How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]

Meredith Hart

Published: December 05, 2023

Here's what every new business owner needs: an extra 8 hours in the day, an endless supply of coffee, and, most importantly, a really strong business proposal.

how to write a business proposal: image shows a person holding a pen and another person typing on a laptop

A business proposal can bridge the gap between you and potential clients. Done correctly, and it will outline your value proposition and persuade a company or organization to do business with you.

Here, we'll take a look at the various kinds of business proposals and go over how to write one. We’ll also see some ideas and examples to help guide yours.

Know exactly what you need? Jump to one of the following sections:

What is a business proposal?

Types of business proposals, how to write a business proposal, business proposal templates, business proposal example, tips for writing a business proposal, business proposal ideas.

A business proposal is a formal document that’s created by a company and given to a prospect to secure a business agreement.

It's a common misconception that business proposals and business plans are the same. However, a proposal helps you sell your product or service — not your business itself.

Think of it this way: instead of assisting your search for investors to fund your business, a proposal helps you seek new customers.

Follow Along With HubSpot's Business Proposal Template

business-proposal

Download the Template for Free

There are two types of business proposals: unsolicited and solicited.

  • Unsolicited Business Proposals : With unsolicited business proposals, you approach a potential customer with a proposal, even if they don't request one, to gain their business.
  • Solicited Business Proposals : Solicited business proposals are requested by prospective clients so that they can decide whether to do business with your company.

In a solicited business proposal, the other organization asks for a request for proposal (RFP). When a company needs a problem solved, they invite other businesses to submit a proposal that details how they'd solve it.

how should a business proposal look

Free Business Proposal Template

Propose your business as the ideal solution using our Free Business Proposal Templates

  • Problem summary
  • Proposed solution
  • Pricing information
  • Project timeline

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your template.

Whether the proposal is solicited or unsolicited, the steps to create your proposal are similar. Make sure it includes three main points:

  • A statement of the organization's problem
  • Begin with a title page.
  • Explain your why with an executive summary.
  • State the problem or need.
  • Propose a solution.
  • Share your qualifications.
  • Include pricing options.
  • Summarize with a conclusion.

Before writing your business proposal, it's crucial you understand the company. If they've sent you an RFP, make sure you read it carefully, so you know exactly what they want.

I recommend having an initial call or meeting with any new clients to ensure you fully understand their objectives. Ask open-ended questions to understand not just what they want, but why they want it.

Once you've done your research, it's time to begin writing your business proposal. While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, there's several elements most proposals include. (I designed this example business proposal using Canva .)

1. Begin with a title page.

You have to convey some basic information here. Introduce yourself and your business. Be sure to include:

  • Your company's name
  • The date you submitted the proposal
  • The name of the client or individual you're submitting the proposal to

Your title page should reconcile engagement with professionalism. I think of it as your first tone-setter, so you need to make sure yours is sleek, aesthetically appealing, and not too "out there."

Here's an example of what a business proposal template looks like when done right:

How to Write a Business Proposal: Business Proposal Example Title Page

The executive summary details exactly why you're sending the proposal and why your solution is the best for the prospective client.

Specificity is key here. Why are you the best choice for them?

Like a value proposition, your executive summary outlines the benefits of your company's products or services and how they can solve your potential client's problem.

After reading your executive summary, the prospect should offer a clear idea of how you can help them, even if they don't read the entire proposal. Here's what one should look like:

How to Write a Business Proposal: Sample Executive Summary

3. State the problem or need.

This is where you share a summary of the issue impacting the potential client. This is your opportunity to show them you understand their needs and the problem they need help solving.

How to Write a Business Proposal: Example Event Overview

In the example above, I included several signals to showcase my expertise – that I've been in the photography biz for 10 years, that I've worked with over 500 clients, and that I've been featured a number of publications. 

As you approach this section, focus on presenting yourself as an authority. Consider leveraging tools like:

  • Case studies
  • Client testimonials
  • Relevant awards
  • Industry accreditations

6. Include pricing options.

Pricing is where things can get a bit tricky, as you don't want to under or over-price your product.

How to write a business proposal: Include Pricing Options

The pricing section of your proposal could include:

  • A detailed pricing breakdown, including packages, tiers, and add-ons or optional services
  • How product features and benefits align with pricing choices
  • Pricing for different needs and budgets
  • How your pricing compares with competitors
  • An FAQ section to respond to anticipated objections and explain your pricing strategy

7. Summarize with a conclusion.

After sharing the above information, simplify it all into one final section.

  • First, briefly summarize the proposal. Be sure to share your qualifications and why you’d serve as the best choice.
  • Then, to prompt further conversation, confirm your availability to go over the next steps.
  • At the end of the proposal, the goal is to have the client ready to work with you. So, be sure to offer your contact information for easy follow-up.

In need of some inspiration before you begin writing? Here are example business proposal templates from popular business proposal software companies you can use to help create your proposal.

1. HubSpot's Free Business Plan Templates

HubSpot Business Proposal Template

Download these Templates

We know how crucial a great business proposal is to your and your client’s success. That's why we've compiled 2 Free Business Proposal Templates for you to use and customize for any of your projects.

You'll gain access to a concise, one-page template (pictured above), as well as a longer template for you to refine your plan and proposal.

Download the templates now to get started on building your proposal.

What We Like

The one-page template is clear, straightforward, and easy to read — without skipping on the key elements of a business proposal. This format is especially useful for busy clients who appreciate brevity and clarity.

2. Web Design Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Web Design

With advertising on social networks projected to reach $82.23 billion dollars in 2025 , it's in your business's best interest to have a plan for growing your client's social media presence.

To help you in that effort, the information in this social media marketing proposal includes an executive summary to help introduce your high-level ideas, an assessment of the client’s company to show your diligence, and a breakdown of billing to show how your company charges for posting, content creation, and analytics.

This template includes all the bells and whistles of a social media proposal packaged in a fun yet professional design. It also includes helpful writing instructions under each section.

8. Content Marketing Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Content Marketing

Business proposal templates are helpful places to get started, but what should your business proposal look like when it's complete? This template should inspire you.

When pitching your content marketing services to clients, this template can help you organize your ideas. While it walks you through initial objectives and how to communicate your prospected results, one of the most helpful parts of this template is the pricing ideas it gives you when charging for your services.

In the business template example below, Social Portal Consulting (SPC) pitches a marketing proposal to Graphic Bean. At first sight, this proposal appeals to the creative. I recommend going a step forward and designing the layout in your or your client’s brand colors.

Business Proposal Example: Social Media

Besides the design, the social media icons quickly tell the prospect what platforms Social Portal is pitching. Because we see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest icons, the client instantly knows that this proposal doesn’t include LinkedIn, YouTube, or other platforms.

While maintaining its design, this example outlines Social Portal Consulting’s plans efficiently. It begins by providing insight into Graphic Bean and its goals before elaborating on how SPC can leverage its expertise to help them achieve them.

This business proposal template includes an easy-to-follow timeframe for goals and objectives while keeping the client abreast of how payment will happen across the project.

Overall, this is an excellent example of how to combine the elements of social media marketing into a creative and concise business proposal. Finally, we'll leave you with some business proposal ideas to get you started on your own.

  • Start with an outline.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Stay on brand.
  • Quality control.
  • Include data and visuals.
  • Add social proof.
  • Use a call-to-action.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Make the decision for them.
  • Incorporate video into your proposal.
  • Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.
  • Clarify your terms and conditions.
  • Include a space for signatures to document agreement.
  • Create a table of contents.

1. Start with an outline.

If you want to produce a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to have some idea of what you're hoping to achieve with it.

Before I dive into writing a proposal, I always outline the major sections of the proposal that I want to include. That way, I can stay focused and make sure my message stays intact as I write.

Use these free business proposal templates to make sure that your outline includes everything you need.

2. Keep it simple.

Ultimately, there's no definitive blueprint for how long a business proposal has to be. Yours should be however long it takes to convey the information you want to get across.

That said, I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity, especially when it comes to business proposals. Keep your sentences short and simple, and avoid including too much business jargon.

You want anyone who picks up your proposal to make sense of it. So, be straightforward and don't get too fancy. Aim for substance over flash.

3. Stay on brand.

Don't be afraid to let your company's personality shine through in your proposal. Stay true to your brand and show the client what sets you apart from your competitors.

4. Quality control.

I've made it a habit to add an editing/QA step in my writing process. During this step, I do a quick spelling and grammar check before hitting send.

So, as you draft your proposal, and after checking for the basics, keep scanning this document until it's just right.

Check to make sure your proposal:

  • Meets client needs and expectations
  • Highlights your value proposition
  • Is well-structured and easy to read or skim
  • Complies with legal, ethical, and regulatory requirements
  • Looks professional and engaging

5. Include data and visuals.

You want your business proposal to capture your prospect's attention and help set you apart from any other ones they might have received. One of the best ways to do that is to include hard, quantitative data that helps stress the value of your business.

Use relevant, compelling figures that highlight what you have to offer. This can establish authority and make your proposal more convincing. It also helps to include visuals such as charts and graphs to enhance your proposal.

6. Add social proof.

From my experience, you can only be so convincing when you're personally talking up how great your business is — which is why adding social proof is key to establishing credibility.

At the end of the day, prospects are skeptical. They may not take you at your word. But they'll likely trust peers and fellow customers. That's why including elements like customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.

7. Use a call-to-action.

I've learned that the best proposal in the world can only take you so far if you don't clearly define the next steps. That's why you have to make sure the reader knows what to do after reading your proposal.

A clear call-to-action is the best way to get there.

Define and highlight exactly what they should do to act on the interest your proposal has generated. Without that guidance, you might leave your reader in limbo.

HubSpot customers : Use this CTA builder to create powerful customized CTAs.

8. Create a sense of urgency.

No one wants to feel as if they missed out on a great opportunity. From my experience, prospect tend to drag their feet and put off making a decision if there isn't a sense of urgency.

So, as you create your business proposal, your goal should be to add a degree of urgency. When prospective clients read your business proposal they should feel that the best time to sign up for your service is now .

One way I accomplish this is by stating short and long-term goals for their business. They'll have to wait for the long-term goals, but I make the short-term goals so enticing that they'll be ready to begin a collaboration.

9. Make the decision for them.

Craft your copy in a way that seems like saying "no" to the proposal would be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Your offer should go above and beyond their expectations. Do everything in your power to remove friction and objections along the way.

10. Incorporate video into your proposal.

If you're creating an online proposal using document file formats like PDF, add multimedia elements. This will enhance the proposal experience, make your document richer, and keep them engaged.

Try adding a video at the beginning as an intro to your proposal. Or, put a video in the project breakdown to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts.

Extras like this can make an impression. This tip works especially well with prospects who are visual or auditory communicators.

Pro tip : HubSpot Video makes it easy to record and embed video into a website or email for a big proposal boost.

11. Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.

They say you won't receive unless you ask. And readers won't explore the upper tiers of your solutions if you don't give them the opportunity.

So, share some upsells and add-ons about your business that they can act on. Call out a specific pain point and how this extra can add value.

With this step, balance is important. Show them everything your business has to offer without overwhelming your recipient.

12. Clarify your terms and conditions.

Your business proposal should include details on your project timeline and payment schedule. This summary is basically what you and the client agree to if they accept your proposal.

How to write a business proposal: Example Terms and Conditions

Don't forget to share this post!

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Blog Business How to Write Business Proposal (Examples + Free Templates)

How to Write Business Proposal (Examples + Free Templates)

Written by: Aditya Sheth Jan 25, 2024

How to Write Winning Business Proposals

The great Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” If a business doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make money and by extension the business fails. That’s why you need to write business proposals .

A well-written business proposal can often mean the difference between winning or losing a prospective client.

In this in-depth guide to creating business proposals, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals — all by using easy-to-edit professional business proposal templates .

Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):

What is a business proposal, what are the components of a business proposal.

  • How to write a business proposal step by step

What should you include in a business proposal?

What are the types of business proposals, more business proposal examples + writing and design tips.

  • FAQs about business proposals

Looking for a shortcut? Watch this quick video for an overview of everything to include in your business proposal:

A business proposal is a document designed to outline a business plan to convince potential client, investor or partner to engage in a business agreement with you or your company. It’s basically a sales pitch in writing to persuade potential clients to show them benefits of working with you or your company for their business success.

A business proposal outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client . It can be general like this business proposal example:

general business proposal template

Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:

simple business proposal project proposal template

Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:

social media marketing business proposal template

To design a business proposal that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points . Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.

Working on a new project? These project proposal examples might come in handy for you.

The components of a business proposal can change depending on the field, company size and client needs. While details may differ, strong proposals typically introduce your company, explain the problem, offer a solution and its benefits, highlight your team’s skills, and outline timeline, cost and next steps.

How to write a business proposal step by step

Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to understand the business proposal format. At a high level, your effective business proposal should include the following:

  • Create a compelling business proposal title
  • Build a table of contents
  • Craft the executive summary
  • Write a detailed problem statement
  • Propose your solutions
  • Showcase your team’s expertise
  • Create a realistic timeline
  • Present your payment structure
  • Specify the terms and conditions
  • Receiving the decision

Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.

1. Create a compelling business proposal title

A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring it in favor of a competitor’s . 

What makes a good title page? Here are the essential elements to include: 

  • Your name along with your company’s name
  • The name of the prospect (or their business) 
  • The date you’re submitting the proposal

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template Cover Page_Venngage

The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know. The title also offers a strong tangible benefit to the prospective buyer. Honestly, “Who doesn’t want to grow their business?”

2. Build a table of contents

The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes your proposal scannable and easy to read.

The people you will be pitching to are usually C-level executives. These are busy people who don’t have time to read your entire proposal in one go.

That’s why most of the business proposal examples in this list include a table of contents.

Adding a table of contents to your document makes it easy for them to go through it at their own pace. They can also skim through parts of the proposal that they deem more important. You can see how this abstract business proposal template uses the table of contents:

Creative Social Media Business Proposal Template Table of Contents

You can also make your business proposal template easier to navigate by adding hyperlinks to the document, particularly in the table of contents. This way your clients can jump to specific sections without having to scroll through the entire document. Ensuring your business plan format follows a clear structure can greatly enhance readability and comprehension for potential investors or partners.

It’s easy to add hyperlinks in the Venngage editor. Select the text you’d like to turn into a link, then click the link icon in the top bar. From there, select the page you want to link to! Then download your completed design as an Interactive PDF .

Proposal-ToC-Example

3. Craft the executive summary

The executive summary is a staple in all kinds of annual reports , leadership development plan , project plans and even marketing plans . It is a concise summary of the entire contents of your document. In other words, write a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over and that highlights your value proposition.

The goals of your executive summary are:

  • Introduce your company to your buyer
  • Provide an overview of your company goals
  • Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
  • Include any other relevant details

This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with:

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template About Us

Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go. This sets the right tone for the rest of your proposal. It also gives your buyer a reason to continue reading your proposal.

Crafting an executive summary and keeping it concise and compelling can be challenging. but you can use an AI summarizer online to generate an executive summary. Such tools are trained on relevant AI models that can extract core points from a given text. You can get such a point either in bullet form or in abstract summary form.

Pro Tip: Try to write an executive summary such that, even if your prospective client doesn’t read the entire proposal (with a good executive summary, they most likely will), they should have a clear idea about what your company does and how you can help them.

4. Write a detailed problem statement

The point of writing a business proposal is to solve a buyer’s problem. Your goal is to outline the problem statement as clearly as possible. This develops a sense of urgency in your prospect. They will want to find a solution to the problem. And you have that solution.

 A well-defined problem statement does two things: 

  • It shows the prospect you have done your homework instead of sending a generic pitch
  • It creates an opportunity for you to point out a problem your prospect might not be aware they had in the first place. 

Texture Business Proposal Template

This bold business proposal template above clearly outlines the problem at hand and also offers a ray of hope i.e. how you can solve your prospect’s problem. This brings me to… 

5. P ropose your solutions

The good stuff. In the proposed solution section, you show how you can alleviate your prospective buyer’s pain points. This can fit onto the problem statement section but if you have a comprehensive solution or prefer to elaborate on the details, a separate section is a good idea.

Spare no details regarding the solution you will provide. When you write a business proposal, explain how you plan to deliver the solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and other relevant details.

For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics :

Sales Plan Proposal Table Template_Venngage

6. Showcase your team’s expertise

At this point, the prospect you’re pitching your solution to likes what they’re reading. But they may not trust you to deliver on your promises. Why is this?

It’s because they don’t know you. Your job is to convince them that you can fix their problem. This section is important because it acts as social proof. You can highlight what your company does best and how qualified your team is when you write a business proposal for a potential client.

business proposal qualifications section

This free business proposal template showcases the company’s accolades, client testimonials, relevant case studies, and industry awards. You can also include other forms of social proof to establish yourself as a credible business. This makes it that much more likely that they will say yes!

Pro Tip: Attaching in-depth case studies of your work is a great way to build trust with a potential client by showcasing how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients in the past. Our case study examples post can show you how to do just that.

7. Create a realistic timeline

To further demonstrate just how prepared you are, it’s important to outline the next steps you will take should your buyer decide to work with you.

Provide a timeline of how and when you will complete all your deliverables. You can do this by designing a  flow chart . Or add a  roadmap  with deadlines. Pitching a long-term project? A timeline infographic would be a better fit.

If you look at this abstract business proposal template below, even something as simple as a table can do the trick.

Abstract Business Consulting Proposal Template Timeline_Venngage

The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your potential client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.

8. Present your payment and terms

On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal. You can even use the  Excel Invoice Template  to create professional-looking invoices (including brand logo and other elements) and add them to this page.

The key to good pricing is to provide your buyer with options. A  pricing comparison table can help with this. You want to give your client some room to work with. Make sure you’re not scaring off your client with a high price, nor undervaluing yourself. 

Breaking up your pricing in stages is another great way to make sure your potential client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:

Bold Business Proposal Template Pricing Page_Venngage

The legal aspects can slot right into the terms and conditions section. Alternatively, you can add them to the signature section of the proposal to keep things simple.

9. Specify the terms and conditions

Summarize everything you have promised to deliver so far. Include what you expect from your prospective buyer in return.   Add the overall project timeline from start to end, as well as payment methods and payment schedule, incorporating these details into an online digital project management tool. This way, both of you will be clear on what is being agreed on.

This step is very important as it outlines all the legal aspects of the deal. That is why the terms and conditions section of your proposal needs to be as clear as possible.

Modern Business Proposal

I recommend consulting a lawyer or your legal team when working on this section of the business proposal. If you’re a business veteran and understand the legalities of your business, you can use the same terms and conditions across all your proposals.

10. Receiving the decision

The final step of this whole process. Your client has read your business proposal and they want to buy what you have to offer.

Add a small section at the end of your proposal to get the necessary signatures. This way, you and your client can sign the proposal and the partnership becomes official.

Be sure to also include your contact information in your business proposal template. It acts as a gentle prompt to your client to contact you in case they have any questions. A professional way of doig that would be to include an e-business card with your contact details, email i.d and any other social links you want to share. You can go through this article for the best digital business cards .

Orange-Simple-Project-Proposal-Template

A business proposal usually aims to answer the following questions: 

  • Who you are and what your company does
  • The problem your buyer is facing
  • The solution your company offers to alleviate the problem
  • How your company will implement this solution effectively
  • An estimate of resources (time, money, etc) required to implement the solution

You can see how this sample business proposal template covers the above points.

business project proposal template

Notice how this proposal template addresses the same project like in one of the previous templates, but uses a completely different design style (more retro, while the previous business proposal template is more modern and minimalistic).

Generally, there are three types of business proposals:

1. Formally solicited 

A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal.

In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer. You simply need to write the business proposal for your buyer to evaluate so you can begin the sales process .

2. Informally solicited 

Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn’t an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and asks for a proposal so they can evaluate it.

An informally solicited proposal requires a lot more research from your end. These types of proposals are usually created out of informal conversations. They are not based on official requests which often contain more detail.

3. Unsolicited 

Think of this as a marketing brochure or a cold email . Unsolicited business proposals will often take a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to business proposals. Unsolicited proposals lack any understanding of the buyer or their requirements.

But with additional  market research , personalization and identifying customer pain points , you can propose a customized solution based on your buyer’s needs. This can be a very persuasive approach, such as in this business proposal example:

corporate business proposal example

Now that you know how to write a business proposal, let’s look at how you can optimize your proposal to deliver results!

Below you’ll find some winning business proposal templates and examples to get you started. I’ve also included some design tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your next business proposal: 

1. Know your audience 

If you have some clarity on who your ideal buyer is — their pain points, their budget, deadlines, among other things — you’ve already won half the battle.

If you are a business that helps clients with everything from running giveaways or helping grow their blog , identify which customers to pitch. This is a sure-shot way to close the deal.

Mapping user personas  for your ideal buyer can help bring some clarity. It will also help you position your business proposal correctly. This improves the chance of your buyer moving your business proposal to the “Yes!” pile.

2. Put your brand front and center

If your company follows certain brand guidelines, incorporate them in your business proposal templates. Consider how business proposal examples like the one below highlight brand identity :

content marketing plan business proposal example

From the color palettes to the company logos , everything follows their brand guidelines. The result: a business proposal that’s consistent across the board.

Pro Tip: Switching this template to match your brand assets is actually pretty easy. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature allows you to import your color palettes, logos as well as font choices. Any Venngage template can now be your template.

You can also consider this sample business proposal template:

Example of a Business Proposal

App design companies sure do know their design. They did a phenomenal job keeping their brand colors consistent while opting for a black design. This unique color scheme also makes their white logo prominent throughout the proposal.

3. Try less text, more visuals

Have you ever read a proposal and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is all text and has no images, I love it!”? Yeah, me neither.

The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the “less is more” principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that’s much more scannable.

Social Media Plan Proposal Template

Want to keep things strictly professional? Instead of icons, you can always add your team’s headshots. This shows your buyer exactly who they’ll be working with.  

Check out this formal business proposal format for some inspiration:

Red Human Resources Consulting Proposal Template Team

4. Switch up your business proposal designs

It doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond once in a while. Jazz up your business proposal template with some extra colors. This helps make your business proposal more engaging. It also helps your buyers retain information faster.

Simple Business Proposal Example

The business proposal example alternates between black, white and grey backgrounds. It still manages to maintain consistency in its branding . Just switching up your backgrounds once in a while can also bring in some variety to an otherwise standard business proposal.

This SEO business proposal sample proves that it’s possible to switch up the colors in every other page. But it still maintains the same color scheme across the entire proposal just like a professionally designed website : 

SEO Marketing Proposal

Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.

FAQ about business proposals

What is the purpose of a business proposal.

A business proposal aims to streamline the B2B sales process (which is often complex ) between you as a seller and a buyer.

It does this by serving the dual purpose of acting as a source of information. The proposal also acts as a sales pitch aimed at convincing your buyer why they should buy what you have to offer.

What are the best practices for business proposal design?

  • Do a thorough spell-check. The goal of your business proposal is to convince your buyer why you’re the perfect person for the job. A proposal with typos or grammatical errors communicates the opposite. A thorough spell-check before you send your proposal is a must.
  • Keep things clear and readable: Clarity is an important aspect that you have to ensure in your business proposal. If you want your proposal to hit home and make an impact on the buyer, you have to write it in an understandable way. To keep things clear and readable, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can, for one, take care to use easy wording and segmented sentences from the get-go. You can also try paraphrasing the hard parts of your proposal once you are done writing it.
  • Let your brand shine. As discussed before, writing a business proposal is all about knowing your ideal buyer and focusing on their pain points. But that doesn’t mean your business proposal template has to be boring. Demonstrate how different you are compared to other companies. You can do this through your brand guidelines , by using more visuals, switching up your proposal design or showing off your personality in your writing . 
  • Create a business proposal PDF. Downloading your business proposal in PDF format allows you to attach other collaterals with your business proposal. These can include a company explainer video or case studies showcasing the work done with past clients. Also, who doesn’t love saving paper?

How long should your business proposal be? 

The length depends on the scope of the work as well as the complexity of the project. Here is a one-page business proposal template:

one page business proposal template

Can your business proposal template really be one page? Yes, as long as you understand who your buyer is and their pain points. You should also have the ability to communicate everything your ideal buyer needs to know about your business in a succinct manner.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous how about just two pages? Often, clients prefer if you go straight to the point and avoid all the fluff.

For example, this green modern marketing proposal template wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks:

Project Business Proposal

Need more inspiration? Check out this blog on the 5 marketing proposal examples that’ll help elevate your business.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding how many pages you should include in your business proposal template. And at the end of the day, “the only rules are the ones you set for yourself”.

At the end of the day, writing winning business proposals that sell is all about you understanding your buyer, their potential pain points and positioning yourself as someone who can alleviate those pain points. 

Now that you know how to write compelling business proposals, what are you waiting for?

Take action and start creating your own business proposals to close more deals and grow your business today!

More business communications templates + writing tips you might be interested in…

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Sales | How To

How to Write a Business Proposal (+ Template & Examples)

Published February 27, 2023

Published Feb 27, 2023

Jess Pingrey

REVIEWED BY: Jess Pingrey

Bianca Caballero

WRITTEN BY: Bianca Caballero

This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management .

Free Business Proposal Template

  • 1 Determine Sales Proposal Requirements
  • 2 Gather Necessary Information
  • 3 Design Your Proposed Solution
  • 4 Calculate Pricing
  • 5 Draft Your Proposal
  • 6 Edit Your Proposal Draft
  • 7 Send Your Proposal
  • 8 Follow Up With Your Recipient
  • 9 Best Practices in Writing Sales Proposals
  • 10 Bottom Line

A business proposal is a document sent to a prospective client that outlines a firm’s product or service offerings. It also explains how you will provide a solution, the cost, timeline, and qualifying information, such as your background and prior work experience. In this article, we outline eight steps for how to create a business proposal, offer a free proposal template, and provide best practices for writing proposals.

Creating a sales proposal can feel tedious, especially if you’re drafting it from scratch each time. We’ve created a free template that you can use as a resource for your sales proposal.

FILE TO DOWNLOAD OR INTEGRATE

Free Sales Business Proposal Template

A screenshot of Fit Small Business' Sales Business Proposal Template cover page

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💡 Quick Tip:

Use ClickUp for free to see your entire sales funnel in one place.

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  • ✓ Professional workspace templates

After you’ve downloaded our free template above, you can now customize it according to your business needs as you follow the steps to writing a proposal below:

1. Determine Sales Proposal Requirements

The first step in learning how to write a business proposal is knowing what needs to be included. Government agencies, public universities, and large corporations typically use requests for proposals (RFPs). These are formal solicitation requests for products or services in which the requirements are normally laid out line by line and must be followed precisely.

If you are writing a proposal for a potential customer undergoing your unique sales process , include things a decision-maker would like to see. For instance, pricing, timelines, and the proposed solution regarding quantities and the mode of product or service delivery are critical purchasing factors enclosed in the document.

Pro tip: ClickUp is a free-forever project management tool that helps teams:

  • Create professional proposals
  • Collaborate with shared tasks and team chat
  • Assign tasks to teammates

Visit ClickUp

ClickUp project management board (Source: ClickUp )

2. Gather Necessary Information

Gathering essential information and materials for your proposal can be complex because each potential client may want different details. This could demand other personnel to get involved in pulling the documents and information needed. For instance, some may only request the price and proposed solution, while others will ask for your background story, client reference lists, and work samples to show you’re qualified.

While learning how to write a proposal for business purposes, you may have to dig around your file database for company information, employee biographies, marketing materials, and pricing sheets. Keeping all resources needed for a proposal in one place makes this process easier. Use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track your proposal progress and acquire what’s needed to draft it in one place.

Pro tip: HubSpot is a popular CRM platform that lets you monitor opportunities using sales pipelines and store documents—all in one system. You can utilize the Sales Documents feature to store, share, and customize templates and materials you’ll need for your proposals.

A screenshot of HubSpot's deals and opportunities pipeline

HubSpot’s deals and opportunities pipeline (Source: HubSpot )

A screenshot of HubSpot's sales documents library

HubSpot’s Sales Documents library (Source: HubSpot )

3. Design Your Proposed Solution

Your proposed solution involves the processes, materials, product quantities, and personnel required to fulfill the offerings or address your customer’s problem statement. Additionally, it should be included in the scope of work section in the proposal. For businesses that only provide a product, such as equipment for a manufacturing plant, this step could be as easy as knowing the quantity and having a logistics plan for delivery and installment.

For more service-based businesses, such as business consultants or content development services, there will likely be more steps and deliverables to complete the work. Regardless of your business, you can use the five W’s and an H methodology to construct a proposed solution that addresses your prospect’s primary pain points:

  • Who: Who will be involved, do the work, manage, and be a point of contact for the prospect?
  • What: What solutions or products will be delivered, and what resources, processes, or technology will be used?
  • Where: Where will work be done or delivered to?
  • When: When will the work start and be completed, what are the key milestones throughout the project, and when is each deliverable expected to occur?
  • Why: Why did you choose this particular solution for this customer’s needs?
  • How: How will work be done, managed, and checked for high quality and customer satisfaction?

For example, a business-to-business (B2B) content writing business might be trying to address a statement of needs issued by a client: “We would like to express thought leadership on the topic of the Zero Trust Cybersecurity Framework.” In this case, the business could use the solution in this business proposal example:

The objective of this business proposal is to demonstrate how ABC Writing Agency can promote the thought leadership of Cybersecurity Corp. for the Zero Trust Security Model. We believe the best course of action is to research and copyright a branded e-book (roughly 4,000 words) regarding Zero Trust Security, the details of the solution, its benefits, and the modern-day security challenges it solves (what) with the final product completed in August 2022. (when) The e-book will use your logo and branding scheme to convey your personal grasp on the subject and thought leadership using a series of direct quotes and statistical callouts. (why)

To ensure high-quality work and client satisfaction, we will begin with an initial call to construct a detailed outline discussing the sections, style guides, tone, and to retrieve direct quotes. Following an initial draft, multiple rounds of edits will take place between Cybersecurity Corp. and ABC Writing Agency to develop a final draft. (how)

The project will be led by our senior editor, Collin Buchanan, and content manager, Jake Cunningham, who comes from the world of cybersecurity. Our team will utilize and manage freelancers experienced in writing e-books on technical topics to research and copyright the asset. (who) All work will be completed by us virtually and delivered via Google Docs. (where)

4. Calculate Pricing

Once you know how you’ll provide your product or service, the next step in writing a proposal is formulating the costs to specify in the document’s pricing section. This is one of the toughest steps because of all the factors that need to be considered, such as product cost and other expenses. That’s why it is critical to accurately communicate your costs to avoid losing a deal for overcharging—or worse—winning a deal with significantly underestimated costs.

As you price everything, you can either do a flat fee, hourly rate, per-unit charge, or some combination of the three. Sometimes, it’s best to work backward by establishing your desired probability first in the form of a percent like 20% profit or a flat dollar amount such as $10,000 above the work cost.

For example, you want to make a 20% profit on the work for an equipment installation job for a manufacturing business, and you’re pricing using a flat fee. You’ve itemized the costs as the following:

  • 1 x $80,000 manufacturing equipment = $80,000
  • 3 installation/delivery employees x 5 hours x $32 per hour = $480 wages
  • $480 employee wages x 7% employer payroll tax = $33.6 payroll tax
  • $480 employee wages x 20% benefits and workers’ compensation = $96 benefits and compensation
  • $200 for the delivery truck and gas = $200 for delivery costs

When you add all the itemized expenses, the total cost for this installation job will be around $80,809. To get the total, you need to charge this customer to meet your desired profitability, and multiply it by 20% to get $16,162. Add that to your total cost ($80,809 + $16,162), and $96,971 is the flat fee you will charge for the installation job.

Pro tip: Struggling to visualize your pricing process? Try using these seven free estimate templates . Designed for various business types, these templates allow you to outline and itemize the costs of providing work to share with your customers to help win more deals easily.

5. Draft Your Proposal

Now that you know your proposal requirements, have gathered the necessary information, determined the proposed solution, and calculated pricing, you are ready to draft the document. Following along with our free template, your draft will consist of the following elements:

The title page leans more toward showing the professionalism of your business than providing information. There should be a specific title establishing the purpose, such as “ABC Writing Agency Proposal for Cybersecurity Corp. to Promote Thought Leadership on Zero Trust Security.”

Also, be sure to indicate who the proposal was prepared for in terms of the decision-making person and their company name. Add your logo to the front and the contact information for the primary point of contact for your business so they can contact you with further questions.

Table of Contents

Use a table of contents to break down each part of the proposal for business so they can easily navigate through it. Because of the digital age we live in, we recommend linking your table of contents electronically to each associated section. That way, those reading your proposal can go to any part of the document by clicking on the table of contents.

Executive Summary

The executive summary takes everything in your proposal and compresses it into one paragraph. Essentially, if a reader reads this section, they should be able to grasp the general idea of your solution. Here’s a business proposal example using the content writing example above:

With over 10 years of experience in writing high-quality marketing assets, we are eager to assist Cybersecurity Corp in its endeavor to promote thought leadership on Zero Trust Security. We plan to achieve this by writing a comprehensive e-book using engaging copy, stat callouts, and direct quotes from your leaders to help associate the security framework with your brand.

Company Background

Here’s your time to talk about your inception story, mission statement , founding purpose, and company history. You can also provide biographies and professional pictures of your company founders, leaders, and key personnel that might be involved in the work you provide.

This is also the time to express your unique selling proposition . In other words, addressing the question “why choose us” over competitors. Lastly, if you’ve had any recognition or won any company awards, this is the section to highlight those successes.

Scope of Work

This section correlates with creating your proposed solution in step three as you present it in an actionable business plan. Describe the work that will be completed and the tangible deliverables associated with it.

In this small business proposal example, we see how a content writing business might construct a scope of work:

We will provide content writing services to create predetermined marketing assets for Cybersecurity Corp. This includes researching online data for usable information, interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) for additional insights and quotes, copywriting drafts, inserting callouts, and making edits per revision requests made by Cybersecurity Corp. Deliverables for the scope of work above include:

  • 1 x outline developed by ABC Writing Agency and approved by Cybersecurity Corp.
  • 1 x drafted e-book (max. 4,000 words) delivered by Google Doc

No matter how long your scope of work is, it’s crucial to avoid industry or technical jargon that the general audience may not understand. Take the time to review the scope of work and translate any statements that may be misunderstood or confusing.

Be sure to indicate how long you expect it to take to complete the entire scope of work. It’s also a good idea to provide estimates for each milestone or individual deliverable you set. Whenever possible, present the information visually to help your reader absorb it better. Below is a sales proposal timeline example for a sales consulting business and its milestones.

Pricing or Price Estimate

For this section, take the price calculation you did in step four and present it to the potential customer. While you should itemize it to show where the price comes from, avoid adding your desired profitability, as that should be private to your business. Make sure it’s clear as to how each item is priced, whether that be hourly, per unit, or a flat fee.

This section should also be used to explain payment expectations, e.g., when invoices must be paid by, how much money is required upfront vs after work is completed, refund policy, and if other billable expenses can be included automatically or require client approval.

Be upfront with your estimate if you don’t know how many units you’ll need or how many hours it will take to accomplish your business offering. Provide an explanation and an estimated range.

Conclusion, Terms & Appendix

The final sections should include additional information that could be useful to your prospective client. A conclusion should express your gratitude for the opportunity and explain the next steps to move forward. Terms (or terms and conditions) can be added in a proposal or in the service agreement to cover legal aspects of a working contract, like contract dispute policies, confidentiality, rules on subcontracting, etc.

The appendix is optional but would utilize visuals or supplemental documents to enrich your proposal. For instance, you might include links to sample work, a client reference list, or a catalog of options for materials or software vendors from which the client can choose.

6. Edit Your Proposal Draft

Once you have completed the first draft of your proposal, run it by multiple departments to ensure it is comprehensive and accurate. Some things to consider as you review it for potential revisions:

  • Has strong readability: The proposal uses appropriate style, tone, and structured sentences to create a clean flow of information understood by the specific reader.
  • Avoids grammar and technical errors: The proposal avoids punctuation, spelling, or other errors related to proper writing mechanics.
  • Addresses requirements: The proposal contains all the information and sections required to meet the reader’s or customer’s needs and objectives.

Use editing tools such as Grammarly to evaluate your business proposal writing for enhanced quality. Grammarly lets users upload text into a system to check for grammar and spelling mistakes as well as for engagement and readability of content. There’s also a plagiarism check feature to evaluate the text to billions of pages online. You can even adjust style preferences when subscribing to Grammarly Business to ensure it meets all your goals.

A screenshot showing an example of Grammarly Business' in-line writing suggestion

Grammarly Business’ in-line writing suggestion (Source: Grammarly Business )

Pro tip: Use graphic design tools like Canva to give your sales proposal the professional touch it needs. Canva is a user-friendly platform with thousands of free templates for presentations, marketing materials, social media posts, and proposals for business. Users of all design skill levels can easily turn regular copies into visual masterpieces.

A screenshot showing several business proposal templates in Canva

Canva’s sales proposal templates (Source: Canva )

7. Send Your Proposal

Now that your proposal is drafted, edited, and has the aesthetics it needs, it’s time to send the document for review. More formal submissions for RFPs may require that you submit them in person, electronically, or both, so review those provisions carefully before sending them in.

Some sales plans incorporate unsolicited proposals to new leads to present problems they didn’t know existed with viable solutions they could offer. In these cases, they use the proposal to get their foot in the door and create sales opportunities.

When taking this course of action, it’s important to add context to the unsolicited proposal. For instance, in a sales email , briefly introduce yourself, your business, and what services you provide. Furthermore, indicate why you wanted to send a proposal to them specifically and let them know they can reach out if they wish to discuss it further.

8. Follow Up With Your Recipient

Even after you send a proposal, the process is not over. Make time to follow up to confirm the contact received the proposal and see if they have any questions. Because of the proposals’ details, there are usually other clarification steps in the procurement process, such as interviews, client meetings , or sales presentations before work begins.

We recommend using a customer relationship management (CRM) system with task management capabilities to ensure sales reps don’t forget to reach out to a prospect after a proposal is initially sent. A CRM like Pipedrive lets you design and assign tasks to team members from within a project. You can also create projects that are linked to open or won deals.

Pipedrive’s project and task management feature (Source: Pipedrive )

Best Practices in Writing Sales Proposals

Now that you know the steps in how to write a business proposal, there are a few tips you can practice and maintain to produce thoughtful and effective proposals.

Keep It Simple

When learning how to make a business proposal, remember to write short, simple sentences. While there is no strict rule on the business proposal format or length, make sure it is straightforward and easy to understand. Avoid loading it with too much business jargon and fancy words. Instead, strike the sweet spot between conveying essential information and ensuring anyone who reads it can understand it.

Outline Major Sections & Pertinent Information

The first thing to do when learning how to do a business proposal is to outline all the major sections of your document. This should also include all the pertinent information that you want to get across. The business proposal outline will help you stay focused on the main points of the document and keep your ideas from drifting away.

Add Data & Visuals

Capture your prospect’s attention by including quantitative data and figures highlighting your offerings and the value of your company. For example, you can show your month-on-month sales trends as proof of your stellar performance. Adding visual elements like charts and graphs can also help make your proposal more engaging.

Increase Credibility With Social Proof

Assert your company’s credibility. Many prospects won’t readily believe your claims about your business and are most likely to trust the word of their own peers and other customers. To help build your credibility and gain their trust, include social proof, such as reviews and testimonials from your own customers.

Use a Call to Action (CTA)

After the prospect reads your proposal, direct them to the next step. Use a call to action with a verb that defines what they should do to act on their interest in your proposal. Examples of CTAs are “Subscribe today” or “Download this guide now.” You can also use a CTA with a no-obligation statement like “Sign up, it’s free” for prospects who perceive risks in taking action.

Another excellent idea when adding CTAs is to create a sense of urgency to make your prospect feel that now is the best time to subscribe to your service. Some people are motivated to do something right away for fear of missing out (FOMO). That said, phrases like “Limited-time offer” and “On sale now for 20% off” can trigger action from prospects.

Stay True to Your Brand

Each company has a different brand voice and personality. Staying true to your business brand is a great way to stand out among your competitors. For instance, if your company sells baby clothes, it is best to use language that parents with babies can relate to, like “cute and cuddly” or “snug and comfy.” Use a more formal tone of voice in your proposal if you are selling office wear.

Bottom Line

Many business owners and sales managers would like to standardize their proposal-writing system. However, it can be tricky to address the unique needs of every solicited and unsolicited opportunity to get the correct information in order and present their proposed solutions. Our how-to sales proposal examples and free template will help you streamline your bidding process to win more deals.

About the Author

Bianca Caballero

Find Bianca On LinkedIn

Bianca Caballero

Bianca Caballero is a subject matter expert at Fit Small Business who covers Sales and Customer service topics. Prior to working at FSB, she was in field sales and territory management. When she launched her career as a writer, she worked with companies from the US, Australia, and China. At present, she uses her 12+ years of writing experience to provide FSB readers with the best answers to their questions.

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How to Write a Business Proposal

Author: Briana Morgaine

Briana Morgaine

8 min. read

Updated March 18, 2024

A business proposal can make or break your chances of securing a new client. Write a great one, and you’ll likely snag their business.

Write a poor one, and you might lose out—even if you’re offering the best service out there. So, how do you write a business proposal? What is the proper format? What do you need to include?

While it all depends on your industry, and whether or not you’re offering a product or service, writing a business proposal is pretty straightforward. We’ll answer all those questions and more throughout the course of this guide. 

  • What to expect with this business proposal guide

Whether you’re starting fresh or need to look at a specific section, here’s what we’ll be covering in this guide. 

  • What a business proposal is
  • The differences between a business proposal and a business plan
  • The format of a business proposal
  • How long to make your business proposal
  • How to write a business proposal

You can download a  free business proposal template here  to start writing up your own proposal as you work through this article. By the end, you’ll be prepared to develop a well-written business proposal that can explain your business clearly and win more clients. Let’s get started.

  • What is a business proposal?

A business proposal is a document you’d send to a prospective client, outlining the service you’re offering, and explaining why you’re the best person for the job. 

It’s a  pitch 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.

What are the different types of business proposals?

A business proposal can be either solicited or unsolicited. With a solicited proposal, the prospective client will put out a request for proposals; with an unsolicited business proposal, you are approaching a client in hopes of attracting their business, even though they did not explicitly request a proposal.  

While both are commonplace, a solicited proposal is an easier sell, as your prospective client has already decided that they want to make a purchase or use a service, and they’re evaluating possible vendors or businesses.

With a solicited proposal, your prospective client might have issued an RFP, or “request for proposal.” This is exactly what it sounds like—they want you to send over a business proposal so they can take a look at it.

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  • Differences between a business proposal and a business plan

A business proposal is not the same as a  business plan . This is the most common misconception, but while there are areas of overlap (like your  executive summary ) the two are different.

That being said, you can certainly pull information from your business plan while writing your business proposal—in fact, that’s a great way to start.

But don’t confuse the two; they are distinct and separate. In short, a business plan represents the cohesive strategy of how your business operates and makes money. A business proposal is an official pitch to clients selling your products or services. 

A business proposal outlines a particular product or service offered by an established business to a prospective client.

You’re trying to sell your prospective client on your product or service, not on your business itself. You’re not after funding, as you are with a business plan, you’re trying to make a sale.

A business proposal is also not an estimate; although you’ll likely touch on costs and pricing in your business proposal, an estimate is much more informal and just a quick look at the costs, not the whole picture.

  • What goes into a business proposal?

Your business proposal should address the three Ps:

  • Problem statement: What your customer’s current problem is
  • Proposed solution: How your business solves that problem better than other solutions
  • Pricing: How much that solution costs compared to alternatives

If you’re stuck on how to start, maybe try brainstorming first; start with these three points, and you’ll have a rough, bare-bones version of your business proposal.

Once you’ve done that if you’re ready to go more in-depth, here is a step-by-step look at how to format your business proposal.

Your business proposal should start with a title page, which should include your name, the name of your company, the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your proposal, and the date submitted.

Table of contents

Depending on how long your business proposal is, a table of contents is a nice touch. Include it after your title page, and before you launch into any details. If you’re delivering it as a PDF, including anchor links down to each section, so it’s easy to get to specific areas. 

Executive summary

Introduce your proposal with a great executive summary, one that really sells your business and the products or services you provide—it’s about why you’re the right company for the job. You can draw from your business plan’s executive summary here, too.

Statement of problem, issue, or job at hand

Following your executive summary, go on to discuss the problem that the client is currently facing. Think of “problem” or “issue” loosely; after all, their main problem may just be finding the right person to complete their project. But be sure you understand why they want the product or service they’re seeking. If the proposal is for developing a brand new website, make sure you understand what they want to get out of the site—better sales, more content management flexibility. 

This is the place to show your new client that you  understand their needs , and fully grasp the issue they are trying to solve. Take this opportunity to restate the issue they are facing in your own words so that they know you understand what they are looking for.

Approach and methodology

This section shows how you plan to tackle your potential client’s problem, and the steps you’ll take to carry out your plan.

This is where you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how you actually plan to fulfill your client’s needs. While earlier sections might have been a bit surface-level, this section of the business proposal is where you’ll go into detail about what steps you’ll take to solve their problem.

Be careful of going into  too  much detail, though—keep the jargon to a minimum. Your client should be able to follow along and get a clear sense of your plan, but you don’t want to drown them in minutiae.

Qualifications

Go ahead, brag a little—this is the section of your business proposal where you get to convince your potential client why you are the most qualified person to take on the job.

You can mention any relevant education, industry-specific training, or certifications you have, your past successful projects of a similar nature, years of experience, and so on.

Schedule and benchmarks

Be clear with your potential client: How long will your proposed project take?

Making sure you and your prospective client are on the same page from the outset will help make sure that the relationship stays positive for both of you, and that you don’t set your client up with unrealistic expectations.

While you might be tempted to underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project, don’t. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver!

If you’re offering a product, this section might not be applicable to you, so feel free to omit it. The business proposal format is flexible, so tailor it to suit your business and industry.

Cost, payment, and any legal matters

Here is where you get down to brass tacks and state the cost, and payment schedule if necessary.

How you structure this section will largely depend on the particular project or service you are offering. A section entitled “Fee Summary” may be sufficient if one-time payment is required; otherwise, a “Fee Schedule” list or pricing table might be more appropriate. Always refer back to the client’s RFP whenever possible, to make sure you’re supplying them with all the information they need to help make their decision.

If there are any legal issues to attend to, such as permits or licensing, include this information here. Feel free to add a section entirely devoted to handling the legal side of the project if need be.

This is your final sell—don’t be afraid to detail for your prospective client all they have to gain by choosing you to complete the project.

Impress upon your clients why you are the best choice, and all the ways in which their business will benefit from choosing you and your business as their solution.

  • How long should a business proposal be?

When it comes to the format of a business proposal, this is the million-dollar question without an answer. Remember in school, when you’d ask your teacher how long an essay should be, and they’d reply, “as long as it takes to answer the question.”

The same applies to your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the scope of the project, and the client’s specifications in terms of detail and elements included.

That being said, the tighter your initial proposal can be and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch it to clients. Start by following the business proposal format above as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and securing new clients.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Briana Morgaine

Bri Morgaine is a seasoned content marketing leader with a decade of experience in copy editing, social media operations, and content strategy— having honed her skills at industry giants like Palo Alto Software and Andreessen Horowitz.

Grow 30% faster with the right business plan. Create your plan with LivePlan.

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how should a business proposal look

How to Write a Business Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide

how to write a business proposal featured image

You just finished an amazing meeting with a potential client, they seem ready to pull the trigger and excited to work with you. Then they utter the following sentence: “Please send me a proposal.” And now you have to remember how to write one. This guide will give you a system and guidelines on how to write a business proposal and make that process easy and repeatable.

Writing business proposals is arguably not that fun. In fact, most business owners would rather avoid the task. However, if you have an amazing business proposal template to start with you can speed the process up significantly. The key is to build everything right the first time round and give yourself a reusable template you can tweak and adjust until it’s perfect.

What we'll cover

  • Proposal templates
  • Visual presentation and design
  • Introduction (Executive summary)
  • Detailed specification
  • Terms and conditions
  • Optimizing your proposals for conversion

What is a business proposal?

An effective business proposal is a formal document created with the purpose of persuading your potential customers to work with you. It’s a document used in a variety of industries - from selling carpets to offering enterprise software solutions and social media marketing , all of it starts with a business proposal.

Two types of business proposals

Besides the difference in the industry, the main division is between solicited and unsolicited business proposals. A solicited business proposal is sent when you already have a connection with the potential customer and they’re interested in what you’re selling. 

Usually, the buyer themselves will ask for a proposal outlining your problem statement. Whether they’re a small business or government agencies, your proposal should follow the project details they’ve outlined.

On the other hand, unsolicited proposals are sent without the explicit request of someone who may be interested in what you’re selling. Whether you’re writing formally solicited proposals or unsolicited ones, you’ll need to know how to structure them. 

Although it’s easier to create a solicited proposal, don’t stress out about writing unsolicited ones. Our guide can help you in both situations.

How To Write A Business Proposal - Take Your Proposal Writing From Good To Great

How to write a business proposal the easy way

Have you ever freehanded a business proposal into the body of an email? Or started compiling it in a Word document from scratch? Or maybe you’re more into InDesign so you noticed a typo on your freshly exported PDF?

The fact of the matter is, creating a proposal for every client from scratch is both exhausting and a waste of time. Having a structured proposal writing system in place will save you countless hours. At the most basic level, your proposal writing system is two things:

  • Having a great business proposal template written with everything in it
  • Knowing what needs editing each time

The first thing, getting your business proposal template in order, is vital. The second is a matter of personalization to the specific job and client.

What is a business proposal template?

Put simply, a proposal template is a proposal that is about 90% finished. Think of it as a collection of all the best pieces of content you’ve ever put into previous proposals.

Your best introduction describing the problem statement, your best pricing strategy , best type of proof, best title page, etc. A winning template combines all the best elements of the proposals you’ve sent which resulted in sales for your product or service.

How To Write a Business Proposal Using A Proposal Template

If you’re using proposal software like Better Proposals, compiling this shouldn’t be difficult, because you will know which proposals work for your target audience thanks to our analytics and reports.

But what if you’ve never sent proposals before so you don’t have a basis for templates? What if you don’t have the time or just don’t know a thing about proposals? No reason to worry – our proposal library has more than 130 different proposal templates that help sell a wide range of products or services .

Once you have your template in place, you’ll only need to fill out the major details, such as:

  • The client's information
  • Specifics about the offer
  • Pricing, timelines, detailed specification
  • A proof section with an example similar to the offer you’re sending, etc.

Download This Complete Guide On How To Write A Business Proposal

Once you add these, your business proposal is ready to go. The main idea is that templates help you write proposals in 15 minutes instead of 5 hours. To see what the template creation process looks like, check out how easy it is to design yours in Better Proposals .

The importance of a good business proposal template

The best thing about a good proposal template is that you only need to create it once. After that, it’s just a matter of tweaking the details. If you do it properly the first time around, sending out a proposal turns into a few minutes’ work. 

The best tip we have is to choose your best proposal and turn it into a template. Allocate a good day to getting it as good as it can be - turn all specific information into placeholders, get your formatting sorted, and make sure your pricing section is clean and clear.

This also means editing the copy like it’s a headline on your website. Consider the wording, your client, and the emotions you want to evoke - really make each section shine.

Despite their growing popularity, this is the time to resist the urge to use AI content writers . The content they produce is easy to spot and putting effort into creating a great business proposal template makes all the difference. 

Later in this article, we’ll look at what is included in a business proposal, and that goes for your template too. We’ll provide business proposal examples as well. Next time you have that meeting with your potential client and they ask you to send them a business proposal for your proposed solution, you’ll confidently walk away knowing exactly what to do.

How to write a business proposal that sells

Most people think that writing a business proposal is boring and time-consuming. And for the most part, they’re right. There really is no creative flair in writing them and it’s all about pitching your product or service so that the new client says yes and gives you money. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to make proposal writing easier and more efficient and get your prospective client on board more quickly.

In the following sections, we’ll show you that writing a business proposal is more about preparation and using the right tools to make writing easier. In other words, we’ll teach you how to write a business proposal with minimal effort and maximum sales performance.

Once you pick the right proposal software tools, you’ll see how easy it is to create a winning proposal.

How To Track A Business Proposal Once Sent Out To a Client - Learn More

What questions are your customers asking?

When writing a business proposal, there’s a situation going on that only the best salespeople understand. Your potential client has a list of questions. They’ll rarely tell you what those questions are, mostly because they’re pretty awkward. 

For example, we had a situation when I quoted someone £40,000 for some software once. The proposal was about 17 pages long, and the client replied with one sentence:

“Sounds good. What happens if you die? How do I get my data back?”

I didn’t think it was an appropriate time to go back to him and explain I probably wouldn’t care about his data if I was dead. However, I did explain to him a contingency plan that we had in place for nearly a decade now for this exact situation. I told him, and he signed up.

This got me thinking. While this guy was the first bold enough to ask that question, he can’t have been the first guy to think it. From that moment on, we included the contingency plan in every business proposal we sent under a section called 'How we protect your data'.

Awkward questions your potential customers have but won’t ask you:

  • What happens if you die?
  • What will I do if they screw up my search engine rankings?
  • What happens if they take over my website and vanish?
  • What happens if they redesign my website and I get fewer conversions than I got before?

A rare client will actually ask these questions to your face, but it doesn’t mean they won’t pop into their mind. Think about it. How many questions do people actually ask on the back of proposals? Answer these questions in your proposal before the client gets a chance to ask them.

How do you want your potential clients to feel?

Don’t think of business proposals as just sales documents - think of them as taking someone on an experience. Think movies. The emotions override the content. It’s less important how you get them to feel sadness at the end, so long as you do.

Writing a business proposal isn't that different. It's all about the emotion you want your potential client to feel at the end of reading it. For example:

  • Excitement – Describing possibilities using uplifting pictures and success stories is good here. Don’t bore them with a document resembling a long business plan.
  • Confidence – Include lots of proof and trust-building elements into this. Don’t make suggestions; be certain in your wording.
  • Action taking – Lots of commanding words and talking about the next step. Don’t bog them down with a list of 42 things to decide on. Just get them to do the “next” thing.

You could find the best custom writing service out there and you’d still be the only one who can do this properly. That’s because, depending on your client and what you’re selling, only you know what’s most appropriate.

What you definitely don’t want to be doing is talking in “maybes”, “ifs”, and using suggestive wording when you want someone to trust you. It sounds like you’re not sure. As a good friend, Mitch Miller, says:

“The doctor doesn’t ask the patient if it’s the right prescription. He just prescribes the right thing and tells them to get out of the office.”

The 8 core elements of writing a business proposal

There are 8 elements most business proposals should include. Some are absolutely essential; some are not – that depends on your specific situation. Here they are:

Does your proposal need to have all of these sections? Maybe yes, maybe not – it depends. However, all of our proposal templates have these sections out of the box. But wait - there’s one thing we haven’t mentioned on purpose.

0. The cover page

All proposals should have a well-designed cover page with an image and text to address the specific client. We’re leaving it out because all of our business proposal templates come with beautiful, professionally designed cover pages already built in.

A beautifully designed cover page can help your business stand out because it gives your entire document a level of professionalism. What’s more, it brings the wow factor that pulls clients in right off the bat.

How To Write A Business Proposal Step Zero - Start With A Cover Page

1. The introduction

Also known as the Executive summary. Good business proposals always start with a great introduction . This is the most read part of your proposal, so it needs to get across that you understand their situation and you’re clear on their goal. Your meetings and discovery sessions should be heavily predicated on getting the information for this section of the proposal.

Step One  - How To Write A Business Proposal - The Introduction

The biggest reason you’re not winning new business is not getting a chance to do a meeting or initial call about the job. As a result, you never discovered what the client wants to achieve, what’s important to them, and what makes them tick. And because you don’t know that information, you lead with the things that don’t matter as much (e.g., the price or the technicalities of what you’re going to do). 

This is why a discovery call is one of the most important things to include when you learn how to write a business proposal. Without it, you’re essentially guessing what the client needs.

Every business proposal needs a good introduction

Your introduction should show the client that you’ve listened to their problem and that you have the cure, which you will show them in the next section. If you want to create an ongoing relationship, you need to show that you’ve researched your client’s company.

If you want to present your clients with a custom service, this is the place to stress that. Show them how you customize your usual offer to match their exact pain point.

According to our own research, this is the most-read section of all business proposals besides the pricing. Most clients read just these two sections, so make sure that you invest extra time and care in this one.

How to write a proposal introduction

This section is also known as a summary or an executive summary, depending on your resources. Even though the title is different, everything else is the same – it’s a section where you discuss how you’re going to solve the client’s problem and present your value proposition.

The most important tip we have here is to make it all about the client and the solution to their problem. In other words, refrain from going on and on about yourself. At the end of the day, a client reading a proposal wants to know what solution you offer. And if they’re interested in your company history or the process of forming an LLC , they’ll Google it.

better proposals e-commerce website design proposal template screenshot

Make sure to keep it short and to the point. You want to keep your entire proposal easy to read and as enjoyable of an experience for your potential client as possible. 

Since the executive summary is such an important part of any standard business proposal, don’t be afraid of asking your team members to read it and give you feedback. And if you need more practical writing tips, check out our in-depth proposal introduction writing guide .  

2. The detailed specification

This part varies depending on what you’re selling. If it’s a website, this could be a list of pages and features. If you’re writing a social media marketing proposal, then this could be the strategy or the talent and credentials of your team. It’ll vary.

The basic idea is to be as detailed as possible in your offer. That way, the prospective client understands exactly how your proposed solutions work.

better proposals simple web design proposal template screenshot

The reason it’s important is that if the deal goes bad, you both have this section to refer back to. Your business proposal outlines accountability and what the client should hope for. Moreover, it also serves as a good exercise for you when writing a good business proposal, as this is all the information you’re going to gather in any discovery phase of the deal.

It’s important here to keep this in plain English. Stay far away from jargon, as it will only confuse the potential client. The less the reader understands, the less they trust you.

Also, if you absolutely must write about your company, this might be the place to do it. Who you are, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it, and what makes you stand out. However, don’t spend too much time or space on this because the focus is on the client, not you.

3. The timescales

It doesn’t matter if it’s a wide bracket, like 2-4 weeks – you have to give the client some clue about your project timeline . Otherwise, it’s a massive unknown.

better proposals freelance writing proposal template screenshot

It can be really useful to find out if the client has a special event or another reason for a project timeline to be important to them. If there is, tie that in. You can even tie that into scarcity to give them the incentive to sign the proposal off by a certain date. And if you’re writing unsolicited proposals, you need to be especially convincing and present your project timeline in a way that will make it hard to say no to. 

Be as specific as possible, but also use this section to your advantage. More time to deliver means two things:

  • You can finish earlier than promised and impress your client
  • You have more time to spare if something goes unexpectedly wrong

More time is always better, but make sure that you consider the need for urgency as well.

4. The proof

You must prove to your client that you can actually deliver your proposed solution. Now, you might say, “we have examples on our website”. That’s nice – but the client is not looking at your website, they’re reading your proposal – your one big “ask” for the business. They want solid proof and a few good case studies will do.

You need to have sufficient proof in a good business proposal. This could be examples, testimonials, video case studies, screenshots from a client proving you helped them with something, a recording of a voicemail – anything.

better proposals wedding photography proposal template screenshot

As you can see in our business proposal example, it doesn’t have to be complex and have the production value of a Spielberg classic. It just needs to get the point across.

To help them feel like they’ll be in good hands, you can also indicate relevant credentials and certifications your team managers and members have. After all, product managers and team leaders will play a massive role in ensuring that your product or service is of top quality.

The good news is, there is more than one type of proof that you can choose. Case studies, testimonials, portfolio pieces, explainer videos – there are lots of ways to convince your clients that you’re the real deal.

5. The price

Based on our data, this is the second most read section of any business proposal – people usually jump straight from the introduction to the pricing table. Needless to say, spend some extra time here to make it look right.

When using our business proposal templates, you can choose how to format your price based on project details. That said, there are a few things you want to make sure of. 

The first is that the pricing is super clear. If you have somewhat of a confusing pricing structure, then this might be time to think about simplifying it.

better proposals high-end web design proposal template screenshot

Speaking of which, we’ve done some research on pricing in business proposals and you can see our results in the latest Proposal Report . As it turns out, it’s a better idea to have a single offer and price instead of trying to get more money with upsells. Proposals with a single offer sold significantly more – 20.6% for offers with upfront costs and 33% higher for offers with monthly retainer costs.

The reason is that a business proposal is a matter of getting a simple answer – yes or no. The more options you add, the more difficult it gets for them to decide whether to sign or not. Keep your responsive pricing tables super simple.

The way you format your price can help avoid further negotiations. Our analysis of real-life pricing mistakes should give you a good idea of what to avoid.

How to name your pricing section

Finally, there is one more thing that you should know about the pricing section – don’t call it that. We’ve discovered that these names work better:

  • Return on investment
  • And others following this pattern

naming your pricing section proposal report data

Basically, you want your clients to see your services as an investment in their business, rather than a simple cost and money down the drain. Small businesses or enterprise clients, no one wants to spend money - they want to invest it.

6. The guarantee

Some people love the idea of a guarantee. Others don’t like giving guarantees for fear of abuse. However, a guarantee is a great way to push new clients further towards conversion.

better proposals brand design proposal template screenshot

Instead of a typical money-back guarantee, consider guaranteeing a part of your service or a timescale. Cheryl Laidlaw’s “Website in a Day” service is a good example. 

She, at the time of writing, charges £1,995 for the day and delivers the website THAT NIGHT. The client doesn’t go home (and neither does Cheryl) until it’s done – which is an amazing offer .

7. The next steps

A lot of times, people seem to forget the very basics – to show the client what to do next. Sure, some people might read your business proposal and say, “Great, okay, let’s go ahead”. But why would you leave it up to them to figure it out?

It’s not their job to figure out how to buy from you, especially if you’re sending informally solicited proposals. Just make sure to tell them what the next steps are. Usually, this will be something like:

Step 1: Sign the proposal by typing your name in the box below and hitting ‘Accept’. This makes the proposal a legally binding contract.

Sign the proposal

Step 2: We’ll invoice you for 50%. Please pay for this immediately.

Step 3: We’ll arrange our initial consultation call with you.

Anyone can do these tasks on their own – they’re not all that complex. The problem is that if you leave all of this unsaid, you’re leaving your clients wondering. Explain all the details of what’s going to happen next.

8. The terms and conditions

You absolutely should be including your contract or terms and conditions. Just put it on a separate page called Terms & Conditions or Terms of Business .

better proposals Facebook ads proposal template terms and conditions screenshot

There’s a great contract written for freelancers which covers 98% of the basics. If you’re not using a contract in your business right now, use this until your legal team demands something better.

You should always include your terms in your business proposals because when someone signs the proposal, they automatically sign the contract . It covers you and it covers the client, so it’s only natural to include it.

Just reading the words “terms and conditions” may make you feel dizzy because of the work ahead, but it’s actually something that you can do once and never fret about again later.

A business proposal that's optimized for conversion

So let's say you've followed all the steps in the "How To Write A Business Proposal Guide," and you now have the best structured proposal on the planet, and it still loses business. Why could this be? - perhaps it's a conversion problem. We’ve analyzed hundreds of thousands of proposals sent through our platform to see what makes them convert. Here are some data-backed tips to help you.

1. Send your proposals quickly

For over four years now, sending proposals out within 24 hours of meeting the client has been the best way to increase conversion rates. According to our data, proposals that are sent out within that time frame had a 23% higher conversion rate than those sent only a day later.

2. Include a cover page

While jumping straight into the introduction won’t hurt your conversions significantly, our data shows having a cover page makes a difference. Proposals with a cover page convert 4.6% better than the ones without it.

3. Don’t go overboard

The length of a business proposal will largely depend on what you do. That said, proposals that convert the best are short, concise, and to the point. Our data backs this up, showing that the optimal proposal length has been 6-7 sections for five years now.  

4. Make sure your proposals are mobile-friendly

The number of clients opening business proposals on desktop computers has been steadily decreasing over the years. As a matter of fact, as much as 46% of proposals are now opened on mobile devices. 

You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and you can’t control what device your client chooses to use. So what do you do? Choose a responsive design that looks great on all screen sizes.

documents opened on mobile proposal report stats

5. Look professional

Pixelated logos, mismatched fonts, and typos are the best way to lose credibility right off the bat. Our data shows that branding goes a long way, with proposals sent from a custom domain converting 19.3% better than the ones sent from a third-party domain.

6. Integrate live chat

Great customer service is always crucial to increasing your conversion rate. Live chat not only helps you to respond to your client's questions in real time but also puts them at ease. That’s why proposals with integrated live chat convert 18.2% better than those without it.

7. Make the offer easy to accept

The harder you make it for the client to do business with you, the more business you’re losing. With business proposals, the answer is easy - use a web-based platform like Better Proposals. That way, you’re letting clients sign documents electronically and pay, all in one place.

Using traditional PDFs sent as email attachments makes your conversion rate 88% worse. It's not a surprise when you think about it - nobody likes going through the hassle of printing, signing, scanning, and sending the document back.

sign by drawing with better proposals

Using proposal software to write, send, and track your business proposals

The truth is, rarely anyone writes proposals these days – most people use proposal software. Here’s why it’s a good idea:

  • Proposal software is web-based . You can send your clients links instead of PDF files.
  • Proposals are optimized for different devices. They look and feel the same on a phone, laptop or tablet.

Use a proposal software

  • You get to use proposal templates . (We have more than 130 of them.)
  • You can track what the client does with the proposal. You get notifications when they read, forward and sign.

Progress of your business proposal

  • Clients can instantly sign proposals electronically. This means your proposals are considered legally binding contracts. No need for third-party tools like DocuSign or DocuSign alternatives – good proposal software has that already built in.
  • Clients can pay from the proposal. Paypal, Stripe, GoCardless, you name it.

Pay from the proposal

  • You can use a variety of integrations . MailChimp, Zapier, Salesforce, HubSpot , or whatever else you are using in your sales workflow.
  • Detailed reporting . Find out what works and what doesn’t, no guessing.

Sales report from your proposals

  • The ability to use live chat . You can chat with the client as they’re reading the proposal, increasing your conversions.
  • You get to write your proposals in 15 minutes , not 5 hours. Pull the data from your CRM and populate it with automatic fields - it’s that simple.

how should a business proposal look

These are just some of the many reasons why you should consider using proposal software rather than opening Word next time you want to write an effective business proposal.

The takeaways

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting a new business , following our guide will help you dramatically increase the number of people who say yes to your proposals. In summary, here are the exact steps that you need to take to write an amazing business proposal:

  • Start off with a proposal template
  • Find out the questions that your clients are asking
  • Think of how you want the clients to feel as they read the proposal
  • Include the 8 elements of a winning business proposal, as listed above
  • Use proposal software to automate the writing process

One of the biggest reasons people take forever to write business proposals and ultimately do a bad job is because they are using software that simply isn’t geared up to doing the job in an effective way. It might sound like a self-serving suggestion , but you should take a look at using Better Proposals for writing your next business proposal. 

The business proposal templates in our Marketplace alone will save you a ton of time with many business proposal examples to browse, and our proposal software has everything you need for writing proposals in one place.

How many signatures can you collect in 14 days?

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how should a business proposal look

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7 simple steps to write a business proposal | a guide for small businesses.

7 Simple Steps to Write a Business Proposal | A Guide for Small Businesses

Why would your small business need to write a proposal? Government agencies and big companies may require you to submit one in response to their request for proposal (RFP). Or a new client could want an in-depth look at why you’re the right business for the job.

Whatever the case, writing powerful proposals helps small businesses win jobs in today’s competitive business environment, according to Entrepreneur .

Confused about what a business proposal (also known as a “project proposal”) is? This article has an easy-to-understand definition.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Get a Template
  • Understand the Requirements
  • Talk to the Client
  • Brainstorm Solutions
  • Sell Your Value
  • Fill out the Details
  • Review and Revise

1. Get a Template

A business proposal template helps you create a professional-looking, detailed proposal. Proposals generally have the same format, though there may be specific requirements depending on what industry you’re in, according to Inc. .

Microsoft Office has free proposal templates for service-based businesses (Word) and another for construction contractors (Excel).

Or take your proposals to the next step. FreshBooks has cloud-based proposal software that makes creating and sending winning proposals easy.

how should a business proposal look

2. Understand the Requirements

A RFP makes understanding a potential client’s requirements simple. An RFP will typically include the project’s timeline, budget and scope. It’s important to look beyond the RFP, though (or however the client sent you the project details—an email or your notes from a phone call).

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What goals does the client have?
  • How is my business uniquely positioned to help the client achieve their goals?
  • Is the project scope, budget and timelines doable?

Next, decide if you really want to take on this project. Just because you received an RFP, doesn’t mean you have to submit a proposal—though you should certainly thank the client for considering you for the project. Proposals are incredible time-consuming to prepare and time ultimately costs money.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have the time, resources and expertise to do this job (and do it well)?
  • Does this contract seem like it will extend into an ongoing relationship?
  • Does the client have good connections to other potential clients?
  • Is there a better opportunity on the horizon?

3. Talk to the Client

If you haven’t had a conversation with the prospective client yet, now’s the time to do it. Perhaps you got an RPF over email. Schedule a chat over the phone or in person about what the client really wants from the project.

An email or RFP may ask for certain deliverables but as you dig deeper into the project, you may be uncertain if that’s what they really want. Or there may be issues with the project that the RFP doesn’t account for and need to be included in the RFP and discussed with the potential client.

It’s also important to discover if another company already attempted the project and what didn’t work and why. Or if the client already received a round of proposals that they didn’t approve.

Ask the client:

  • What concerns do you have about the project?
  • Who makes the decisions?
  • What are your operating policies? These could include customer service policies.
  • Has the project already been attempted? What didn’t work?
  • How will you evaluate my proposal?
  • What do and don’t you like about working with contractors?
  • What is the project budget (if this hasn’t been discussed before)?

Your should also do some general research online about:

  • When the client’s company was founded
  • What products and/or services they provide
  • What are its competitors and are they doing better or worse than them
  • How the company is doing financially

You might also try asking anyone who’s worked with the company before about their experience.

At this point, you should have at least a ballpark idea of the client’s budget, according to Artists Network . Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

  • What budget have you allocated for this job?
  • What are you thinking of spending?
  • What can you afford?

An answer like “I don’t know” could mean they want you to propose a number. If they respond with something like “We don’t have a lot to spend” or “There isn’t really a budget” then you should definitely get a budget number now . They probably can’t afford you.

4. Brainstorm Solutions

Now it’s time to figure out how you’ll deliver on the client’s needs. Gather your team (if you have one) and figure out the steps you’d require to reach the end goal and in what order they need to be done.

Analyze the costs and benefits of the solutions you propose as well as how long they’ll take and what resources you’ll need to complete them. This article on estimation techniques will help you with this process and eliminate proposed solutions that don’t work.

Use information gleaned from your call with the client: are the key decision maker more concerned about you cutting costs or going above and beyond on customer service? After all, no matter how brilliant your solution it’s not going to get approved if it doesn’t align with the client’s priorities.

And go back to the RFP and see what criteria are most important, such as timelines and price. If your solution is time-consuming and/or expensive, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Now it’s time to start writing that proposal. You may need to add more sections. You should have the following sections:

  • Overview: Explain why the client wants to go ahead with this project (they could be trying to fix a problem, like fixing a leaky roof). Include any context or background. Use your research. This section is also called an “executive summary.”
  • Goals: Outline the project goals based on the RFP. Tie this into your own business’s mission and goals. Be compelling so that the client wants to keep reading but be concise too.
  • Methodology: Outline the steps you plan to take to meet the project goals.
  • Time and Cost: Detail timelines and pricing for each of the above steps. These are usually plugged into line items with prices and quantities (if you’re selling a product). You should also be clear about when you’ll be submitting invoices and when payment will be due for each.

5. Sell Your Value

Your proposal overview should explain why your business is the best fit for the job. After all, a proposal is a sales document that’s intended to win a job and edge out your competitors.

Research your competitors—you can make an educated guess or the client may even tell you who you’re up against. If you feel comfortable, ask the client how they like working with these competitors (if they have done so) and what their strengths are. Then figure out what your company’s value is versus your competitors’.

  • For example, a website designer can sell themselves to a startup company by mentioning that they only focus on designing for startups. Then they can include samples from past startup projects plus testimonials from those clients.

You also need to address any potential weaknesses the client thinks you have.

  • For example, the website designer is competing for the startup project against big, established firms. They can discuss how they can devote all their time to this project, while the big firms will be juggling multiple projects.

Add the following sections to your proposal template:

  • Qualifications: Outline why your company is the best fit for this job based on your competitive strengths and what your proposal’s being evaluated on (see the RFP)
  • Benefits: Detail how the client will benefit by using your particular solutions.

Be sure to focus on the company’s goals and problems, not on your business. The prospective client want to know how you can solve their problems, not generally how great your business is.

6. Fill out the Details

You’ve written the most important sections. Now it’s time to fill out all the mundane details in your proposal template like the date and terms and conditions. Jump to the section below on what should elements should be included in a standard business proposal.

You may also want to write a business proposal letter (or “cover letter”) to provide context on why you’re submitting. Learn how to do so in this article .

7. Review and Revise

Now that your proposal’s complete, look it over.

  • Does it fulfill all the requirements laid out in the RFP?
  • Does it cover all the client’s concerns?
  • Is the structure clear and logical?
  • How’s the grammar and spelling?
  • Does it look professional and high quality?

Ask one of your team members to check the proposal for all the above criteria. Run your spelling and grammar checker as a backup. Especially review the executive summary (or overview) in detail as this is typically the first thing the potential client will read.

Make sure you attach include any relevant addendum like design plans, samples of past work, client testimonials etc. Or include a link to an online portfolio.

Most small businesses can send their proposals online but for big jobs, you might consider printing and professionally binding the proposal.

Now wait for the client to sign. or they can conveniently approve the proposal online using best proposal software . Either way, after following these steps its much more likely you’ve created a successful proposal that will win the job.

how should a business proposal look

People also ask:

What Does a Business Proposal Look Like?

What should be included in a business proposal, how do you write a good business proposal.

Business proposals for service-based businesses tend to be alike, according to Inc. . There can be some differences in specific industries, like trades and home services, though.

Below is an  and what the outline typically looks like. Then jump to the section below to learn about what specific elements are usually included in a business proposal. A note: a business proposal is also known as a “project proposal.”

example of a general business proposal

Source: FreshBooks

Include the following elements in your business proposal:

  • Your contact information
  • Client contact information
  • Proposal date
  • Proposal number
  • Reference number (a PO number, for example)
  • Project overview
  • Scope of work
  • Services or product breakdown with quantities and prices
  • Sales tax, if applicable
  • Total project cost (include what currency it’s in)
  • Notes (including payment details)
  • Terms and conditions

You can also choose to include a cover letter ( this article shows you how to write one). But for smaller jobs, Inc. recommends combining the cover letter and proposal document into one document. You can also attach charts, graphs, photographs, maps, client testimonials, examples of past work etc.

To write a good business proposal (also known as a “project proposal”), Inc. suggests you consider the five following tips:

  • Sell your business. You must prove why your business is the right fit for the job and will provide the client the best value for the price. You must demonstrate that you understand the problem and provide a reasonable solution.
  • Understand the client. Talk to the client about exactly what they’re looking for in the project and from the proposal.
  • Establish your presence in the industry. This should be done ahead of time through sales and marketing techniques like advertising, having a social media presence, speaking at conferences and more. Also make sure you’re contacting the appropriate decisions makers at the company via email and phone to establish your presence.
  • Brainstorm solutions. Understand what promises you’re willing to make and how the client will evaluation your solutions (is cost most important?).
  • Edit. Customize any standard boilerplate text or content. Hire a copyeditor or in a pinch, use a grammer service like Grammarly .

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How To Write A Proposal: Data-backed Best Practices For 2022

Business proposals are sometimes perceived as a necessary evil in sales. Whether you're writing a proposal for a huge new contract or simply pitching to a potential lead, writing sales proposals can be daunting.

After all: with how hard you've worked to get the potential customer to this part of the process, a lot rides on your ability to get them to cross the finish line.

What if we told you that writing a smart, data informed business proposal could be the highlight of your sales process that also helps you to close more deals and increase revenue?

How to write a business proposal

12 min. read

The purpose of this guide is to provide a clear set of rules when it comes to how to draft, format, and implement a successful, stress-free sales proposal.

We'll take a deep-dive into the elements that need to be included, why these elements are essential for success, and how to effectively structure your proposal so that it's easy for your customers to understand their problem, your proposed solution, and make them eager to start doing business with you.

What is a business proposal?

A business proposal is an offer from a seller to a prospective customer. It's a document that outlines the scope of work, costs and deliverables for a project. Unlike estimates and invoices, business proposals are written before any work has started and are used to win new clients. Business proposals can vary; however, there's one thing in common: their purpose is to convince potential customers to buy your products or services.

Business Proposal – Marketing Template Example

They can be grouped into two categories:

Solicited proposals:

This is also known as an RFP (Request for Proposal). It's sent in response to a request from an existing customer or when contacting a company you already know. This type of proposal is based on the specifications provided by the client and must include all the information they have requested.

Unsolicited proposals:

Unsolicited proposals are sent to companies you don't have an established relationship with. This type of proposal is more like a sales pitch as you don't have any specifications to follow. In this case, you need to include as much information about your products or services as possible in order for your potential client to assess whether you're the right fit for them.

Why putting time and effort into your business proposal will pay off

If you've just landed a new prospect, you're likely both excited about the opportunity and wanting to move forward.

A well-crafted business proposal is a step toward landing the deal. A poorly crafted one, on the other hand, might give them reason to take their business elsewhere.

The hardest part of writing a business proposal is making a compelling argument for your work.

You need to show that:

  • you clearly understand the client's needs
  • you have the right skills and experience to undertake the project
  • your ideas are original and fresh
  • you have the willpower and determination to follow through on your promises
  • you have personality! (Nobody’s here for the boring business stuff)

With the world's information always quick search away, clients want to know why you're the absolute best solution to their problems, and that you're going to be worth investing in.

To ensure that you're always sending out top-quality proposals that will win over clients, use these data-backed best practices for writing business proposals in 2022.

Best Practices: What Should a Project Proposal Include?

A proposal’s structure and flow is like that of a story: it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Just like a good narrative, it is organized and tells a convincing story designed to captivate clients.

Most proposals follow similar patterns, but every proposal will be different depending on the company, industry, deal size, and the product or service in question.

The following sections detail the sections typically found in business proposals as well as explain how to include them.

1. Cover Page

It's hard to judge a book by its cover, but you can guess how well it will sell. A sales proposal cover page that is clean and informative, including the client’s name, your name and contact info, and the date submitted, is key to gaining and keeping a client’s attention. Consider including a table of contents to make it easy for the client to jump to the area they need to review.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary isn't a brief rehashing of the whole proposal, it is a highlight of the most important elements of your business proposal. The goal is to show the client that you understand their background information, business plan and unique challenges--and that you are just the one to solve them. Pique their interest and give them a reason to continue reading.

For inspiration writing your executive summary, take a look at these three executive summary examples you can steal.

3. Approach/Solution

How do you solve your prospects’ problems better than your competitors? How can your company solve customers’ pain in ways that are unique and compelling to your reader? The key to successful proposal writing is to outline the ways in which you provide solutions and make yourself a winning choice.

4. About Us/Our Team

Introduce your leadership team, company founders, and team members who will be working with your new clients on their project. Better yet, show how the members of your team have had success handling similar situations in the past.

The goal of this section is to give your client confidence that they will be working with a competent, professional team and minimize any doubts they might have about hiring you. You can also include a custom logo or digital business card, created through Tailor Brands , to enhance your proposal's professional appearance.

Pro Tip: in marketing, it's well known that including real, human photos increases trust with a customer and as a result, higher conversion rates. Apply this insight to your about us/our team section to create a memorable impression with your reader.

Business Proposal – About Us Example

5. Deliverables

The deliverables section of a business proposal is probably the most important section because it outlines exactly what will be delivered for the client.

It’s important to always include this section in your business proposals, as it gives the prospect a clear picture of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.

The deliverables section should outline details like:

  • The scope of the project includes recommendations based on research and analysis.
  • What you will provide (content, design, strategy, etc.)
  • How you will provide it (online, onsite, etc.)
  • When you will provide it (timeline)
  • Who will be responsible for what tasks and when they will be performed.

Aim to keep your pricing section succinct and straightforward. Explain how much their total investment is going to cost. List and describe all the project fees, taxes, discounts, and optional extras. If your client has any confusion or concern about hidden extra fees, they'll be more likely to trust you less — leading to a higher chance of rejection.

Highlight any additional costs that may arise during the project lifecycle. Clients tend to be sensitive about extra costs that weren't mentioned in the proposal. The more transparent you are with them, the more likely it is they will trust you and be willing to pay those additional costs if they crop up later on in the project. Make sure this is crystal clear in your business proposal price section so there's no confusion about what's included and what's not included in your pricing

Pro Tip : Instead of referring to your prices as fees or charges, label your pricing section Your Investment. This will remind people they’re making an investment in their own development and that of their team and organization.

7. Terms and Conditions/Sign Off

If you've gotten this far, you're on the home stretch. The closing of a business proposal should be the easiest part of creating it. You already did the hard work in the beginning and throughout, so it's time to wind down and push things over the finish line.

A clean, well-designed page is a great way to close out your proposal with confidence. Just make sure that you include all the necessary information: a place for your new client to esign, clear, up-to-date terms and conditions, and any other last-minute details they may need to review before making your partnership official.

8. Bonus: Case Studies

A case study is an in-depth look at a single example of a success story. It’s typically used to demonstrate how your offering has helped a customer overcome a key challenge they’ve been facing, and how it’s delivered tangible results as a result.

Case studies and testimonials are particularly useful in the closing stages of the deal cycle, when buyers are trying to determine whether or not a proposed solution is right for them. Social proof from a client who’s experienced success with your solution can go a long way in helping get your buyer over the line.

How Should A Business Proposal Look?

Given the high stakes of winning new business, you can’t afford to have a bad looking proposal. You’ve got to make it look good and fast.

Too many people focus on the content and forget about the design. The truth is both are equally important to the success of your proposal.

If you're not designing, you're losing out.

A well-designed proposal with engaging, high-quality images, graphics and video stands out from the competition and quickly communicates value to decision makers. Business proposals that stand out close deals.

Proposals with images close at a higher rate

In Proposify's annual State of Proposals report , we analyzed the data from the 1+ million business proposals sent through our software in 2021.

When it comes to images, the message is clear. Proposals that include images perform significantly better than those without. In fact, project proposals that contained images were 72% more likely to close, and they did so at a 20% faster rate.

If you’re looking for a way to make your proposals shine, adding images can be a real game-changer. They can help catch the attention of your prospect, while also allowing your company to show off its expertise and communicate ideas more effectively.

But which images should you include? Here are some suggestions:

Headshots of your team members:

If you’re offering services, it helps to let the prospect know who they’ll be working with. It also helps build trust — if they know who you are and can put faces to names, they’ll feel like they have an established relationship with you by the time they open the proposal.

Product shots to show off what you sell:

If you’re offering a specific product or service, including photos gives the prospect a better idea of what it entails. Product shots are particularly useful if you’re selling through an online marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy, because customers will already be used to seeing them there.

Images that illustrate your services in action:

For example, if you were pitching for a window cleaning job, showing images of past projects would serve as case studies that would help show off your skills and convince the prospect that you could create something similar for them.

Window washing services in action

Adding video to proposals increases close rates

Rather than just talking about how a proposal was constructed, proposal videos can show the reasoning behind their pricing. This makes the close much more effective, and greatly helps to close deals.

(Need help with video? Check out Vidyard .)

When your client shares your proposal internally, video makes it easy to have conversations where your voice is always present. Your client will love you because you’re explaining the deal yourself. Decision makers and buying committees will love you because you can demonstrate how you’ll solve their problem in 5 minutes, asynchronously, instead of 30 minutes over a scheduled call.

how should a business proposal look

From Proposify's annual State of Proposals report :

"Video is quickly becoming a critical part of the closing process. In 2021, there was a 40.5% year-over-year increase in the use of proposal video. This is up from a 31% YOY increase in 2020. Despite this increase, however, only 21% of all proposals contain video."

As companies search for creative ways to engage potential buyers, you can capitalize on this strategy now to help your deals stand out.

For inspiration, check out these examples on winning proposal design .

Sales Proposal Follow-Up

The best way to follow up with leads is to use data, not guesswork.

Professional persistence is an important element of good salesmanship—and when done right it can go a long way. A cautious approach and a smart strategy, not to mention personal reliability, will pay off.

How you follow up after sending a proposal is just as important as the proposal itself, and the timing of your follow-up can be the deciding factor in getting a deal closed, so it's important to know when is best to reach out.

You’re more likely to succeed when you reach out with important information based on your prospect’s behavior. For example, if you know that prospects open a proposal an average of five times before they make a decision, build high-importance tasks into your process for reps to follow up on the proposal as soon as it has been opened for a fifth time.

Business Proposal – Client Insights

To effectively use your follow-up process, you need to know the baseline metrics of your team. Once you know these numbers, you can identify patterns that indicate a deal may be in trouble and act before you miss your opportunity.

Ready to get started but need some inspiration?

Proposify's free Proposal Templates include everything you need to dominate your brand pitches and win more clients. Included are dozens of business proposal templates for businesses ranging from accounting firms, creative agencies, and architecture firms all the way to individual construction job proposal templates. If there’s a business that does it, there’s likely a template waiting for you inside.

Business Proposal – Roofing Template

A winning business proposal has a greater chance of success and can be the difference between getting that client, making that sale, or missing out on that opportunity. To get your proposal noticed in a sea of competitors, you need to work at creating a document that is easy and enjoyable to read.

Our best tip? Keep it short and concise, but don’t hesitate to include details in the most relevant sections.

Long story, short: create the proposal that you would be thrilled to get.

how to structure a proposal

How to Structure a Proposal

May 18, 2021

proposal executive summary

How To Write an Executive Summary

May 20, 2021

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Home » How To Write A Proposal – Step By Step Guide [With Template]

How To Write A Proposal – Step By Step Guide [With Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write A Proposal

How To Write A Proposal

Writing a Proposal involves several key steps to effectively communicate your ideas and intentions to a target audience. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each step:

Identify the Purpose and Audience

  • Clearly define the purpose of your proposal: What problem are you addressing, what solution are you proposing, or what goal are you aiming to achieve?
  • Identify your target audience: Who will be reading your proposal? Consider their background, interests, and any specific requirements they may have.

Conduct Research

  • Gather relevant information: Conduct thorough research to support your proposal. This may involve studying existing literature, analyzing data, or conducting surveys/interviews to gather necessary facts and evidence.
  • Understand the context: Familiarize yourself with the current situation or problem you’re addressing. Identify any relevant trends, challenges, or opportunities that may impact your proposal.

Develop an Outline

  • Create a clear and logical structure: Divide your proposal into sections or headings that will guide your readers through the content.
  • Introduction: Provide a concise overview of the problem, its significance, and the proposed solution.
  • Background/Context: Offer relevant background information and context to help the readers understand the situation.
  • Objectives/Goals: Clearly state the objectives or goals of your proposal.
  • Methodology/Approach: Describe the approach or methodology you will use to address the problem.
  • Timeline/Schedule: Present a detailed timeline or schedule outlining the key milestones or activities.
  • Budget/Resources: Specify the financial and other resources required to implement your proposal.
  • Evaluation/Success Metrics: Explain how you will measure the success or effectiveness of your proposal.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the main points and restate the benefits of your proposal.

Write the Proposal

  • Grab attention: Start with a compelling opening statement or a brief story that hooks the reader.
  • Clearly state the problem: Clearly define the problem or issue you are addressing and explain its significance.
  • Present your proposal: Introduce your proposed solution, project, or idea and explain why it is the best approach.
  • State the objectives/goals: Clearly articulate the specific objectives or goals your proposal aims to achieve.
  • Provide supporting information: Present evidence, data, or examples to support your claims and justify your proposal.
  • Explain the methodology: Describe in detail the approach, methods, or strategies you will use to implement your proposal.
  • Address potential concerns: Anticipate and address any potential objections or challenges the readers may have and provide counterarguments or mitigation strategies.
  • Recap the main points: Summarize the key points you’ve discussed in the proposal.
  • Reinforce the benefits: Emphasize the positive outcomes, benefits, or impact your proposal will have.
  • Call to action: Clearly state what action you want the readers to take, such as approving the proposal, providing funding, or collaborating with you.

Review and Revise

  • Proofread for clarity and coherence: Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Ensure a logical flow: Read through your proposal to ensure the ideas are presented in a logical order and are easy to follow.
  • Revise and refine: Fine-tune your proposal to make it concise, persuasive, and compelling.

Add Supplementary Materials

  • Attach relevant documents: Include any supporting materials that strengthen your proposal, such as research findings, charts, graphs, or testimonials.
  • Appendices: Add any additional information that might be useful but not essential to the main body of the proposal.

Formatting and Presentation

  • Follow the guidelines: Adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the organization or institution to which you are submitting the proposal.
  • Use a professional tone and language: Ensure that your proposal is written in a clear, concise, and professional manner.
  • Use headings and subheadings: Organize your proposal with clear headings and subheadings to improve readability.
  • Pay attention to design: Use appropriate fonts, font sizes, and formatting styles to make your proposal visually appealing.
  • Include a cover page: Create a cover page that includes the title of your proposal, your name or organization, the date, and any other required information.

Seek Feedback

  • Share your proposal with trusted colleagues or mentors and ask for their feedback. Consider their suggestions for improvement and incorporate them into your proposal if necessary.

Finalize and Submit

  • Make any final revisions based on the feedback received.
  • Ensure that all required sections, attachments, and documentation are included.
  • Double-check for any formatting, grammar, or spelling errors.
  • Submit your proposal within the designated deadline and according to the submission guidelines provided.

Proposal Format

The format of a proposal can vary depending on the specific requirements of the organization or institution you are submitting it to. However, here is a general proposal format that you can follow:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization’s name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines.

2. Executive Summary:

  •  Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.
  • Summarize the problem, proposed solution, and anticipated benefits.
  • Keep it brief and engaging, as this section is often read first and should capture the reader’s attention.

3. Introduction:

  • State the problem or issue you are addressing and its significance.
  • Provide background information to help the reader understand the context and importance of the problem.
  • Clearly state the purpose and objectives of your proposal.

4. Problem Statement:

  • Describe the problem in detail, highlighting its impact and consequences.
  • Use data, statistics, or examples to support your claims and demonstrate the need for a solution.

5. Proposed Solution or Project Description:

  • Explain your proposed solution or project in a clear and detailed manner.
  • Describe how your solution addresses the problem and why it is the most effective approach.
  • Include information on the methods, strategies, or activities you will undertake to implement your solution.
  • Highlight any unique features, innovations, or advantages of your proposal.

6. Methodology:

  • Provide a step-by-step explanation of the methodology or approach you will use to implement your proposal.
  • Include a timeline or schedule that outlines the key milestones, tasks, and deliverables.
  • Clearly describe the resources, personnel, or expertise required for each phase of the project.

7. Evaluation and Success Metrics:

  • Explain how you will measure the success or effectiveness of your proposal.
  • Identify specific metrics, indicators, or evaluation methods that will be used.
  • Describe how you will track progress, gather feedback, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Present a detailed budget that outlines the financial resources required for your proposal.
  • Include all relevant costs, such as personnel, materials, equipment, and any other expenses.
  • Provide a justification for each item in the budget.

9. Conclusion:

  •  Summarize the main points of your proposal.
  •  Reiterate the benefits and positive outcomes of implementing your proposal.
  • Emphasize the value and impact it will have on the organization or community.

10. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as research findings, charts, graphs, or testimonials.
  •  Attach any relevant documents that provide further information but are not essential to the main body of the proposal.

Proposal Template

Here’s a basic proposal template that you can use as a starting point for creating your own proposal:

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to submit a proposal for [briefly state the purpose of the proposal and its significance]. This proposal outlines a comprehensive solution to address [describe the problem or issue] and presents an actionable plan to achieve the desired objectives.

Thank you for considering this proposal. I believe that implementing this solution will significantly contribute to [organization’s or community’s goals]. I am available to discuss the proposal in more detail at your convenience. Please feel free to contact me at [your email address or phone number].

Yours sincerely,

Note: This template is a starting point and should be customized to meet the specific requirements and guidelines provided by the organization or institution to which you are submitting the proposal.

Proposal Sample

Here’s a sample proposal to give you an idea of how it could be structured and written:

Subject : Proposal for Implementation of Environmental Education Program

I am pleased to submit this proposal for your consideration, outlining a comprehensive plan for the implementation of an Environmental Education Program. This program aims to address the critical need for environmental awareness and education among the community, with the objective of fostering a sense of responsibility and sustainability.

Executive Summary: Our proposed Environmental Education Program is designed to provide engaging and interactive educational opportunities for individuals of all ages. By combining classroom learning, hands-on activities, and community engagement, we aim to create a long-lasting impact on environmental conservation practices and attitudes.

Introduction: The state of our environment is facing significant challenges, including climate change, habitat loss, and pollution. It is essential to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to understand these issues and take action. This proposal seeks to bridge the gap in environmental education and inspire a sense of environmental stewardship among the community.

Problem Statement: The lack of environmental education programs has resulted in limited awareness and understanding of environmental issues. As a result, individuals are less likely to adopt sustainable practices or actively contribute to conservation efforts. Our program aims to address this gap and empower individuals to become environmentally conscious and responsible citizens.

Proposed Solution or Project Description: Our Environmental Education Program will comprise a range of activities, including workshops, field trips, and community initiatives. We will collaborate with local schools, community centers, and environmental organizations to ensure broad participation and maximum impact. By incorporating interactive learning experiences, such as nature walks, recycling drives, and eco-craft sessions, we aim to make environmental education engaging and enjoyable.

Methodology: Our program will be structured into modules that cover key environmental themes, such as biodiversity, climate change, waste management, and sustainable living. Each module will include a mix of classroom sessions, hands-on activities, and practical field experiences. We will also leverage technology, such as educational apps and online resources, to enhance learning outcomes.

Evaluation and Success Metrics: We will employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Pre- and post-assessments will gauge knowledge gain, while surveys and feedback forms will assess participant satisfaction and behavior change. We will also track the number of community engagement activities and the adoption of sustainable practices as indicators of success.

Budget: Please find attached a detailed budget breakdown for the implementation of the Environmental Education Program. The budget covers personnel costs, materials and supplies, transportation, and outreach expenses. We have ensured cost-effectiveness while maintaining the quality and impact of the program.

Conclusion: By implementing this Environmental Education Program, we have the opportunity to make a significant difference in our community’s environmental consciousness and practices. We are confident that this program will foster a generation of individuals who are passionate about protecting our environment and taking sustainable actions. We look forward to discussing the proposal further and working together to make a positive impact.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at [your email address or phone number].

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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What marijuana reclassification means for the United States

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

FILE - Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

FILE - Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

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Budtender Rey Cruz weighs cannabis for a customer at the Marijuana Paradise on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. The shop is one of the first dispensaries to open under the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board’s social equity program, established in efforts to remedy some of the disproportionate effects marijuana prohibition had on communities of color. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving toward reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. The Justice Department proposal would recognize the medical uses of cannabis , but wouldn’t legalize it for recreational use.

The proposal would move marijuana from the “Schedule I” group to the less tightly regulated “Schedule III.”

So what does that mean, and what are the implications?

WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Technically, nothing yet. The proposal must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and then undergo a public-comment period and review from an administrative judge, a potentially lengthy process.

FILE - A marijuana plant is visible at a medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., March 22, 2019 The Biden administration's move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous but still illegal drug was hailed as a monumental step in reshaping national policy. But it appears it would do little to ease a longstanding problem in the industry, a lack of loans and banking services other businesses take for granted. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Still, the switch is considered “paradigm-shifting, and it’s very exciting,” Vince Sliwoski, a Portland, Oregon-based cannabis and psychedelics attorney who runs well-known legal blogs on those topics, told The Associated Press when the federal Health and Human Services Department recommended the change.

“I can’t emphasize enough how big of news it is,” he said.

It came after President Joe Biden asked both HHS and the attorney general, who oversees the DEA, last year to review how marijuana was classified. Schedule I put it on par, legally, with heroin, LSD, quaaludes and ecstasy, among others.

Biden, a Democrat, supports legalizing medical marijuana for use “where appropriate, consistent with medical and scientific evidence,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “That is why it is important for this independent review to go through.”

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. The shop is one of the first dispensaries to open under the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board's social equity program, established in efforts to remedy some of the disproportionate effects marijuana prohibition had on communities of color. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

IF MARIJUANA GETS RECLASSIFIED, WOULD IT LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL CANNABIS NATIONWIDE?

Ap audio: what marijuana reclassification means for the united states.

AP correspondent Haya Panjwani reports on a proposal for the federal government to reclassify marijuana in what would be a historic shift that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

No. Schedule III drugs — which include ketamine, anabolic steroids and some acetaminophen-codeine combinations — are still controlled substances.

They’re subject to various rules that allow for some medical uses, and for federal criminal prosecution of anyone who traffics in the drugs without permission.

No changes are expected to the medical marijuana programs now licensed in 38 states or the legal recreational cannabis markets in 23 states, but it’s unlikely they would meet the federal production, record-keeping, prescribing and other requirements for Schedule III drugs.

There haven’t been many federal prosecutions for simply possessing marijuana in recent years, even under marijuana’s current Schedule I status, but the reclassification wouldn’t have an immediate impact on people already in the criminal justice system.

“Put simple, this move from Schedule I to Schedule III is not getting people out of jail,” said David Culver, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Cannabis Council.

But rescheduling in itself would have some impact, particularly on research and marijuana business taxes.

WHAT WOULD THIS MEAN FOR RESEARCH?

Because marijuana is on Schedule I, it’s been very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies that involve administering the drug. That has created something of a Catch-22: calls for more research, but barriers to doing it. (Scientists sometimes rely instead on people’s own reports of their marijuana use.)

Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Schedule III drugs are easier to study, though the reclassification wouldn’t immediately reverse all barriers to study.

“It’s going to be really confusing for a long time,” said Ziva Cooper, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids. “When the dust has settled, I don’t know how many years from now, research will be easier.”

Among the unknowns: whether researchers will be able to study marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries and how the federal Food and Drug Administration might oversee that.

Some researchers are optimistic.

“Reducing the schedule to schedule 3 will open up the door for us to be able to conduct research with human subjects with cannabis,” said Susan Ferguson, director of University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute in Seattle.

WHAT ABOUT TAXES (AND BANKING)?

Under the federal tax code, businesses involved in “trafficking” in marijuana or any other Schedule I or II drug can’t deduct rent, payroll or various other expenses that other businesses can write off. (Yes, at least some cannabis businesses, particularly state-licensed ones, do pay taxes to the federal government, despite its prohibition on marijuana.) Industry groups say the tax rate often ends up at 70% or more.

The deduction rule doesn’t apply to Schedule III drugs, so the proposed change would cut cannabis companies’ taxes substantially.

They say it would treat them like other industries and help them compete against illegal competitors that are frustrating licensees and officials in places such as New York .

“You’re going to make these state-legal programs stronger,” says Adam Goers, of The Cannabist Company, formerly Columbia Care. He co-chairs a coalition of corporate and other players that’s pushing for rescheduling.

It could also mean more cannabis promotion and advertising if those costs could be deducted, according to Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Center.

Rescheduling wouldn’t directly affect another marijuana business problem: difficulty accessing banks, particularly for loans, because the federally regulated institutions are wary of the drug’s legal status. The industry has been looking instead to a measure called the SAFE Banking Act . It has repeatedly passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

ARE THERE CRITICS? WHAT DO THEY SAY?

Indeed, there are, including the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. President Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy official, said the HHS recommendation “flies in the face of science, reeks of politics” and gives a regrettable nod to an industry “desperately looking for legitimacy.”

Some legalization advocates say rescheduling weed is too incremental. They want to keep the focus on removing it completely from the controlled substances list, which doesn’t include such items as alcohol or tobacco (they’re regulated, but that’s not the same).

Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that simply reclassifying marijuana would be “perpetuating the existing divide between state and federal marijuana policies.” Kaliko Castille, a past president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, said rescheduling just “re-brands prohibition,” rather than giving an all-clear to state licensees and putting a definitive close to decades of arrests that disproportionately pulled in people of color.

“Schedule III is going to leave it in this kind of amorphous, mucky middle where people are not going to understand the danger of it still being federally illegal,” he said.

This story has been corrected to show that Kaliko Castille is a past president, not president, of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and that Columbia Care is now The Cannabist Company.

___ Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writers Colleen Long in Washington and Carla K. Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report.

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Many Americans have no idea how much they need to save for retirement — and the calculus is getting even more complicated

  • How much money people need in retirement isn't one defined answer — it really depends.
  • While some workers think they'll need $1.5 million or more, many don't have nearly that much.
  • And while some retirees rely on Social Security, those benefits may not be paid in full in just 10 or so years.

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What's your magic number for retirement ? Many Americans don't know, and it's getting even harder to calculate — especially as Social Security is poised to start reducing benefits in just about a decade.

But those who do calculate it are upping their savings. According to a press release about the Employee Benefit Research Institute's recent 2024 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted in January with Greenwald Research and with a sample of 1,255 workers and 1,266 retirees, half "of Americans have tried to calculate how much money they will need in retirement."

"In reaction to their calculation, 52% of workers and 44% of retirees started to save more," the press release stated.

A third of respondents who are working and had attempted to calculate their retirement needs think they'll need $1.5 million or more in retirement.

Similarly, an AARP Financial Security Trends Survey conducted in January showed over a quarter of people aged 50 and over think they will need to save $1 million or more to feel financially secure in retirement .

That's quite a bit more than what workers actually have in savings.

A third of workers in the EBRI and Greenwald Research survey have less than $50,000 in savings and investments. And while they could use that for retirement, there's always the chance they'll have to dip into those savings for other unexpected costs.

So how can you calculate what might be right for you?

Craig Copeland, director of Wealth Benefits Research at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, told Business Insider that there isn't just one correct number for retirement savings because it depends on different factors for each individual, such as where they live and their lifestyle.

In addition, Americans looking toward retirement could see unexpected inflation like we saw in the last few years or a similarly unpredictable stock market. Finally, Social Security is facing a decline in payouts in just over a decade. It all adds up to a lot of confusion and fear about Americans' golden years.

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"That number is all over the place," Copeland said, referring to how much people are going to need in retirement savings. "Some people use a multiple of their salary; some have suggested that you need 10 times your salary in assets. That's sometimes where someone has a six-figure income, you'd expect to have a million dollars."

Social Security's uncertainty and inflation add to complications

Social Security is also a key contributor toward financial comfort in retirement. According to the survey, 88% of workers expect Social Security to be an income source in retirement, with 91% of retirees confirming that sentiment, reporting the federal benefit as one of their income sources.

Those relying on Social Security just got some new information on the fate of the program — the latest Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees report found that the program will not be able to pay out full benefits beginning in 2035, a year later than expected. While that offers a bit of breathing room for the funds and new retirees — who would start receiving 83% of the full benefits come 2035 — it could still be a major blow to workers' prospects if Social Security goes unfunded.

"It will be devastating if people who already are facing very dire retirement prospects get less Social Security than they're planning on. That would be devastating because, for too many people, Social Security provides the bulk of their income in retirement," William Arnone, the CEO of the non-partisan National Academy of Social Insurance, told BI.

While people are likely going to need to rely on savings during retirement, some may also need to pick up some type of work as a retiree. Estimating how much you will need in retirement may be helpful, even long before retirement.

Copeland said people "need to be aware that that backup source isn't always going to be there and that they need to think about making sure that they can get enough savings, that they have that buffer, because many people end up retiring before they expect to or may want to." Copeland said that a health issue could be one of the reasons behind this earlier retirement.

Some workers think they will also have to work for pay in retirement: 75% of workers said so in the survey, including 40% who said part-time work and 24% who said seasonal or sporadic work. That's compared to almost a third of retirees who said this, including 17% who said they have worked part time.

"Every adult in America deserves to retire with dignity and financial security," Indira Venkateswaran, AARP senior vice president of research, said in a statement. "Yet far too many people lack access to retirement savings options and this, coupled with higher prices, is making it increasingly hard for people to choose when to retire."

Still, the survey from EBRI and Greenwald Research found that "​​30% of retirees say their overall lifestyle in retirement is better than expected." Almost half of retirees said they somewhat agree that they're able to spend money how they want to now as a retiree, within reason.

That highlights the fact that calculating how much you're going to actually need in retirement is complicated.

"We do see that the people that actually do a calculation become more confident and they start doing things that will get them in that direction," Copeland said. "They'll start saving more and they'll start developing plans for what they're doing. So it's really a matter of getting people to really focus on what they need and start building a plan toward that."

What do your retirement outlook and savings look like? Reach out to these reporters to share at [email protected] , [email protected] , and [email protected] .

how should a business proposal look

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Federal Reserve keeps interest rates at current levels as inflation holds its grip

The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged at between 5.25% and 5.5% — the highest level in more than a decade — as annual inflation rates continued to stall.

In its statement announcing the hold, the central bank said that in recent months, there had been "a lack of further progress" toward its 2% percent inflation goal.

"Economic activity has continued to expand at a solid pace," it said. "Job gains have remained strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated."

Last month, the consumer price index came in at 3.5% on an annual basis, driven by rising housing costs and insurance rates, especially auto insurance.

"We're just a mile a way from the finish line," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, referring to the economy reaching 2% inflation. "We're very close, but still not there. I do think that inflation will continue to moderate."

The Fed has sought to slow inflation by keeping interest rates elevated. By making it more expensive for businesses and consumers to borrow money, including through credit cards, the Fed hopes to reduce demand for goods and services, thereby reducing price growth.

So far, the results of doing this have been mixed. After a period of rapid interest rate hikes, the pace of inflation fell from more than 9% in the summer of 2022 to its current levels of between 3% and 4%.

But the decline has since stalled.

There are complex reasons for the lack of progress and many elements may actually be out of the Federal Reserve's control. Home and auto insurance companies continue to pass on higher costs to consumers . Meanwhile, even as many consumers struggle, post-pandemic wealth gains have left others — especially older consumers — with plenty of money to spend, despite higher prices.

Whatever the case, the wait for slower inflation has left the average consumer in an increasingly dour mood. On Tuesday, the Conference Board’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index came in at its lowest level since July 2022. Consumers expressed more concern about the current labor market situation, future business conditions, job availability and income, the group said.

Still, most analysts say the odds of a recession are remote. In the most recent GDP report, spending on services, which includes everything from restaurants to airfare to professional services, came in at 4% year-on-year, the fastest rate since 2021.

“Don’t underestimate this economy,” economists with Wells Fargo said in a report following the release.

Consumers thus appear to be sensing that the most crucial part of the economy — the jobs market — is slowing, even while prices remain elevated.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged this complex economic environment in remarks in early March.

"The outlook is still quite uncertain," Powell said. The central bank must balance its campaign against elevated inflation with ensuring the economy does not slip into a recession.

Economists like Zandi aren't expecting the Fed to raise interest rates, either.

Instead, the Fed will likely continue to keep rates elevated — perhaps even until after the November general election so that it does not appear to favor one candidate or another.

"[Powell's] message is clear: We can’t cut rates and we’re not there yet," Zandi said. "We've still got a ways to go."

how should a business proposal look

Rob Wile is a breaking business news reporter for NBC News Digital.

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how should a business proposal look

Jonah E. Bromwich , who covers criminal justice in New York for The New York Times.

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  1. How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates)

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  4. How to Write a Winning Business Proposal (With Examples)

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  1. How To Write An Effective Business Proposal

    To create an effective business proposal that persuades the recipient to take action, include these key components: Title page and table of contents: Begin with a professional title page that ...

  2. How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]

    Here's an example of what a business proposal template looks like when done right: 2. Explain your "why" with an executive summary. The executive summary details exactly why you're sending the proposal and why your solution is the best for the prospective client. Specificity is key here.

  3. How to Write a Business Proposal with Examples

    3. Table of contents. A table of contents is an important, but often overlooked, part of any longer document because it helps the reader know what they can expect to find in the proposal. Unless your business proposal is very brief, include a table of contents that outlines the basic structure of your document.

  4. How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples + Free Templates)

    The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the "less is more" principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that's much more scannable.

  5. How to Write a Business Proposal (+ Template & Examples)

    Download as Google Doc. After you've downloaded our free template above, you can now customize it according to your business needs as you follow the steps to writing a proposal below: 1. Determine Sales Proposal Requirements. 2. Gather Necessary Information. 3. Design Your Proposed Solution.

  6. Business Proposal: How-to Guide, Templates & Examples

    A business proposal is a document that aims to secure a business agreement. Whether printed or digital, a business proposal is written by a business and offered to a prospective customer. In many cases, the prospective customer is also a business that's looking for the best B2B solution. The purpose of a business proposal varies.

  7. How to Write a Business Proposal

    The minimalist design gives the plan a modern look and creates a powerful visual impact. Leverage the space to detail your executive summary, description of services, ... Your business proposal should be clear and easy to understand. It should articulate the problem, proposed solution, methodology and terms in a straightforward manner. ...

  8. How to write a business proposal: Examples and Templates

    It's the most common type of business proposal in the B2B markets. Example: A construction company submits a formally solicited proposal to a government agency in response to an RFP for building a new community center. The proposal outlines the company's approach, timeline, costs, and qualifications for the project.

  9. How to Write a Business Proposal in 2024 (+ Templates)

    Template #13: Conference Proposal. Propose your event planning services to clients with an interactive digital document that will grab their attention and make them want to get in touch immediately. Include proposals in the sales cycle and offer sales reps a chance to personalize the document according to the client.

  10. How to Write & Design a Winning Business Proposal in 2023

    Make sure that your questions include the information from step one. Also include the questions you thought of in step two. Present these questions to each prospective client before you create a business proposal. Before you send the question list to a client, make sure that each question is easy to understand.

  11. Business Proposal Guide: How to Write, Examples and Template

    Add the name of the recipient or the company the proposal is addressed. 3. List your company's name and contact information, including address, phone number, email, and website. 4. Date the proposal to keep track of when the offer was submitted. 5. Incorporate a logo and design elements that reflect your company's brand.

  12. How to Write a Business Proposal

    A business proposal is a document you'd send to a prospective client, outlining the service you're offering, and explaining why you're the best person for the job. It's a pitch 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.

  13. How To Write a Business Proposal in 2024 (Examples + Tips)

    3. Write a cover letter. Not to be confused with your title page, your cover letter serves as an introduction to you and your business. Some proposals might even include the cover letter before the table of contents as a way of setting up the entire proposal. Your cover letter should be short and no more than one page.

  14. How to Write a Business Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide

    1. Send your proposals quickly. For over four years now, sending proposals out within 24 hours of meeting the client has been the best way to increase conversion rates. According to our data, proposals that are sent out within that time frame had a 23% higher conversion rate than those sent only a day later.

  15. 7 Simple Steps to Write a Business Proposal

    Fill out the Details. Review and Revise. 1. Get a Template. A business proposal template helps you create a professional-looking, detailed proposal. Proposals generally have the same format, though there may be specific requirements depending on what industry you're in, according to Inc..

  16. How to Write a Winning Business Proposal (With Examples)

    Step #6: Follow up. After you complete your proposal and send it over to the prospective client, it's critical to have a plan to follow up with the individual or team. I suggest setting up a call or meeting to go over the proposal with them and answer any questions they may have about it.

  17. 20 Best Business Proposal Examples & Templates to Use

    The template includes data widgets and a detailed list format to present your business services best. The pricing page features a three-tier pricing structure with corresponding services, making it easy to compare options. 3. Mobile Video Game Development Business Proposal Example.

  18. How To Write a Business Proposal: Components, Steps and Tips

    1. Read the request for proposal. If you are writing the business proposal in response to a request for a proposal, or an RFP, be sure to carefully and thoroughly read the RFP. Make sure that you understand what the client is asking for so that you can create a proposal they are likely to accept. 2.

  19. How To Write A Proposal: Best Practices For 2022

    1. Cover Page. It's hard to judge a book by its cover, but you can guess how well it will sell. A sales proposal cover page that is clean and informative, including the client's name, your name and contact info, and the date submitted, is key to gaining and keeping a client's attention.

  20. How To Write a Business Proposal (Plus Examples and Tips)

    The purpose of a business proposal is to showcase your company to an audience intending to develop a business arrangement. A business proposal can: Educate someone else about your company's products and services. Sell your offerings to individuals and groups. Convince a business why they should partner with your company.

  21. How To Write A Proposal

    1. Title Page: Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization's name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines. 2. Executive Summary: Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving toward reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. The Justice Department proposal would recognize the medical uses of cannabis, but wouldn't legalize it for recreational use. The proposal would move marijuana from the "Schedule I" group to the less tightly ...

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