Tips for creating a business proposal  

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Business proposals can be likened to maps for businesses. They show where a business is headed and serve as a guide along the way. As you prepare to write a convincing business proposal, thinking of it as a map may help you chart the course ahead.

Identify True North: Develop a Purpose Statement

Much of your time should be invested in developing and refining your business’ purpose statement, for this will serve as the proposals true north. Just as the cardinal direction guides the drawing of a map, this statement will lead you through the rest of the proposal. It’ll also provide a strict rule against which you can measure your business at every stage of growth.

There are three components that should be included in the purpose statement:

  • The product or service your business will sell
  • The target market your business will serve
  • The aspect that will make your business unique

Kellog’s purpose statement, although stylized for marketing, captures these three elements well. “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive” shows that the company (a) produces nourishment, (b) serves families and (c) stresses a flourishing, thriving lifestyle.

The three parts will unfold in the rest of your business proposal, which is why getting them right is so important. Even if refining the statement takes hours, days or weeks, you can’t create a map without identifying true north and you can’t write a strong proposal without a clear purpose statement.

Determine the Destination: Define Your Product or Service

The product or service your business will be offering can be thought of as the destination of the map, not in the least because developing a product or service is often very much an uncharted adventure in its own right.

Define exactly what your business is going to offer, detailing everything from color and features to price point and warranty. The more precise you can be with every relevant variable, the more you’ll know about production costs, competitors’ similar options and how your business will be different. You’ll also be better equipped to answer investors’ questions when presenting the proposal for funding.

Chart the Territory: Study the Target Market

Much like a cartographer would study the landscape of a region they’re mapping, educate yourself on the target market that your business hopes to reach. Look both at the market itself, including who it’s comprised of, how large it is and what its unmet needs are, and each competitors market share.

Doing this homework will help determine the chances of seeing success, and it’ll tell you whether the product or service you’re offering needs to be altered in any way. If you do need to make alterations, go back to that section of your proposal before moving on to the final parts.

Plot the Course: Explain Your Path to Success

All that remains at this point is to explain how your business will get through the charted territory to its destination. In other words, you need to show potential investors and partners how your business will succeed. You’ll need to use several sections in the proposal to explain the path. For example, you might want to include:

  • Marketing strategies
  • Sales projections
  • Key partners, investors and employees
  • Financing or investing terms

While you’ll need to research and think through this information, most of the data you need should be obvious now that where your business is and where it needs to get to is clear.

Draft Your Business Proposal

As you write your business proposal, think of growth as a journey. The mindset will help you create a proposal that serves as a true guide, helping you both now and in the future.

Author

Director of Marketing at Plastiq

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