How To Write a Business Proposal

Two men shaking hands in the background.

Use These Strategies To Write A Business Proposal The Works

Learning how to write a business proposal is one step towards getting more business for your company. Though, this document does more than persuading new clients. It can also help you secure projects with other organizations and acquire partnerships with businesses that align with your mission.

What To Expect in This Article

In this article, we will take you through the meaning and types of business proposals. We will then dive into writing an engaging and well-structured proposal to ensure you don’t miss out on potential new clients, projects, or partnership opportunities.

Business Proposal Meaning

A business proposal is a written document sent to another company or potential customer in the hope of securing a project or getting a business agreement. This document is often used in the service industry and B2B sector. Think of it as a sales document that offers products or services to your leads.

The purpose of a business proposal is to seek new customers for your company. Although, there are companies that use this document to get partnerships. A proposal whose purpose is to seek partnerships can also be called a business partnership proposal.

The Difference Between a Business Proposal and a Business Plan

Two people working in an office.It’s easy to confuse a business proposal with a business plan. However, these two documents are different in terms of structure, content, and purpose.

A business plan is a written document that highlights a company’s mission, objectives, financial projections, and growth strategy. Business plans can be for both internal and external use.

An internal business plan aims to provide a roadmap for how the company will achieve its goals. Companies can also use it to seek funding from investors and financial institutions. Business plans provide a comprehensive summary of what the company is about and what problem it solves.

Business proposals are for external use. They are addressed to potential customers or companies you are targeting for a partnership. They contain a brief description of your company, services, and products it offers, billing and pricing information, and so forth.

Types of Business Proposals

There are three types of business proposals. They include:

  • Formally solicited proposals
  • Informally solicited proposals
  • Unsolicited proposals.

Next, let’s have a brief look at each.

Formally Solicited Proposal

A formally solicited proposal is offered upon a formal request by a potential customer.

When a company or organization wants to outsource a service or hire a business to solve a problem, they may issue an RFP (Request for Proposal).

The RFP document highlights the scope and specifics of the project and invites service providers and vendors to bid for it.

Businesses interested in the job will prepare and send a business proposal to show they understand the project and are the best solution.

You can think of this document as a cover letter addressed by one business to another. You can create a formally solicited proposal upon request from the potential client.

Informally Solicited Business Proposal

An informally solicited proposal is sent upon an informal request from a potential client. For example, say you are at a conference. You have a conversation with a prospective buyer of your product or service.

The buyer may casually tell you to send a business proposal. In this case, you will be drafting an informally solicited business proposal.

This type of proposal may require you to research the client since you don’t have any information about them.

Unsolicited Business Proposals

An unsolicited business proposal is sent without any request from a lead. As a result, this document is often generic, and it highlights the products and services offered by the company and why you should work with them.

How To Write a Business Proposal

Before drafting your business proposal:

  1. Research, the company you’re targeting.
  2. Read the RFP document thoroughly if they sent one.
  3. Ensure you understand the project or problem the company wants to solve.

If possible, you can set up a meeting or a call with the client to get an idea of their requirements for the project. We can now get into the structure itself.

Next are the elements to include in your business proposal.

Create Your Title Page

The title page is the first thing the customer sees when reviewing the document. Try and make it concise, readable, and neatly designed. Your title page should contain the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your company’s name
  • The title of your business proposal
  • Date of writing
  • The name and business name of the prospective client.

You can also add your company’s logo to a small section of the title page. Finally, don’t be afraid to include a cover photo that tells a story about your business and your products and services.

Write a Table of Contents

Two men looking at a business proposal.Next up, create a neatly organized table of contents to make the sections on your proposal more accessible and readable. The table of contents will also give the reader an overview of the information covered in the proposal.

Your potential clients probably don’t have the time to go through an entire business proposal in one sitting. The table of contents will allow them to access and read through the parts they believe are crucial. You can also add a hyperlink to for section to make navigation easier for the reader.

Draft an Executive Summary

The executive summary sets the mood and paves the way for the rest of the business proposal.

If the client is bored or unimpressed with the executive summary, they may not continue reading the rest of the document. With that in mind, it’s best to make it short, concise, and easy to understand.

Write the executive summary in a way that details what your company does and your proposal for the client. Doing this will give them an idea of how you can help them even if they don’t read the whole document.

The objectives of your executive summary should be to:

  • Introduce your business to the client
  • Outline, in brief, the pros of your products and services
  • Explain why you are sending the proposal
  • Highlight briefly how your business can help solve the reader’s problem.

Raise the Problem You Seek To Address

This part is where you outline the prospective client’s needs or problems. Again, be as concise as possible. A well-written problem statement shows the reader that you understand what they do and the challenges they face.

If they sent you an RFP document, go through it again to understand their needs.

If they did not send one, do some research to catch sight of the problems they might be facing.

Propose Your Solution

Once you state the problem, show the potential client how you can solve it. Provide timeframes and deliverables and try to customize the solution to their needs.

You can also mention the company by name to show you’ve made this solution for them. A good tip would be to tabulate the solution or write it in point form to ensure the reader understands it easily.

Mention Your Qualifications

By this point, you may have convinced the prospect that you can solve their problems. But why should they choose you and not somebody else? Use the qualifications section to show the client why you are the right partner for the job.

You can mention the expertise of your team and your years of experience. Don’t forget to include your accreditations and awards and attach any relevant case studies. Sharing your qualifications will enable the prospect to gain more trust in your ability to fulfill their needs.

Provide Your Pricing Information

Structure your pricing information in a way that’s clear and easy to understand.

You can use a table or point format. Avoid paragraphs and huge blocks of text. Instead, split your pricing into each project stage to show the client how it all adds up.

For example, if you propose to design an e-commerce website for your client, you can break up the pricing like the following:

  • Domain registration – $10
  • Website hosting – $100
  • Backend Development -$500
  • Frontend Development – $500
  • Integration to an e-commerce platform – $200
  • Launch and 6-months maintenance – $200
  • Total – $1510.

Set Your Project Timelines and Other Terms and Conditions

Outline the project schedule and timeline in this section. The best way to highlight your project deliverables is using a table or flow chart.

You can also use an infographic if the project is long or has many deliverables.

Let’s look at a quick example of how you can structure your project timeline. We’ll use the e-commerce website project example again so that you can present your schedule like the following:

  • Creative Brief – Week 1 and 2
  • Content outline and site map – Week 2 to 4
  • Wireframes and mockups – Week 4 to 8
  • Integration and prototype – Week 8 to 10
  • Launch – Week 12.

The project timeline demonstrates the timeframe in which you plan to solve the client’s needs. You can also include your terms and conditions in this section if you have any.

Include a Call to Action or Space for Signatures

Finalize your business proposal with space for signatures or a call to action leading to your products or services. Don’t forget to include your contact information for the reader to reach out if they have any questions.

How To Make Your Business Proposals More Engaging

Now you know how to write a business proposal from start to finish. Next up, we will provide you with a few tips to help make the proposal more appealing for the client.

Make It Visual

Three people having a decision in an office.To make the document more appealing, use photos that tell the story of your company.

Images will give the reader a visual break and help them absorb the content. Use relevant imagery, like photos of your team, screenshots of your website or app, and marketing materials.

Photos will make you look more authentic, which will help you gain more trust from the prospective customer.

Less Is More

Your goal should be to outline the business proposal clearly without using too many words.

Keep your paragraphs and sentences short and concise. Where necessary, use tables and bullet points to break up the text. Lastly, avoid writing too much information on a single page.

Keep It Simple

Make sure to keep your proposal simple and easy to understand. Avoid complicated terms and messy charts or graphs. Always include a definition or explanation for any phrasing you think the reader might not understand.

Inject a Little Personality

Don’t be afraid to add a little personality to your business proposal. It doesn’t have to be plain and dull.

Add some humor where necessary and maybe a captivating story of how your company started. Injecting character into the proposal will enable the prospective client to trust you more.

Issues To Avoid When Creating and Presenting Your Business Proposal

There’s nothing more frustrating than investing a large amount of time and effort into a proposal to have it rejected or ignored. So here are some common issues to avoid.

Lack of Focus

Your proposal can be great, but the potential client will still dismiss it if you don’t properly address their needs.

If they fail to grasp the solutions you’re providing, it just creates room for another business to get their attention and seal the deal.

Unrealistic Timelines

Your project timeline doesn’t have to be set in stone. Still, it should be an accurate estimation of how and when you plan to finish the project. Be realistic.

Don’t promise that you will complete the job in, say, two months when it usually takes five or six.

Grammar Mistakes

This one is a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. First, avoid obvious grammar errors that you could have captured when editing.

If the prospect notices too many grammar and punctuation mistakes, they may think your company is not thorough enough. Second, before you send the business proposal, read through it carefully and get someone else to have a look just in case.

Excessive Length

The length of a business proposal depends on the complexity of the project. Avoid making it longer than necessary.

You’d rather have a 5-page document that is readable and concise than a 30-page one, filled with jargon and unnecessary information.

Closing Remarks

Two men shaking hands while looking at a document.

Writing a business proposal is a skill that every entrepreneur and business owner ought to have.

There are three main types of this document – unsolicited, formally solicited, and informally solicited business proposals.

When writing a business proposal, try and make it short and to the point. You can also use visuals to make it more appealing to read. Avoid hard words and unnecessary jargon.

Remember that simplicity is always better. So stick to these simple rules to make your proposals stand out and maximize your chances of winning new clients.


Business Proposal Examples

You can gain a broader understanding of business proposals by looking at examples. Depending on your learning style, a visual can be helpful. For me, examples are one of the best ways to grasp a quick overview of a topic or process because I’m more of a visual learner.

See the latest Google search results for Business Proposal Examples.

Business Proposal Template

A template is a good way to get started, save time, and help you avoid missing any important parts.

You can use a template to structure your proposal. Keep in mind thousands of people could be using the same template. So you want to make sure yours is unique.

See the latest Google search results for business proposal templates available today.

Examples of Business Proposal Letters

If you want to gain ideas for a proposal letter that you send out to your clients, see the latest Google search results for Sample Business Proposal Letters. You may come across some great ideas to spark your creativity by going through the samples you find.

Also, look at the latest results for business proposal letter templates to download and modify a template you can use to create a unique letter for your business.

PowerPoint Business Proposal Templates

You may be presenting your business proposal as a presentation. In that case, you may want to download a PowerPoint template that you can use to structure your presentation and update the design to match your corporate ID.

To find a Powerpoint template that may work for you, see the latest Google search results.