How to prepare written proposals
Success will often hinge on your ability to write a sound plan or business case. A proposal is designed to get your message across in such a way you will receive the positive responses you are looking for:
- If necessary meet with the person or organisation you are targeting. You must understand what they are looking for before you write anything up. It is best to have some general information about the things you will need to cover in your proposal.
- Brainstorm with your team. Understanding the best approach means brainstorming the options you might have. Your team needs to tackle questions like what are you trying to achieve, what is the big picture, who will do the work and what the scheduled milestones are likely to be.
- Start writing. You are now ready to start writing your proposal. Although some of the details might vary, most follow a standard template. It means deciding on a structure and headings you will use.
- Create an introduction or summary. Here is where you introduce your proposal. Include contact details, and a brief profile.
- Restate the issues involved. What are the problems and frustrations you are trying to solve? It is the right place in any business proposal to repeat the problem or question which prompted your proposal in the first place. Keep in mind the tone and style will make a big difference. Plain language is always better than more colourful words. You do not need to use a thousand words when pictures or graphs will tell the story.
- Be specific about your vision and objectives. Be very particular when you outline what it is you hope to accomplish. It is the part of any proposal people will analyse carefully. Outline the strategies and methods you’re going to use.
- Do not leave out any main points. Cover the main aspects of your proposal. Leave out all the small detail. The reader can ask for it later if they need it. Sometimes a table of contents will help the reader to understand your proposal better.
- Be clear about costs and time to completion. Transparency is one of the most significant parts when seeking any support. It means you will need to be clear about how much time every step will take and what it will cost. What is the timeline?
- Explain why you are qualified. Here’s the part of your proposal where you sell you as the right person or organisation to support. You want to keep away from flowery language and stick to the facts.
- When do you want to start the project? When do you anticipate needing the funds or resources you want and need and how will those funds be allocated, and where appropriate, repaid.
Written proposals should not contain unnecessary details.
Don’t forget to use plain English. Keep it simple so the readers will always understand. Keep in mind if this is your first business proposal, writing in a simple style which gets your message across might be a challenge.
Hiring a proposal writer can help to grease the wheels of the whole process and close the opportunity more quickly. If you’re planning on using photographs, charts and tables, you might want to hire a freelance designer too to ensure you show professionalism.
Every proposal will be or should be different. It is because each person or organisation you are directing your proposal at will be different, with very different wants and needs. The best proposals are where everyone involved wins.
An excellent place to start is to carefully outline what the problem is that you are seeking to solve, describe possible solutions and the benefits for the person or organisation you are targeting.
You will be doing written proposals for the rest of your life and much of your success will be determined by how well you can convince others to accept what you have to offer.
“Let not our proposal be disregarded on the score of our youth”. Virgil
“Make your proposals so professional no one will misunderstand and will be confident you will match it with actions and beneficial outcomes for all”. Peter Sergeant.