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Blog Business

How to Write Business Proposal (Examples + Free Templates)

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. 

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…

  • 31 Consulting Proposal Templates to Close Deals
  • 20+ Professional Business Letterhead Templates + Branding Tips
  • How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]

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 to draw up a business proposal pdf

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

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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.

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Free Sales Business Proposal Template

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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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BUSINESS STRATEGIES

A guide to writing a winning business proposal

  • Cecilia Lazzaro Blasbalg
  • Oct 5, 2020

How to write a business proposal

Businesses of all types share a common goal: to make revenue. In order to do so, they need to reach prospective clients who might be interested in or can benefit from their product or service.

As an entrepreneur, writing a proposal is one way to close the gap between you and your potential customers. At any stage of your business, from creating a business website to building a customer base, it’s crucial to effectively persuade people that what you’re offering is the best solution in your market.

When starting a business , you want to stay one step ahead of the competition. We’ve created a complete guide on how to write a business proposal, as well as a list of the best practices to consider when crafting your own.

What is a business proposal?

A business proposal is a document written by a business that’s designed to convince a prospective client to award them a particular job contract, or to use their services. For example, a photography agency might submit a proposal to a firm that’s looking to get new company headshots. The proposal can be as short or as long as necessary to successfully communicate relevant information.

Unlike a business plan (see our guide on the types of business plans ), which serves as a roadmap for how to structure, operate and manage a business, a proposal is created to help sell your offerings and reach new clients. Although there are three types of business proposals to consider, they all address the same points: what is the problem at hand, what is the proposed solution and how much does it cost.

The different types of business proposals are:

Formally solicited proposals are made in response to an official request - either verbal or written - by prospective clients. Most businesses prefer using RFPs (request for proposal), which is a document sent to another organization asking it to submit a business proposal. If your company is solicited a proposal, you’ll have the advantage of receiving all the vital information that the client is looking for, so you can write up a solid proposal.

Informally solicited proposals are those that have been requested by prospective clients, although unofficially. They may come up in the setting of a casual conversation or meeting. If your company receives an informally solicited proposal, the preliminary research about the client will be done by you, unlike what happens during formally solicited proposals.

Unsolicited proposals are sent to potential clients even though they don’t request one. Unsolicited proposals are comparable to a popular sales technique known as cold calling, in which a seller contacts a potential buyer who hasn’t previously shown interest in their offering. Implementing extensive market research , however, can help turn an unsolicited proposal into a personalized bid for your prospect client’s active attention.

How to write a business proposal

Start with a title page

Create a table of contents

Make your case with an executive summary

Sketch out the problem in question

Offer a solution

Introduce your team

Add pricing options

Outline your terms and conditions

Make room for signatures

01. Start with a title page

Whether you’re starting a business or expanding an existing one, your business proposal's title page serves as an important anchor.

Here you’ll introduce the fundamentals. List your name, business name and company logo, as well as the client’s name and contact information. Add the date the proposal was submitted and a compelling title to distinguish your business from the rest.

Keep in mind good writing and grammar rules, such as capitalizing the letters in names and titles. Stay consistent with the formatting of all contact information and dates.

In your layout, think about how you can help the most important elements stand out. The title should be front and center, followed by your name, company name and logo.

People are drawn to aesthetically pleasing design, so make sure your title page is attractive to the eye and that it falls in line with your message. One way to do this is with typography or the visual aspect of type. When typing in your text, try to make it appealing and legible by carefully selecting the right alignment or font size.

Choosing a specific typeface or font pairing can visually set the perfect tone for your proposal. For example, if you work in the publishing industry, then you may want to use American Typewriter to highlight your expertise.

02. Create a table of contents

The average attention span for a person is down to eight seconds . That gives you just enough time to transmit a few words to someone else.

To make your proposal easier for skim reading, consider adding a table of contents. That way, readers can easily navigate through different sections.

Think of a table of contents like a cheat sheet in outline form. It lets your potential client know exactly how to find everything in your document. The table should mention all the main components of your business proposal, from the executive summary and pricing to the terms and conditions.

When crafting a digital proposal, you can create a clickable table so that your reader will have the ease to revisit each section and quickly search across multiple pages.

A man writing a business proposal

03. Make your case with an executive summary

In your proposal, the executive summary serves as a high level overview of your business. Explain why your business offers the best solution to a prospective client’s problem or issue. Use direct language that is persuasive and communicates all your key points clearly and eloquently.

Take the time to talk about your business by writing a mission statement and vision statement and outlining the specific benefits clients can expect from your product or service. Articulate this by showcasing any milestones in your career, such as new customers a month or reaching a significant number of sales.

04. Sketch out the problem in question

You want to show that you’ve got your customer’s best interest at heart. With that said, be sure to establish that your company truly understands the problem at hand.

In order to do so, use clear and concise language to address the issue in question. You can explain in simple terms what difficulties your client is facing or what exact problem is holding them back. Readers will be able to better see themselves reflected in your proposal if you explicitly show their concerns are integral to the solution you’re offering.

Additionally, you might also point out an issue that a potential customer hasn’t been made aware of, indicating a solid awareness of their needs. This can lead to forming a strong relationship with your prospective customer and gain their trust.

05. Offer a solution

This section of your business proposal is about how you plan to address the client’s problem.

Here, you’ll need to clarify the “how” and “when” of your proposal while avoiding industry jargon that may obscure any type of reader’s comprehension.

At this stage, you’ve reviewed the challenges the client faces and showed you’ve got the best intentions to help them. Now, you’ll want to translate these approaches into a strategy.

When laying out your offering, you may want to include a timeline detailing when each part of your plan will be taken. That way, the client knows when to expect what you’ve promised to deliver. For example, if you’re running a coaching business, you can walk the prospective client through each step of your proposed solution, from a pre-consultation meeting to the wrap-up session.

06. Introduce your team

Now that you’ve addressed your potential client’s main priorities and your solution, the prospective customer is ready to spend some time getting to know your company in depth.

Whether you’re a team of one or many, it’s important that the client identifies who the experts are. Feature your staff with their names and headshots, alongside their company titles and short bios. You should highlight details such as education levels, awards, industry-specific training and any other relevant background.

Having an About Us section is not only a great space to introduce your team, but it also strengthens credibility and builds trust. For example, incorporating testimonials from satisfied customers helps boost your business’s reputation. This section is the perfect transition to telling the unique story behind your brand and talking about your business’s values, vision and goals.

An About Us website page

07. Add pricing options

You want to avoid any confusion when it comes to money. Creating a pricing table can bring clarity and accuracy to different payment options for each product or service that you're offering.

This also lets potential customers quickly find what they are looking for and immediately see how much it will cost them. An organized structure like a table, where options may be viewed side-by-side, is also a great way to draw attention to your most important offerings and increase your chances to upsell.

08. Outline your terms and conditions

Clarify what you and your client are agreeing to if they accept your proposal. This is where you want to specify formalities such as the duration of the business deal, payment dates and methods, the project timeline from start to finish, and the cancellation policy. Any necessary permits or licensing must be added in the section, too.

It is highly recommended to consult with a member of your company’s legal team or an external lawyer to go over this section before finalizing your proposal.

09. Make room for signatures

Conclude with a signature box for clients to sign and make it official that they are committing to your business proposal. Make sure to include a line for the signing date.

Consider including a friendly prompt for the client to reach out to you in case they have any questions, accompanied by your contact information.

For digital proposals, set up an e-signature field and make contact details clickable.

Best practices for writing a business proposal

Each section of a business proposal is composed of many components. To make the process easier, we’ve handpicked a few tips to get you started:

Use visual content - From charts and graphs to photographs and illustrations, visual content can be used to enhance any proposal. Use images to better explain and highlight crucial information so the potential client doesn’t miss a thing.

Embrace quantitative data - At the core of any decision-making process is data-driven research. Statistics such as demographics, market size, monetary figures and more can enrich our understanding and help validate your claim.

Take it online - A digital proposal makes it easy for you to share it and get feedback. You can include audio clips, hyperlinks and videos to keep readers engaged, making the content more enticing. In case your proposal is meant for the eyes of individual clients only, you can password protect it to keep the content gated.

Watch out for typos - Your proposal is a reflection of your business. It should look professional and polished. Proofread the final version of your proposal before it is sent off and watch out for any spelling mistakes and bad grammar.

Remember your brand voice - Your brand is the way your business is perceived and what sets it apart from the competition. Stay true to your brand identity and values throughout your proposal. Maintain a cohesive tone and style of communication, whether that means being technical, playful or anything else.

Implement a call-to-action - After reading your business proposal, a potential client should know what to do next. By using a persuasive call-to-action (CTA), you’ll be able to prompt your audience to perform a certain act or follow the final step to sealing the deal. ‘Join now’ or ‘contact us’ are good examples of strong CTAs.

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How to Write a Perfect Business Proposal

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Are you looking to win more business and impress potential clients? One of the best ways to do so is by writing a well-crafted business proposal. A business proposal is a written document that outlines your business idea, the services you offer, and how you plan to help your client solve their problem. In this post, we will discuss how to write a perfect business proposal in 6 steps.  

What is a Business Proposal?  

A business proposal is a document that provides an offer to a prospective client. It is a sales document that aims to persuade the client to purchase your products or services. A business proposal should be well-written and tailored to the client's needs. It should be clear, concise, and provide a solution to the client's problem.  

Types of Business Proposals  

There are different types of business proposals based on the industry and the purpose of the proposal. Some of the common types of business proposals are:  

  • Solicited proposals: These proposals are requested by the client, and they usually have specific requirements that need to be met.  
  • Unsolicited proposals: These proposals are sent to the client without any request. They are used to introduce your business to the client and to showcase your services.  
  • Internal proposals: These proposals are written for internal purposes, such as proposing a new project, process improvement, or cost-saving initiatives.  

Why Write a Business Proposal?  

Writing a business proposal has many benefits, including:  

  • Winning new business: A well-written business proposal can help you win new clients and increase your revenue.  
  • Showcasing your expertise: A business proposal is an opportunity to showcase your services and your expertise in your industry.  
  • Building relationships: A business proposal can help you build a relationship with your client by demonstrating that you understand their needs and can provide a solution.  

How to Write a Business Proposal  

Now that we have covered the basics of what a business proposal is and why you should write one, let's dive into the steps to writing a perfect business proposal.  

Step 1: Research and Understand Your Client's Needs  

Before you start writing your business proposal, you need to research and understand your client's needs. This will help you tailor your proposal to their specific requirements. You should research their industry, their competitors, and their pain points. This will help you understand how your services can help them solve their problem.  

Step 2: Define the Problem and Your Solution  

Once you have a clear understanding of your client's needs, you can define the problem and your solution. In this section, you need to clearly articulate the problem that your client is facing and how your services can help them solve it. You should also highlight the benefits of your solution and how it can improve their business.  

Step 3: Outline Your Services and Deliverables  

In this section, you need to outline your services and deliverables. You should provide a detailed description of the services you will provide, the timeline, and the deliverables. You should also highlight any unique features of your services that differentiate you from your competitors.  

Step 4: Provide a Detailed Pricing Plan  

In this section, you need to provide a detailed pricing plan for your services. You should be transparent about your pricing and provide a breakdown of the costs. You should also highlight any discounts or promotions that you are offering.  

Step 5: Include Testimonials and Case Studies  

In this section, you should include testimonials and case studies from your previous clients. This will help build credibility and demonstrate your expertise. You should include quotes from satisfied clients and highlight the positive impact your services have had on their business.  

Step 6: Proofread and Edit Your Proposal  

Before submitting your proposal, you need to proofread and edit it. You should check for spelling and grammar errors, formatting issues, and ensure that your proposal is easy to read and visually appealing.  

Proposal Generation and Proposal Management Software  

To streamline the process of writing business proposals, you can use proposal generation and proposal management software . These tools can help you automate the process of creating proposals, track the progress of your proposals, and collaborate with your team. Conga Composer is a proposal generation software that can help you create professional proposals in minutes. With Conga Composer, you can easily create proposals, contracts, and other business documents. You can also integrate it with your CRM, so you can create proposals directly from your CRM.  

Writing a business proposal is an essential skill for any business owner or sales professional. A well-written business proposal can help you win new business, showcase your expertise, and build relationships with your clients. By following the steps outlined in this post, you can write a perfect business proposal that will impress your clients and win more business. And if you want to streamline the process of creating proposals, consider using Conga Composer.  

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated March 18, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

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

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

how to draw up a business proposal pdf

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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How to write a business proposal (10 easy steps).

How to Write a Business Proposal

Starting your own business is a daunting task—but you’re finally doing it. You’re running the day-to-day and you’re starting to see your customer base grow and your income climb. Now you’ve reached the point where you are doing well, but you’re certain you could be doing even better. 

You know certain prospects who might profit from your product or service. They are all around you, just waiting for you to discover them. 

An effective business proposal can fill that need. It could be able to fill the gap between you and potential customers. A strong proposal may clearly state your value proposition and convince a business or organisation to work with you.

Read on as we discuss the many types of business proposals and how to draft them. We’ll also take an in-depth look at some suggestions on how to help direct yours.

Table of Contents

What is a business proposal, types of business proposals, how to write a business proposal, key takeaways.

Frequently Asked Questions

A business proposal is a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C) document. We use it when a seller wants to persuade a potential customer to acquire their products or services.

A business proposal describes the services your company offers and what you can do for a prospective client.

The idea that business proposals and business plans are interchangeable is a widespread one. But the key difference is that instead of selling your company, you’re using your proposal to market your product or service. 

A proposal assists you in finding a new prospective client rather than aiding in your search for investors to finance your business.

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It is generally accepted that there are 2 different types of proposals that businesses will use to draw in clients. First we have unsolicited business proposals, and second we have solicited business proposals. Let’s take a quick look at the difference between them. 

Unsolicited Business Proposals

When you approach a potential client with an unsolicited business proposition, you do so regardless of their request. The goal is to secure their business.

Solicited Business Proposals

A potential customer requests an unsolicited business proposal. This way they can determine whether to work with your organisation.

The processes to build your proposal are essentially the same, whether it is being solicited or not. Let’s take a look at how you can write your own business proposal. 

Understanding the business is essential before crafting your business proposal. Make sure you carefully study any requests for proposals (RFPs) they may have sent you in order to understand their exact requirements. 

Additionally, it can be beneficial to speak with the new client on the phone or in person. By doing so, you can verify that you fully comprehend the issue they are trying to solve and their goals.

After conducting your research, you should start creating your business proposal. Although there isn’t a single best way to write a business proposal, let’s look at some of the common components.

With your title page, you need to communicate some fundamental knowledge. Describe your company and who you are. Include your name, the name of your business, the proposal’s submission date, and the name of the client or person you are addressing the proposal to.

Your title page should balance professionalism and engagement. You must ensure that yours is stylish, aesthetically pleasing, and not overly specialised. After all, it sets the tone.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is basically an introduction to you and your company. It is a section that is especially important if you’re writing unsolicited proposals. 

Any good cover letter should include:

  • A one-line summary of your business
  • Some background on how your business came to be
  • A synopsis of what sets your business apart from the competition

The length of cover letters need not be excessive. They may be brief, pleasant, and straightforward. The text in this illustration is a little over 100 words.

Make it as approachable as possible. Invite your reader to contact you with any inquiries. Add a thank you and your signature at the end for a personable touch. 

Business proposals are no different from other contexts in which a strong UX is beneficial. For the folks who are viewing your proposal, you need to make things as easy to understand and accessible as you can. A table of contents is where it all begins.

Your table of contents informs your potential client in detail about the topics addressed in the business proposal. A clickable table of contents that jumps to the various sections of your proposal is helpful. 

This is true especially if you’re sending your proposal digitally. Crafting your table of contents this way makes reading and navigating through it much easier.

A table of contents can make any proposal much simpler to understand when you distribute it to all relevant parties. It’s not always essential, but we highly recommend it.

You should keep in mind that potential clients might not always read proposal documents in order. Different decision-makers have different priorities. So, they will examine your idea to determine how it meets their particular problems.

Just make sure yours is easy to navigate.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides a high-level overview that condenses the information in the next pages. This sets the stage for the remainder of your proposal. Here, specificity is crucial. You need to be very clear about why you’re the greatest choice for them.

Your executive summary summarises the advantages of your company’s goods or services. It also mentions how these goods/services can address the issues of potential clients, much like a value proposition. 

Your prospect might not always read your entire proposal. So, they should have a clear understanding of how you can help them after reading your executive summary.

Depending on the tasks you’re performing for the customer and the sector they’re in, your own executive summary will change.

You might also alter your tone. If you’re writing to a young, niche start-up audience, you might use a more informal style that’s sprinkled with humour and business speak. Alternatively, your tone should attempt to reflect the audience if you’re writing to an older, more established company.

Problem or Need Statement

The problem or need statement is where you should summarise how the problem affects the potential client. This gives you the chance to demonstrate to them that you comprehend their needs and the issue they are trying to solve.

The crucial words here are research, critical thinking, and extra thought. It’s vital that you conduct a thorough investigation into your client and learn everything there is to know. 

Look at your client’s particular problems from all angles to consider how you may help. Then, frame those problems in a way that positions you for the following move.

Proposed Solutions

After presenting them with the issue, it is time for you to suggest a solution. This is where your proposed solutions section comes in handy.

You must emphasise specificity and individuality in this stage, like you did in the previous one. Make sure you tailor your suggested course of action to the client’s requirements. This way, they are aware that you have written the entire proposal especially for them.

Inform them of the deliverables you’ll offer and the techniques you’ll employ. Also, set a clear deadline by which they should anticipate your deliverables. 

Your document can be more visually appealing and easier to understand by including a timetable. This timetable should match deliveries with their anticipated dates. By outlining how you intend to carry out a certain strategy, you can further break down your key goals.

Qualifications

This is a crucial section of the proposal because you are essentially demonstrating your value. Are you capable of resolving this client’s issue? Why should people believe in you?

To explain why you’re the ideal candidate for the position, use this section of your business proposal template. To increase your authority, include case studies of client success tales. Also, be sure to mention any pertinent honours or credentials.

Pricing Options

Once again, clarity and specificity are crucial in this area. Make a pricing table that precisely describes each good or service. Then match it with the most precise pricing details you can offer.

You only need to set the item’s pricing and the quantity of distribution while creating the proposal. The quantity would be the approximate number of hours invested at a predetermined rate if you were sending an hourly contract. 

You must organise the document for regular payment schedules. This way, it accurately depicts your monthly workflow.

In the pricing options section, transparency is essential. Customers-to-be want to know how you charge them, what you charge them for, and how long they should expect to pay for.

After supplying the aforementioned details, you must condense your entire proposal. You will do this by making a single, concise concluding section.

Describe the suggestion you’re making in a brief manner. Mention your credentials and why you’d be the ideal candidate. Please confirm your availability to start a conversation. 

The client should be prepared to collaborate with you by the time they’ve read through the proposal. Give them your contact information so they may simply follow up with you.

Terms and Conditions

Here, you can get specific about the project’s budget, schedule, and cost. In essence, this is a statement of the terms under which you and the client would work together if they accept your proposal. 

Before delivering your proposal to the customer, make sure you have your own legal team review the terms and conditions. Doing so will ensure nothing is awry.

Agreement Acceptance

Finally, include a signature box for the client to sign. Also, it’s important to make sure they understand exactly what they’re signing up for. This is also an opportunity to ask the potential customer to contact you if they have any questions that need answering.

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A seller employs a business proposal to convince a prospective customer to buy their goods or services. It’s used to entice both business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C) businesses. 

There are 2 types of proposals—solicited and unsolicited. 

Your proposal should be detailed enough that it is clear what you offer. But it should not be so long that the reader will become uninterested. Depending on the industry you are in and the needs of the prospect, your business proposal’s components will differ.

Prospective customers should have little left to learn about your business and what it can do for them after reading your strategy.

You have all the resources necessary to help you through the procedure with the advice and illustrations in this article. You may win your client’s business and impress them with a polished, personalised, well-written business proposal .

In terms of ease, many companies offer a free business proposal template . You can use these templates to create a winning business proposal. 

FAQ on Business Proposal

Why is it important to write a business proposal.

Making crucial decisions about topics like cash flow, marketing, and staff will be made easier with the aid of a business proposal.

How Long Is a Business Proposal?

For transactional proposals, the ideal length is under 10 pages. And it should never exceed 50 pages.

Why Do I Need a Business Proposal?

It’s important to have a business proposal to entice further business. Potential clients will learn what you can do for them and how you will do it.

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Free PDF Business Plan Templates and Samples

By Joe Weller | September 9, 2020

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We’ve gathered the most useful collection of business plan PDF templates and samples, including options for organizations of any size and type.

On this page, you’ll find free PDF templates for a simple business plan , small business plan , startup business plan , and more.

Simple Business Plan PDF Templates

These simple business plan PDF templates are ready to use and customizable to fit the needs of any organization.

Simple Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Business Plan Template

This template contains a traditional business plan layout to help you map out each aspect, from a company overview to sales projections and a marketing strategy. This template includes a table of contents, as well as space for financing details that startups looking for funding may need to provide. 

Download Simple Business Plan Template - PDF

Lean Business Plan Template PDF

Lean Business Plan Template

This scannable business plan template allows you to easily identify the most important elements of your plan. Use this template to outline key details pertaining to your business and industry, product or service offerings, target customer segments (and channels to reach them), and to identify sources of revenue. There is also space to include key performance metrics and a timeline of activities. 

Download Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template PDF

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

This template is designed to help you develop and implement a 90-day business plan by breaking it down into manageable chunks of time. Use the space provided to detail your main goals and deliverables for each timeframe, and then add the steps necessary to achieve your objectives. Assign task ownership and enter deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track every step of the way.

Download Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

PDF | Smartsheet

One-Page Business Plan PDF Templates

The following single page business plan templates are designed to help you download your key ideas on paper, and can be used to create a pitch document to gain buy-in from partners, investors, and stakeholders.

One-Page Business Plan Template PDF

how to draw up a business proposal pdf

Use this one-page template to summarize each aspect of your business concept in a clear and concise manner. Define the who, what, why, and how of your idea, and use the space at the bottom to create a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for your business. 

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

If you’re looking for a specific type of analysis, check out our collection of SWOT templates .

One-Page Lean Business Plan PDF

One Page Lean Business Plan Template

This one-page business plan template employs the Lean management concept, and encourages you to focus on the key assumptions of your business idea. A Lean plan is not stagnant, so update it as goals and objectives change — the visual timeline at the bottom is ideal for detailing milestones. 

Download One-Page Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

One Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

Use this business plan template to identify main goals and outline the necessary activities to achieve those goals in 30, 60, and 90-day increments. Easily customize this template to fit your needs while you track the status of each task and goal to keep your business plan on target. 

Download One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

For additional single page plans, including an example of a one-page business plan , visit " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Small Business Plan PDF Templates

These business plan templates are useful for small businesses that want to map out a way to meet organizational objectives, including how to structure, operate, and expand their business.

Simple Small Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Small Business Plan Template

A small business can use this template to outline each critical component of a business plan. There is space to provide details about product or service offerings, target audience, customer reach strategy, competitive advantage, and more. Plus, there is space at the bottom of the document to include a SWOT analysis. Once complete, you can use the template as a basis to build out a more elaborate plan. 

Download Simple Small Business Plan Template

Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template walks you through each section of a business plan. Build upon the fill-in-the-blank content provided in each section to add information about your company, business idea, market analysis, implementation plan, timeline of milestones, and much more.

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page Small Business Plan Template PDF

One Page Business Plan For Small Business Template

Use this one-page template to create a scannable business plan that highlights the most essential parts of your organization’s strategy. Provide your business overview and management team details at the top, and then outline the target market, market size, competitive offerings, key objectives and success metrics, financial plan, and more.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Small Business - PDF

Startup Business Plan PDF Templates

Startups can use these business plan templates to check the feasibility of their idea, and articulate their vision to potential investors.

Startup Business Plan Template

Startup Business Plan Template

Use this business plan template to organize and prepare each essential component of your startup plan. Outline key details relevant to your concept and organization, including your mission and vision statement, product or services offered, pricing structure, marketing strategy, financial plan, and more.

‌Download Startup Business Plan Template

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

Startups can use this sample 30-60-90 day plan to establish main goals and deliverables spanning a 90-day period. Customize the sample goals, deliverables, and activities provided on this template according to the needs of your business. Then, assign task owners and set due dates to help ensure your 90-day plan stays on track.

‌Download Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup Template 

For additional resources to create your plan, visit “ Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples .”

Nonprofit Business Plan PDF Templates

Use these business plan PDF templates to outline your organization’s mission, your plan to make a positive impact in your community, and the steps you will take to achieve your nonprofit’s goals.

Nonprofit Business Plan Template PDF

Fill-in-the-Blank Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Use this customizable PDF template to develop a plan that details your organization’s purpose, objectives, and strategy. This template features a table of contents, with room to include your nonprofit’s mission and vision, key team and board members, program offerings, a market and industry analysis, promotional plan, financial plan, and more. This template also contains a visual timeline to display historic and future milestones.

Download Nonprofit Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization PDF 

One Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organizations Template

This one-page plan serves as a good starting point for established and startup nonprofit organizations to jot down their fundamental goals and objectives. This template contains all the essential aspects of a business plan in a concise and scannable format, including the organizational overview, purpose, promotional plan, key objectives and success metrics, fundraising goals, and more.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization Template - PDF

Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF Templates

Use these fill-in-the-blank templates as a foundation for creating a comprehensive roadmap that aligns your business strategy with your marketing, sales, and financial goals.

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF

The fill-in-the-blank template contains all the vital parts of a business plan, with sample content that you can customize to fit your needs. There is room to include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, financial statements, and more. 

Download Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template - PDF

Lean Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF

Fill-in-the-Blank Lean  Business Plan Template

This business plan is designed with a Lean approach that encourages you to clarify and communicate your business idea in a clear and concise manner. This single page fill-in-the-blank template includes space to provide details about your management team, the problem you're solving, the solution, target customers, cost structure, and revenue streams. Use the timeline at the bottom to produce a visual illustration of key milestones. 

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

For additional resources, take a look at " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

Sample Business Plan PDF Templates

These sample business plan PDF templates can help you to develop an organized, thorough, and professional business plan.

Business Plan Sample 

Basic Business Plan Sample

This business plan example demonstrates a plan for a fictional food truck company. The sample includes all of the elements in a traditional business plan, which makes it a useful starting point for developing a plan specific to your business needs.

Download Basic Business Plan Sample - PDF

Sample Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Use this sample outline as a starting point for your business plan. Shorten or expand the outline depending on your organization’s needs, and use it to develop a table of contents for your finalized plan.

Download Sample Business Plan Outline Template - PDF

Sample Business Financial Plan Template

Business Financial Plan Template

Use this sample template to develop the financial portion of your business plan. The template provides space to include a financial overview, key assumptions, financial indicators, and business ratios. Complete the break-even analysis and add your financial statements to help prove the viability of your organization’s business plan.

Download Business Financial Plan Template

PDF  | Smartsheet

For more free, downloadable templates for all aspects of your business, check out “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”

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IMAGES

  1. 21+ Small Business Proposal Templates & Samples

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  5. 12+ Sample Business Proposal Template

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  6. How to write a business plan, part 3

COMMENTS

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

    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.

  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 (+ 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.

  4. How to Write a Business Proposal with Examples

    1. Create a cover page. This section of a business proposal includes basic information like your company's name and contact information, your company logo, your client's name, and contact information, the date, and a title. A strong title page makes the project proposal look neat, organized, and well put together.

  5. PDF Business Proposal

    Business Proposal Guidebook At Business-in-a-Box, our mission is to help every entrepreneur succeed in building their dream business. Therefore, we are happy to give you this FREE guidebook on how to prepare a winning Business Proposal. 3 Steps to a Perfect Business Proposal: 1) Download the Business Proposal Template that goes with this guidebook.

  6. PDF How to Write a Business Plan

    Start with a cogent and concise one sentence statement of the business idea. A sentence that is so clear and appealing that the reader can immediately visualise or 'see' the business. You can then go on to describe: The market at which you are aiming. The specific benefits offered by your product or service.

  7. How to write a business proposal

    You can use steps 2-6 here as the framework for your outline. You can even build out the entire document in a PDF editor. You'll be able to drop pages in add PDF comments to your proposal on the fly. 2. Build the title and table of contents. The introduction to your business proposal is always the title.

  8. PDF Parts of a Business Proposal

    Business Proposals, Spring 2022. 6 of 6 Activity 2: Respond to Prompts Respond to the following prompts asking you to create parts of business proposals. • Design a title page for a proposal selling first-aid equipment to the United States Navy. Design a different title page for a proposal selling organic paint to an arts festival.

  9. 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.

  10. How to write a business proposal: download a free template

    1. Title page. Include a title page to introduce your business and keep your document neat and tidy, giving a good first impression of the way you do business. This should be well-designed, so include some imagery and text that addresses the client. 2.

  11. The best format for a business proposal

    Include branded elements to stand out.s. For a cohesive business proposal format, incorporate some of your company's visual assets. These can include logos, set color palettes, or even stylized fonts. To take your proposal's quality even further, include a space for e-signatures. If your client is interested, they can digitally sign the ...

  12. How to Write a Business Proposal

    Provide a detailed budget and payment structure. Include quotes from satisfied clients or references and evidence of your track record. Write a conclusion and appendix. Visme's proposal templates come with pre-made sections to make the proposal creation process easier and more efficient.

  13. How to Write a Business Proposal

    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.

  14. How to Write a Business Proposal, with Tips

    A full guide on how to write a business proposal that can impress potential clients and close deals. A business proposal is a document to close deals. Here's how to craft your own.

  15. How to Write a Business Proposal in 6 Steps

    Step 1: Research and Understand Your Client's Needs. Before you start writing your business proposal, you need to research and understand your client's needs. This will help you tailor your proposal to their specific requirements. You should research their industry, their competitors, and their pain points.

  16. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Download Now: Free Business Plan Template. Writing a business plan doesn't have to be complicated. In this step-by-step guide, you'll learn how to write a business plan that's detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  17. How to Write a Business Proposal (10 Easy Steps)

    Title Page. With your title page, you need to communicate some fundamental knowledge. Describe your company and who you are. Include your name, the name of your business, the proposal's submission date, and the name of the client or person you are addressing the proposal to. Your title page should balance professionalism and engagement.

  18. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    Write the Executive Summary. This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what's in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. Add a Company Overview. Document the larger company mission and vision.

  19. Free PDF Business Plan Templates

    Lean Business Plan Template PDF. This scannable business plan template allows you to easily identify the most important elements of your plan. Use this template to outline key details pertaining to your business and industry, product or service offerings, target customer segments (and channels to reach them), and to identify sources of revenue.

  20. PDF How to Write a Business Plan

    1) Length is from one to three pages. 2) Language is clear, believable, professional and authoritative. 3) The are presented quickly to inform the reader of the following: 4) What the business is. 5) What products and services will be offered. 6) What the target markets- are, size, anticipated market share.

  21. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...