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How to Write Winning Business Proposals: Examples & Free Templates (2023)
By Aditya Sheth , May 25, 2023
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.
- How to write a business proposal step by step
What should you include in a business proposal?
Business proposal format, 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:
An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.
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:
Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:
Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:
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.
Return to Table of Contents
How to write a business proposal step by step
Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to know what it comprises. At a high level, your effective business proposal should include the following:
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- The problem statement
- The proposed solution
- The timeline
Pricing, billing, and legal
- Terms and conditions
- The acceptance
Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.
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
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?”
Return to business proposal content sections
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:
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 .
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:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 :
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.
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.
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.
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.
On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal.
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:
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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).
You can remove or add more sections depending on the goal of your business proposal. Essential, your business proposal can follow this format:
- Pricing, billing and legal
We go into detail on how you can write a business proposal (plus different business proposal templates you can apply the tips to) in the next section . But you can also click on the format items above to learn how you can best write them!
If you aim to create a holistic business proposal, feel free to just edit from the two templates right above. You can also add your brand colors and logo to your design, using My Brand Kit :
Here’s another example of a business proposal template that you can edit:
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.
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:
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 :
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:
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.
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:
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.
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 :
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:
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:
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
How to Write a Project Proposal [10+ Templates]
20+ Professional Business Letterhead Templates + Branding Tips
How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]
How to Write a Business Proposal — 2022 Guide and Template
A business proposal can make or break your chances of securing a new client. Write a great one, and you’ll likely snag their business.
Write a poor one, and you might lose out—even if you’re offering the best service out there. So, how do you write a business proposal? What is the proper format? What do you need to include?
While it all depends on your industry, and whether or not you’re offering a product or service, writing a business proposal is pretty straightforward. We’ll answer all those questions and more throughout the course of this guide.
What to expect with this business proposal guide
Whether you’re starting fresh or need to look at a specific section, here’s what we’ll be covering in this guide.
- What a business proposal is
- The differences between a business proposal and a business plan
- The format of a business proposal
- How long to make your business proposal
How to write a business proposal
You can download a free business proposal template here to start writing up your own proposal as you work through this article. By the end, you’ll be prepared to develop a well-written business proposal that can explain your business clearly and win more clients. Let’s get started.
What is a business proposal ?
A business proposal is a document you’d send to a prospective client, outlining the service you’re offering, and explaining why you’re the best person for the job.
It’s a pitch by a business or individual to complete a specific job or project, to supply a service, or, in some instances, to be the vendor of a certain product.
What are the different types of business proposals?
A business proposal can be either solicited or unsolicited. With a solicited proposal, the prospective client will put out a request for proposals; with an unsolicited business proposal, you are approaching a client in hopes of attracting their business, even though they did not explicitly request a proposal.
While both are commonplace, a solicited proposal is an easier sell, as your prospective client has already decided that they want to make a purchase or use a service, and they’re evaluating possible vendors or businesses.
With a solicited proposal, your prospective client might have issued an RFP, or “request for proposal.” This is exactly what it sounds like—they want you to send over a business proposal so they can take a look at it.
Differences between a business proposal and a business plan
A business proposal is not the same as a business plan . This is the most common misconception, but while there are areas of overlap (like your executive summary ) the two are different.
That being said, you can certainly pull information from your business plan while writing your business proposal—in fact, that’s a great way to start.
But don’t confuse the two; they are distinct and separate. In short, a business plan represents the cohesive strategy of how your business operates and makes money. A business proposal is an official pitch to clients selling your products or services.
A business proposal outlines a particular product or service offered by an established business to a prospective client.
You’re trying to sell your prospective client on your product or service, not on your business itself. You’re not after funding, as you are with a business plan, you’re trying to make a sale.
A business proposal is also not an estimate; although you’ll likely touch on costs and pricing in your business proposal, an estimate is much more informal and just a quick look at the costs, not the whole picture.
What goes into a business proposal?
Your business proposal should address the three Ps:
- Problem statement: What your customer’s current problem is
- Proposed solution: How your business solves that problem better than other solutions
- Pricing: How much that solution costs compared to alternatives
If you’re stuck on how to start, maybe try brainstorming first; start with these three points, and you’ll have a rough, bare-bones version of your business proposal.
Once you’ve done that if you’re ready to go more in-depth, here is a step-by-step look at how to format your business proposal.
Your business proposal should start with a title page, which should include your name, the name of your company, the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your proposal, and the date submitted.
Table of contents
Depending on how long your business proposal is, a table of contents is a nice touch. Include it after your title page, and before you launch into any details. If you’re delivering it as a PDF, including anchor links down to each section, so it’s easy to get to specific areas.
Introduce your proposal with a great executive summary, one that really sells your business and the products or services you provide—it’s about why you’re the right company for the job. You can draw from your business plan’s executive summary here, too.
Statement of problem, issue, or job at hand
Following your executive summary, go on to discuss the problem that the client is currently facing. Think of “problem” or “issue” loosely; after all, their main problem may just be finding the right person to complete their project. But be sure you understand why they want the product or service they’re seeking. If the proposal is for developing a brand new website, make sure you understand what they want to get out of the site—better sales, more content management flexibility.
This is the place to show your new client that you understand their needs , and fully grasp the issue they are trying to solve. Take this opportunity to restate the issue they are facing in your own words so that they know you understand what they are looking for.
Approach and methodology
This section shows how you plan to tackle your potential client’s problem, and the steps you’ll take to carry out your plan.
This is where you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how you actually plan to fulfill your client’s needs. While earlier sections might have been a bit surface-level, this section of the business proposal is where you’ll go into detail about what steps you’ll take to solve their problem.
Be careful of going into too much detail, though—keep the jargon to a minimum. Your client should be able to follow along and get a clear sense of your plan, but you don’t want to drown them in minutiae.
Go ahead, brag a little—this is the section of your business proposal where you get to convince your potential client why you are the most qualified person to take on the job.
You can mention any relevant education, industry-specific training, or certifications you have, your past successful projects of a similar nature, years of experience, and so on.
Schedule and benchmarks
Be clear with your potential client: How long will your proposed project take?
Making sure you and your prospective client are on the same page from the outset will help make sure that the relationship stays positive for both of you, and that you don’t set your client up with unrealistic expectations.
While you might be tempted to underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project, don’t. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver!
If you’re offering a product, this section might not be applicable to you, so feel free to omit it. The business proposal format is flexible, so tailor it to suit your business and industry.
Cost, payment, and any legal matters
Here is where you get down to brass tacks and state the cost, and payment schedule if necessary.
How you structure this section will largely depend on the particular project or service you are offering. A section entitled “Fee Summary” may be sufficient if one-time payment is required; otherwise, a “Fee Schedule” list or pricing table might be more appropriate. Always refer back to the client’s RFP whenever possible, to make sure you’re supplying them with all the information they need to help make their decision.
If there are any legal issues to attend to, such as permits or licensing, include this information here. Feel free to add a section entirely devoted to handling the legal side of the project if need be.
This is your final sell—don’t be afraid to detail for your prospective client all they have to gain by choosing you to complete the project.
Impress upon your clients why you are the best choice, and all the ways in which their business will benefit from choosing you and your business as their solution.
How long should a business proposal be?
When it comes to the format of a business proposal, this is the million-dollar question without an answer. Remember in school, when you’d ask your teacher how long an essay should be, and they’d reply, “as long as it takes to answer the question.”
The same applies to your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the scope of the project, and the client’s specifications in terms of detail and elements included.
That being said, the tighter your initial proposal can be and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch it to clients. Start by following the business proposal format above as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and securing new clients.
Editor’s note: This article was originally written in 2018 and updated for 2021.
Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.
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How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]
Published: August 09, 2023
Free Business Proposal Template
Propose your business as the ideal solution using our Free Business Proposal Templates.
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It's finally happened. You've started a new business, and your customer base is starting to expand. But even though you're making progress, you still feel like you could be doing better.
There's a whole world of untapped potential around you — prospects you know would benefit from your product or service. And the issues you're running into are less about your solution's soundness and more about how you can reach your potential base.
That's where business proposals come in. They can bridge the gap between you and potential clients. A solid proposal can 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. The proposal helps you sell your product or service rather than your business itself.
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
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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.
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. It can also be helpful to have an initial call or meeting with the new client to ensure you fully understand the problem they're trying to solve and their objectives.
Once you've done your research, it's time to begin writing your business proposal. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, but let's take a look at some elements proposals often 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. It's a 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:
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:
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.
This section should show your authority in your industry. With this in mind, be sure to include:
- 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.
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
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.
2. Web Design Proposal
Companies, big and small, dedicate resources to establishing a noticeable social media presence. 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.
8. Content Marketing Proposal
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.
Business proposal templates are helpful places to get started, but what should your business proposal look like when it's complete? Below, we share an example of a business proposal template that will inspire you.
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. A nice touch would include designing the layout in your or your client’s brand colors.
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.
So before you dive into writing, outline the major sections of your business proposal and the pertinent information you want to include. This will help you stay focused and make sure your message stays intact as you write.
Use these free business proposal templates to make sure that your outline includes everything you need.
2. Keep it simple.
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, you're best off focusing on quality over quantity. 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.
A quick spelling and grammar check before you hit send isn't enough for a business proposal.
Your proposal needs to be clean and airtight. 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.
You can only be so convincing when you're personally talking up how great your business is. Adding social proof lends your proposal another degree of credibility.
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.
Prospects need direction. 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. Without urgency, your prospect might drag their feet and put off making a decision.
So, as you create your business proposal, your goal should be to create a sense 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 you can accomplish this is by stating your short and long-term goals for their business. They'll have to wait for the long-term goals, but you can 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.
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Propose your business as the ideal solution using this free template.
- How to write a business proposal
How to write a business proposal in 7 steps.
Create a well-structured proposal to win new clients and business.
Explore Adobe Acrobat
JUMP TO SECTION
1. Research and outline the parts of your business proposal
2. Build the title and table of contents
3. Write your executive summary
4. Get into the project details
5. List deliverables, milestones, and budgets
6. Craft the conclusion and appendix
7. Edit and professionally polish your proposal
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a written offer of a product or service to a prospective customer. Winning business proposals help secure funding, expand projects, and grow your business.
What should be included in a business proposal?
There are a few key questions that should be answered in your business proposal:
- Who are you? What does your company do?
- What problems are your buyers facing?
- What solution does your company offer to solve the problem?
- How will your company successfully implement the solution?
- How much money, time, and other resources do you estimate will be required to implement the solution?
Types of business proposals.
Before you can decide how to structure your proposal, it’s important to understand what type of proposal is most appropriate for the situation. While there are different types of proposals in different industries, they usually fall into one of these three categories:
Informally solicited business proposal.
This type of business proposal is for when no official request has been made for a proposal. Informally solicited proposals stem from spontaneous, informal conversations with a client or vendor — unlike official requests that contain much more detail. You might write one if a prospective buyer is interested in your products or services and asks for a business proposal so that they can analyze it. With these types of requests, prospective buyers will not normally ask for competing proposals. This type of proposal will require a decent amount of additional research on your end.
Unsolicited business proposal.
An unsolicited business proposal is for when you wish to approach prospective customers with a proposal, although they didn’t request one, in hopes of securing them as customers. These proposals are more generic and act like a cold email or marketing brochure. This type of business proposal is created without the understanding of the potential customer and their requirements. By conducting market research and identifying customer pain points, you can create a personalized solution based on each individual buyer’s needs.
Formally solicited business proposal.
Formally solicited business proposals are created upon official request for a business proposal to be written. With this type of proposal, you will have most (if not all) the information required to understand a prospective buyer’s needs. All you have to do is write the proposal for the buyer so that they can analyze it and you can start the sales process. Formally solicited proposals are typically written as a response to published requirements from the business that is searching for proposals. These will be created because of a public posting asking for proposals. These clients are likely looking through multiple proposals to try and find the best fit.
Why write a business proposal?
Business proposals are huge for new businesses looking to expand. Whether you’re an established small business or one looking to grow, a business proposal can help you with everything from securing funding to growing an existing project.
A business proposal is a document that helps you:
- Document realistic plans and projections
- Attract new clients and new business
- Bring in investors for funding
- Outline additional structure for growth
- Identify strengths and weaknesses of your current business model
- Showcase new pricing models and other relevant metrics
Sound like something that might be useful? Here’s how you create one.
How to write a business proposal.
Business proposals can vary in formatting, but there are some key elements that any business proposal should have. Some of the most essential elements include a title page, table of contents, details on your company’s “why” in the executive summary, a problem or need statement, a proposed solution, qualifications, a timeline, pricing, billing, legal information, clarification of terms and conditions, and the acceptance section where your potential buyer can sign the document.
You will want to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the business before composing your proposal. It can be helpful to set up an initial meeting or call to gain insight into what the client wants from your business. If the business has shared an RFP with you, be sure to give it a thorough read-through. After your research is complete, you can create your business proposal. Detailed below are the key elements to begin.
1. Research and outline the parts of your business proposal.
You likely know what you want to do to expand your business already, so you have probably done plenty of research. If you haven’t, it’s important to come into the process well prepared and informed before you outline. Make sure that you have case studies, pertinent data, and compelling examples of how your proposal will lead to benefits for your client before you begin.
Building a business proposal is a highly structured process, which means that an outline is essential. An outline can be as simple as a one- or two-page document, with bullet points breaking key areas down into quick summaries that you can then expand into full sections.
For a basic outline, writing a small section for each step that follows in this guide is a great way to organize and set up your 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 and comment to your proposal on the fly.
2. Build the title and table of contents.
The introduction to your business proposal is always the title. Creating a strong, solid title page gives a prospective client an idea of the value proposition, as well as what is going to follow within the proposal. This is the first step in getting eyes on your work. Especially if the proposal is unsolicited, you have to make sure to excite your audience, assuring them that your proposal is going to solve their pain points.
The table of contents summarizes the remainder of the proposal and helps readers reference where different sections start and end, but it can also be a way of providing additional small summaries of each section — it’s up to you. There are many types of proposals — from sales proposals to marketing proposals — and the table of contents can give clues to your audience about what you’re selling and how it benefits them.
3. Write your executive summary.
The executive summary functions as an introduction to your reader. In some ways, it’s like a cover letter — a concise introduction and summary of your proposal. You’ll want to introduce your company (especially if the proposal is unsolicited), give an overview of your business goals and objectives, show off some milestones you’ve already hit, lay out what the future path is, and explain how the proposal you’re writing is the first step of that path.
You’re talking to decision makers and potential customers, so you want to make sure that you’re reeling your audience in as much as possible with snappy writing that outlines what they can expect in the following sections of the proposal.
4. Get into the project details.
Problem, solution, qualifications. These three words are the mantra of this section. Your proposal needs to identify the client’s problem and immediately follow up with a proposed solution. Problem statement plus solution equals a happy client who is excited about coming to work with you.
And, during all of this, you must demonstrate your expertise through qualifications. If your company or business is certified and has a track record of success solving this particular problem, showcase it. If you need additional capabilities to achieve what you need, identify that as well. At the end of this section, your target audience should walk away confident you can meet any client’s needs.
5. List deliverables, milestones, and budgets.
After you outline project details, identify specific deliverables this proposal will produce. For instance, if your proposal is to open a new branch of your business in a new region, identify all the steps that will happen in that process, what they’ll cost, and what the timeline is. Striving for accuracy and professionalism in this section is key, as it demonstrates that you’re serious about what you’re trying to do. Coming in with examples of previous successes can also demonstrate proof that your process works.
While a proposal can be a formal document, it doesn’t have to be stodgy. A winning proposal has eye-catching headings, is free of typos, and outlines the time frames, scope of work, and payment schedules that a client can expect if they accept.
6. Craft the conclusion and appendix.
End with a strong call to action that lets the reader know what they should do next. That can be a salesperson’s number or a contact form online to discover more. An appendix that contains reference materials, definitions, methodology, and other relevant items can also be effective.
7. Edit and professionally polish your proposal.
A business proposal is bolstered by two things: solid writing and elegant design. If you are writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), you will want to include the following elements:
- An introduction to your company and background information on the project
- The project goals and scope of services needed
- A deadline for receiving bids
- A timeline for when you expect to select a winning proposal
- Which specific elements you would like included in the proposal
- Any specific challenges you’d like the contractors to solve
- Your estimated budget range for the project
Whether you’re creating a Request for Proposal (RFP) , a solicited proposal, or a series of case studies, Acrobat Pro gives you the tools to design beautiful and eye-catching proposals — and you don’t even have to start from scratch. There are dozens of free business proposal templates available to start working from, and Acrobat makes it easy to add graphics, images, and creative formatting to your proposal.
Plus, if you’re sharing your proposal digitally, you can easily add graphs, pricing tables, links, and attachments to enhance the overall experience for readers. Your table of contents can be hyperlinked throughout the document, and you can send readers to supplementary documents elsewhere.
Creating a compelling proposal and tidy cover page with Acrobat Pro is only a few more steps away . You can start learning how with helpful guides and tutorials, and soon you’ll have a business proposal that will grow and enhance your business.
Business Plan vs. Business Proposal
The terms “business plan” and “business proposal” are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are very different. The main difference between a business plan and a business proposal is that a business plan documents your growth strategy while a business proposal is a specific ask for someone to take an action you desire (e.g., buy your product/service, invest in your company, partner with you, etc.).
In this article, we will define a business plan and a business proposal and give you examples of when each is appropriate for you to use.
What is a Business Plan?
Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here
Business Plan Structure
Typically, the business plan structure contains the following 10 components:
- Executive Summary
- Business Description & Overview
- Market Research & Analysis
- Customer Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Strategy & Plan
- Operations Plan
- Management Team
- Financial Projections & Plan
It is recommended that a business plan is updated annually to adjust for changes in the industry trends and the business itself.
What is a Business Proposal?
In terms of what you are asking from them, it can be anything that involves funds and time on their end including cash investment, product development assistance, and even employees if they have applicable skill sets.
Business Proposal Structure
An invited business proposal is written in response to an RFP. A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that invites potential suppliers to submit business proposals. How to write a business proposal depends on the format requested and the questions included in the RFP.
The following are the components that usually make up a business proposal:
- Brief description of your company’s services/products as the proposed solution to the goals of the RFP
- Reiteration of the scope of the particular project
- Responses to questions asked in the RFP
- Cost of the project, including drafting services, materials, tools, labor, delivery and other expenses
An unsolicited business proposal is essentially the same format, but it will solicit the client’s business while anticipating the clients’ concerns and issues. A business proposal is more of a marketing document than an offer because it attempts to persuade the potential client to do business by demonstrating your value proposition and a call to action.
So, What’s the Difference Between a Business Proposal vs. a Business Plan?
In a business proposal, company representatives typically work with the customer to tailor a business proposition that is attractive to both parties. This usually comes in the form of a written document detailing the services and cost associated with fulfilling an offer or request but can also include electronic contracts.
In contrast, a business plan is a description of your company on the executive and operational levels aimed at investors for raising financial support or other stakeholders in order to facilitate long-term growth. For example, an investor will want to know about how different departments within your business interact with one another, while somebody who will be implementing your product probably only needs more limited information such as design specs because they are not going into production themselves.
A business proposal may provide you with more details of the project, but it does not include information about your company’s operations or future plans.
Examples of Business Plans vs. Business Proposals
- When you give a potential investor your business plan which includes all sorts of information about how we will achieve your goals together as well as the amount of money it’s going to take. The business proposal is for them to write you a check in return for interest/principal payments or a percentage of your company.
- You might be getting partners involved in your business who will help with product development and distribution. You are offering them a business proposal to work together. However, they may request to see your business plan to better understand your goals, potential profitability, and how you plan to reach these goals before deciding to work with you.
- Your existing business has been so successful that you decide to outsource the social media marketing efforts to a freelancer to free up more of your time. The freelancer would provide a business proposal stating their terms and conditions along with the agreed-upon pay arrangement for their services. This change in organizational structure may be noted in your business plan to demonstrate expansion and financial stability to continue growth.
- In your business plan , one of your goals is to grow your client base by 5% each month. You identify potential clients in need of your services or products and send an unsolicited business proposal to demonstrate how your products or services can benefit them in order to develop a new prospective client list.
The business plan is a roadmap for your company’s present and future, while the business proposal has to do with what you are asking someone else for money. Applying this difference into practice can be difficult at times because business plans are often marketed as business proposals. However, it is important to be able to identify the difference between a business plan and business proposal in order to maximize their effectiveness and importance with potential investors or partners.
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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step
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1. Write an executive summary
2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.
A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.
» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .
This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.
Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.
» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps
Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:
Your business’s registered name.
Address of your business location .
Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.
Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.
Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.
» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan
The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.
If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.
For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.
In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.
You should include the following:
An explanation of how your product or service works.
The pricing model for your product or service.
The typical customers you serve.
Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.
Your sales strategy.
Your distribution strategy.
You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.
Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.
Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.
» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing
If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.
You may also include metrics such as:
Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.
Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.
Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.
This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.
» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:
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The best business credit cards .
The best accounting software .
This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.
Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.
Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.
List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.
How Much Do You Need?
Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:
Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.
Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.
Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.
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How to Write a Project Proposal (Examples & Template Included)
Table of Contents
What is a project proposal, types of project proposals, project proposal vs. project charter, project proposal vs. business case, project proposal vs. project plan, project proposal outline, how to write a project proposal, project proposal example, project proposal tips.
- ProjectManager & Project Proposals
A project proposal is a project management document that’s used to define the objectives and requirements of a project. It helps organizations and external project stakeholders agree on an initial project planning framework.
The main purpose of a project proposal is to get buy-in from decision-makers. That’s why a project proposal outlines your project’s core value proposition; it sells value to both internal and external project stakeholders. The intent of the proposal is to grab the attention of stakeholders and project sponsors. Then, the next step is getting them excited about the project summary.
Getting into the heads of the audience for which you’re writing the project proposal is vital: you need to think like the project’s stakeholders to deliver a proposal that meets their needs.
We’ve created a free project proposal template for Word to help structure documents, so you don’t have to remember the process each time.
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Project Proposal Template
Use this free Project Proposal Template for Word to manage your projects better.
In terms of types of project proposals, you can have one that’s formally solicited, informally solicited or a combination. There can also be renewal and supplemental proposals. Here’s a brief description of each of them.
- Solicited project proposal: This is sent as a response to a request for proposal (RFP) . Here, you’ll need to adhere to the RFP guidelines of the project owner.
- Unsolicited project proposal: You can send project proposals without having received a request for a proposal. This can happen in open bids for construction projects , where a project owner receives unsolicited project proposals from many contractors.
- Informal project proposal: This type of project proposal is created when a client asks for an informal proposal without an RFP.
- Renewal project proposal: You can use a renewal project proposal when you’re reaching out to past customers. The advantage is that you can highlight past positive results and future benefits.
- Continuation project proposal: A continuation project proposal is sent to investors and stakeholders to communicate project progress.
- Supplemental project proposal: This proposal is sent to investors to ask for additional resources during the project execution phase.
A project proposal is a detailed project document that’s used to convince the project sponsor that the project being proposed is worth the time, money and effort to deliver it. This is done by showing how the project will address a business problem or opportunity. It also outlines the work that will be done and how it will be done.
A project charter can seem like the same thing as a project proposal as it also defines the project in a document. It identifies the project objectives, scope, goals, stakeholders and team. But it’s done after the project has been agreed upon by all stakeholders and the project has been accepted. The project charter authorizes the project and documents its requirements to meet stakeholders’ needs.
A business case is used to explain why the proposed project is justified. It shows that the project is worth the investment of time and money. It’s more commonly used in larger companies in the decision-making process when prioritizing one project over another.
The business case answers the questions: what is the project, why should it be taken up, who will be involved and how much will it cost? It’s therefore related to a project proposal, but the project proposal comes before the business case and is usually part of the larger proposal.
Again, the project proposal and the project plan in this case are very similar documents. It’s understandable that there would be some confusion between these two project terms. They both show how the project will be run and what the results will be. However, they’re not the same.
The project proposal is a document that aims to get a project approved and funded. It’s used to convince stakeholders of the viability of the project and their investment. The project plan, on the other hand, is made during the planning phase of the project, once it’s been approved. It’s a detailed outline of how the project will be implemented, including schedule, budget, resources and more.
There are several key operational and strategic questions to consider, including:
- Executive summary: This is the elevator pitch that outlines the project being proposed and why it makes business sense. While it also touches on the information that’ll follow in the project proposal, the executive summary should be brief and to the point.
- Project background: This is another short part of the proposal, usually only one page, which explains the problem you’ll solve or the opportunity you’re taking advantage of with the proposed project. Also, provide a short history of the business to put the company in context to the project and why it’s a good fit.
- Project vision & success criteria: State the goal of the project and how it aligns with the goals of the company. Be specific. Also, note the metrics used to measure the success of the project.
- Potential risks and mitigation strategies: There are always risks. Detail them here and what strategies you’ll employ to mitigate any negative impact as well as take advantage of any positive risk.
- Project scope & deliverables: Define the project scope, which is all the work that has to be done and how it will be done. Also, detail the various deliverables that the project will have.
- Set SMART goals: When setting goals, be SMART. That’s an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. All your goals would be defined by those five things.
- Project approach: Define the approach you’ll use for the contract. There are several different types of contracts used in construction , for example, such as lump sum, cost plus, time and materials, etc. This is also a good place to describe the delivery method you’ll use.
- Expected benefits: Outline the benefits that will come from the successful completion of the project.
- Project resource requirements: List the resources, such as labor, materials, equipment, etc., that you’ll need to execute the project if approved.
- Project costs & budget: Detail all the costs, including resources, that’ll be required to complete the project and set up a budget to show how those costs will be spent over the course of the project.
- Project timeline: Lay out the project timeline , which shows the project from start to finish, including the duration of each phase and the tasks within it, milestones, etc.
In addition to these elements, it’s advisable to use a cover letter, which is a one-page document that helps you introduce your project proposal and grab the attention of potential clients and stakeholders.
All the elements in the above project proposal outline are present in our template. This free project proposal template for Word will provide you with everything you need to write an excellent project proposal. It will help you with the executive summary, project process, deliverables, costs—even terms and conditions. Download your free template today.
To make the best proposal possible, you’ll want to be thorough and hit on all the points we’ve listed above. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a persuasive priority proposal.
1. Write an Executive Summary
The executive summary provides a quick overview of the main elements of your project proposal, such as your project background, project objectives and project deliverables, among other things. The goal is to capture the attention of your audience and get them excited about the project you’re proposing. It’s essentially the “elevator pitch” for the project life cycle. It should be short and to the point.
The executive summary should be descriptive and paint a picture of what project success looks like for the client. Most importantly, it should motivate the project client; after all, the goal is getting them to sign on the dotted line to get the project moving!
2. Provide a Project Background
The project background is a one-page section of your project proposal that explains the problem that your project will solve. You should explain when this issue started, its current state and how your project will be the ideal solution.
- Historic data: The history section outlines previously successful projects and those that could have run more smoothly. By doing so, this section establishes precedents and how the next project can be more effective using information from previous projects.
- Solution: The solution section addresses how your project will solve the client’s problem. Accordingly, this section includes any project management techniques , skills and procedures your team will use to work efficiently.
3. Establish a Project Vision & Success Criteria
You’ll need to define your project vision. This is best done with a vision statement, which acts as the north star for your project. It’s not specific as much as it’s a way to describe the impact your company plans to make with the project.
It’s also important to set up success criteria to show that the project is in fact doing what it’s proposed to do. Three obvious project success criteria are the triple constraint of cost, scope and time. But you’ll need to set up a way to measure these metrics and respond to them if they’re not meeting your plan.
4. Identify Potential Risks and Mitigation Strategies
To reduce the impact of risk in your project, you need to identify what those risks might be and develop a plan to mitigate them . List all the risks, prioritize them, describe what you’ll do to mitigate or take advantage of them and who on the team is responsible for keeping an eye out for them and resolving them.
5. Define Your Project Scope and Project Deliverables
The project scope refers to all the work that’ll be executed. It defines the work items, work packages and deliverables that’ll be delivered during the execution phase of your project life cycle. It’s important to use a work breakdown structure (WBS) to define your tasks and subtasks and prioritize them.
6. Set SMART Goals for Your Project Proposal
The best mindset when developing goals and objectives for your project proposal is to use the SMART system :
- Specific – Make sure your goals and objectives are clear, concise and specific to the task at hand.
- Measurable – Ensure your goals and objectives are measurable so it’s obvious to see when things are on track and going well, and conversely, when things are off track and issues need to be addressed. Measurable goals make it easy to develop the milestones you’ll use to track the progress of the project and identify a reasonable date for completion and/or closure.
- Attainable – It’s important every project has a “reach” goal. Hitting this goal would mean an outstanding project that extends above and beyond expectations. However, it’s important that the project’s core goal is attainable, so morale stays high and the job gets done with time and resources to spare.
- Relevant – Make sure all of your goals are directly relevant to the project and address the scope within which you’re working.
- Time-Based – Timelines and specific dates should be at the core of all goals and objectives. This helps keep the project on track and ensures all project team members can manage the work that’s ahead of them.
7. Explain What’s Your Project Approach
Your project approach defines the project management methodology , tools and governance for your project. In simple terms, it allows project managers to explain to stakeholders how the project will be planned, executed and controlled successfully.
8. Outline The Expected Benefits of Your Project Proposal
If you want to convince internal stakeholders and external investors, you’ll need to show them the financial benefits that your project could bring to their organization. You can use cost-benefit analysis and projected financial statements to demonstrate why your project is profitable.
9. Identify Project Resource Requirements
Project resources are critical for the execution of your project. The project proposal briefly describes what resources are needed and how they’ll be used. Later, during the planning phase, you’ll need to create a resource management plan that’ll be an important element of your project plan. Project requirements are the items, materials and resources needed for the project. This section should cover both internal and external needs.
10. Estimate Project Costs and Project Budget
All the resources that you’ll need for your project have a price tag. That’s why you need to estimate those costs and create a project budget . The project budget needs to cover all your project expenses, and as a project manager, you’ll need to make sure that you adhere to the budget.
11. Define a Project Timeline
Once you’ve defined your project scope, you’ll need to estimate the duration of each task to create a project timeline. Later during the project planning phase , you’ll need to create a schedule baseline, which estimates the total length of your project. Once the project starts, you’ll compare your actual project schedule to the schedule baseline to monitor progress.
Now let’s explore some project proposal examples to get a better understanding of how a project proposal would work in the real world. For this example, let’s imagine a city that’s about to build a rapid transit system. The city government has the funds to invest but lacks the technical expertise and resources that are needed to build it, so it issues a request for proposal (RFP) document and sends it to potential builders.
Then, the construction companies that are interested in executing this rapid transit project will prepare a project proposal for the city government. Here are some of the key elements they should include.
- Project background: The construction firm will provide an explanation of the challenges that the project presents from a technical perspective, along with historical data from similar projects that have been completed successfully by the company.
- Project vision & success criteria: Write a vision statement and explain how you’ll track the triple constraint to ensure the successful delivery of the project.
- Potential risks and mitigation strategies: List all risks and how they’ll be mitigated, and be sure to prioritize them.
- Project scope & deliverables: The work that’ll be done is outlined in the scope, including all the deliverables that’ll be completed over the life cycle of the project.
- Set SMART goals: Use the SMART technique to define your project goals by whether they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Project approach: Define the methodology that the project manager will employ to manage the project. Also, figure out what type of contract will be used to define the project.
- Expected benefits: Show how the project will deliver advantages to the company and define what these benefits are in a quantifiable way.
- Project resource requirements: List all the resources, such as labor, materials, equipment, etc., needed to execute the project.
- Project costs & budget: Estimate the cost of the project and lay that out in a project budget that covers everything from start to finish.
- Project timeline: Outline the project schedule, including phases, milestones and task duration on a visual timeline.
Whatever project proposal you’re working on, there are a few tips that apply as best practices for all. While above we suggested a project proposal template that would have a table of contents, meaning it would be many pages long, the best-case scenario is keeping the proposal to one or two pages max. Remember, you’re trying to win over stakeholders, not bore them.
Speaking of project stakeholders , do the research. You want to address the right ones. There’s no point in doing all the work necessary to write a great proposal only to have it directed to the wrong target audience. Whoever is going to read it, though, should be able to comprehend the proposal. Keep the language simple and direct.
When it comes to writing, get a professional. Even a business document like a project proposal, business case or executive summary will suffer if it’s poorly constructed or has typos. If you don’t want to hire a professional business writer, make sure you get someone on your project team to copy, edit and proof the document. The more eyes on it, the less likely mistakes will make it to the final edition.
While you want to keep the proposal short and sweet, it helps to sweeten the pot by adding customer testimonials to the attachments. Nothing sells a project plan better than a customer base looking for your product or service.
ProjectManager & Project Proposals
ProjectManager allows you to plan proposals within our software. You can update tasks for the project proposal to signify where things stand and what’s left to be done. The columns allow you to organize your proposal by section, creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) of sorts.
When building a project proposal, it’s vital to remember your target audience. Your audience includes those who are excited about the project, and see completion as a gain for their organization. Conversely, others in your audience will see the project as a pain and something to which they aren’t looking forward. To keep both parties satisfied, it’s essential to keep language factual and concise.
Our online kanban boards help you think through that language and collaborate on it effectively with other team members, if necessary. Each card shows the percentage completed so everyone in the project management team is aware of the work done and what’s left to be done.
As you can see from the kanban board above, work has begun on tasks such as product documentation and design. Tasks regarding stakeholder feedback, ideation, market research and more have been completed, and there’s a good start on the engineering drawings, 3D rendering, supply chain sourcing and translation services.
A PDF is then attached to the card, and everyone added to the task receives an email notifying them of the change. This same process can be used throughout the life-cycle of the project to keep the team updated, collaborating, and producing a first-class project proposal. In addition to kanban boards, you can also use other project management tools such as Gantt charts , project dashboards, task lists and project calendars to plan, schedule and track your projects.
Project proposals are just the first step in the project planning process. Once your project is approved, you’ll have to solidify the plan, allocate and manage resources, monitor the project, and finally hand in your deliverables. This process requires a flexible, dynamic and robust project management software package. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps all your team members collaborate and manage this process in real-time. Try our award-winning software with this free 30-day trial .
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How to Write a Business Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide
- Sep 19, 2023
- 22 min read
- First published on
- Apr 6, 2020
You just finished an amazing meeting with a potential client, they seem ready to pull the trigger and excited to work with you. Then they utter the following sentence: “Please send me a proposal.” And now you have to remember how to write one. This guide will give you a system and guidelines on how to write a business proposal and make that process easy and repeatable.
Writing business proposals is arguably not that fun. In fact, most business owners would rather avoid the task. However, if you have an amazing business proposal template to start with you can speed the process up significantly. The key is to build everything right the first time round and give yourself a reusable template you can tweak and adjust until it’s perfect.
What we’ll cover in this article
- Proposal templates
- Visual presentation and design
- Introduction (Executive summary)
- Detailed specification
- Terms and conditions
- Optimizing your proposals for conversion
What Is A Business Proposal?
An effective business proposal is a formal document created with the purpose of persuading your potential customers to work with you. It’s a document used in a variety of industries – from selling carpets to offering enterprise software solutions and social media marketing , all of it starts with a business proposal.
Two types of business proposals
Besides the difference in the industry, the main division is between solicited and unsolicited business proposals. A solicited business proposal is sent when you already have a connection with the potential customer and they’re interested in what you’re selling.
Usually, the buyer themselves will ask for a proposal outlining your problem statement. Whether they’re a small business or government agencies, your proposal should follow the project details they’ve outlined.
On the other hand, unsolicited proposals are sent without the explicit request of someone who may be interested in what you’re selling. Whether you’re writing formally solicited proposals or unsolicited ones, you’ll need to know how to structure them.
Although it’s easier to create a solicited proposal, don’t stress out about writing unsolicited ones. Our guide can help you in both situations.
How To Write A Business Proposal The Easy Way
Have you ever freehanded a business proposal into the body of an email? Or started compiling it in a Word document from scratch? Or maybe you’re more into InDesign so you noticed a typo on your freshly exported PDF?
The fact of the matter is, creating a proposal for every client from scratch is both exhausting and a waste of time. Having a structured proposal writing system in place will save you countless hours. At the most basic level, your proposal writing system is two things:
- Having a great business proposal template written with everything in it
- Knowing what needs editing each time
The first thing, getting your business proposal template in order, is vital. The second is a matter of personalization to the specific job and client.
What Is A Business Proposal Template?
Put simply, a proposal template is a proposal that is about 90% finished. Think of it as a collection of all the best pieces of content you’ve ever put into previous proposals.
Your best introduction describing the problem statement, your best pricing strategy , best type of proof, best title page, etc. A winning template combines all the best elements of the proposals you’ve sent which resulted in sales for your product or service.
If you’re using proposal software like Better Proposals, compiling this shouldn’t be difficult, because you will know which proposals work for your target audience thanks to our analytics and reports.
But what if you’ve never sent proposals before so you don’t have a basis for templates? What if you don’t have the time or just don’t know a thing about proposals? No reason to worry – our proposal library has more than 130 different proposal templates that help sell a wide range of products or services .
Once you have your template in place, you’ll only need to fill out the major details, such as:
- The client’s information
- Specifics about the offer
- Pricing, timelines, detailed specification
- A proof section with an example similar to the offer you’re sending, etc.
Once you add these, your business proposal is ready to go. The main idea is that templates help you write proposals in 15 minutes instead of 5 hours. To see what the template creation process looks like, check out how easy it is to design yours in Better Proposals .
The importance of a good business proposal template
The best thing about a good proposal template is that you only need to create it once. After that, it’s just a matter of tweaking the details. If you do it properly the first time around, sending out a proposal turns into a few minutes’ work.
The best tip we have is to choose your best proposal and turn it into a template. Allocate a good day to getting it as good as it can be – turn all specific information into placeholders, get your formatting sorted, and make sure your pricing section is clean and clear.
This also means editing the copy like it’s a headline on your website. Consider the wording, your client, and the emotions you want to evoke – really make each section shine.
Despite their growing popularity, this is the time to resist the urge to use AI content writers . The content they produce is easy to spot and putting effort into creating a great business proposal template makes all the difference.
Later in this article, we’ll look at what is included in a business proposal, and that goes for your template too. We’ll provide business proposal examples as well. Next time you have that meeting with your potential client and they ask you to send them a business proposal for your proposed solution, you’ll confidently walk away knowing exactly what to do.
How To Write A Business Proposal That Sells
Most people think that writing a business proposal is boring and time-consuming. And for the most part, they’re right. There really is no creative flair in writing them and it’s all about pitching your product or service so that the new client says yes and gives you money.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to make proposal writing easier and more efficient and get your prospective client on board more quickly.
In the following sections, we’ll show you that writing a business proposal is more about preparation and using the right tools to make writing easier. In other words, we’ll teach you how to write a business proposal with minimal effort and maximum sales performance.
Once you pick the right proposal software tools, you’ll see how easy it is to create a winning proposal.
What questions are your customers asking?
When writing a business proposal, there’s a situation going on that only the best salespeople understand. Your potential client has a list of questions. They’ll rarely tell you what those questions are, mostly because they’re pretty awkward.
For example, we had a situation when I quoted someone £40,000 for some software once. The proposal was about 17 pages long, and the client replied with one sentence:
“Sounds good. What happens if you die? How do I get my data back?”
I didn’t think it was an appropriate time to go back to him and explain I probably wouldn’t care about his data if I was dead. However, I did explain to him a contingency plan that we had in place for nearly a decade now for this exact situation. I told him, and he signed up.
This got me thinking. While this guy was the first bold enough to ask that question, he can’t have been the first guy to think it. From that moment on, we included the contingency plan in every business proposal we sent under a section called ‘How we protect your data’.
Awkward questions your potential customers have but won’t ask you:
- What happens if you die?
- What will I do if they screw up my search engine rankings?
- What happens if they take over my website and vanish?
- What happens if they redesign my website and I get fewer conversions than I got before?
A rare client will actually ask these questions to your face, but it doesn’t mean they won’t pop into their mind. Think about it. How many questions do people actually ask on the back of proposals? Answer these questions in your proposal before the client gets a chance to ask them.
How do you want your potential clients to feel?
Don’t think of business proposals as just sales documents – think of them as taking someone on an experience. Think movies. The emotions override the content. It’s less important how you get them to feel sadness at the end, so long as you do.
Writing a business proposal isn’t that different. It’s all about the emotion you want your potential client to feel at the end of reading it. For example:
- Excitement – Describing possibilities using uplifting pictures and success stories is good here. Don’t bore them with a document resembling a long business plan.
- Confidence – Include lots of proof and trust-building elements into this. Don’t make suggestions; be certain in your wording.
- Action taking – Lots of commanding words and talking about the next step. Don’t bog them down with a list of 42 things to decide on. Just get them to do the “next” thing.
You could find the best custom writing service out there and you’d still be the only one who can do this properly. That’s because, depending on your client and what you’re selling, only you know what’s most appropriate.
What you definitely don’t want to be doing is talking in “maybes”, “ifs”, and using suggestive wording when you want someone to trust you. It sounds like you’re not sure. As a good friend, Mitch Miller, says:
“The doctor doesn’t ask the patient if it’s the right prescription. He just prescribes the right thing and tells them to get out of the office.”
How To Write A Business Proposal – The 8 Core Elements
There are 8 elements most business proposals should include. Some are absolutely essential; some are not – that depends on your specific situation. Here they are:
Does your proposal need to have all of these sections? Maybe yes, maybe not – it depends. However, all of our proposal templates have these sections out of the box. But wait – there’s one thing we haven’t mentioned on purpose.
0. The cover page
All proposals should have a well-designed cover page with an image and text to address the specific client. We’re leaving it out because all of our business proposal templates come with beautiful, professionally designed cover pages already built in.
A beautifully designed cover page can help your business stand out because it gives your entire document a level of professionalism. What’s more, it brings the wow factor that pulls clients in right off the bat.
1. The introduction
Also known as the Executive summary. Good business proposals always start with a great introduction . This is the most read part of your proposal, so it needs to get across that you understand their situation and you’re clear on their goal. Your meetings and discovery sessions should be heavily predicated on getting the information for this section of the proposal.
The biggest reason you’re not winning new business is not getting a chance to do a meeting or initial call about the job. As a result, you never discovered what the client wants to achieve, what’s important to them, and what makes them tick. And because you don’t know that information, you lead with the things that don’t matter as much (e.g., the price or the technicalities of what you’re going to do).
This is why a discovery call is one of the most important things to include when you learn how to write a business proposal. Without it, you’re essentially guessing what the client needs.
Every Business Proposal Needs A Good Introduction
Your introduction should show the client that you’ve listened to their problem and that you have the cure, which you will show them in the next section. If you want to create an ongoing relationship, you need to show that you’ve researched your client’s company.
If you want to present your clients with a custom service, this is the place to stress that. Show them how you customize your usual offer to match their exact pain point.
According to our own research, this is the most-read section of all business proposals besides the pricing. Most clients read just these two sections, so make sure that you invest extra time and care in this one.
How to write a proposal introduction
This section is also known as a summary or an executive summary, depending on your resources. Even though the title is different, everything else is the same – it’s a section where you discuss how you’re going to solve the client’s problem and present your value proposition.
The most important tip we have here is to make it all about the client and the solution to their problem. In other words, refrain from going on and on about yourself. At the end of the day, a client reading a proposal wants to know what solution you offer. And if they’re interested in your company history or the process of forming an LLC , they’ll Google it.
Make sure to keep it short and to the point. You want to keep your entire proposal easy to read and as enjoyable of an experience for your potential client as possible.
Since the executive summary is such an important part of any standard business proposal, don’t be afraid of asking your team members to read it and give you feedback. And if you need more practical writing tips, check out our in-depth proposal introduction writing guide .
2. The detailed specification
This part varies depending on what you’re selling. If it’s a website, this could be a list of pages and features. If you’re writing a social media marketing proposal, then this could be the strategy or the talent and credentials of your team. It’ll vary.
The basic idea is to be as detailed as possible in your offer. That way, the prospective client understands exactly how your proposed solutions work.
The reason it’s important is that if the deal goes bad, you both have this section to refer back to. Your business proposal outlines accountability and what the client should hope for. Moreover, it also serves as a good exercise for you when writing a good business proposal, as this is all the information you’re going to gather in any discovery phase of the deal.
It’s important here to keep this in plain English. Stay far away from jargon, as it will only confuse the potential client. The less the reader understands, the less they trust you.
Also, if you absolutely must write about your company, this might be the place to do it. Who you are, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it, and what makes you stand out. However, don’t spend too much time or space on this because the focus is on the client, not you.
3. The timescales
It doesn’t matter if it’s a wide bracket, like 2-4 weeks – you have to give the client some clue about your project timeline . Otherwise, it’s a massive unknown.
It can be really useful to find out if the client has a special event or another reason for a project timeline to be important to them. If there is, tie that in. You can even tie that into scarcity to give them the incentive to sign the proposal off by a certain date. And if you’re writing unsolicited proposals, you need to be especially convincing and present your project timeline in a way that will make it hard to say no to.
Be as specific as possible, but also use this section to your advantage. More time to deliver means two things:
- You can finish earlier than promised and impress your client
- You have more time to spare if something goes unexpectedly wrong
More time is always better, but make sure that you consider the need for urgency as well.
4. The proof
You must prove to your client that you can actually deliver your proposed solution. Now, you might say, “we have examples on our website”. That’s nice – but the client is not looking at your website, they’re reading your proposal – your one big “ask” for the business. They want solid proof and a few good case studies will do.
You need to have sufficient proof in a good business proposal. This could be examples, testimonials, video case studies, screenshots from a client proving you helped them with something, a recording of a voicemail – anything.
As you can see in our business proposal example, it doesn’t have to be complex and have the production value of a Spielberg classic. It just needs to get the point across.
To help them feel like they’ll be in good hands, you can also indicate relevant credentials and certifications your team managers and members have. After all, product managers and team leaders will play a massive role in ensuring that your product or service is of top quality.
The good news is, there is more than one type of proof that you can choose. Case studies, testimonials, portfolio pieces, explainer videos – there are lots of ways to convince your clients that you’re the real deal.
5. The price
Based on our data, this is the second most read section of any business proposal – people usually jump straight from the introduction to the pricing table. Needless to say, spend some extra time here to make it look right.
When using our business proposal templates, you can choose how to format your price based on project details. That said, there are a few things you want to make sure of.
The first is that the pricing is super clear. If you have somewhat of a confusing pricing structure, then this might be time to think about simplifying it.
Speaking of which, we’ve done some research on pricing in business proposals and you can see our results in the latest Proposal Report . As it turns out, it’s a better idea to have a single offer and price instead of trying to get more money with upsells. Proposals with a single offer sold significantly more – 20.6% for offers with upfront costs and 33% higher for offers with monthly retainer costs.
The reason is that a business proposal is a matter of getting a simple answer – yes or no. The more options you add, the more difficult it gets for them to decide whether to sign or not. Keep your responsive pricing tables super simple.
The way you format your price can help avoid further negotiations. Our analysis of real-life pricing mistakes should give you a good idea of what to avoid.
How to name your pricing section
Finally, there is one more thing that you should know about the pricing section – don’t call it that. We’ve discovered that these names work better:
- Return on investment
- And others following this pattern
Basically, you want your clients to see your services as an investment in their business, rather than a simple cost and money down the drain. Small businesses or enterprise clients, no one wants to spend money – they want to invest it.
6. The guarantee
Some people love the idea of a guarantee. Others don’t like giving guarantees for fear of abuse. However, a guarantee is a great way to push new clients further towards conversion.
Instead of a typical money-back guarantee, consider guaranteeing a part of your service or a timescale. Cheryl Laidlaw’s “Website in a Day” service is a good example.
She, at the time of writing, charges £1,995 for the day and delivers the website THAT NIGHT. The client doesn’t go home (and neither does Cheryl) until it’s done – which is an amazing offer .
7. The next steps
A lot of times, people seem to forget the very basics – to show the client what to do next. Sure, some people might read your business proposal and say, “Great, okay, let’s go ahead”. But why would you leave it up to them to figure it out?
It’s not their job to figure out how to buy from you, especially if you’re sending informally solicited proposals. Just make sure to tell them what the next steps are. Usually, this will be something like:
Step 1: Sign the proposal by typing your name in the box below and hitting ‘Accept’. This makes the proposal a legally binding contract.
Step 2: We’ll invoice you for 50%. Please pay for this immediately.
Step 3: We’ll arrange our initial consultation call with you.
Anyone can do these tasks on their own – they’re not all that complex. The problem is that if you leave all of this unsaid, you’re leaving your clients wondering. Explain all the details of what’s going to happen next.
8. The terms and conditions
You absolutely should be including your contract or terms and conditions. Just put it on a separate page called Terms & Conditions or Terms of Business .
There’s a great contract written for freelancers which covers 98% of the basics. If you’re not using a contract in your business right now, use this until your legal team demands something better.
You should always include your terms in your business proposals because when someone signs the proposal, they automatically sign the contract . It covers you and it covers the client, so it’s only natural to include it.
Just reading the words “terms and conditions” may make you feel dizzy because of the work ahead, but it’s actually something that you can do once and never fret about again later.
A Business Proposal That’s Optimized for Conversion
So let’s say you’ve followed all the steps in the “How To Write A Business Proposal Guide,” and you now have the best structured proposal on the planet, and it still loses business. Why could this be? – perhaps it’s a conversion problem. We’ve analyzed hundreds of thousands of proposals sent through our platform to see what makes them convert. Here are some data-backed tips to help you.
1. Send your proposals quickly
For over four years now, sending proposals out within 24 hours of meeting the client has been the best way to increase conversion rates. According to our data, proposals that are sent out within that time frame had a 23% higher conversion rate than those sent only a day later.
2. Include a cover page
While jumping straight into the introduction won’t hurt your conversions significantly, our data shows having a cover page makes a difference. Proposals with a cover page convert 4.6% better than the ones without it.
3. Don’t go overboard
The length of a business proposal will largely depend on what you do. That said, proposals that convert the best are short, concise, and to the point. Our data backs this up, showing that the optimal proposal length has been 6-7 sections for five years now.
4. Make sure your proposals are mobile-friendly
The number of clients opening business proposals on desktop computers has been steadily decreasing over the years. As a matter of fact, as much as 46% of proposals are now opened on mobile devices.
You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and you can’t control what device your client chooses to use. So what do you do? Choose a responsive design that looks great on all screen sizes.
5. Look professional
Pixelated logos, mismatched fonts, and typos are the best way to lose credibility right off the bat. Our data shows that branding goes a long way, with proposals sent from a custom domain converting 19.3% better than the ones sent from a third-party domain.
6. Integrate live chat
Great customer service is always crucial to increasing your conversion rate. Live chat not only helps you to respond to your client’s questions in real time but also puts them at ease. That’s why proposals with integrated live chat convert 18.2% better than those without it.
7. Make the offer easy to accept
The harder you make it for the client to do business with you, the more business you’re losing. With business proposals, the answer is easy – use a web-based platform like Better Proposals. That way, you’re letting clients sign documents electronically and pay, all in one place.
Using traditional PDFs sent as email attachments makes your conversion rate 88% worse. It’s not a surprise when you think about it – nobody likes going through the hassle of printing, signing, scanning, and sending the document back.
Using Proposal Software To Write, Send & Track Your Business Proposals
The truth is, rarely anyone writes proposals these days – most people use proposal software. Here’s why it’s a good idea:
- Proposal software is web-based . You can send your clients links instead of PDF files.
- Proposals are optimized for different devices. They look and feel the same on a phone, laptop or tablet.
- You get to use proposal templates . (We have more than 130 of them.)
- You can track what the client does with the proposal. You get notifications when they read, forward and sign.
- Clients can instantly sign proposals electronically. This means your proposals are considered legally binding contracts. No need for third-party tools like DocuSign or DocuSign alternatives – good proposal software has that already built in.
- Clients can pay from the proposal. Paypal, Stripe, GoCardless, you name it.
- You can use a variety of integrations . MailChimp, Zapier, Salesforce, HubSpot , or whatever else you are using in your sales workflow.
- Detailed reporting . Find out what works and what doesn’t, no guessing.
- The ability to use live chat . You can chat with the client as they’re reading the proposal, increasing your conversions.
- You get to write your proposals in 15 minutes , not 5 hours. Pull the data from your CRM and populate it with automatic fields – it’s that simple.
These are just some of the many reasons why you should consider using proposal software rather than opening Word next time you want to write an effective business proposal.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting a new business , following our guide will help you dramatically increase the number of people who say yes to your proposals. In summary, here are the exact steps that you need to take to write an amazing business proposal:
- Start off with a proposal template
- Find out the questions that your clients are asking
- Think of how you want the clients to feel as they read the proposal
- Include the 8 elements of a winning business proposal, as listed above
- Use proposal software to automate the writing process
One of the biggest reasons people take forever to write business proposals and ultimately do a bad job is because they are using software that simply isn’t geared up to doing the job in an effective way. It might sound like a self-serving suggestion , but you should take a look at using Better Proposals for writing your next business proposal.
The business proposal templates in our Marketplace alone will save you a ton of time with many business proposal examples to browse, and our proposal software has everything you need for writing proposals in one place.
Ready to take your business to the next level?
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Proposal Language: What to Write to Get your Clients to Sign
How to Create an Effective Business Proposal Presentation: Top Tips for Success
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550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration. Go even further with LivePlan , which harnesses AI-assisted writing features and SBA-approved plan examples to get you funded.
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Example business plan format
Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:
The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.
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, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).
Products & services
The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.
This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.
Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.
Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.
To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.
Marketing & sales
The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.
The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.
Milestones & metrics
The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.
A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.
You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.
Company & team
Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.
Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.
Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.
The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.
Types of business plans explained
While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. 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 for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.
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.
The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.
One-page business plan
The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.
By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.
Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.
It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.
It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.
This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
How to use an example business plan to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.
Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company
You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a business plan example as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.
You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Prepare to pitch your business
If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.
Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.
With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.
Get LivePlan in your classroom
Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.
With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .
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Business Plan and Proposal: Everything You Need to Know
A business plan and proposal are two different documents with two different purposes and functions. 3 min read
A business plan and proposal are two different documents with two different purposes and functions. A business plan is a document that clearly spells out how a business intends to realize its objectives and goals, while a business proposal is a sales document that a business entity uses to request a contract from a client.
Business Plan vs. Business Proposal
A business plan and a business proposal are different from each other by content, goals, writing style, and structure. The major difference between both is that a business plan is a document that presents facts, while a business proposal is a request for a deal and a quotation of prices.
A Business Plan
You can think of a business plan as the documentation of a company's grand vision. Business plans are naturally tactical. It's like stating where and when you want to start, when you want to get to the next point in view, and how you intend to accomplish that progress. A business plan includes descriptions of how the business is intended to run, the details of financial goals, possible business rivalry, marketing strategy, executive summary, and other factors that affect a company's planned business growth.
A business plan is particularly effective in making potential investors interested in a company (especially a startup company that's yet to make a name in its industry). Additionally, a business plan can provide an idea of what a company requires for professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and potential employees. A business plan distinctly describes the scope of the business, and in so doing, clears your thoughts as a business owner.
The business plan should be honestly made because it's the outline of the company's vision. It indicates whether or not the business goals of the company are realistically achievable. Experts say an effective business plan would take approximately six weeks of thorough research and groundwork to create. In other words, you typically can't create an effective business plan in one day, present it to potential investors the next day, and achieve desired results.
A Business Proposal
A business proposal goes to a prospective client directly from an established business. It's an attempt to sell a business entity's service or product to a client, and not an attempt to sell the business itself. Also, a business proposal isn't an estimate. Though costs and certain other details will be provided in the business proposal, an estimate is a lot more unofficial and simply a provision to skim over the costs. It doesn't present the entire picture.
Basically, business proposals show a particular idea, such as a new, profitable undertaking. The proposal is intended to get investors to support the particular business endeavor being suggested. For instance, a well-known eatery chain may wish to extend its business to a nearby state. Such an eatery would have to compose a business proposal in order to get the financial support of its target investors.
Though the business proposal provides an overview of what the company does (similar to a business plan), its major objective is to provide the details of the suggested business idea, including providing answers in advance for any concerns that could be raised by potential investors.
Components of a Business Plan
Basically, a business plan has three components: business model description, sales tactics, and financial goals. However, more elaborately, it has the following sections of information:
- Executive summary
- Description of products and services
- Industry analysis (analysis of possible business rivalry)
- Marketing strategy
- Operating plan
- Structure of leadership
- Internal analysis
- Built-out plan
- Introduction of management
- Financial goals (deliberations on monetary concerns, and how to address them and achieve expected results).
Solicited vs. Unsolicited Business Proposals
A solicited business proposal, when presented in response to a request for proposal (RFP), should be in the format requested by the client in their RFP. The same format may or may not be used for an unsolicited business proposal. Its purpose is to suggest and develop a business idea. Therefore, it's recommended to use the same format or some other format that's well-known in the field of endeavor.
An unsolicited business proposal offers a business entity the flexibility to choose what structure they deem appropriate. However, the proposal is expected to meet industry standards, no matter what format is used. For instance, it should emphasize major areas of interest, be thoroughly researched, offer a proposition of value, and feature a call to action.
If you need help with a business plan and proposal, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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Business Plan vs. Business Proposal: Everything You Need to Know
“Ok, so you sell things.”
Well, honestly, I wasn’t surprised or peeved at the half-baked knowledge of my friend’s father when he made a snap judgment and conveniently labeled my marketing profession as sales.
After all, this wasn’t my first time when someone tagged me as a salesperson. So, I took a deep breath and explained to him how sales are different from marketing.
We, humans, dwell in a herd mentality and hone our word skills from our surroundings. Sometimes, we are simply careless, sometimes oblivious, but most of the time, we actually don’t know that the word has a different meaning.
This can be ignored in a casual conversation, but using the wrong words in a business space can change the implied meaning and lead to miscommunication. For example, cost vs. price , digitization vs. digitalization , warranty vs. guarantee , machine learning vs. artificial intelligence , etc.
“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – C. S. Lewis
This Process Street guest post untangles the confusion between two crucial terms – business plan and business proposal. These are used interchangeably in the business world, but their meaning and application are pretty different.
Words are the building blocks of communication. There is a French phrase for using the right word – le mot juste .
Let us strive for le mot juste !
Hop on and be a part of this fantabulous journey.
What is a business plan?
What is a business proposal, business plan vs. business proposal: what are the differences.
- Bonus: How to make ‘wow’ business plans and business proposals?
Winding-up: Key takeaways
Here we go! 🚀
A business plan is a formal guide that acts as a blueprint, deciphering every root and branch to make a business successful. It is a written document that provides insights to internal and external stakeholders on business vision, goals, and strategies to achieve those goals.
“Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.” – Yogi Berra
A business plan, at its core, is an explanation of the below questions –
- Who are we?
- What are our offerings?
- Who are our customers?
- Who are the competitors?
- What is our competitive advantage?
- What are the business projections?
- What is the roadmap to achieve the goals – marketing, operations, research and development, manufacturing, and financial plans?
- What are the funding/investment requirements?
- What is the return on investment?
Why do you need a business plan?
A business plan is not a bag of puffery statements. It is a document with factual information necessary for the survival of a business. You can create a business plan with the right tools or opt for a good business coach to get you started.
Let’s see what Tim Berry , business plan expert, founder and chairman of Palo Alto Softwar and bplans.com , has to say on business plans.
“What I love most about business plans is the business planning: like walking, it’s constant correction and review and revision. Planning, done right, is steering a business, managing growth, aiming the business towards the right future.” – Tim Berry , Small Business Trends
According to a study done by Palo Alto Software, those who create business plans double their chances to succeed in business .
Let us get down to brass tacks and understand why a business plan is super-duper important.
Record and present business information 💾 The primary intent of a business plan is to record and communicate information. It must document the business goals and the methods to attain those goals in a structured manner. It keeps businesses on track with their objectives.
A blueprint for seeking business investment 🗄️ Whether you are a fledgling start-up or an established business seeking expansion or diversification, writing a winning business plan acts as a magnet to attract investors. It builds confidence and trust among investors about the lucrativeness of a business idea.
Lay down the right path ✔️ Not everything discussed verbally at an ideation stage transforms into reality in a pragmatic environment. Jotting down a business plan differentiates achievable from impracticable based on market dynamics, opportunities and threats, and company’s strengths and weaknesses. It sets the right track for business growth.
Establish short-term and long-term goals 🎯 A business plan sets down short-term and long-term goals and the direction to accomplish them, right from baby steps to giant leaps. It becomes a basis to revisit the goals from time-to-time and make iterations depending on the present scenario.
“Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Get clarity on your business 🙋 A frequent question that pops-up in business discussions is: “Are we doing it right?”
A well-articulated business plan brings insightful knowledge on each aspect of a business – from what it has to offer to how to market the offerings.
Make informed decisions 💡 A business plan is a reality check to track what is being fruitful and what is causing hindrance. It paves the way to make a business sustainable.
Predict future financial performance 📈 Financial projection is the spotlight of a business plan. It’s the carrot that captivates the eyeballs and tickles investors to fund a new business.
A promising business plan talks about the company’s future financial performance – expenditure, profit, revenue, etc.
Explore new business opportunities 💰 A business plan is a flexible document that enables learning on the go. It bolsters research and infuses businesses with new and more feasible business opportunities. It gives organizations a fresh outlook and ushers them to be a howling success.
How to prepare for a business plan
Now that we have answered the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of a business plan, let us move forward to solve the next riddle – how do you prepare it?
Identify your company’s vision, mission, and values 🎯 Start by answering and figuring out your business personality:
- What do you desire to be?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- What values put your business in motion?
This is your organization’s compass that acts as a foundation for the succeeding steps.
Know your target audience 🧑💼 Dig deep into:
- Whom are you going to cater to?
- What is your target market?
- What is the size and potential of the target market?
- What are the needs of a prospective customer?
- How are the needs addressed presently?
Learn market trends 💹 Identifying market trends keeps businesses ahead of the game. Analysis of industry data leads to business growth and profitability in the long run.
Weigh in the impact of unforeseen circumstances 🤦 From financial turbulence to natural calamities and pandemics – a lot can go wrong in the future and leave a business shaking. Expect the unexpected and gird your loins for these testing times.
How to write a business plan
Creating a winning business plan increases the chances of success and spurs investors to fund your business.
According to a study published in Small Business Economics , entrepreneurs that create a plan are 152% more likely to start their business and appoint a registered agent and 129% more likely to push forward with their business beyond the initial start-up phase and grow it.
Here are the key components of an excellent business plan:
Executive summary First impression is the last impression!
An executive summary is a crucial part of this document. It provides the essence of the whole plan:
- Company details;
- Size and scope of business opportunity;
- A description of your offerings and how it will solve the problem;
- Growth projection;
- Financial requirements.
It should be informative and able to spark readers’ interest to know more about the business plan.
Overview of the business This section lists down information on:
- Your business;
- Your target market;
- Description of your products/services;
- Why and how your offerings are a great fit for prospective customers;
- Your capabilities to handle the demands;
- Your value proposition and competitive advantage.
…and all other related details.
Market analysis and strategies Put forth a strong case built on the solid rock of data analysis and statistics – present data on target market size, industry trends, sales forecasts, and marketing strategy.
Operating plan The operating plan highlights the operational requirements for the smooth functioning of a business. It includes facilities, supply chain management, inventory, manufacturing, shipment, logistics, staff management – everything under the sun that covers capital and expense (CapEx) requirements.
Growth plan This section answers the question: “Where do you see the business going in the next few years?” It provides visibility to investors on the milestones and how you will make money in near future.
Marketing plan Thee marketing plan section describes how to market the offerings to create and fulfill customers’ needs (who are the customers, product positioning, pricing policy, and promotional strategies?)
Management plan This section outlines how your organization is structured and basically how strong you are together. It describes the skills, background, and responsibilities of the management team. It builds conviction that the business is in good hands and has a proficient human capital.
Financial plan and projections This is the part where numbers become the king.
It draws up deets on inflow and outflow of money, sales forecast, profit and loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and budget expense. It discloses and forecasts the company’s financial goals, profitability model, and charts a course for the coming years.
Conclusion and appendix Conclude the business plan by succinctly bringing out the key pointers – the business’s vision, mission, goals, strengths, and growth trajectory. Make it compelling and to-the-point. Add relevant appendices to strengthen your business plan.
Pro tip: Use an all-inclusive ready-made business plan template document and Process Street ‘s business plan workflow to create unbeatable business plans.
Business Plan Workflow
Click here to access the Business Plan Checklist!
Types of business plans
There are varying types of business plans depending on the purpose and usage:
- Business plan for start-ups A winning start-up business plan can be a game-changer to attract funding from investors. It should weave all key components to make it a promising investment – company overview, products/services, estimated costs, market evaluation, competition insights, risk analysis, cash flow projections, marketing strategies, and the management team’s strengths.
- Strategic business plan It lays down the details of a company’s strategies to fulfill its goals. It outlines the company’s vision, mission, strategy, and goals, the driving force for success, and the timelines.
- Internal business plan This plan moves the needle and steers focus on in-house planning and growth. It ensures that everyone grasps the company’s overall plan for growth. It prepares organizations to move forward by identifying and removing any blockages and assess and revise the strategies when required.
- Operations business plan It is an internal plan that maps out the nitty-gritties of a company’s operations plans and activities.
- Development business plan This is a development or an expansion plan of a business. It is used for both internal and external purposes. An external growth plan is written to attract investment from external sources. An internal development plan counts on its own business capabilities, revenue, and resources. It works as a guide to provide the right directions.
- Feasibility business plan A company scouts out a feasibility study when it plans to foray into a new venture, new product, or a new market. It articulates: How well will the product or service perform? Is the business promising? What is the expected return on investment (ROI)?
- What-if business plan At a point where you face unordinary conditions, you need a variation on the existing plan. A what-if business plan arranges to fall back on a contingency plan when things go sideways. For example, an unexpected surge in demand, new competition, drop in market size, etc.
A business proposal is the mantra that draws you closer to win a customer or bag a project.
Generally, it is a formal response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) sent by a prospective client looking for the right solution to their problems. It explains the particulars of a seller’s offerings and convinces the buyer that the proposed solution is the gateway to their business’s success and productivity.
“And, after all, winning business is what writing proposals is all about.” ― Tom Sant, Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win More Customers, Clients, and Contracts
A business proposal comprises of four main points :
- What are the challenges of prospective clients?
- How can our solution solve their problems?
- Why should they choose us over others?
- What are the best pricing options available?
Why do you need a business proposal?
A business proposal is a testimony in itself that asserts, “I am the best you can get.”
Here are the reasons why you should and must make a business proposal :
- Create or leverage a business opportunity 💲 The prime motive is to win, win, and win! It is a medium to encash a business opportunity by putting forward an I-can’t-say-no-to-this proposal.
- Stand out from the competition 🏆 It persuades the prospects that you are way ahead of other rivals in the industry in terms of the value you offer.
How to prepare for a business proposal
The heart of preparedness is research and further research. 🔍 After all, the devil is in the details.
Talk to prospective customers, visit their website(s), read published articles, and be a know-it-all for your prospective clients.
Sort out the ‘who’ 🤔 First and foremost, dig every possible information about the client:
- Who is the client (its vision, mission, and goals)?
- What does it produce?
- What are its key markets and target customers?
- What are its business growth plans?
- Which markets is it presently serving?
- Also, figure out the kingpins of a proposal approval process. This will help you to create a comprehensive proposal with all the necessary answers expected by the decision-makers.
Understand the challenges 🤗 Find what’s bothering them and what is causing hindrance to their business success. Learn about their existing solution and its challenges.
Stitch the glitch and offer the best solution 🤩 After a thorough review of all the points mentioned above, find the best solution to your prospective client’s problems.
List down key differentiators 👌 This will help you to beat the competition in the dust. It draws a comparison chart and puts you in a superior position.
According to Gray Mackenzie, founder of GuavaBox ,
“Prior to submitting a proposal, make sure you have clearly defined all the major points verbally with the potential customer. By discussing the scope, cost, timeline, and details prior to submitting a written proposal, you can uncover objections earlier in the process.” – Gray Mackenzie, 10 Sales Experts Share Their Best Business Proposal Tips
How to write a business proposal
Let’s get down to the fundamental elements that form a business proposal. Learn how to create a business proposal that stands out and close sales.
Title page/Cover page 🖼 The name says it all.
Pretty easy-peasy thing to understand, right? After all, you have been creating the title pages since school days.
Still, make a note: Always write a gripping title that intrigues prospective clients’ interest and urges them to read on.
Other components that should be included on the title page are:
- Your company name and logo;
- Prospective customer’s name;
- Submission date.
Table of contents (TOC) 📝 As the name suggests, a TOC is a well-structured layout of the document. It helps to skim and scan and navigate speedily through different sections of a business proposal.
Executive summary 🗒 It sets the tone for a proposal and makes the reader inquisitive about reading subsequent sections. It sums up the entire business proposal – the purpose of sharing the proposal and why and how your solution is the right fit for the prospective client. Leave no stone unturned to boast about your offerings in the executive summary.
Details of offerings 🎁 This is an in-depth description of the products or services your company has to offer.
How will the offerings solve the client’s problems? 💡 This explains why your products/services are the right fit to address a prospective client’s needs and why it is a better alternative than the competition.
The methodology/implementation of offerings 🛠 This section is a blanket explanation of how the promised deliverables will be executed. It provides step-by-step clarity on each action along with timelines. It gives the client peace of mind and builds trust and confidence in the offering.
Pricing, payment, and legal matters 💵 Here, you talk about the pricing structure, applicable taxes, payment schedule, cancellation policy, and how you plan to solve the legal matters (if any arise in the future).
Here are some tips for this section:
- Ensure that the pricing details are concise and complete.
- Providing a comparison chart with different pricing options helps to make decisions faster.
- Don’t go overboard with pricing, and also, don’t underrate yourself.
- Always refer to the RFP and verify if every request has been fulfilled.
- Separate out and create a new legal section if your business demands an extensive list of legal requirements.
Details about your company 🔍 This is an exhaustive overview of your company. Don’t forget to add relevant customer testimonials, case studies, or success stories to build your case among prospective customers.
Signatures and Call to action 🖌 This is the moment that gets butterflies in your stomach; the closure. This is the concluding part of a business proposal. Here (if all your prayers get answered), you and your client sign the proposal and secure the deal. Hurray!
Pro tip: Once you send the business proposal, don’t sit idle in your cocoon day-dreaming of winning the proposal. Always proactively do follow-ups with the prospective clients and clarify their doubts.
For start-ups or small businesses, drafting a business proposal can be an unnerving experience. They work fingers to the bone to write a perfect business proposal. Spending too much time on it might lead to missing the deadline and eventually losing out on a golden opportunity.
According to a report by Better Proposal , sending a business proposal within 24 hours increases the likelihood of winning the deal by 25%. 🤝
Here’s the secret sauce to speedily create flawless business proposals :
First, pick a professionally vetted and ready-to-use business proposal template and draft a business proposal like a cakewalk. Such as the Business Proposal Template included below.
Next, always use Process Street ‘s super-powered business proposal template checklist and ensure no step gets missed in the process.
Business Proposal Template Checklist
It even turns out a blessing for big businesses since they have to draft multiple proposals all the time. Templates and checklists save a lot of time, enhance productivity, and increase the chances of success.
Types of business proposals
Majorly, there are two types of business proposals:
Solicited business proposal 👋 Also known as an invited business proposal, it comes into play when a buyer, or a company, outlines its requirements and requests suppliers to present an offer. It can be a response to a public tender issued by big corporations or government agencies.
Alternatively, a solicited business proposal can also be submitted as a response to the RFP shared by a prospective client.
The difference between the two is that while the earlier one is open to all bidders, the latter’s scope is limited as it is shared with shortlisted suppliers.
Pro tip: Do a thorough check before submitting an invited business proposal. Missing out on-minute details can kick you out from their consideration list.
Unsolicited business proposal 🚪 An uninvited or unsolicited business proposal is a proactive attempt to create a business opportunity. This proposal is sent to prospective clients without being asked.
The good news is, there are slim chances of your rival sending a business proposal simultaneously, so less or no competition.
The bad news is, it might breathe in the customer’s inbox for a few days and then, without being read, depart to the heavenly abode -the trash folder.
But still, like a cold call, it leaves some impression on prospective clients and shoots up the chances to cut a deal in the long run.
Pro tip: An unsolicited business proposal is mostly sent through emails. Make certain to write an attention-grabbing headline and a convincing explanation to draw attention.
Here’s a comparison chart that distinguishes between business plan and business proposal:
Bonus: How to make ‘wow’ business plans and business proposals
Here are the secret ingredients to make awesome and captivating business plans and proposals:
Follow the principle of KISS (Keep it simple, silly) 😛
This is not the right place to brag about your vocabulary skills. You want the prospective customer to focus on reading rather than wasting time looking up for a word.
Always remember! Communication is the key.
So, go simple and ditch those heavy jargons.
Go visual 📷
Don’t wear-out the pupils of your prospects with long-winded documents. Capitalize on the multisensorial abilities of humans as well.
Visuals increase people’s desire to read content by 80%.
Leverage the power of visuals and make your document easily graspable by adding graphs, infographics, flowcharts, tables, images, and videos.
Add social proof 👌
Do not forget to add positive feedback or customer testimonials. If similar projects have been delivered in the past, do add relevant links and case studies of that work. It helps to build trust and strengthen your case.
“Make sure you have great success stories that you can share with potential clients. At the end of the day, most, if not all, potential clients want to know you will provide value to them and generate positive ROI.” – Mathew Bivens, Podcast and marketing consultant, 10 Sales Experts Share Their Best Business Proposal Tips
Ensure the document is free from grammar and spelling errors.
Follow brand guidelines 📖
Your document should reflect your brand. Bring consistency in all your documents and design them as per the brand guidelines.
Use document builder tools 🛠️
Time is money!
The likelihood of getting a ‘yes’ on your business plans and business proposals depends on how fast you can create a flawless document.
Empower your organization with a smart and all-in-one document builder tool like Revv – create, communicate, collaborate, and close your documents in no time.
Business plans and business proposals are two different worlds with distinct purposes and goals. But, both play a prime role in increasing the odds of business success.
People often get the wrong end of the stick and ask for a business plan when they mean business proposal or vice-versa.
But, we don’t need to worry about that since we are now clear on what is what.
Cheers to us! 🍻
P.S: Don’t forget to subscribe to the Process Street blog to get notified of our upcoming articles. We also have a podcast “Tech Out Loud” featuring content written by respected industry leaders such as Peep Laja , Sujan Patel , Tomasz Tunguz , and more! 🚀
What is your take on business plans and business proposals? Have you ever got your wires crossed with these two terminologies? Don’t forget to post your comments below. 👇
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Hey, I'm Molly, Junior Content Writer at Process Street with a First-Class Honors Degree in Development Studies & Spanish. I love writing so much that I also have my own blog where I write about everything that interests me; from traveling solo to mindful living. Check it out at mollystovold.com .
Can you please help with a business plan on farming
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Mississippi’s capital city is considering a unique plan to slash water rates for poor people
Ted Henifin, interim third-party manager for JXN Water, the water system for the city of Jackson, Miss., explains his proposal for a slight rate increase Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, during a news conference in Jackson. Henifin believes the proposal, includes what might be a national first proposal to reduce water bills for low-income people. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Ted Henifin, interim third-party manager for JXN Water, the water system for the city of Jackson, Miss., takes a drink from a water bottle containing the city’s tap water, as he takes a break from explaining his proposal for a slight rate increase Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, during a news conference in Jackson. Henifin believes the proposal, includes what might be a national first proposal to reduce water bills for low-income people. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The manager of the long-troubled water system in Mississippi’s capital city proposed a slight rate increase for most residents Friday alongside what he said is a first-in-the-nation proposal to reduce water rates for low-income people who get government help with grocery bills.
The proposal from Ted Henifin , the third-party manager of Jackson’s water and sewer systems, is the culmination of a monthslong effort to increase revenue collections in a city where roughly a quarter of the population lives in poverty. If enacted, it would be the latest in a series of changes after infrastructure breakdowns in 2022 caused many Jackson residents to go days and weeks without safe running water.
“We think this is a great opportunity to really change the dialogue around water and sewer in the city of Jackson,” Henifin said at a news conference.
Henifin said about 5,000 properties in the Jackson area use water without paying , adding to the financial strain on a system that has about $260 million in outstanding debts. To increase revenue collections without burdening those who can’t afford higher bills, Henifin’s proposal creates a new rate tier for the roughly 12,500 Jackson water customers who receive benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income people purchase groceries.
People who receive SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, will see their water bills lowered by an average of $20 a month. That arrangement does not exist anywhere in the country, Henifin said.
Henifin had previously floated a plan to price water based on property values to shift the burden away from Jackson’s poorest residents. Months later, the Mississippi Legislature passed a law banning that approach. State law now mandates that water be billed based on volume, not other factors like property values. Henifin said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the state senate, approves of his new proposal.
The proposal also marks the first rate increase since a federal judge appointed Henifin to manage Jackson’s water system last November. Henifin created JXN Water, a corporation to manage water infrastructure projects
The majority of JXN Water’s residential customers would see an increase of about $10 per month, or a 13% increase. Customers with the largest meters, such as some commercial properties, could see increases of as much as $2,604, a 62% increase.
JXN Water will start shutting off water for people who don’t pay their bills sometime after Jan. 1st, Henifin said.
Henifin will propose the new rate structure to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who would then put the proposal on the City Council’s agenda. Henifin hopes the proposal will be considered by the council on Dec. 5, but he said the federal order allows him to implement the proposal regardless.
Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him at @mikergoldberg .
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Canada’s Housing Action Plan
From: Department of Finance Canada
This year, federal investment in housing is $9 billion higher than it was in 2013-14
Building the homes that Canada needs will require a great national effort—and it is an effort that the federal government is leading, bringing together provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, in partnership with home builders, financiers, community housing providers, post-secondary institutions, and Indigenous organizations and governments, to meet this great generational challenge.
Federal investments are already jumpstarting housing construction across the country. Both Toronto and Vancouver have seen record numbers of housing starts in 2023, supported by accelerated rental construction. This year, federal investment in housing is $9 billion higher than it was in 2013-14. Since 2015, the average annual federal housing investment has more than doubled compared to the previous government.
In the 2023 Fall Economic Statement , the federal government is introducing new measures to incentivize the construction of new rental housing, protect renters and homeowners, and make it easier for Canadians to get those first keys of their own.
Building More Homes, Faster
More financing for apartment construction.
The supply of rental housing in Canada needs to keep pace with our growing communities. To achieve this, builders need access to the low-cost financing which makes it possible to build more homes, faster. The federal government has already taken action to make the math work for builders, more needs to be done.
- To build more rental apartments, faster, the 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces an additional $15 billion in new loan funding, starting in 2025-26, for the Apartment Construction Loan Program, formerly known as the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, for a total of more than $40 billion in loan funding. This investment will support more than 30,000 additional new homes across Canada, bringing the program’s total contribution to more than 101,000 new homes supported by 2031-32.
Building More Affordable Housing
Affordable and community housing play critical roles by providing the most vulnerable Canadians with a place to call home. Within its first six years, the Affordable Housing Fund, previously known as the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, has already committed funding to repair or renew nearly 129,000 homes, while supporting the construction of more than 31,500 new homes.
- To build more affordable housing for the most vulnerable Canadians, the 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces an additional $1 billion over three years, starting in 2025-26, for the Affordable Housing Fund. This investment will support non-profit, co-op, and public housing providers to build more than 7,000 new homes by 2028.
Removing the GST From New Co-op Rental Housing
From students to families to seniors to newcomers, Canadians are finding it difficult to find the types of rental homes they need at prices they can afford. Rental supply must increase to ensure that renters can find an affordable place to call home. The federal government is creating the financial incentives to build more homes, faster, by removing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from new purpose-built rental housing projects , such as apartment buildings, student housing, and seniors’ residences.
- The 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces that co-operative housing corporations that provide long-term rental accommodation would also be eligible for the removal of the GST on new rental housing, provided the other conditions have been met. The measure is not intended to apply to co-operative housing corporations where occupants have an ownership or equity interest.
Strengthening the Co-operative Housing Development Program
For generations, housing co-operatives have offered quality, affordable housing to Canadians. The federal government recognizes the value of co-ops, and in Budget 2022, made the largest investment in this space in more than 30 years. With the Fall Economic Statement, the government is going even further to build co-op housing across Canada.
- The 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces an investment of $309.3 million in new funding for the Co-operative Housing Development Program, which was announced in Budget 2022. In collaboration with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and other co-op housing partners, CMHC is working to launch the co-developed program in early 2024.
Repurposing More Federal Lands for Housing
The Government of Canada owns and manages the largest real estate portfolio in Canada—and some of that land can be used to build more homes. Through the Canada Lands Company—a Crown corporation which has supported the construction of over 10,300 new homes since 2016—more than 29,000 new homes are set to be built on surplus federal lands by 2029.
On November 7, 2023, the federal government announced that six surplus federal properties will be developed into more than 2,800 new homes in Edmonton, Calgary, St. John’s, and Ottawa. As work continues to identify further assets that can be repurposed for housing, the federal government intends to introduce further measures to speed up this process and to identify more opportunities to build more housing.
Accelerating How Communities Build Housing
In March 2023, the government launched the $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund to help cut red tape and fast-track the creation of at least 100,000 new homes across Canada. The Housing Accelerator Fund is already delivering results—and on its current trajectory, is expected to exceed 100,000 new homes.
With agreements already announced with nine cities—London, Vaughan, Hamilton, Brampton, Kitchener, Halifax, Kelowna, Calgary, and Moncton—the Housing Accelerator Fund has fast-tracked over 21,000 more homes in growing cities over the next three years alone, with many more agreements on the way.
On November 9, 2023, the federal government signed an agreement with the Province of Quebec for a joint contribution of $1.8 billion. The federal government will continue working with Quebec to build on the bold reforms it has committed to in the new Housing Accelerator Fund bilateral agreement to make housing more affordable for Quebecers.
More Construction Workers to Build More Homes
Breaking down barriers to internal labour mobility.
Ensuring Canadian tradespeople, health care professionals, and early childhood educators can move between provinces is essential to building the homes and delivering the health care and affordable child care that Canadians need. However, too many people are currently held back by barriers to interprovincial labour mobility.
- Working with provinces and territories towards full interprovincial labour mobility for construction and health care workers, and enhancing training to meet labour market needs;
- Expanding on the success of the Red Seal Program to improve the mobility of tradespeople and eliminate further barriers, such as duplicative credential recognition; and,
- Ensuring provinces and territories welcome health care professionals from anywhere in Canada by leveraging the nearly $200 billion federal health care funding deal announced in February 2023.
This complements the federal government’s ongoing work to strengthen public health care in Canada.
Prioritizing Construction Workers for Permanent Residency
To meet our country’s home building demands, the federal government launched in May 2023 a new selection process under the Express Entry immigration system to prioritize permanent residency applicants with specific skills, work experience, education, or certifications, including in the construction sector.
Since May 2023, 1,500 workers with experience in the trades have been invited to call Canada home. Following extensive engagement with unions, the government has focused this year’s application process on candidates with work experience including in carpentry, electrical, welding, plumbing, contracting, and other trades that can help build more homes, faster.
Supporting renters, buyers, and homeowners
Cracking down on non-compliant short-term rentals.
Canada needs more long-term housing for Canadians to live in, and the federal government is taking action to crack down on non-compliant short-term rentals which are keeping homes for Canadians off the market. Some provinces, including Quebec and British Columbia, and municipalities such as Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, have already taken action to restrict the use of residential properties as dedicated short-term rentals, and the federal government is taking steps to support their work.
- The 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces that the federal government intends to deny income tax deductions for expenses incurred to earn short-term rental income, including interest expenses, in provinces and municipalities that have prohibited short-term rentals.
- The 2023 Fall Economic Statement also announces that the federal government intends to deny income tax deductions when short-term rental operators are not compliant with the applicable provincial or municipal licensing, permitting, or registration requirements.
These measures would apply to deny all expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2024.
- In addition, the federal government is taking action to support municipalities that are cracking down on non-compliant short-term rentals. The 2023 Fall Economic Statement proposes $50 million over three years, starting in 2024-25, to support municipal enforcement of restrictions on short-term rentals. This will support municipalities with strict regulatory regimes that are having a significant and measurable impact in returning short-term rentals back to the long-term housing market.
To better understand the short-term rental landscape in Canada and inform future housing policy, the federal government will explore options to collect data on short-term rentals.
The New Canadian Mortgage Charter
Canadians work hard to be able to afford their home, but high interest rates are leaving too many people concerned about their increasing mortgage payments.
- The 2023 Fall Economic Statement announces the new Canadian Mortgage Charter, which builds on the government’s existing guidance and expectations for how financial institutions are to work with Canadians to provide tailored relief and ensure payments are reasonable for borrowers.
These measures will support more Canadians through the temporary financial stress caused by elevated interest rates and help them stay in their homes. The federal government will continue to closely monitor financial institutions’ implementation of and compliance with relief measures, including the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s guideline.
Canadians can expect:
- Allowing temporary extensions of the amortization period for mortgage holders at risk;
- Waiving fees and costs that would have otherwise been charged for relief measures;
- Not requiring insured mortgage holders to requalify under the insured minimum qualifying rate when switching lenders at mortgage renewal;
- Contacting homeowners four to six months in advance of their mortgage renewal to inform them of their renewal options;
- Giving homeowners at risk the ability to make lump sum payments to avoid negative amortization or sell their principal residence without any prepayment penalties; and,
- Not charging interest on interest in the event that mortgage relief measures result in a temporary period of negative amortization.
- 2023 Fall Economic Statement
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'The Crown': Did Dodi Fayed really propose to Princess Diana before they died?
- "The Crown" season six depicts the final hours of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed who died in 1997.
- Before their fateful crash, Dodi is shown getting on one knee to propose. However, Diana stops him.
- It's widely believed that while Dodi purchased a ring, he and Diana were not engaged.
In the " The Crown " season six, episode three, a proposal takes place — kind of.
After spending their summer basking in the Mediterranean sun far away ( or so they thought ) from the eyes and camera clicks of the lecherous paparazzi, Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) head back to London by way of Paris.
In a hotel room at the Ritz, Dodi puts on Diana's favorite song ("When You Tell Me That You Love Me" by Julio Iglesia), pulls out a ring, and gets on one knee.
"I have a question I want to ask you, to which I hope you will indeed tell me yes," he says before Diana cuts him off.
"No, no, no, no, no" Debicki's Diana replies. "Stop, I can't bear it. It's madness. Please get up."
A heartfelt conversation followed between the pair, who agreed they shouldn't marry. Diana had been divorced for just a year, while Dodi had been engaged to someone else just weeks earlier.
So the question "Will you marry me?" is never outright asked, allowing room for "The Crown" to work inside the shades of grey over whether the real Diana and Dodi were engaged when they died.
Here's everything we know.
Dodi Fayed did purchase a ring that Diana singled out in a jeweler's days before their deaths
As depicted in the show's third episode, Dodi purchased a ring from the French luxury jewelry brand Repossi following his and Diana's visit to a store in Monte Carlo.
However, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph , they weren't forced into the store after fleeing the paparazzi like the episode depicts but visited leisurely.
Ten days later, Dodi was captured on CCTV footage visiting the jeweler's Paris branch.
Per the 2007 inquest into Diana's death , a ring bearing the inscription "Dis-moi Oui" ("Tell me Yes") was recovered from Dodi's Parisian apartment after his death, as well as a receipt, which listed the purchase of a £11,600 ($14,450) "bague de fiançaille" (engagement ring) on August 30, 1997, The Guardian reports.
Dodi's father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, strongly maintained that his son and Diana were engaged
"The Crown" suggests that Dodi's father, the former owner of Harrods, orchestrated their whole relationship and pressured Dodi to pop the question.
Mohamed, who died at the age of 94 in August, firmly believed that his son and Diana were engaged before they died and were planning to announce it on September 1, 1997.
Speaking on the ITV documentary, " Diana — Secrets Behind the Crash, " in 1998, Mohamed claimed that after asking for Diana's hand in marriage, Dodi called him and shared the good news. He said he also spoke to Diana during the call, who "was completely full of happiness" because she had "found a family she related to."
Mohamed also alleged during an interview with Piers Morgan in 2003 that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child at the time of her death, another claim that the inquiry found was insubstantial based on "overwhelming evidence" to the contrary, including the report from the coroner who examined Diana's body.
An inquiry found that it was unlikely that Dodi proposed to Diana before they died
As Dodi purchased the ring the day before his and Diana's fateful car crash, he had a limited time to present her with it.
The 2007 inquiry conducted by Metropolitan Police found that while Dodi may have been planning a proposal, that evidence points to the conclusion that one did not take place, per CBS News. The ring was found at Dodi's apartment, which Diana had not visited that day (it was where the couple were heading at the time of their accident).
It also cited a friend of Diana's who had spoken to the Princess two days before she died, who said that Diana had told her: "I need marriage like a rash on my face."
"The weight of evidence is that the Princess of Wales was not intending to get engaged or married to Dodi Al Fayed," the report read.
Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.