There may be times in your small business life when your company will have to submit a business proposal to gain business from a larger corporation or government contact.

What is A Business Proposal?

Unlike a business plan, which is written to run your company and raise capital, a business proposal is an unsolicited or solicited bid for business. There are two types of business proposal that can help you gain more business to grow your company.
Solicited Business Proposal: A corporation or government body is seeking a business to fulfill a project or complete a task and thereby, allows companies to bid for the project. An open bid is placed on the market with other companies competing for an interview spot. The winning candidate is offered the project.
Unsolicited Business Proposal: At some point, your small business may want to do business with a larger company or forge a joint venture. A well-written business proposal can win the hearts and minds of your target audience.
If you need to write a business proposal to win a bid, you will need to know the key winning elements of a successful proposal. Make sure your proposal stands out in the stack of competitor proposals by including the following 5 elements:

5 Key Elements of Winning Business Proposals

  • Solutions: After you have written a lead paragraph on the company’s needs and problems, follow up with a solid presentation of how your business can provide solutions. The key here is to promise solutions you can deliver.
  • Benefits: All winning business proposals, clearly outline for the company the benefits to be gained from doing business with you. If your small business can offer complete confidentiality and meet tight deadlines state it in your benefits section.
  • Credibility: This is often the overlooked portion of a business proposal but all winning proposals glow with credibility. If you have worked with clients in the same field or have an award-winning business, then third-party endorsements will build credibility.
  • Samples: A business proposal with samples and evidence of your ability to deliver is vital to gaining the winning bid. A small sample of your work can show your ability to do the job.
  • Targeted: A winning business proposal is all about communication. Speak in a language spoken by your intended audience. If the proposal evaluators are from an engineering background or financial department use the appropriate jargon.

Ultimately, the best business proposal is none. When your company is well-positioned and unique in the marketplace then it is only you who can meet the needs of the company requesting the bids. If a retail craft chain is looking for a web design firm and your company specializes in web creation for the crafts industry you might be able to circumvent the proposal process.
In the end, you may not win all bids, but will win business that best matches your company to the prospective business. A win-win for all parties involved.