How to write a business proposal
Learning how to write a business proposal is a key skill for business owners who are seeking to grow through new ventures and partnerships. A business proposal is used to provide details of how your business can benefit the potential client. Writing a business proposal can be challenging because you have to strike the balance between promoting your business and providing demonstrable facts. Luckily, there are a number of business proposal templates, samples, and ideas available to assist you with writing a winning business proposal. The steps below will give you tips on how to write a business proposal irrespective of the industry you’re in. The tips can be used to write a retail or restaurant business proposal or for any other business you operate.
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal, which is also referred to as a ‘work proposal’ is different from a business plan. A business plan is a document that sets out business goals. On the other hand, a business proposal is a document that contains an offer to provide a service or a product to a prospective client or buyer.
Business proposals normally fall into two categories:
Solicited – These business proposals are requested by potential clients. Solicited business proposals are normally provided after you’ve made your sales pitch and your potential client has asked for formal details of your offering.
Unsolicited – Business owners send unsolicited business proposals on a speculation basis on the off-chance that the potential client will be interested in their offering.
Business proposals require a lot of time and effort, so it’s advisable that you should focus mainly on solicited work proposals because they have a higher chance of success. However, if you own a restaurant, sending out unsolicited business restaurant proposals may not be as time-consuming. You could send your restaurant business proposal to local companies asking whether they need catering services for special occasions. As the type of food you provide remains the same for each potential client, there’s no need to spend time making countless amendments to personalize your restaurant’s business proposal.
The essential elements of a business proposal
You must be able to articulate your potential client’s pain points in a straightforward and simple way. This will demonstrate that you understand what the potential client needs help with before providing a solution.
As you’ve shown that you understand the client’s problem, you now need to offer a resolution to the issue. The proposed solution should go into detail about how you will solve the potential client’s problems.
This is the section that potential clients will pay the most attention to. If your offering is for a short amount of time or for a small piece of work, a fee summary will work well. However, if you’ll be providing your goods or services over a long period of time, you should use a fee schedule. This includes a comprehensive breakdown of your offering with associated fees.
Including the three elements above in your business proposal could help you to secure more work. For example, if you own a restaurant and plan to grow your business by offering catering services, you’ll need to create a restaurant business proposal to motivate companies to choose your food.
Business Proposal Template
Lucky for you, the team at Visme has 29 business proposal templates ready for you to use. You can easily customize them to fit your business needs.
Business proposal ideas
A business proposal doesn’t necessarily have to follow a set format. Consider business proposal ideas that will make your work proposal stand-out. For example:
Include a checklist – This business proposal idea involves a checklist to enable your potential client to quickly compare your services to your competitors.
Encourage action – The first action you want your potential client to take is to read your proposal. So why not offer a direct prompt – for example, “start reading” or “view quote” – on the cover page of your proposal? This business proposal idea grabs your potential client’s attention and encourages them to read your work proposal.
Use multimedia – To get your business proposal noticed, why not create a personalized video and embed it on the introduction page?
The four steps of writing a business proposal
Business proposals need to be succinct without skimping on important details. A long business proposal will increase the likelihood of it ending up at the bottom of your potential client’s to-do list. To make your proposal as short as possible, include extra information, such as client testimonials in the appendix.
Here are four steps for writing a business proposal:
Before you start to write your business proposal, you should take some time to do background research about the business, the decision-makers and the project. Although you’ll want to submit your business proposal as quickly as possible, skipping the research phase could significantly reduce your chances of being awarded the work. If your proposal is time-sensitive, you can provide details based on limited knowledge and include a stipulation that some aspects of the work proposal may be subject to change. To speed up the work proposal process, take a look at some business proposal examples for inspiration.
Clarifying key pieces of information will help you to write a better business project proposal. Ask yourself the following questions to gain a more thorough understanding of what the work you’re proposing would involve:
Who will be responsible for delivering the goods or services? Will you be doing this yourself or will it be delegated to members of your team?
What will it cost your business to deliver the goods or services?
Where will the work be undertaken? Do you or your team need to be at the client’s site?
How soon would you need to start?
How many milestones will there be?
When will the project come to an end?
When is payment due and how is it made?
What’s involved in the day-to-day carrying out of the business project?
What checkpoints will be in place to determine that the quality of the work is kept to the specified standard?
What’s the main benefit to the potential client and when will these benefits be realized?
Writing brief answers to the above questions will allow you to determine whether you have everything you need to complete the business project. Answering these questions will also provide you with information to include in your business proposal.
You need to work out your costs as soon as possible in order to provide accurate pricing. If you have done similar work previously, it will be easier to establish the pricing. However, if this is a totally new type of project, you’ll have to estimate the costs based on how many people will be required to do the work, your overheads, and your expertise.
After you’ve completed your research and answered the relevant questions, it’s time to start writing your business proposal. If you’ve gone through the research and the Q and A processes and you’re still feeling stuck, you should review some business proposal samples. These samples will give you ideas on what to include in your business proposal. Better Proposals provide similar services to Bidsketch and offer free business proposal samples to help you get started. After you’ve decided on a business proposal format, the following sections should be included:
Introduction – Begin your business proposal document by telling the reader about your business and your mission. This should be done in a way that shows how your business will benefit the potential client. You should include unique facts and accomplishments that differentiate your business from the competition.
Executive summary – The executive summary is used to provide reasons for awarding you the work. It’s a brief statement that highlights the main message you want the reader to take away from your business proposal. Use the executive summary to highlight why your goods or services should be chosen instead of the competition.
Table of contents – If you’re going to write a long business proposal, including a table of contents will make it easier for the reader to jump to sections that are of interest. Ideally, your business proposal should be as short as possible but, in the cases where you need to include a lot of detail, a table of contents will be appropriate.
Body – Use the body of your business proposal to elaborate on the information that you’ve provided in the executive summary. You should make use of the answers to the questions you asked yourself in this section. The body of your business proposal should include details such as logistics, milestones, scheduling, and fees. You can also list the documents that are included in the appendix.
Disclaimers – It’s recommended that you incorporate caveats into your business proposal. Your disclaimer should make your potential client aware that the pricing provided is based on the work listed in the proposal and you reserve the right to charge extra for work outside of this scope.
Conclusion – Sum-up the information you’ve already provided in the conclusion of your business proposal. Use your conclusion as another opportunity to explain why you should be awarded the work. You must include a call to action in your conclusion so that your potential client is clear about the next steps to take if they decide to work with you.
Appendix – The appendix of your business proposal should include supplementary information that will help you to secure the work. Include information such as resumes, customer testimonials, case studies, projection, and graphs.
Writing a business proposal letter
A business proposal letter can be sent on a speculative basis. Due to the fact that the potential client hasn’t requested this information, it makes sense to keep this work proposal letter as short as possible.
The following elements should be included in a business proposal letter:
Format the letter with important details like the date and company address.
Get straight to the point in the opening paragraph. Explain why this company needs your services. You can start by letting your potential customer know how working with you can increase their bottom line or help them to save on costs.
The next paragraph should provide more details about the claims you made in the preceding paragraph. You’ll need to explain how exactly you can make (or save) your potential client money.
Include details about your qualifications. Emphasize the benefits of working with your business and how your work has helped other companies.
Lastly, your call to action should spell out what you’d like your potential client to do next.
When writing a business proposal letter, make it as easy to read as possible. Use short paragraphs and avoid complicated language. Write in simple and clear language that requires minimum effort on the part of the reader.
Business proposal follow-up
Ideally, your business proposal would have impressed your potential client enough for them to get back to you immediately. However, this is rarely the case, so be prepared to contact the potential client after a few days of sending your business proposal to ask whether they have any questions.
Writing business proposals to secure new contracts can be filled with uncertainty because you never know whether your potential client will choose to work with you. However, one area of your business that should run smoothly with no hitches is workforce management. Try Deputy for free and discover how workforce management software can provide everything you need to create accurate and easy scheduling.