How To Write A Good Business Proposal – A Step By Step Guide 2018
Businesses are getting ever more complex by the day, understanding how to write a business proposal is important. This is mainly dictated by the need to comply with so many rules and regulations.
Among these are tax obligations, municipal and city by-laws, anti-money laundering rules, and other laws that govern commerce. This is why how to write a business proposal is by all means necessary.
For a start, a business proposal is simply an official document which is drafted by a business person to solicit for market or work from a prospective buyer or client.
The document may be drafted single-handedly or may be delegated to a third party, usually a company.
Regardless of the person who eventually drafts the proposal, the procedures to be followed are much the same.
Other than the procedures, all business proposals comprise the same structure, formats, and languages.
These form the basis of our subsequent discussions here under on the step by step guide on how to write a business proposal.
We are going to examine the preliminary steps that precede the formulation of such a proposal. We shall thereafter get deeper into discussing the structure of the business proposal in details.
After reading this article you will learn how to write a business proposal that meets all standard.
- How To Write A Business Proposal
- 1. The Preparatory or Preliminary Stage
- a. Obtain the Relevant pieces of Information
- b. Ascertain your Suitability to tackle the Problems
- c. Determine the Appropriate Way Forward
- d. Spell out the Deliverables and Budget
- e. Settle on a suitable Timeline
- 2. The Proposal Structure
- a. Title Page
- b. Cover Letter
- c. Table of Contents
- d. Executive Summary
- e. Services and Methodology
- f. Budget Breakdown
How To Write A Business Proposal
As hinted above, the process of learning how to write a business proposal is mainly split into two stages.
- The preparatory or preliminary stage
- The proposal structure stage.
These stages are identified and explained in details here under
1. The Preparatory or Preliminary Stage
The preliminary stage on how to write a business proposal entails making the appropriate arrangements prior to the drafting of the business stages.
The logic that underlies this is pretty simple. Each business process is unique in its own way. This is because businesses vary from circumstance to circumstance and sector to sector. Moreover, the expectations of a buyer or a client may also vary markedly.
To avoid coming up with an irrelevant document, it is necessary to get to know the unique requirements of the specific business which you want to sell.
This can only happen if you take your time to study the specific businesses whose services you wish to leverage.
We have identified the major steps to factor while working this out. We are also going to exhaust them in the proceeding discussions.
a. Obtain the Relevant pieces of Information
Start off by finding the relevant pieces of information concerning that particular business venture. As noted, businesses vary from sector to sector, locale to locale, and environment to environment. You thus cannot just afford to employ a generalized approach at all.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the various merchandises that the business of choice deals in?
- How long does the business contract last?
- What are the various legal requirements or statutes that govern the sale and supply of those particular products?
- What are the various tools-of-trade that are necessary for the job to be done?
- How about the cost implications?
By finding appropriate and exact answers to these questions, you will get to know exactly what you ought to include in the business proposal. This will also help you to get straight and to the point to avoid being irrelevant.
b. Ascertain your Suitability to tackle the Problems
After you have understood the nature of the problem and the business venture, you now have to ascertain your own suitability to tackle those problems.
This is to avoid a scenario whereby the business may entrust you with the task only for you to let it down.
To do this, ask yourself the following pertinent questions:
- Do I have the relevant tools and professional expertise required to accomplish the tasks?
- Am I conversant with the prevailing legal requirements that govern the particular trades?
- Can I beat the deadlines that have been set forth?
This step will also negate the likelihood of lying to your prospective buyers and clients whether deliberately or by accident.
It will also see to it that your targeted audience obtains as accurate a picture of who you are as possible. This will prevent them from expecting too much out of you than what you can probably deliver.
c. Determine the Appropriate Way Forward
Now that you know what is expected of you and have already ascertained your own suitability for the job, you should now determine the most suitable way forward.
To put it in another way, you have to find out the best possible steps or procedures to follow to accomplish the laid down tasks and purposes.
This generally entails formulating a strategic master plan, setting the most suitable time-frame or breakdown of the entire project, and the costs that each stage of the project costs.
This formulation also acts as the standard or the basis upon which you will engage the client or the buyer in all your future endeavors.
At this stage, you will also get to identify any issues that may potentially prevent you from achieving the stated goals or hitting the set deadlines.
This way, you will also get to put in place substantive intervention mechanisms that may ward off such issues altogether.
d. Spell out the Deliverables and Budget
The budgeting process is the crux of any business undertaking. This is because financial transactions are the core of each business.
Before giving a proposal thumbs up or way forward, the targeted client or buyer will usually want to understand the financial implications of the business venture on the whole.
At this stage, you will want to first and foremost come up with a precise cost of the project. You will thereafter have to go deeper and break down the entire budget.
The aim here is to furnish the client or the buyer with as accurate a picture of the project as possible.
You will have to match the specific project or deliverable with the corresponding cost. This is to dispel any doubts that the buyer might have.
It is also to seal any loopholes which those who are entrusted with the task of executing the project may take advantage of and steal money.
e. Settle on a suitable Timeline
Lastly, you have now to settle on an appropriate timetable. This is basically a breakdown of the specific duration in which each aspect of the project will be performed.
It is also to set out the timelines within which each of these aspects of the project shall be fulfilled.
Just the like the budget breakdown, the timetable also serves the role of dispelling any doubts which the buyer or client may have.
It also goes a long way in instilling a sense of confidence on the part of the said persons. The timetable also gives you a framework or guide that acts as a blueprint.
It helps you in getting organized and also making the appropriate arrangements to have the job completed in time. This is not to mention also that the timeline prevents you from forgetting any stage of the journey or overlooking certain aspects of the project.
2. The Proposal Structure
The second and by far the most crucial stage of learning how to write a business proposal are to settle on the structure.
As stated earlier, businesses vary from location to location and sector to sector. As such, even their structures will also vary accordingly.
However, regardless of the differences in the sector or background, all business proposals display common structural breakdowns.
The following are the basic structures and breakdowns that the typical business proposal embodies:
a. Title Page
This is a page that is wholly dedicated to the title of the proposal. The title is just that, the title. It is a brief overview of the entire project. It gives an executive summary of what the entire business entails.
For a title to elicit the reaction that is required, it has to be simple, direct to the point, and eye-catchy.
A person who reads the title has to get to know the finer details of what the entire project entails and what is generally to be anticipated from it.
b. Cover Letter
Cover or a foreword is a brief summary of the entire business proposal. It basically spells out the aim of the proposal, the various parts of the proposal, and the key themes of the finer details.
The cover letter is usually the first part of the proposal that the client or potential buyer looks at. By looking at the cover letter, the targeted persons will often get to quickly grasp the overall gist of the letter.
This cover letter has to be brief, concise, and direct to the point. It should dispel any ambiguities that a targeted client or buyer might have. It should also be comprehensive enough as not to leave out any issues untouched.
c. Table of Contents
This is a list of all the topics, and subtopics to be covered as well as their corresponding page numbers. The table contents are navigational aids. They let the readers to easily skim the literature and locate their points of interests with ease.
While drafting the contents, take great care not to mix up the topics and the page numbers. Be sure that there is an utmost consistency to ward off any misconceptions that may often arise in the process of perusing the pages.
d. Executive Summary
The executive summary is the exact opposite of the cover letter. It differs from the latter in two regards. For one, it is placed at the end of the main body of the business proposal whereas the cover letter comes at the beginning.
Secondly, summarizes the literature that is mainly contained in the main body of the proposal. The cover letter, on the other hand, gives a rough overview of what is about to be discussed.
Just like the cover letter, the executive summary also ought to be brief, concise and to the point. It must not possess an overly verbose language and should be simple to comprehend.
It should similarly be comprehensive in nature to see to it that each aspect of the proposal is well taken care of.
e. Services and Methodology
The proposal has to spell out the services that are going to be delivered to the said clients and buyers. This should generally be in the form of a breakdown.
This breakdown has to be accompanied by the corresponding prices and delivery timelines. It should also spell out the exact steps and procedures you will take to deliver those services.
This is the most important segment of the business proposal. It is the one that contains the bulk of the entire document.
The segment is also the one that furnishes the readers with the necessary pieces of information that make all the difference.
In light of this, plenty of attention and effort has to be paid to this segment of the proposal. The language used here has to be light and easy to read.
Take care to break down longer sentences into smaller ones to prevent the reader from getting lost along the way.
Needless to say, the segment of the proposal has to be very detailed. This is to eliminate any ambiguities, give the buyer or the client a complete picture of what is required of him, and to leave no aspect of the proposal or business untouched.
f. Budget Breakdown
Lastly, the business proposal has to comprise a budget breakdown. This is basically a rough estimate of the entire cost of the business plus a breakdown of the costs of each constituent aspect thereof.
It is the second most significant component of the business proposal.
While at it, be sure to be detailed, accurate, and comprehensive. The manner in which you handle this process has a lot to do with the likelihood that the proposal shall sail through or not.
Do the mathematics very well and be sure to counter-check the figures to see to it that they add up.
As you may well have already noted, knowing how to write a business proposal is much more complicated and demanding than it may probably seem.
This stems mainly from the fact that you have to factor in several considerations.
Because you may not ordinarily possess the skills needed to do the job, you are strongly urged to seek the intervention of a trained and highly qualified expert. Let the person take over the process and guide you along the way.
All the best as you prepare to draft your next business proposal!