How to Write a Business Proposal in April, 2024

How to Write a Business Proposal in April, 2024

American entrepreneur and business mogul, Mark Cuban said “Sales cure all”. There aren’t many business woes that can’t be solved by making sales because no sales means no money, and no money means eventual business failure.

So it’s incredibly important that every business owner learns how to write a business proposal. Good business proposals can either help you land or lose important clients. But how do you write a good business proposal?

We’ll tell you everything you need to know to start getting more sales and closing deals in our How to Write a Business Proposal guide.

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What is a business proposal?

The first step in learning how to write a business proposal is learning what a business proposal is. Of course you can’t write a good business proposal if no one has told you what it is or what the goal of one is!

A business proposal is a document drafted by a business that is presented to a potential client in an aim to secure a business deal. In theory, it’s as simple as that. In reality, there are several more aspects you need to know about.

When it comes to learning how to write a business proposal, you should keep the aims of the proposal in mind. Your proposal should explain the products and services your company provides, as well as what your company has to offer a client.

This can either apply to a specific client, or be described in a more broad sense which we’ll get into in more detail in our Types Of Business Proposals section.

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What’s the difference between a business proposal and a business plan?

Many inexperienced business owners are under the false impression that a business proposal is the same as a business plan, and knowing the difference between the two is key when learning how to write a business proposal.

The main difference between the two is that a business proposal aims to “sell” your products or services, while a business plan aims to “sell” your business as a whole.

What we mean by that is that you’ll advertise the products and services you have to offer in your business proposal so that potential clients understand how that these products and services can help them.

And a business plan is designed to spell out every aspect of your business through things like figures, market testing, 5-year plans, etc. so that financial institutions and investors understand not only what your business does but where you intend to steer it in the future so they can decide whether to invest in you or provide you with financial backing.

In short, if you want new investors or financial assistance, then a business plan is what you need. If you want a new client, then a business proposal is what you need.

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Types of business proposals

An important part of learning how to write a business proposal is learning the different types of business proposals. Of course, you need to know which type of business proposal will suit your situation.

There are generally two different types of business proposals:

Unsolicited Business Proposals: An unsolicited business proposal is one that you supply a client with, without them asking for one.

Solicited Business Proposals: A solicited business proposal is one that a client has requested from you.

In the event of a solicited business proposal, a business will approach you with an RFP (Request For Proposal). This is good news, as it means that the client is already considering your business!

But don’t let that go to your head because you’re likely not the only business they’ve requested a proposal from. If a company is facing a problem, it’s not uncommon for them to invite several companies to submit proposals to tell them about how they’d solve the problem.

The company that provides the most effective solution or has the lowest price will typically win that client.

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Important business proposal elements

No matter whether it’s a solicited or unsolicited business proposal, there are three important elements you should know about when learning how to write a business proposal. Every business proposal should include the following:

  • The problem that the organization is experiencing
  • The solution your business is proposing
  • Your company’s pricing information

How to write a business proposal: step by step

An important part of creating a business proposal is researching the company you’re submitting the proposal to. Before you even draft the first page of your proposal you should have a good understanding of what the company is, what it does, how it works, its brand, and a bit about the owners.

If you’ve received an RFP, then you should study that to determine exactly what the problem is that your potential client is asking you to solve.

It’s a good idea to schedule an initial meeting or call with them to go over this. It also has an added bonus of creating a good business relationship with the potential client and letting them feel like you’re interested in their problems and want to hear them out.

After you’ve done thorough research, the next step is writing a business proposal. There’s not one iron-clad method for writing a business proposal, but we’ll give you some steps to make writing your business proposal a bit easier. Here’s how to write a business proposal:

1. Start with a title page

It’s important when learning how to write a good business proposal that you learn how to nail the title page because it sets the tone for the entire proposal, so… no pressure!

You want the title page to be simplistic, but definitely don’t leave it blank. This is an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to your potential clients.

You want it to include important information like your business name, your name, the date you’re submitting the proposal, and the client you’re submitting the proposal to.

Because your title page sets the tone for your company’s interaction with potential clients, it should have a sleek, minimal design that grabs attention, but isn’t too showy or busy.

2. Create a tble of contents

Another important element that you may overlook when learning how to write a business proposal is the table of contents.

The table of contents provides for a better overall user experience. It gives the reader an idea of where all of the parts of the proposal are located so that they can flip to important parts they want to reference. It also tells them precisely what you’ve included in your business proposal.

If you’re creating an electronic business proposal, then it’s a good idea to create a table of contents that’s clickable so that clients can click to go directly to certain portions of it.

3. Use an executive summary to explain the “why” of the business proposal

An executive summary is an important element that you should make use of when learning how to write a business proposal.

This is the section that explains why you’re submitting the proposal, and precisely how your business and solution is the best to meet the needs of your potential client.

This description needs to be as specific as possible. Why is the solution your business provides the best one for them?

This section should outline the products and services your business offers, and how they provide the best solution for your potential client.

After reading the executive summary, your client should understand exactly how your business can help them, without having to read the rest of the business proposal.

4. Define the client’s problem or need

Budding business owners who are learning how to write a business proposal may find silly, but it’s quite important. By spelling out the client’s problem, it illustrates that you’ve taken the time to learn about it, about them, and to thoroughly understand the problem.

Research is essential when it comes to this section. You really need to learn the ins and outs of the problem. You’ll also need to use a bit of creativity and really think about the problems your potential client is facing and how your company can solve them. You may find problems they weren’t even aware of!

If you can, explain the problem in such a way that it flows seamlessly into the next step.

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5. Propose a solution

You’ve probably been reading our “How to Write a Business Proposal” guide and wondering when you get to posit your solution. This is your time to shine!

This part of your solution should explain your solution in detail, and you should specify how this solution is designed for this client in particular. It’s important that you don’t just offer a generic cookie-cutter solution for just any business, but instead make this personalized.

You need to spell out what products or services your business will deliver, how you’ll go about providing your solution, and approximately how long it will take to execute.

6. Share your qualifications

An important part of learning how to write a business proposal is learning how to “sell” your products and business solutions, which is what you’ll do in this step.

What makes you more qualified to provide a solution than other businesses? What can your business do that no one else can? What experience do you have? What makes your business trustworthy?

Use this section of your business proposal to showcase why your business is the best choice. It’s a good place to add success stories or reviews from previous clients, and list any awards, certifications or other accreditations that add an air of authority to your business proposal.

7. Add pricing options

Many people learning how to write a business proposal leave this part out because they’re intimidated by discussing prices with clients, or naming their own price.

But it’s an important part of writing a business proposal because your client will read through the rest of it and think “Well gee, that’s great, but how much will it cost me?”.

If you have flat-rate fees for products or services, list them. If your fees are variable, then list the ranges.

Some business proposal writing software gives you the option to add an interactive table so that clients can choose the options they want and it will provide them with pricing based on their choices.

8. Use a conclusion to summarize

This is another important section that many people who are learning how to write a business proposal don’t know about. Summarize and simplify your business proposal.

Go over the bullet points of the problem you’ve identified, the solution you can provide, why you’re qualified to do the job, and various pricing options.

This allows them to easily convey to other people why they want to go with your company, and by the time they get to this section of your business proposal they should want to hire your company.

Finish it off by adding your contact information and availability, which not only allows them to reach out to you once they’ve made the decision to choose your company, but also continues the professional tone of your business proposal.

9. Make your terms and conditions clear

Another thing that many people don’t think of when learning how to write a business proposal is clarifying the terms and conditions of your business. This section should describe things like your pricing, payment schedules, and your estimated project timeline.

This section is important because it gives your potential client a chance to learn about what they’re agreeing to before they sign the dotted line.

10. Add a space for signatures

It’s important that you read this section if you’re learning how to write a business proposal. This section should be more than just a simple signature box.

It should tell your potential client what they’re agreeing to. Just to cover all of your bases, you should add a portion that prompts the client to call you or reach out if they have any questions, or if they aren’t completely clear about the terms of this proposal.

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Extras to add to your business proposal

When learning how to write a business proposal, it’s easy to just stick to the outlines that templates provide. But there are so many other touches that can help you out and make your proposal even better!

Use an outline

This is especially true if you’re learning how to write a business proposal. You need to know what you want to say, how and where, and an outline helps spell all of that out.

For each major section, write what you want to include, as well as important information you don’t want to leave out. This helps you to keep your writing organized and coherent.

Visuals and data

One thing you may not think about when you’re learning how to write a business proposal is adding data and other visuals. Business owners love visual aids!

You can achieve this easily with graphs, or pictures of the types of products or equipment you use. Adding some data or graphs when introducing your business or when going over your qualifications will help to solidify the legitimacy of your company and brand. It’s also just more eye-catching, which is nice.

Include social proof

Of course, if you’re here learning how to write a business proposal, you may not have a business empire with a great reputation. But it’s important to many potential clients to learn what your customers and other businesses think of you.

This is why many people won’t use a business without doing research about them and reading reviews. So, adding some customer reviews to your proposal and some reviews from other businesses that have used your products or services in the past can make potential customers more likely to trust you.

Add video to your business proposal

This is one of the most important extras we’ll provide you in our How to Write a Business Proposal guide. Some document formats, such as PDFs, allow you to add multimedia elements to your file.

This means that you can do things like add a video introduction that introduces you and your business to your potential client, or a detailed project explanation that breaks it down further for clients. You can even add pictures of products or equipment, or videos of how a particular service is executed.

This makes your proposal pop, and it can be an extreme help to neurodivergent people who are audio or visual learners.

Use a clear call-to-action

Many inexperienced entrepreneurs who are learning how to write a business proposal leave out is a clear call-to-action at the end of the proposal.

Without spelling out to your client what they need to do next, your proposal just seems like a bunch of information and your client may have no idea what their next step should be. So, think of a good, precise call-to-action.

Don’t forget add-on or up-sale opportunities

Many people learning how to write a business proposal don’t think about adding their add-on packages or up-sales because it seems awkward or intimidating to them.

But the thing is, you’ll never know if you don’t ask, and your potential clients won’t know about these services and packages if you don’t inform them about them.

It’s a good idea because when they’re talking about your business to people later, even if they don’t take the add-ons, they’re likely to say “they even have/do ____!”.

Add a sense of urgency

This is a great tip for anyone learning how to write a business proposal because it sprinkles in a bit of nuance that indicates years of business experience, even if you don’t actually have that experience. Without a sense of urgency, clients may be slow to act on your proposal.

You can do this by using words like “now” and “today”, as well as making short-term options appealing so that your potential clients will be more enthusiastic about immediately starting a project with you, instead of waiting to complete a massive long-term project they’re putting off.

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How to write a business proposal short and simple

One of the most important bits of advice we can give you while learning how to write a business proposal is to keep it simple. There’s no hard set rule about how long a business proposal should be, but in general your proposal should be concise, not wordy or lengthy.

Don’t add a bunch of filler, and keep your sentences short and sweet. If you want to want to learn how to write a good business proposal, you should keep in mind that your proposal should be something that anyone can understand, and it should be streamlined and straightforward.

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FAQs about How to Write a Business Proposal

What is a business proposal?

If you’re here learning how to write a business proposal, it’s natural to ask what one is. A business proposal is a business document that’s drafted by a business and presented to potential clients in hopes of securing a business deal.

How do I write a business proposal?

Here are some simple steps for how to write a business proposal: 1. Start with a title page, 2. Create a table of contents, 3. Use an executive summary, 4. Define the potential client’s problem or need, 5. Propose a solution, 6. Share your qualifications, 7. Add pricing options, 8. Use a conclusion, 9. Make your terms and conditions clear, 10. Add a space for signatures.

What is a business proposal letter?

If you’re learning how to write a business proposal, it’s likely that you’ve seen the term “business proposal letter”. It’s just another way of saying the same thing, basically.

How long should a business proposal be?

There’s no rule about how long a business proposal should be. That may seem confusing if you’re learning how to write a business proposal, but it can be as long or as short as you need it to be. Some are as short as one page, while others are several.

What are good business proposal templates?

Here’s a great source of business proposal software tools. This software helps you optimize the proposal writing process.

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March 4, 2023
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