you feel like the appendix is getting long, consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section. Appendices often include documents such as:
- Licenses and permits
- Bank statements
- Resumes of key employees
- Equipment leases
How to Create a Business Plan: The Bottom Line
A business plan helps you identify clear goals and provides your business direction. Many small business plans are 10-20 pages in length. But as long as the essentials are covered, feel empowered to build a plan that works for you and your company’s needs. Creating a business plan will help you identify your market and target customers, define business aims, and foster long-term financial health.
We’re ready to help you get your business started on the right foot today, and help you find long-term satisfaction as you pursue your business dream. Writing a business plan can be exciting. But if the steps to starting your business are feeling overwhelming, Block Advisors is here to help. Make an appointment today – our experts can assist you with tax prep , bookkeeping , payroll , business formation , and more .
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5 Professional Business Proposal Examples to Inspire Your Own
Updated: May 24, 2022
Published: May 13, 2019
Throughout the buyer’s journey, content obviously plays a huge role during the beginning and middle stages. At the last stage of the buyer’s journey, though, it can be somewhat overlooked.
A lot of marketing teams are focused on creating the beginning- and middle-stage content that brings in the views and leads most sales teams are focused on closing during the final stage of the buyer’s journey. So, in a nutshell, marketing teams don't create enough content for this stage and sales teams don't leverage them enough during it.
However, one of the most important pieces of content any organization can create and leverage really only gets used during the final stage of the buyer’s journey -- the business proposal. By outlining your organization’s value proposition, highlighting how your product or service can solve your prospect’s specific problem, and listing your pricing, your business proposal communicates crucial information your prospects need to know before they even think about doing business with you.
Fortunately, to help you create an engaging and convincing business proposal, we’ve rounded up the best business proposal examples we could find on the Internet. Read on to learn how to start writing business proposals that will win you contracts and grow your organization.
1. “ How to Write a Business Proposal [Tips & Examples] ” | HubSpot
In her thorough blog post about writing a business proposal, Meredith Hart , a Junior Staff Writer for HubSpot’s Sales Blog, fleshes out the fundamental elements included in most business proposals and even created a business proposal example in Canva to give you even more insight on how to craft a compelling one.
After reading her informative blog post, you’ll learn about the fundamental elements you should include in your business proposal, their purpose, how to write each element, overarching tips for creating a top-notch business proposal, and some business proposal examples for web design, SEO, and sales.
2. “ How to Write a Business Proposal (The Modern Way) | PandaDoc
One of the most robust business proposal examples on this list, PandaDoc’s guide on writing a modern business proposal will help you chip away at this daunting task one step at a time.
In their guide, they cover the structure most business proposals follow, the ten sections to include in your own, what information to include in each section, an example of each section, some quick tips for improving your business proposal, and what you should do after you send your business proposal to a prospect to help you anticipate any follow up questions they might have and, in turn, boost the odds that you close them as a customer.
3. “ Business Proposal For PDF & Word ” | HubSpot
Download the Template
In HubSpot’s flagship business proposal example offer, they provide you with a fully customizable sample template that gives you detailed instructions on what sections to include in your business proposal, the information to include in each section, and how you can write each section in a convincing fashion.
Since their business proposal template is completely customizable, you can also replace their instructions with your own information, add additional information and sections, and add your own branding and logo. Additionally, you can download your finished business proposal as a Word or PDF file, print it, and email it to your prospects.
4. “ How to Write a Business Proposal in 6 Steps ” | Fit Small Business
Fit Small Business’ business proposal example is the most fleshed out example on this list. Not only do they cover what exactly a business proposal is, the steps to writing a successful one, and provide an example of one, but they also describe the best methods and tools for sending a business proposal, how to follow up, and what to do after you win a contract.
Additionally, Fit Small Business provides you with some design tips for your business proposal, the best business proposal formats to use (with examples), and answers to frequently asked questions about creating effective business proposals.
5. “ HubSpot Partner Agency Proposal Examples ” | HubSpot
To help marketing agencies write better business proposals, HubSpot teamed up with four of their agency partners to create four downloadable proposal examples for each of the agency’s specializations.
After downloading it, you’ll have access to proposals created by agencies that specialize in inbound marketing, growth content strategy, industrial manufacturing marketing, and digital solutions and consulting marketing. Since your organization operates in its own specific situation, you can sift through each example to see which one best meets your needs.
Don't forget to share this post!
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Propose your business as the ideal solution using this free template.
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How to Effectively Pitch a Business Idea
- 27 Aug 2020
You’ve identified an underserved need and validated your startup idea . Now it’s time to talk about your business to potential investors. Yet, how do you effectively communicate your idea’s promise and possible impact on the market?
Pitching a business idea is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of any entrepreneur’s journey. It’s what stands in the way between your vision and the financing needed to turn it into a reality. Although daunting, there are steps you can take to ensure a greater chance of success.
Access your free e-book today.
What Makes a Great Pitch?
To make a successful pitch, entrepreneurs must exhibit several characteristics to convince investors to fund their innovative ideas .
Every entrepreneur needs an intricate understanding of their idea, target market, growth strategy, product-market fit , and overall business model . This differentiates your business concept and solidifies the steps needed to make it a reality. The perfect pitch shows investors your proof of concept and instills confidence that they can expect a return on investment .
Another crucial component of a successful pitch is understanding the venture capital (VC) ecosystem.
“It’s critical for entrepreneurs to understand the background and motivations of venture capitalists so when entrepreneurs seek them out to help fund their venture, they know what to prioritize in a firm and how to build a strong, trusting relationship,” says Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Jeffrey Bussgang in the online course Launching Tech Ventures .
To secure funding and support, here are essential steps to ensure your pitch is effective.
How to Pitch a Business Idea
1. know who you’re pitching.
Some entrepreneurs try to get in front of every investor, despite their industry expertise or firm’s investment stage. Consider that, when you accept an investment, it’s about more than money; you enter a partnership. You must perform your due diligence and research potential investors before making your pitch.
When researching, ask yourself:
What industries do they invest in?
A VC firm’s industry focus depends on what the partners’ niche is and where their passions lie. Some firms specialize in a particular sector, such as financial technology (fintech) or education technology (edtech).
For example, Rethink Education is a venture capital fund that invests in early- and growth-stage edtech startups, while Blockchain Capital is dedicated to financing companies innovating in the crypto market. Others are generalists and span several industries.
Knowing the types of companies the firm invests in can help you tailor your pitch and zero in on their presumed priorities.
What stage do they invest in?
If you’re in the earliest stages of business development, you won’t receive growth equity, which is reserved for mature companies that need capital to expand operations, enter a new market, or acquire another business. Before making your pitch, have a rough estimate of the money and resources you need to launch, and then align yourself with investors who can help at that particular stage.
What’s the investor’s track record?
Dig deeper into the investor’s experience and investment history to determine the types of companies they typically finance, the background knowledge they might already have, and whether your personalities will mesh. This information will enable you to modify your pitch and determine if this is the right person or fund to partner with.
“The best venture capitalists become trusted partners and advisors to the founders and team,” says HBS Professor William Sahlman in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials . “They help recruit key employees. They introduce the company to potential customers. They help raise subsequent rounds of capital. In some cases, they signal that the firm they've backed is a winner, which helps make that assertion true.”
Given the benefits and high stakes, the more you know going into a pitch, the better.
2. Consider How You Present Yourself, Not Simply Your Idea
Although your ideas and skills matter , your personality is equally as important. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review , venture capitalists’ interest in a startup “was driven less by judgments that the founder was competent than by perceptions about character and trustworthiness.”
Investors also want to know they’re entering a partnership with the right people. Jennifer Fonstad, co-founder of Aspect Ventures , acknowledges in Entrepreneurship Essentials that her investment firm “thinks about team and team dynamics as being very critical.”
Investors want to know whether the founders have worked together before, if your startup’s early hires have complementary skill sets, and whether you’ll be flexible, open-minded, and willing to embrace different perspectives.
Think about this as you prepare your pitch. If investors poke holes in your idea, will you get defensive? When they ask for financial projections, will you exaggerate the numbers? Hopefully, your answers are “no”—firms want to partner with founders they can trust who are open to guidance and mentorship—but if you’re second-guessing your reactions, consider what you might be asked and practice your responses.
As Sahlman reinforces in Entrepreneurship Essentials : “Most experienced investors look at the people first and the opportunity second. Even when a team is young and inexperienced, an investor depends on them to make the right decisions.”
3. Tell a Story
When describing your business idea, zero in on the problem you address for your target audience and how you solve it better than the competition. You could do this by presenting a real-life scenario in which you describe the pain point a current or prospective customer faced and how your product or service fixed the issue. This can help engage investors on a personal level and inspire them to see your idea’s potential.
By complementing your spreadsheets and charts with a compelling story, you can paint a fuller picture of your startup’s future and more effectively highlight its business opportunity.
4. Cover the Details
While it’s important to set the stage, you also need to cover the specifics. In your pitch deck, concisely define your value proposition and share a memorable tagline for investors to leave the meeting with.
According to Bussgang in Launching Tech Ventures , every pitch to an investor should contain the following:
- Intro: Focus on answering important questions like who you are, why you’re asking for funding, and what your founder-market fit is.
- Problem: Talk about your ideal customer’s pain point and how you plan to solve it.
- Solution: Explain how your idea is a compelling solution and why it’s better than existing solutions.
- Opportunity and Market Size: Provide your total addressable market (TAM), serviceable addressable market (SAM), and serviceable obtainable market (SOM) through research.
- Competitive Analysis: Understand your unique differences in the market that can help you sustain a competitive advantage.
- Go-to-Market Plan: Clarify how you’re going to reach your customers.
- Business Model: Describe how you’re going to make money.
- Financials: Define what your financial projections are and how you’re going to provide returns for investors.
- The Ask: Detail how much funding you need, how long it will last, and what milestones you hope to achieve.
“VCs will expect entrepreneurs to clearly define the milestones they need to achieve with each round of funding,” Bussgang continues. “Entrepreneurs should know what experiments they will run to reach these milestones and what they expect the results will be.”
5. Show the Roadmap
Although you’re in your business’s early stages, investors want to know how they’ll cash out in the end.
“To truly understand the motivations behind VC firms, remember that they are professional investors,” Bussgang explains in Launching Tech Ventures . “Their objective is to generate the maximum return for their limited partners with a dual fiduciary duty to their investors and the company.”
To clinch your pitch, highlight your exit strategy and the options available.
The most common exit strategies include:
- Acquisition: When one company buys most or all of another company’s shares to gain control of it
- Merger: When two existing companies unite into one new company
- Initial Public Offering (IPO): When a private company issues its first sale of stocks to the public and can start raising capital from public investors
Related: What Are Mergers & Acquisitions? 4 Key Risks
3 Kinds of Pitches for Entrepreneurs
While all effective pitches share foundational elements, you should use different types depending on the scenario. To increase your chances of success, tailor your pitch to your audience and the available time frame.
1. The Elevator Pitch
This is one of the most popular pitches. Use this when you need to communicate their startup’s value in 60 seconds or less.
An effective elevator pitch should be concise, convincing, and convey your startup’s value proposition and differentiators. For tech business ideas, mention the innovative technology that sets your concept apart. At the end, include a call to action, such as the amount of capital required to launch.
2. The Short-Form Pitch
You should portray your business idea’s value to prospective clients and investors as efficiently as possible. This means summarizing the most important elements of your idea in a way that makes them want to hear more. Highlight the market size, how you’ll create barriers for competition, your plan to monetize the business, and how much financing you need.
Short-form pitches can run from three to 10 minutes; if you’re pitching in a competitive setting, note any length requirements. These shorter pitches can pique investors’ interest and earn you the chance to present a long-form pitch.
3. The Long-Form Pitch
Sometimes, you’re fortunate enough to have more than a few minutes to pitch your idea. If this opportunity presents itself, it’s crucial to make the most of your time and address every aspect of your business plan.
“You’re not just trying to start any business,” Bussgang says in Launching Tech Ventures . “You’re trying to create a business that’s profitable, sustainable, and valuable.
Zero in on your story and share a real-life scenario. Detail the market size to illustrate demand and clear examples of how you’ll attract and retain customers, particularly in light of competitors. This will show you’re planning for—and ahead of—future challenges.
You should also have a blueprint for testing product-market fit and early results, along with a detailed monetization plan. Lastly, share your exit strategy and the amount of capital needed to, one day, achieve it. Your long-form pitch should communicate your business concept clearly and concisely, open the possibility for follow-up questions, and capture the investors’ interest.
Consider preparing all three pitch lengths to be ready for any opportunity. It’s important to stay agile so you can modify your pitch to fit specific length requirements.
Landing the Pitch
Every investor prioritizes different data and information. Yet, if you start by choosing the right investor and then align their needs with your proposed market opportunity, value proposition, and exit strategy, you have a chance at landing the pitch.
“In some ways, startup success depends just as much on whether your hypothesis about the future is right, as it does on whether your idea is a good one,” Bussgang explains in Launching Tech Ventures .
As a result, it’s important for you to do your due diligence before pitching your business idea to investors.
If you’re interested in learning more about what investors look for and how you can create value, explore Entrepreneurship Essentials and Launching Tech Ventures , two of our entrepreneurship and innovation courses . Not sure which is the right fit? Download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.
This post was updated on July 28, 2023. It was originally published on August 27, 2020.
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How to Write a Business Plan Executive Summary That Sells Your Idea Here's an easy-to-follow outline to create an impactful business plan executive summary.
By Entrepreneur Staff • Oct 27, 2023
- The purpose of an executive summary is to sell your idea clearly and concisely. It's your plan's elevator pitch and should pick out the best aspects of your company.
- The average reader will spend only five minutes with your plan — don't bloat it with unnecessary words. Make it easy for the reader to realize at a quick glance both your needs and capabilities.
- Although it comes first in your plan, it should be the last thing you write. All of the other sections will inform what you put in the summary.
The first part of your plan that anybody will see, after the title page and table of contents, is the executive summary. This could be considered an expanded table of contents (in prose form) because it's more than an introduction to the rest of the plan. It's supposed to be a brief look at the key elements of the whole plan—and it's critical.
Executive Summaries Sell Ideas
The actual executive summary should be only a page or two. In it you may include your mission and vision statements, a brief sketch of your plans and goals, a quick look at your company and its organization, an outline of your strategy, and highlights of your financial status and needs. If you've ever read a CliffsNotes version of a classic novel, you get the idea. Your executive summary is the CliffsNotes of your business plan.
Labor over your summary. Polish it. Refine it. Ask friends and colleagues to take a look at it, and then take their suggestions to heart. If your plan isn't getting the response that you want when you put it to work, suspect a flaw in the
summary. If you get a chance to look at another plan that was used to raise a pile of cash, give special scrutiny to the executive summary.
The summary is the most important part of your whole plan. Even if a plan is relatively short, it's difficult for most people to keep that much information in their minds at once. It's much easier to get your arms around the amount of information—just one or two pages—in an executive summary. Your plan is going to be judged on what you include in the summary and on how well you present it.
A good rule of thumb for writing an effective and efficient business plan is to avoid repeating information. Brief is better and clearer, and needless repetition may annoy some readers and confuse others. Take extra care when writing your summary. You'll be glad you did.
Ultimately, you want the executive summary to be as strong as possible because it is also the first thing people read in your plan, and we all know the power of a strong first impression. This is where you want to wow people and make them think. This is like the coming attractions, or trailers, at the movie theater. You want that trailer to be enticing and bring the audience members back to see the film. Likewise, you want your readers to want to read your plan.
Your Business Plan's Elevator Pitch
As Tim Berry writes in his article How to Write an Executive Summary : "The executive summary is like an elevator pitch. You're selling someone on reading your full plan while quickly summarizing the key points. Readers will expect it to cover certain areas of your business—such as the product, market, and financial highlights, at the very least. While you need to include what's necessary, you should also highlight areas that you believe will spark the reader's interest. Remember, you're telling the brief but convincing story of your business with this summary. Just be sure that you're able to back it up with the right details with the rest of your business plan."
When Should You Write Your Executive Summary?
Because the executive summary comes first in your plan, you may think you should write it first as well. Actually, you should write it last, after you've spent considerable time mulling over every other part of your plan. Only then will you truly be able to produce a summary of all that is there. Returning to the CliffsNotes analogy, it's impossible to summarize a book until the book is written.
Purposes of the Executive Summary
The executive summary has to perform a host of jobs. First and foremost, it should grab the reader's attention. It has to briefly hit the high points of your plan. It should point readers to questions requiring detailed responses to the full-length sections of your plan where they can get answers. It should ease the task of anybody whose job it is to read it, and it should make that task enjoyable by presenting an interesting and compelling account of your company.
The first question any investor has is, "How much?" followed closely by, "When will I recoup my investment?" Perceived risk and exit strategies are supportive information, and these in turn are supported by the quality of the management team and the proposed strategies.
It doesn't much matter whether you are presenting the plan to a family member, friend, banker, or sophisticated investors such as investment bankers or venture capitalists. They all need the same information. Concealing the amount and terms will only lessen your chances of successful financing.
How Long Should an Executive Summary Be?
Five minutes. This is how long an average reader will spend with your plan. If you can't convey the basics of your business in that time, your plan is in trouble. So make sure your summary, at least, can be read in that time and that it's as comprehensive as possible within that constraint. If you are using a deck, limit yourself to one slide and one minute of comments.
Points to Include in an Executive Summary
A suggested format for an executive summary:
The business idea and why it is necessary. What problem does it solve?
- How much will it cost, and how much financing are you seeking?
- What will the return be to the investor? Over what length of time?
- What is the perceived risk level?
- Where does your idea fit into the marketplace?
- What is the management team?
- What are the product and competitive strategies?
- What is your marketing plan?
- What is your exit strategy?
If you can address each of these in two or three sentences, you will have a twenty to twenty-seven-sentence executive summary.
If your company is complex, you'll need a separate section inside the plan with a heading like "Company Description" to describe its many product lines, locations, services, or whatever else it is that makes it a little too complicated to deal with quickly. In any event, you provide a brief description, no longer than a few sentences, of your company in the executive summary. And for many firms, this is an adequate basic description of their company. Here are some one- or two-sentence (mock) company descriptions:
John's Handball Hut is the Hamish Valley's leading purveyor of handball equipment and clothing.
Boxes Boxes Boxes Inc. will provide the people of the metropolitan area with a comprehensive source for packing materials, containers, and other supplies for the do-it-yourself move.
Salem Segway Witch Tours offers tourists the only Segway tours of the infamous home of the seventeenth-century witch trials.
The following items are not a necessity in your business plan: mission statement and corporate vision. If you have honed either down to a clear and concise sentence, by all means, use it in your plan.
A mission statement is a sentence or two describing the company's function, market, competitive advantages, and business goals and philosophies.
Many mission statements communicate what your business is about and should include a description of what makes you different from everybody else in your field. Mission statements have a place in a plan: They help investors and other interested parties get a grip on what makes your company special. A mission statement should be clearly written. Here are some (again, mock) examples:
River City Roadsters buys, restores, and resells classic American cars from the 1950s and 1960s to antique-auto buffs throughout central Missouri.
Captain Curio is the Jersey Shore's leading antique store, catering to high-quality interior decorators and collectors across the tri-state area.
August Appleton, Esq., provides low-cost legal services to personal- injury, workers' compensation, and age-discrimination plaintiffs in Houston's Fifth Ward.
A mission statement describes the goals and objectives you could "reasonably" expect to accomplish. A small software company whose mission statement included the goal of "putting Microsoft out of business" would be looked upon as foolishly naive.
In a vision statement, however, just those sorts of grandiose, galactic-scale images are perfectly appropriate. When you "vision"—to borrow the management consultant's trick of turning nouns into verbs—you imagine the loftiest heights you could scale, not the next step or several steps on the ladder.
Does a vision statement even have a place in a business plan? You could argue that it doesn't, especially because many include personal components such as "to love every minute of my work and always feel I'm doing my best." But many investors deeply respect visionary entrepreneurs. So, if you feel you have a compelling vision, there's no reason not to share it in your plan.
Extract the Essence
The key to the executive summary is to pick out the best aspects of every part of your plan. In other words, you want to extract the essence. Instead of describing everyone in your company, talk only about your key managers. Instead of talking about all your products, mention only the major ones or discuss only product lines instead of individual products. It's a highlight reel, so to speak.
Article Tools and Summarizing the Summary
Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you are planning to do. All too often, the business owner's desires are buried and lost when the reader scrolls through. Clearly state what you are planning to do (your ideas) and what you are seeking in the summary.
The statement should be kept short and businesslike, ideally no more than half a page. It could be longer, depending on how complicated the use of funds may be, but the summary of a business plan, like the summary of a loan application, is generally no more than one page. Within that space you'll need to provide a synopsis of the entire business plan. Key elements that should be included are:
Financial requirements. Clearly states the capital needed to start or expand the business. Detail how the capital will be used and the equity, if any, that will be provided for funding. If the loan for initial capital will be based on security instead of equity within the company, you should also specify the source of collateral.
Business concept. Describes the business, its product(s), and the market it will serve. It should point out just exactly what will be sold, to whom, and why the business will hold a competitive advantage.
Financial features. Highlights the important financial points of the business including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Current business position. Furnishes relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, when it was formed, the principal owners, and key personnel.
Major achievements. Details any developments within the company that are essential to the success of the business. Major achievements include items like patents, prototypes, location of a facility, any crucial contracts that need to be in place for product development, or results from any test marketing that has been conducted.
When writing your statement of purpose, don't waste words. If the executive summary is eight pages, nobody's going to read it because it will be very clear that the business, no matter what its merits, won't be a good investment because the principals are indecisive and don't really know what they want. Make it easy for the reader to realize at first glance both your needs and capabilities.
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How to Write a Proposal
Last Updated: August 2, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Dave Labowitz . Dave Labowitz is a Business Coach who helps pre-entrepreneurs, solopreneurs/entrepreneurs, and team leaders start, scale, and lead their businesses and teams. Before beginning his coaching career, Dave was a startup executive who spent over a decade building high-growth companies. Dave’s “path less traveled” life includes adventures such as dropping out of high school, co-authoring a book in the Smithsonian Institute, and getting his MBA at Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,969,244 times.
Writing a good proposal is a critical skill in many occupations, from school to business management to geology. The goal of a proposal is to gain support for your plan by informing the appropriate people. Your ideas or suggestions are more likely to be approved if you can communicate them in a clear, concise, engaging manner. Knowing how to write a persuasive, captivating proposal is essential for success in many fields. There are several types of proposals, such as science proposals and book proposals, but each following the same basic guidelines.
Planning Your Proposal
- Who will be reading your proposal? What level of familiarity with your topic will they have? What might you need to define or give extra background information about?
- What do you want your audience to get from your proposal? What do you need to give your readers, so they can make the decision you want them to make?
- Refine your tone to meet your audience's expectations and desires. What do they want to hear? What would be the most effective way of getting through to them? How can you help them understand what you're trying to say?
- What is the situation this issue applies to?
- What are the reasons behind this?
- Are we certain that those, and not others, are the real reasons? How are we sure of it?
- Has anyone ever tried to deal with this issue before?
- If yes: has it worked? Why?
- If no: why not?
Tip: Use your summary to show that you've conducted in-depth research to evaluate and understand the issue. Include only the information that's most relevant to your topic, and avoid writing a summary that's obvious to anyone in the field.
- Your proposal needs to define a problem and offer a solution that will convince uninterested, skeptical readers to support it. Your audience may not be the easiest crowd to win over. Is the solution you're offering logical and feasible? What's the timeline for your implementation?
- Consider thinking about your solution in terms of objectives. Your primary objective is the goal that you truly must achieve with your project. Secondary objectives are other goals that you hope your project achieves.
- Another helpful way of thinking about your solution is in terms of "outcomes" and "deliverables." Outcomes are the quantifiable results of your objectives. For example, if your proposal is for a business project and your objective is "increase profit," an outcome might be "increase profit by $100,000." Deliverables are products or services that you will deliver with your project. For example, a proposal for a science project could "deliver" a vaccine or a new drug. Readers of proposals look for outcomes and deliverables because they are easy ways of determining what the "worth" of the project will be.
- How are you going to be persuasive? Convincing proposals can use emotional appeals, but should always rely on facts as the bedrock of the argument. For example, a proposal to start a panda conservation program could mention how sad it would be for the children of future generations to never see a panda again, but it shouldn't stop there. It would need to base its argument on facts and solutions for the proposal to be convincing.
Avoid writing in jargon and using obscure abbreviations or needlessly complex language. Instead, write in plain, direct language as much as possible.
For example, instead of saying "rectification of a workplace imbalance," you could simply write, "let employees go."
- Your outline should consist of your problem, your solution, how you'll solve it, why your solution is best, and a conclusion. If you're writing an executive proposal, you'll need to include things like a budget analysis and organizational details.
Writing Your Own Proposal
- If you have any stark facts that shed some light on why the issue needs to be addressed and addressed immediately, it's a safe bet that's something you can start with. Whatever it is, make sure what you start out with is a fact and not an opinion.
- Emphasize why your problem needs to be solved and needs to be solved now. How will it affect your audience if left alone? Make sure to answer all questions and cover them with research and facts. Use credible sources liberally.
Tip: Make the issue as relevant to the audience as you can. Tie it to their interest or goal as directly as you can. Make it specific to them, and avoid relying solely on generic appeal to emotions or values.
- Discuss the larger impact of your ideas. Ideas that seem of limited applicability aren't as likely to spark enthusiasm in readers as ideas that could have widespread effects. Example: "Greater knowledge of tuna behavior can allow us to create a more comprehensive management strategy and ensure canned tuna for future generations."
- Addressing why you will do something is as significant as stating what you will do. Presume that your readers are skeptical and will not accept your ideas at face value. If you're proposing to do a catch-and-release study of 2,000 wild tuna, why? Why is that better than something else? If it's more expensive than another option, why can't you use the cheaper option? Anticipating and addressing these questions will show that you've considered your idea from all angles.
- Your readers should leave your paper assured that you can solve the problem effectively. Literally, everything you write should either address the problem or how to solve it.
- Research your proposal extensively. The more examples and facts you can give your audience, the better -- it'll be much more convincing. Avoid your opinions and rely on the hard research of others.
- If your proposal doesn't prove that your solution works, it's not an adequate solution. If your solution isn't feasible, nix it. Think about the results of your solution, too. Pre-test it if possible and revise your solution if need be.
- Your readers probably understand that your budget may change, especially if this is a startup project, but they want to see that you at least have a cohesive plan. They have to see that you know directionally where you're going to spend the money and how long it's going to last.
- When do you envision the project starting? At what pace will it progress? How does each step build on the other? Can certain things be done simultaneously? Being as meticulous as possible will give your readers confidence that you've done your homework and won't waste their money.
- Make sure your proposal makes sense financially. If you're proposing an idea to a company or a person, consider their budget. If they can't afford your proposal, it's not an adequate one. If it does fit their budget, be sure to include why it's worth their time and money.
Tip: Stay away from vague or unrelated objectives! Include details, responsibilities, and time commitments for departments and individual staff.
- If you have extra content that doesn't exactly fit into your proposal, you may want to add an appendix. But know that if your paper is too bulky, it may scare people off. If you're in doubt, leave it out.
- If you have two or more appendices attached to your proposal, letter them A, B, etc. This can be used if you have data sheets, reprints of articles, or letters of endorsement and the like.
- Have another set of eyes (or two) read over your work. They'll be able to highlight issues your mind has grown blind to. There may be issues that you haven't completely addressed or questions you've left open-ended.
- Eliminate jargon and clichés! These make you look lazy and can get in the way of understanding. Don't use a long word when a short word will do just as well.
- Avoid the passive voice whenever possible. Passive voice uses forms of "to be" verbs and can make your meaning unclear. Compare these two sentences: "The window was broken by the zombie" and "The zombie broke the window." In the first, you don't know who broke the window: was it the zombie? Or was the window by the zombie and just happened to also be broken? In the second, you know exactly who did the breaking and why it's important.
- Use strong, direct language and avoid muddling your proposal with qualifiers and extra phrasing. For example, instead of using phrases like "I believe that...," or "this solution may aid...," say, "The plan will significantly reduce poverty rates."
- Any mistakes on your end will make you look less educated and less credible, reducing your likelihood of getting approved.
- Make sure that your formatting is in line with whatever the guidelines require.
- Use language that everyone can understand. Keep to short sentences that are clear and to the point. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Any discussion of financial or other resources should be conducted carefully and should present a realistic picture of the expense required. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Do not try to use very twisty and tacky words, which are not used in a normal conversation, thinking that it would be useful and impressive. Don't beat around the bush. Go to the main point straight away using simple words. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/grants-2/
- ↑ http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2004/nsf04016/nsf04016.pdf
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/academicwriting
- ↑ https://www.northwestern.edu/climb/Research%20Proposal%20Writing/A%20Basic%20Research%20Proposal%20Outline.pdf
- ↑ https://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/cfwriters/Graduate_Student_Writing_Resources/GrantOutline.pdf
- ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185918
- ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/revising/revising-and-editing/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
About This Article
To write a proposal, start with an introduction that clearly states the purpose of your proposal. Then, explain the problem at hand and why it needs to be solved right now. Go on to detail your proposed solutions to the problem and why you've chosen those solutions. Also, don't forget to include a schedule and budget. To conclude your proposal, briefly summarize the key points you want readers to walk away understanding. For help formatting and outlining your proposal, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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- How to write a business proposal
How to write a business proposal in 7 steps.
Create a well-structured proposal to win new clients and business.
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JUMP TO SECTION
1. Research and outline the parts of your business proposal
2. Build the title and table of contents
3. Write your executive summary
4. Get into the project details
5. List deliverables, milestones, and budgets
6. Craft the conclusion and appendix
7. Edit and professionally polish your proposal
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a written offer of a product or service to a prospective customer. Winning business proposals help secure funding, expand projects, and grow your business.
What should be included in a business proposal?
There are a few key questions that should be answered in your business proposal:
- Who are you? What does your company do?
- What problems are your buyers facing?
- What solution does your company offer to solve the problem?
- How will your company successfully implement the solution?
- How much money, time, and other resources do you estimate will be required to implement the solution?
Types of business proposals.
Before you can decide how to structure your proposal, it’s important to understand what type of proposal is most appropriate for the situation. While there are different types of proposals in different industries, they usually fall into one of these three categories:
Informally solicited business proposal.
This type of business proposal is for when no official request has been made for a proposal. Informally solicited proposals stem from spontaneous, informal conversations with a client or vendor — unlike official requests that contain much more detail. You might write one if a prospective buyer is interested in your products or services and asks for a business proposal so that they can analyze it. With these types of requests, prospective buyers will not normally ask for competing proposals. This type of proposal will require a decent amount of additional research on your end.
Unsolicited business proposal.
An unsolicited business proposal is for when you wish to approach prospective customers with a proposal, although they didn’t request one, in hopes of securing them as customers. These proposals are more generic and act like a cold email or marketing brochure. This type of business proposal is created without the understanding of the potential customer and their requirements. By conducting market research and identifying customer pain points, you can create a personalized solution based on each individual buyer’s needs.
Formally solicited business proposal.
Formally solicited business proposals are created upon official request for a business proposal to be written. With this type of proposal, you will have most (if not all) the information required to understand a prospective buyer’s needs. All you have to do is write the proposal for the buyer so that they can analyze it and you can start the sales process. Formally solicited proposals are typically written as a response to published requirements from the business that is searching for proposals. These will be created because of a public posting asking for proposals. These clients are likely looking through multiple proposals to try and find the best fit.
Why write a business proposal?
Business proposals are huge for new businesses looking to expand. Whether you’re an established small business or one looking to grow, a business proposal can help you with everything from securing funding to growing an existing project.
A business proposal is a document that helps you:
- Document realistic plans and projections
- Attract new clients and new business
- Bring in investors for funding
- Outline additional structure for growth
- Identify strengths and weaknesses of your current business model
- Showcase new pricing models and other relevant metrics
Sound like something that might be useful? Here’s how you create one.
How to write a business proposal.
Business proposals can vary in formatting, but there are some key elements that any business proposal should have. Some of the most essential elements include a title page, table of contents, details on your company’s “why” in the executive summary, a problem or need statement, a proposed solution, qualifications, a timeline, pricing, billing, legal information, clarification of terms and conditions, and the acceptance section where your potential buyer can sign the document.
You will want to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the business before composing your proposal. It can be helpful to set up an initial meeting or call to gain insight into what the client wants from your business. If the business has shared an RFP with you, be sure to give it a thorough read-through. After your research is complete, you can create your business proposal. Detailed below are the key elements to begin.
1. Research and outline the parts of your business proposal.
You likely know what you want to do to expand your business already, so you have probably done plenty of research. If you haven’t, it’s important to come into the process well prepared and informed before you outline. Make sure that you have case studies, pertinent data, and compelling examples of how your proposal will lead to benefits for your client before you begin.
Building a business proposal is a highly structured process, which means that an outline is essential. An outline can be as simple as a one- or two-page document, with bullet points breaking key areas down into quick summaries that you can then expand into full sections.
For a basic outline, writing a small section for each step that follows in this guide is a great way to organize and set up your proposal. You can use steps 2–6 here as the framework for your outline. You can even build out the entire document in a PDF editor . You’ll be able to drop pages in and comment to your proposal on the fly.
2. Build the title and table of contents.
The introduction to your business proposal is always the title. Creating a strong, solid title page gives a prospective client an idea of the value proposition, as well as what is going to follow within the proposal. This is the first step in getting eyes on your work. Especially if the proposal is unsolicited, you have to make sure to excite your audience, assuring them that your proposal is going to solve their pain points.
The table of contents summarizes the remainder of the proposal and helps readers reference where different sections start and end, but it can also be a way of providing additional small summaries of each section — it’s up to you. There are many types of proposals — from sales proposals to marketing proposals — and the table of contents can give clues to your audience about what you’re selling and how it benefits them.
3. Write your executive summary.
The executive summary functions as an introduction to your reader. In some ways, it’s like a cover letter — a concise introduction and summary of your proposal. You’ll want to introduce your company (especially if the proposal is unsolicited), give an overview of your business goals and objectives, show off some milestones you’ve already hit, lay out what the future path is, and explain how the proposal you’re writing is the first step of that path.
You’re talking to decision makers and potential customers, so you want to make sure that you’re reeling your audience in as much as possible with snappy writing that outlines what they can expect in the following sections of the proposal.
4. Get into the project details.
Problem, solution, qualifications. These three words are the mantra of this section. Your proposal needs to identify the client’s problem and immediately follow up with a proposed solution. Problem statement plus solution equals a happy client who is excited about coming to work with you.
And, during all of this, you must demonstrate your expertise through qualifications. If your company or business is certified and has a track record of success solving this particular problem, showcase it. If you need additional capabilities to achieve what you need, identify that as well. At the end of this section, your target audience should walk away confident you can meet any client’s needs.
5. List deliverables, milestones, and budgets.
After you outline project details, identify specific deliverables this proposal will produce. For instance, if your proposal is to open a new branch of your business in a new region, identify all the steps that will happen in that process, what they’ll cost, and what the timeline is. Striving for accuracy and professionalism in this section is key, as it demonstrates that you’re serious about what you’re trying to do. Coming in with examples of previous successes can also demonstrate proof that your process works.
While a proposal can be a formal document, it doesn’t have to be stodgy. A winning proposal has eye-catching headings, is free of typos, and outlines the time frames, scope of work, and payment schedules that a client can expect if they accept.
6. Craft the conclusion and appendix.
End with a strong call to action that lets the reader know what they should do next. That can be a salesperson’s number or a contact form online to discover more. An appendix that contains reference materials, definitions, methodology, and other relevant items can also be effective.
7. Edit and professionally polish your proposal.
A business proposal is bolstered by two things: solid writing and elegant design. If you are writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), you will want to include the following elements:
- An introduction to your company and background information on the project
- The project goals and scope of services needed
- A deadline for receiving bids
- A timeline for when you expect to select a winning proposal
- Which specific elements you would like included in the proposal
- Any specific challenges you’d like the contractors to solve
- Your estimated budget range for the project
Whether you’re creating a Request for Proposal (RFP) , a solicited proposal, or a series of case studies, Acrobat Pro gives you the tools to design beautiful and eye-catching proposals — and you don’t even have to start from scratch. There are dozens of free business proposal templates available to start working from, and Acrobat makes it easy to add graphics, images, and creative formatting to your proposal.
Plus, if you’re sharing your proposal digitally, you can easily add graphs, pricing tables, links, and attachments to enhance the overall experience for readers. Your table of contents can be hyperlinked throughout the document, and you can send readers to supplementary documents elsewhere.
Creating a compelling proposal and tidy cover page with Acrobat Pro is only a few more steps away . You can start learning how with helpful guides and tutorials, and soon you’ll have a business proposal that will grow and enhance your business.
10 Game Changing Business Proposal Ideas from Creative Business Owners
- Apr 24, 2023
- 12 min read
- First published on
- Aug 7, 2017
If you’re struggling with your business proposals and are looking to better understand the whole process, this is the blog for you.
We’ve collected ten of the most creative business proposal ideas from some of the best companies around.
T hese ideas will work no matter the types of business you’re in. Use them to inspire you and improve your business proposals.
Whether you’re a small business , a new business or running a big and successful team, a little bit of inspiration could go a long way.
Let’s take a look at our favourite business proposal ideas that can help you improve your business plan.
The comparison checklist from Tony Isgrove
If there’s one industry you wouldn’t think would be at the forefront of proposal design and innovation, it’s probably the Painting and Decorating industry.
However, they understand the importance of visuals and creative expression. It’s safe to say that their business proposals are beautiful and easy to get through.
Tony Isgrove and his team came up with something absolutely genius.
As part of his business proposal idea, he includes a helpful checklist so you can easily compare his painting service to that of anyone else. This is how it looked:
Nothing revolutionary you might think, but this is where he’s so clever. He’s setting the frame.
Now not only is he plugging all the things they do, accreditations they’ve won etc but even if another painter ticks every single box, he would still only be just as good as Tony’s firm.
Absolutely masterful frame control there.
When you include something like this in your business proposal, it elevates your services to a new level.
Not only are you showing your professionalism and authority amongst the competition, but also that you have a great business plan. Make your small business stand out with this genius tip.
“Let’s do this, mate” from Sampath
A simple thing with a deep psychological impact. Sampath, a growth consultant changed an otherwise normal piece of copy on the cover of his business proposal and created an awesome moment.
On covers of documents created with Better Proposals , you can edit the copy of the button from “Read Proposal” to anything you like.
Usually, people just write things like “Open Proposal”, “View Quote” or “Start Reading”. A skilled content or essay writing service provider can help you to write better call-to-action lines.
He builds a fantastic relationship with his clients so this doesn’t seem weird and of course, in the wrong situation, this is terrible advice so tread with caution, but he changed his button name to “Let’s do this, mate”.
It creates a cool “Yeahhhhhhh!” moment and they are few and far between in proposals. Consider what you call the button on your proposal covers.
We urge you to customize your proposals, from the content, down to the call to action.
Our free proposal templates are a great starting point, but you need to show your client that they’re not just a number.
Make sure to use their words when describing the problem at hand. It will show them that you listened. The focus of the proposal should be on the client.
Your business idea is only interesting to them if you show the benefits their company can expect. Whether it’s as simple as – more money or an easier way of attracting investors, or getting involved in the local market, make sure to outline it.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your business proposal. Do a little social media stalking to find out what your potential clients love and work in into the proposal.
Testimonial on the page with the quote on it from Jigawatt
Jigowatt are a digital agency in the UK that does something that can only be described as sheer brilliance. They aren’t a cheap design agency and their pricing reflects that.
What they do to “soften the blow” to people who might be expecting a lower price is add a testimonial which conveniently touts the ROI of Jigowatt’s services.
Absolute magic. It’s so good that we have completely stolen this business proposal idea for our proposal templates. Here’s how it looks: #SorryNotSorry
All of our free proposal templates come with a pre-designed pricing section. That means that all you have to do is find the best way to price your services. Here’s a handy guide for that.
It’s helpful no matter the type of business you have, whether you freelance, are looking to start a business, run a small business or something else.
Personalised video introduction from Kevin at Blinkered
Kevin at Blinkered does something brilliant with his proposals. He’s a digital strategist based near Glasgow, Scotland.
He’s committed to making each of his proposals as personal as he can so he records a personalised introduction video for each and every client and embeds the video on the executive summary page of his proposal.
Not only does this scream “I want the job” but it shows how ‘on the ball’ he is when it comes to winning new business. I wish more people adopted this approach.
What’s even better is he doesn’t use an iPhone in selfie mode. That wouldn’t be his style.
He gets his entire professional camera gear out in a mini-studio he’s created for himself and shoots it like a high-budget movie. This is all about using your strengths to your advantage.
He has awesome camera gear, and video editing tools, speaks amazingly well and has a studio. He is as professional as he can be and that makes the entire business proposal document elevated, which is why this is such a good idea.
Personalising the cover from Tim
Tim Coe is a marketer and brand strategist from Lymington in Hampshire.
He’s the author of the book ‘Your Utterly Seductive Proposal’ and has been featured on Grant Cardone’s TV show, has done business with a who’s who of business people in the UK and has spoken at every conference worth speaking at.
He takes personalising each proposal seriously but does it in his own way. He personalises each cover depending on the client and project. I love this.
Think about it. It’s the first thing they see so making an amazing first impression is really important. He uses unsplash.com and finds an appropriate picture then uses that as the background cover.
An excellent touch and one you should employ.
It makes his business proposal engaging from the very start. The more you customize your proposals, the better the outcome will be.
Case study idea with a story from templates
Sometimes we get so boxed into pre-existing ideas we forget to step outside the box.
I was on a flight to Barcelona recently to watch the football game and the amazing 6-1 win over PSG, and on the flight, I wrote a new business proposal template .
Only, I was on the plane, and I had no internet so I wrote the content in Pages on my Mac which took me out of “ business proposal writing ” mode and more into a natural flow.
When it came to writing the case study part I for some reason wrote it as if it was a personal introduction.
This is a popular marketing strategy , since providing clients with examples showcases that you’re the right person for the job.
It was a little story of a guy called Jamie, and Jamie oddly enough had the same goals as the imaginary prospect and it only made sense we’d share this story seeing as we helped Jamie achieve all his goals.
Why is this effective? It’s different, it’s reading a success story without your “bullshit filter” on so it actually goes in your brain. Give this a try.
Remember, the trick is to make it super personal and creative. That’s the only way to create a successful case study.
Big coloured block exclaiming the goal of the project
We launched feature blocks in January 2017 and they’ve been used in almost every business template and business proposal that’s been sent since. An absolutely massive hit.
What they’ve been used for most commonly is making a big point of the opening statement on the Introduction page. The trick with this is less in the design and more in the copy.
If someone wants to double their revenue in the next 12 months and that is of paramount importance then something like this will give an epic first impression.
It grabs attention, forces them to take that piece of information in and sets the tone for the rest of the proposal.
When writing your business proposal, make sure to outline the benefits your clients can expect. It makes it more engaging for them.
Letting your client upsell themselves with the optional items in your business proposal ideas
Troy Dean from WP Elevation – they’re one of our Premium Partners, suggests in his WP Elevation Blueprint Course that you should always allow your client to upsell themselves with a few extra add-ons.
It could be a monthly report, extra support, VIP treatment or any number of things but allowing them the chance to increase the deal size by clicking one button is a brilliant touch.
Sometimes, we run into brilliant business proposal ideas and we build them into our templates.
You can see this example in our pricing tables. Here’s how it looks.
If you want to impress your clients with technological brilliance as well as increase the revenue you bring in from each client, look no further than this little beauty.
The fact that it’s web-based , to begin with.
How many times have you asked for a quote or a business proposal and received a tacky, badly designed PDF document with a brief description of the service and a price? Too often?
Sending a web-based business proposal that arrives with a beautiful full-screen cover, well-formatted text and is engaging to browse is far more interesting.
Our unofficial tagline here at Better Proposals is “Death of the PDF”. It’ll never die but we can try and make it obsolete with these amazing proposal ideas.
Benefits of web-based proposals
If you’re wondering about the benefits of web-based proposals, here are just the most popular ones:
Digital signatures, payment integrations, proposal analytics, a simplified follow-up process.
Writing a business proposal from scratch is harrowing work. Luckily, if you’re using Better Proposals, you can rely on our prewritten templates.
They are free for all of our users and help you speed up the proposal-creating process since you don’t have to worry about the proposal structure.
We offer a wide variety of proposal templates. You can easily find the right one for you, whether you’re a:
- small business
- software company
- digital marketing company
- sales team etc.
All of our business proposals are web-based, meaning your clients can easily agree to your terms by typing in their names.
The typed-in name will get turned into a legally binding digital signature.
Furthermore, your clients can pay using your business proposal payment gateways. You can choose between PayPal, Stripe or GoCardless.
The proposal analytics will show you the progress of your business proposal. You will be notified every time they are opened, forwarded, signed and paid.
Moreover, once your business proposal is opened, we’ll notify you how much time the client spent on each of the sections, making your follow-up process easy.
However, if the spent time on your timescales and executive summary, you know how to structure your follow-up email.
When you have an online proposal tool, you can integrate all the other sales and marketing tools like CRMs and more.
It will help you speed up the whole sales process and create proposals that utilize all customer data you’ve collected so far.
When you’re running a small business, every proposal counts.
You can’t afford to lose any potential clients by sending bad proposals. You have to get creative and spend some time on the writing process.
Projections from Tim’s proposal “picture the dream”
Here’s another brilliant business proposal idea from Tim Coe.
If you’re creating a business proposal which contains future projections for your client then consider setting the stage nice and early with those projections.
I’m not suggesting replacing the introduction. You should always have that opening summary, but this could immediately follow.
When utilizing this business idea, you’re hitting them with the main benefit nice and early, and then painting this amazing picture for them sets the frame up perfectly.
Now, everything they read in the rest of the business proposal is understood through the lens of knowing what years 2 and 3 could look like.
A subtle tip here, getting people to “think big” before hitting them with the price is a great way of lowering the impact your price would have.
We’ve collected ten amazing business proposal ideas for you to jazz up your proposals, and make them more engaging and fun to read.
The process of sending your business proposal is of course about doing a good job for the agreed budget, but it’s also about making them feel like you’re the right company for the job.
A great way to do that is to give them an organised, well-formatted document summing everything up. If that is a complete mess, what does it say about your service?
Conversely, what does it say if it blows them away?
I’ll leave you to work out which one you want to be.
The only thing that’s left to do is to sign up for a free trial and fall in love with Better Proposals.
Start sending Better Proposals today
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Home › Writing › What is Proposal Writing? › 17 Business Proposal Examples to Inspire You
17 Business Proposal Examples to Inspire You
Become a Certified Proposal Writer
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sales generation and winning more businesses are a core part of business success. To get more leads and sales, every company must know how to draft an effective business proposal to persuade the clients to buy from you.
With a good proposal, you can sell more. The way you write the business proposal can determine your company’s fate- either you win a new business or lose a potential client. The business proposal targets a specific audience for your business and offers them an effective solution to their problem. The purpose of a proposal is to convince your client that you stand ahead of your competitors with unique deliverables. Give them a reason to buy from you.
The structure and format of a business proposal contain a compelling introduction with a project overview. After that, you can state the client’s problems and your unique solutions. Your proposal writing must also include all the standard information such as pricing estimates, work timelines, and testimonials. It is essential that you offer transparency and trust to your target audience alongside the solutions to retain long-term clients.
If you are struggling with writing a persuasive yet informative business proposal, you can leverage the business proposal examples in this article.
Best Business Proposal Examples to Inspire You
We have written down the 17 best business proposal examples that will help you create client-winning proposals. Change the structure, headings, and content according to your services and client’s needs.
1. Business Proposal Example
In this proposal document, it is vital to incorporate the standard information for a great sales pitch and win potential clients. This document complies with the needs and demands of the target client and suggests actionable solutions- beneficial for both the client and the company.
You can be a freelance writing company or a digital marketing firm, the basic framework for a proposal remains constant, with the same purpose of increasing sales conversions and maximizing ROI (return on investment).
A good business proposal includes a thorough project overview, addresses the client’s problems, offers solutions, gives pricing estimates, and a working timeline. Adding client testimonials and the success story (brief) of the past projects is also a plus.
2. Digital Marketing Proposal Example
This business proposal effectively engages clients with your goods or services and convinces them to consider buying from you. In addition, this proposal document addresses the client’s problems and provides them with solutions.
You can use the first paragraph or the introduction to talk about “what you have to offer” or “why the client needs you.” Then, you can include the key information about increasing organic traffic, generating more leads, better sales conversions, and user engagement.
In this proposal example, it is important to include the payment terms and timeline for the project plan. In addition, you need to include all your services, such as social media marketing, SEO or search engine optimization, PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, digital content, email marketing, and more.
The marketing proposal will spread your business ideas amongst the clients like a wildfire in the forest- you have to kindle it.
3. Web Design Proposal Example
The web design business proposal addresses the client’s problem by understanding their needs. Whether you are designing the website for a new business, a private company, or a non-profit organization, your proposal must include explicit details.
This proposal template contains the development process of executing the proposed services for the client. Thereby includes a problem overview, solution statement, project timeline, pricing packages (hourly, weekly, yearly), call-to-action, and an “About Us” section.
After the introductory paragraph, you can write the “About Us” and “About the team” sections.
4. Engineering Services Proposal Example
In this business proposal example, you can leverage the client specifications to create a user-friendly proposal. The proposal writing highlights the work process and project plan. This proposal document ensures the client that your proposed solutions are competent to solve their problems directly.
The proposal contains the problem with their solutions, the cost breakdown, timeline, and schedule in the project description.
The “About Us” and “Team” sections come after the proposal’s explicit details, especially the solution. You can further include certifications about your legal team, client testimonials, social proof, and call-to-action to build trust and authenticity.
5. Research Proposal Example
This type of proposal is a coherent yet concise summary of your research study. It specifies the intent of research- the central questions and issues. In this document, you must include the general idea of study and the current state of recent debate or knowledge as per the area of research.
You must state the pricing estimate for the relevant research project. Include the information that demonstrates your ability to cater to challenging ideas in a clear, critical, and concise way,
You can write the research proposal as a supplier to the client, or as a student to your supervisor. In any case, you must talk about the title, abstract, research context, research questions and methods, the significance of your research, and the bibliography.
6. Grant Proposal Example
The grant or asking-for-funds proposal t is written in distinct sections. The sections consist of different titles that target the specific guidelines of the granting organization. The main elements of any grant proposal remain the same. It must include a short overview of the executive summary, the statement of your company’s need or problem, a project overview, and your budget to specify the reason why you need the funds.
To strengthen your proposal, you can also include a cover letter, organizational qualifications, client testimonials, and supporting documents. Ensure that you do not miss any of the funding agency’s guidelines or else the grant will slip out of your hands.
7. Budget Proposal Example
The project completion or grant approval depends on the budget proposal. If this proposal states a high budget, the grant or funding agency will reject your “grant proposal”. As the grant proposal states the budget is to inform the company that you do not have enough funds to complete the project.
This proposal must include all the basic information about the project and the costs of everything that you can or cannot cover in a given time limit.
8. IT Consulting Proposal Example
The proposal provides the prospective client with a clear picture of your work intent. Starting from the research to the final sign-off. The proposal must offer answers to the anticipated problems or questions. Ensure the writing format and content are excellent and that the reader says “Yes” to your services before they even finish reading.
Even though the proposal is about IT, you need to avoid the technology-related jargon- keep the content simple and easy to understand. For example, include all the following components such as project overview, estimated pricing, work timeline, scope, business goals, and a case study.
After the solution, you can add the “About Us” sections, CTA (call-to-action), and legal terms. Adding client testimonials and their feedback on your recent work can gain the client’s trust and turn them into a buyer from a reader.
9. Freelance Writing Proposal Example
It is a web-based, well-crafted proposal sample with tempting offers and value clarifications. Even though this type of business proposal must be short and to the point, it is vital to study the client and understand what they want from you.
Write the introduction and executive summary in a composed yet persuasive tone to convince the client that you are the best choice for them.
“About Me (or Us)” sections need to come after discussing the solution.
10. Construction Bid Proposal Example
This business proposal must be accurate, precise, personalized, showcase your company’s potential, and include details.
The proposal must include the scope of work, solution statement, payment schedule, project timeline, approach to unforeseeable conditions like weather and other hidden defects, and your warranty.
While the project proposal must also explain the work schedule and the extra charges applicable for additional work, the introduction needs to target the client’s needs.
11. CRM Implementation Proposal Example
It is essential to use bullet points and a convincing writing tone to deliver a value proposition to write this proposal.
This document must contain details about the focused user adoption plan, incremental delivery, domain knowledge, industrial references, client testimonials, history of past projects, and more.
12. Insurance Services Proposal Example
This proposal is concise and contains various offerings to the client. After an attention-grabbing introduction and executive summary, you can pitch your solutions to the clients.
The proposal must discuss the business plan, scope of work, timelines, and payment schedules. Keep the proposal brief, but do not miss out on the main points.
13. Graphic Design Proposal Example
An illustrative business proposal, written to put forward your skills and offerings to the potential client. The proposal, specifically the introductory and executive summary section, must focus highly on the customer needs and problems.
After highlighting the solutions and deliverables, close your proposal by incorporating credentials, client testimonials, and CTA.
14. Project Proposal Example
This project proposal highlights the company’s understanding and knowledge of the client’s requirements. Although it is challenging to cover all the aspects, the content must be specific yet persuasive and define the value proposition.
You can add details from your past successful project and the criteria for management that led to customer satisfaction. This enables the reader to sense your expertise and experience.
15. Interior Design Proposal Example
A proposal writing that incorporates visually attractive content to persuade the client. It can contain graphics, videos, and an online demo (if the proposal is online) to showcase the business’s strengths and achievements to the client.
16. Sales Proposal Example
This proposal is essential to outline the features of the products and services your company is selling. It is a detailed proposal with all the information about the project overview, solutions, deliverables, price, benefits, work schedule, and more.
To sell and generate revenues for your business, you must create awareness about your offerings. To convert your proposal writing into sales and deal closures, give them a reason to trust you, convince them you are better than your competitors and can resolve their issues.
A poorly written sales proposal means no selling.
17. Social Media Marketing Proposal
A brief discussion about the design layout, color coding, and use of social media icons can turn this business proposal into a great sales pitch.
The proposal must include an easy-to-follow and understand the timeframe for project goals and objectives while ensuring the prospect is abreast of the mode of payment and other relevant details.
Critique/ Analysis : These business proposals follow a particular format structured in a certain way. However, most of them follow the same suit by covering the essential information. The important point to note is that it is advisable to add the “About Us,” “Team,” “Certifications,” and “Testimonial” sections after you have given the project overview with potential solutions.
Write Better Proposals to Win More Business
With empowering proposal writing, let your business proposals do the talking.
The business proposals vary depending on the type and size of the company, and you have to search your target audience to offer them potential solutions. If you are an IT company, you cannot send out business proposals written for freelance writing.
Any proposal aims to target the client’s needs and demands. Above all, to convince them to buy your products and services. Once you analyze and understand what your client wants from you, you can build a solid business proposal that nobody will turn down. If you get stuck, you can talk to your client and understand what they want in a more specific way. You can ask your questions and then narrow down the solutions.
Filling up the proposal with fluff and redundant content decreases its value and risks losing the client- that can be a massive blow to your business.
Leverage any business proposal template that fits your requirements and makes your business successful.
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