As a new business owner, you’re probably looking for ways to grow your business and attract new customers. One of the best ways to do this is to write a business proposal.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to write a business proposal in Microsoft Word, even if you’re a beginner. We will cover everything from creating a professional cover page to formatting your content to writing a persuasive conclusion.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a formal document sent to investors to request funding, stakeholders to get approval for a new project, or customers to persuade them to buy your products or services.
Through it, you propose your business idea to interested parties, outlining details like your company’s description, products and services, pricing structure, credentials and achievements, and the terms of the agreement.
Business proposals can be solicited or unsolicited; the latter is more common among startups looking to secure funding from angel investors and venture capitalists.
How to Write a Business Proposal in Microsoft Word
Writing a business proposal in Microsoft Word is really easy, and if you’re writing one for the first time, it helps to keep it simple and not complicate things too much.
Before we get started, we highly recommend that you first learn these simple design rules for Microsoft Word to make sure your proposal looks professional. Once you’ve checked that out, follow these steps to write a business proposal for your company:
1. Design Your Title Page
The title page (aka cover page) of your business proposal welcomes the reader and contains details that identify your company and your client. This includes the names, logos, addresses, and contact details of both parties. It’s recommended to make this page visually appealing.
You can learn how to make a custom cover page in Microsoft Word if you need some help doing so.
2. Add a Table of Contents
After you’re done with the title page, the next step is to add a table of contents to help the reader jump to specific sections of your business proposal most relevant to them. Investors often don’t have much time on their hands and will probably want to skip a few sections and read the most important bits.
Without a table of contents, they may find your proposal too jarring to navigate, especially if it’s a lengthy one. You can create a table of contents in Word by going to References > Table of Contents > Automatic Table 1.
Since you haven’t added any content yet, the table of contents will be empty. Don’t worry, once you’ve written the proposal, all you have to do is click Update Table to populate the table of contents with the relevant headings.
3. Write Your Executive Summary
The executive summary serves as an introduction and broad overview of your company to the reader; it’s where you write your mission, vision, and values.
It’s also where you mention the size of your company, your business model, the unique selling proposition (USP) of your products, any notable milestones, future plans, and how you plan to use the investment.
It helps to be comprehensive about how the investment will be used; investors are more likely to accept your proposal if they know exactly what their money will be spent on and the potential said spending will unlock.
Remember to apply the “Heading 1” style to the Executive Summary and other headings from the Styles gallery. For subheadings, use “Heading 2” and “Heading 3” as appropriate. Not applying heading styles means the table of contents won’t be able to identify them.
4. Define the Problem Statement and Proposed Solution
The next step is to define the problem the client is facing; this helps display competence and convey that your pitch is tailored to their needs and isn’t a generic one. It’s recommended to create a sense of urgency in this statement.
Once you’ve noted the problem, your proposed solution should describe how your products can help fix it. It’s not enough to simply offer your solutions; you must also mention why they are better than your competitors.
5. Present Your Qualifications and Achievements
Having great ideas is a good start, but you must also know how to execute them. This is why the client—if interested in your solutions—will want to know whether you have the right skills and experience to undertake this project.
This is where you mention your team’s qualifications, achievements, client testimonials, and case studies. Make sure to add statistics to this section about your former successful projects; words alone don’t win funding.
6. Set the Budget, Timeline, and Deliverables
After outlining your proposed solution, get into the specifics of the deal. This includes the deliverables you are going to produce, the scope of the project, what it’ll cost, and the timeline for when it’ll be done.
It’s important to be accurate, realistic, and professional in this section. It’s likely that the client will ask for some changes, so be ready to revise the project details if needed.
7. Summarize and Conclude Your Proposal
This is the last section of your business proposal, so it must end with a strong call to action enticing the client to contact you. Mention your contact details and your website, where they can learn more about your services.
You can also create an appendix mentioning the references, definitions, methodology, and other important details you’d like the client to be aware of.
8. Proofread, Revise, and Finalize the Proposal
The last step is to proofread and revise your proposal to spot and fix any errors you might have made along the way. This includes errors in grammar, facts and figures, claims made about your achievements, and more.
Pay very close attention to the financials; adding untrue financial information is an instant red flag for investors. Once you’ve made sure that everything is accurate, relevant, and appropriately written and formatted, it’s time to finalize your proposal and send it to interested parties.
Essential Tips for Writing a Business Proposal
Here are a few tips and things to remember when writing a business proposal that can increase your chances of success:
- Tailor the proposal to the reader: Research the investor or company you’re sending the document to and customize your proposal accordingly. This will increase your chances of securing funding.
- Use visuals: Charts, graphs, tables, and other visuals can help to break up your text and make your proposal more engaging. You can access charts in Word by going to Insert > Chart.
- Highlight your USP: A proposal shouldn’t just communicate why an investor should invest in your company, but also why you’re the best fit for their needs—more than your competitors. You can do this by highlighting your strengths and mentioning the USPs your rivals can’t replicate.
- Be concise: No investor has the time to read long walls of text. Be concise yet cohesive.
Make Your Business Goals Come True
Writing a business proposal can be a daunting task, but it is essential for any business that wants to grow and succeed. By following the steps and tips we covered in this guide, you can write a business proposal that is clear, concise, and persuasive.