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Article
Business Proposals: 5 Steps to Writing a Plan That Showcases Your Services
Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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A business proposal is essentially a pitch to sell your services to a prospective client. It can be a valuable way to gain business.

You'll generally write a business proposal under one of two circumstances: either you receive a request for proposal (RFP), or you send a proposal unsolicited to gain new clients. Now matter what the situation is, your proposal should follow a similar format.

Unlike in the case of a business proposal, you're not trying to sell the idea of your business itself; rather, you're trying to sell specific products or services, instead of gaining funding for your company.

When writing a business proposal, follow these steps:

1. Find information.

If you've received an RFP, read it carefully to make sure you understand everything contained in the letter. It should contain the reason why they need you business proposal and services and the terms, such as a budget and timeline.

Even if you receive a request for proposal, you should still learn everything you can about the prospective client and the project the company needs completed.

2. Consider the scope of the project.

Before you start writing a business proposal, consider what the project will entail. What are the client's needs? Which employees will work on the project? Do you have the resources to complete the job (and if not, how can you get them)? Are their any caveats or risks involved? Why should the potential client use your services and approach?

3. Draft the proposal.

There are some different business proposal formats, but they generally include the same or similar information: title page, table of contents, executive summary, body (introduction, statement of problem, your approach and qualifications, prospective schedule, pricing, and any caveats), conclusion, and appendix.

You can also find plenty of sample business proposals or business proposal templates that allow you to fill in your company's information.

• Title page

The title page should include your name, your company's name, the recipient's name, the recipient's company's name, and the date.

• Table of contents

Add this piece depending on the length of your propsal. It may not be necessary.

• Executive summary

Briefly describe your company and the services you offer. Then, describe the needs of the company to which you're sending your business proposal. Explain your approach to solving the problem, using some detail but not so much that you'll overwhelm your potential client. Describe the qualifications you have to do so. Feel free to brag here—that's how you'll sell your product or service!

Also, outline a schedule for delivery. While this may not be the final or actual schedule, it's a good idea to give your potential client an estimate, so she knows what to expect. Include your financial projections. Again, this is just an estimate.

Outline any caveats. You might, for instance, note that your financial projections are just an estimate. Don't include so many caveats that your client will be wary of using your services, though.

• Conclusion

Summarize your plan and approach. It's also a good idea to include a call to action, such as visiting your website or portfolio to see samples of your company's previous work and roster of clients.

• Appendix

If after writing a business plan you realize you have information that doesn't fit within the proposal letter itself, include an appendix. This might include charts or graphs. You can also include a list of works cited, although you may choose to do that as footnotes or endnotes to the document itself.

4. Revise.

After you write a business proposal, remember to proofread. You'll also want to make sure all your numbers and estimates are as close to accurate as possible. Try to keep your proposal short and to the point, so cut any extraneous information as needed.

5. Send your proposal.

Finally, deliver your business proposal. You may choose to send it by certified mail to ensure delivery, or deliver it in person yourself. It's an important document, and you want to make sure your prospective client receives it!

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