A business plan is a guide for your business, a roadmap that outlines goals and details how you plan to achieve those goals. It is used to keep you on track (internal use) and to support any applications you might make when seeking investors, or when applying for commercial loans (external use). While a business proposal on the other hand is used to try to attract and acquire business. It pitches your business, product, or service to a potential client, vendor, or supplier. A client, vendor, or supplier might also request a business proposal from you when trying to evaluate whether or not you’re someone they want to work with, or whether or not you can provide the services or products they require. Write a good proposal and you might snag business; write a poor one, and you may lose out, even if you’re offering the best service out there.
Because proposals are so time intensive, it’s best to avoid starting from scratch. Most people start with a proposal template of that’s similar to what they need, then customize it for their specific situation. Templates will only get you so far. For additional time savings, and faster turnaround time on your proposals, software and more focused tools goes a long way and helps close deals faster.
What’s in a business proposal? This document provides you with a free business proposal template. Feel free to adjust it to suit your needs. No two businesses will use exactly the same format, so it’s important that you understand what the purpose of the proposal is. What are you trying to achieve? Does the format help you do that? If not, adjust it so that it does! Ultimately, a business proposal is comprised of three parts:
- A problem statement.
- A proposed solution.
- A pricing estimate. It’s worth noting that a business proposal is not just an estimate. While you will likely touch on costs in the proposal, an estimate is much more informal, and doesn’t take the whole picture into account in the same way a business proposal does.
Not all clients and buyers will give you the explicit details of their wants and needs, especially if you’re submitting an unsolicited business proposal. Extend your research to include the competitors of your potential client, and their customers as well. This will ensure that your business proposal will be as comprehensive and as detailed as possible. You can get strategic with this by creating a profile of your ideal customer. How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they hang out online? Personalizing your research like this will help give you clues about what to say (and how to say it) to resonate with someone.
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