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How to write a proposal?

For many business ventures, creating a great proposal to attract investors and customers is the first logical step. There is no universal standard for writing a business proposal, but there are several things that you should consider when drafting, finalising, and presenting your proposal. Read this article to learn some helpful tips and things to avoid in order to boost your chances of success.

Research

Conduct thorough research into your industry and market. Write the conclusion of your proposal first. Business proposals, unlike academic papers or other reports, aim to present the best information up front, including lots of positive statements about profitable outcomes, revenue projections, benefits, etc. Include the most compelling supports from your research into the market. Your goal (as you write the conclusion) is to explain how you want readers or listeners to hear it, not to give them a taste of the information contained in the rest of the paper. Most people won't read past the first few pages, even if they intend to buy anything from you immediately, so you need to convince them right from the beginning.

Describe and inform

Write the introduction and body of your proposal to answer any questions that your conclusion may raise. Think like your customers, and answer the 'who', 'what', 'when', 'where', 'why', and 'how' of your business while always laying emphasis on the elements which make your vision, product, or service unique and necessary to your chosen industry.

Visual aids and information display

Include as many graphs and visual displays of data as possible throughout your proposal - make sure it is relevant and professionally presented. Income, profit and loss, projected sales, and costs breakdowns all make attractive and attention grabbing graphs.

Tone

Be realistic with your expectations and conservative with your estimates. That you believe your business plan to be revolutionary doesn't dissuade from the common knowledge that most new businesses fail, and that most business failures are due to poor management. If your proposal contains wild claims or unrealistic expectations, this may be a red flag to some potential investors.

Format

Avoid using proposal templates to format a business plan proposal. They may be useful as a guide, but most will contain a lot of information that you don't need, or lack certain information that your specific business type may require. Remember: your proposal should be meant for your customers, so it should contain the most essential information as regards to why your business needs to exist.

PowerPoint

Convert your entire proposal into a PowerPoint presentation for use during pitches or meeting, or uploading onto your website. Consider this as a digest version of your full plan. For a new business proposal, demonstrating competence and passion in your idea are both absolutely essential.

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