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.
Types of proposalsProposals are produced for many different purposes, but they can be split into two categories: solicited and unsolicited.
- The solicited proposal usually begins with a request for a proposal (RFP). Many companies will use an RFP template to give potential suppliers details of what they are looking for in a bid. It will usually give a timeline of when items are due and what they are looking for in the document.
- The unsolicited proposal is initiated by the person who writes it. The writer usually submits it because they have an idea they want to pitch or they want to sell something.
Detail the Cost and Time Involved. No client enjoys coming in over-budget for any job or project, but all clients appreciate knowing exactly how much time and money can be expected of them if they choose you for this specific project. Spell out the timeline of when and how you’ll do what with a best estimate. Are you going to interview your clients at the start of next month to figure out where their site is losing money? Will you begin wireframing your redesign iteration shortly thereafter?
A business proposal is perhaps one of the most critical documents you need to learn how to write. It is what spells the difference between success and failure, whether you’re a freelancer or you have a company of your own.
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