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How to Write a Good Proposal

Now that you’re a business owner you will be called upon at times to write up a proposal in order to be awarded certain jobs.  The following should be included in all proposals in one form or another. Remember, if you do get a request for proposal (RFP) you must follow their instructions to the letter. Some proposals are actually thrown out based on superficial elements, if they do not match the RFP.


Outside of specific instructions all proposals should include the following:


Show Thanks


Show thanks for being allowed to submit a proposal for the project. If you worked with them before, acknowledge that, if it is the first time, say so. If a mutual friend suggested you submit the proposal, tell them.


State the “Problem” as the RFP explains it


Repeat the problem as the RFP explains it if you have one. If you don’t have a RFP but you’re submitting a proposal anyway, you can skip this part.


State the “Problem” as You See It


State the problem as you see it to show your understanding of the project. Be specific as possible, and use clear language void of too many buzz words and industry jargon. However, a well placed buzz word can help the reader know that you know what you are talking about.


State your Solution to the Problem


Describe your view of how the problem can be fixed, and why you are the solution to that problem. Tell them what you can do for them, with all the how’s, why’s, when’s and where’s answered.


Describe the Tasks Involved


Give added detail about each task involved with specific steps. Usually this would be a bulleted list in chronological order with time ranges. Such as: Your e-book will be formatted with 12pt Verdana font, 1.5 spacing, appropriate headers, complete with table of contents in both Word 2007 and PDF format within 90 days.


Describe Project Management Plans


If you use an organizing service such as Central Desktop or Freshbooks, let the reader know  that. If you use Adobe, Word, WordPerfect, FrontPage, WordPress, or something else entirely, let the reader know exactly what you will use to keep their job organized, and how you will professionally produce it. It is especially important if the job requires very specialized knowledge and software. Letting the reader know you have these skills is essential to your getting the job. If you outsource any parts of the project name who is responsible for each task. Outsourcing is completely legitimate and is common practice in many businesses. Consider the people you outsource to as part of your team.


List your Qualifications  

Include your ultra-focused resume and  include the qualifications of those you outsource to as well along with their resumes Do not use the same resume for every project, focus it, target it, and keep it to one short page.




Describe the budget for the project and exactly what it includes and does not include, and whether there is room for negotiation. Tell the reader how much you are charging for your service, what is included , what is not included, what constitutes a reimbursable, and how much you need to get started.




I am not a lawyer, but I have been creating contracts for a number of years and most people who submit proposals also follow up with a real contract after receiving the down payment This is very important, but as an added element include something at the end such as: “I am ready to begin upon receipt of a 50% deposit. While receipt of your deposit is proof of a working relationship between us, a contract signed by me, ready for your signature will be also be forthcoming.”


Show Thanks


Thank the person for allowing you to submit the proposal  and express  your desire to work with them on this project.


I know that seems like a lot of information but you should be as clear and concise as possible. The entire document should be no more than three pages,  not including your resume(s).  Be clear, be honest, be professional, be concise and to the point. Once you create one proposal, you can use it as a template for future proposals.

About Stephanie Watson

Mom | Wife | Virtual Assistant | Content Strategist
Stephanie has been working from home for over 20 years as a virtual assistant, template bender, and content writer. She's currently transitioning to business coach. You can learn more about her at her website

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