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How to Write an Appealing Business Proposal

Category: Enterpreneurship


Business proposal is one of the greatest marketing tool of any business organisation. It is where new ideas are presented for review and acceptance and usually forms the first contact to the introduction of any new business between two organisations. A manager will have to buy in to your proposal for a business to work so you have to sell your proposal with all your might.

Since business proposals are typically intended to produce some kind of change or interest in an organization, they have historically been viewed as a means for employees/individuals or companies to take initiative by suggesting improvements and opportunities that might benefit the company or organization. An employee, group of employees, individuals or companies may write a proposal and submit it to the appropriate management personnel, who will then evaluate the proposal and accept or reject the suggested project. That is why adequate presentation of these ideas in an intresting format is very neccessary to sell any proposal. Consider this: if you are to present an idea to a board of directors, you would probably dress smart, speak eloquently and cordinate your juicy point in an appealing style. Your proposal is the first to present this ideas, so, it has to look smart, be well formated and the key points laid out in an elligble, organised and appealing style.

Formal proposals are more complicated often following a format similar to those of formal reports:

* Title page
* Table of contents
* Proposal summary or overview
* Body of the proposal
* Appendices   
The example below will give you an insight on how a proposal that follows the above format looks like;                               

Title page

Distribution and Installation of
Bio-capturing Machines in Ministries.

(Tip: Center the title of the report and situate the title approx. 2 inches from the top of the page; use a bold type in a large font)

Prepared for: Federal Ministry of Interior and Development

 Prepared by: Dr. Nweze Ifeanyichukwu, Digital Dreams Ltd

(Tip: include the parties to whom the report is addressed in the "Prepared For" section and situate approx. in the middle of the page--if the report is external, include the organization name and address; use a font 2 points smaller than your title)

January 10, 2001.

            (Tip: Center the date and situate it approx. 2 inches from the bottom of the page; use a smaller font. Also there is no need for much graphics in the title page. A plain well formatted page works better)

Table of Contents

Memo of Transmittal                                                                                                      i                                                      

(Tip: Do not include "Table of Contents" in the list; use lower-case Roman numerals for all documents that precede the Introduction)

List of Illustrations                                                                                                        ii                                                                                                                                             
Executive Summary                                                                                                     iii                                                                                                                                              
Introduction                                                                                                                 1                                                                                                                                                           
Heading 1                                                                                                                    2                                                                                                                                                                                 
Heading 2                                                                                                                    3                                                                            
(Tip: Include the Headings exactly as they appear in the body of the report; if your report is long and includes subheadings, include these in the Table of Contents and indent them underneath the Heading listing)

Conclusions and Recommendations                                                                              4

Appendices                                                                                                                5

            Appendix A: Chart Showing Workers Attendance                                               5                                                                        
(Tip: Put the page number 1 inch from the bottom of the page)

Proposal Summary

The proposal summary is a three- or four-paragraph general description of what's contained in the proposal. It is typically read by managers or other people who may not have time to read your entire proposal. This document should present a broad understanding of the
•    background and purpose for the proposal, including the needs that the proposal will address;
•    research that you have already conducted on this subject;
•    a clear articulation of what you are proposing;
•    An abbreviated version of the project schedule and description of the final product.
It is important to know who will most likely be reading the proposal summary, so that you can provide the level of information that your reader needs. In considering what to include in the summary, consider which ideas and facts are most important for conveying the significance that this proposal has for the organization, and what kind of information the reader will need to know in order to recommend whether to approve your proposal.

(Tip: Put the page number 1 inch from the bottom of the page)

Proposal Body

The Introduction should clearly state the purpose of the report, the reasons that the report was undertaken, and the scope of the report. It should also introduce the major topics discussed in the report and give the reader some introduction to these topics.
In addition, it is often helpful to discuss the limitations of the report (relevant topics that aren't addressed because of project constraints) and any assumptions on which the report was based.


Make sure that the headings in the body of the report match the listing in the Table of Contents.

Now that you've completed your research, organize your information carefully so that your reader fully understands what you have done and what significance it has for the organization:

*Problem/situation: what is the current situation and (if applicable) what's wrong with it. Keep in mind the following questions:
-What is the purpose of the proposal?
-What is the need for the proposal?
-Who will be affected by this proposal?
- What is the scope of the proposal (clearly articulate the boundaries of the proposal)
-How is your proposal organized?

*Goals and Objectives of your proposal: List and describe the specific goals that you intend to accomplish by performing the project. Describe the final product that you will generate.

*Project plan, Task, Methods and Timelines: Describe in details the specific task that will be performed as part of this project. Outline your methods for performing this task. Finally, provide a time line that gives specific dates when major tasks will be completed.

*Project Evaluation: Provide some description of the criteria that you will use to analyze the effectiveness of the project after completion.

*Project Resources: Be sure to include all the necessary resources such as time, personnel, funds and equipment needed for the project.

*Project Conclusion: Restate the purpose of the proposal and the intending outcome of the project. Emphasize how it will benefit the organization and request the reader feedback on the proposal.

*Supplemental Materials: If appropriate, include any supporting materials such as tables of data, photographs, graphics etc that will help to clarify your proposal. These can be included as appendices to your proposal.

In writing any proposal, careful planning before you begin writing will help you organize your information in a way that will give your reader a clear understanding of the information in your proposal. In addition, it is often helpful to have two or three other people--perhaps team members or other colleagues--read your proposal and provide you with feedback. With formal proposal, you will most likely need to revise the final draft several times before you present it to your readers. This may require beginning the draft several weeks before the deadline. Estimate the time you will need to produce the final report and schedule enough time to make sure that the final report is a thorough, well written and organized report that accurately represents your proposal.       
(Tip: Put the page number 1 inch from the bottom of the page)

Proposal Appendices

You can include helpful information in an appendix. Typically, an appendix will give the reader additional information that supports the body of your proposal. For example, you might include the transcript of an interview, maps, computer print outs, figures or tables not included in the body of the proposal, or other supporting documents.
Label individual appendices with letters rather than numbers. For example, "Appendix A: Chart Showing Workers Attendance." Be sure to list all individual appendices in the Table of Contents.