How to Write a Business Proposal: A Basic Guide

Use These Tips to Wow Your Clients

Businesswoman giving presentation in meeting
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Having a good business proposal is essential if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. But just what is such a proposal? In a nutshell, it is an offer that outlines what you can do for your prospect and why you can do it better than anyone else. It's a critical step in the sales process.

The proposal you write must be clear and compelling. If you don't do this right, there's no chance of a "yes." Use the tips that follow to write a killer business proposal for your clients.

The 3 Basic Sections of a Business Proposal

Your business proposal needs to be written in a way that makes it worthy of your client's attention. To do so, the plan should indicate how it will solve your client's most vexing problems. You need to clearly understand the issues your clients are facing and why they should do business with you.

Accordingly, there are three basic sections you should always address when writing a business proposal:

  1. Your client's need
  2. Your solution
  3. Administration

Here's a deeper look at each section.

Your Client's Need
The most common mistake business proposal writers make is failing to understand the client’s business, industry or challenges in the industry. Given this, you should include the following questions in the first section of your business proposal:

  • What is the greatest challenge this industry is facing?
  • What is the current challenge this business is facing?

By this point, you should have also gathered answers from your client to the following key questions:

  • When did they first determine this business problem existed?
  • What have they done in the past to address this issue, and what was the outcome?
  • What areas of their company are affected, and are they able to quantify the need?
  • What is the best outcome they wish to achieve with this project?
  • When do they want this project completed?
  • Do they have a set budget for this project?

Your Solution
Carefully, clearly and compellingly, your business proposal must address:

  • Your depth of understanding of the need. Relevant industry research and benchmarks may be included. Do you have a case study or comparable experience with similar companies? If so, what were the results?
  • How you will go about addressing the need. Be detailed. Include the steps in the process and the value of each step.
  • The potential results you will be able to deliver and their impact on the needs outlined in section one.
  • Why you can do the best job, which may include the benefits of doing business with you.

    To wrap up your business proposal, you'll need to address the administrative aspects of your proposed plan, including:

    • Preliminary timeline and milestones
    • Budget
    • Terms and Conditions

    Hints for Writing a Killer Business Proposal

    In addition to addressing each of the three basic sections, be sure also to do the following: 

    • Think about how your client expresses their need and use the words or phrases they use.
    • Consider any cultural or emotional issues that may be in the way of comprehension.
    • Short, simple sentences are best understood. No long, complex paragraphs and no jargon.
    • Use visuals, including charts and graphs, to help the client understand your point.
    • Get it proofread. Grammatical errors, misspellings, etc. undermine your seriousness.

    Before you hand this business proposal to your client, take a few deep breaths and remember they are seriously interested in what your business can offer. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to submit this business proposal.