What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a request 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.
It is not a business plan.
While you might use your business plan to help inform your business proposal when you’re writing it, these documents are not one and the same.
In its simplest form, a business plan is a guide for your business, a roadmap that outlines goals and details how you plan to achieve those goals. It is used to keep you on track (internal use) and to support any applications you might make when seeking investors, or when applying for commercial loans (external use).
A business proposal on the other hand is used to try to attract and acquire business. It pitches your business, product, or service to a potential client, vendor, or supplier. A client, vendor, or supplier might also request a business proposal from you when trying to evaluate whether or not you’re someone they want to work with, or whether or not you can provide the services or products they require. Write a good proposal and you might snag business; write a poor one, and you may lose out, even if you’re offering the best service out there.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to write a winning business proposal that will hardly get rejected by any organisation, here is how to write a business proposal in Nigeria or anywhere else around the world:
The first step is to carefully study the Request For Proposal (RFP) to ensure you completely understand what is requested of you, before you proceed to write your business proposal.
Step 2: Outline the Scope Of The Project:
Next, outline every step the project will take. Carefully study every angle it is going to come in from and what how you intend to execute it. At this stage, strong project management skills will come in handy. Some things you need to cover are the “who, what, where, how, when, and why.”
- Who: Who will manage the project? Who will do the required work? Who will answer to the customer if a problem arises?
- What: What is required to execute the project? What must be delivered? What are the customer’s expectations? How much will it cost? What will be needed to do it all?
- Where: Where should the job be done? Where should the completed projected be delivered?
- When: When do we start? When will key metrics be made known? When will the job be complete? When should the payment(s) be made?
- How: How will the project be executed? How will it be properly managed? How will the customer be satisfied? How will risks be controlled? How long will the project take? How does the customer benefit from the project?
- Why: Why are we using the approaches we’ve chosen? Why is the customer going with us?
Step 3 – Write your Proposal
Now that you’ve understood the clients needs and are prepared to deliver more value that anyone else, you can now proceed to write your winning business proposal.
Here are the categories detailing how to write a business proposal:
1). Proposal cover
The cover of your proposal is the first thing that your sales lead will see, so it needs to make a good impression. It doesn’t have to be flashy, simple is usually better, but it must be well-designed.
The proposal cover should include all the pertinent information like:
- Name of the project
- Any project reference numbers
- Name of the client and contact to whom you’re submitting
- Name of your company and contact info
- Date proposal was submitted
Here you introduce your company in details. You should highlight your mission statement and what sets your company apart from the rest. You should also determine the length of this section based on the nature of the proposed contract. If it’s a very short-term contract of say, one day, the introduction could be short and precise, but if it’s a business relationship that is to last for many years, you should then put in your all and show how your brand will stand out from the competition.
3). Executive Summary
This highly important part of your business proposal must be treated with top importance. In this section, you should show why your business is the right one for the job and highlight key takeaway points that will not only show how valuable your brand is for their organisation, but also drives a message that will make them think twice about skipping your company.
4). Insert Table Of Contents
If your business proposal is going to be long and contain a lot of contents, creating a table of contents for it is a go. But it is generally advisable to always prepare short business proposals that hit the nail on the head by driving the points directly.
5). Write The body
After introducing your business and getting the readers hooked on your business proposal, the next step is to write the body of the proposal. Here, you’ll answer all the questions that were well answered earlier on in the scope of the project. You’ll also talk about deliverables, pricing, your clients, previously executed projects, and a lot more to show how the job can be carried out and delivered on time.
In this section, you should also state exactly what you can deliver based on the project specifications and what you will not. Ensure to highlight that some form of modifications or complete changes may incur extra charges for the client.
Here is the point you make your final sales pitch. You have to make the reader remember how much value your business is bringing to the table and why they must go with you. You should re-highlight the outstanding projects that you have previously executed and have a call-to-action that would make the client want to either learn more about your business or act immediately.
Although optional, in this section you can include certifications and awards your company has received, your resumés, customer testimonials, some graph projections, and other things that could not directly fit into the body of the business proposal.