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Business Proposals

How to Write an Informal Business Proposal

Business proposals, which can be formal or informal, describe how a company will solve prospective clients’ problems or meet their needs. Informal proposals are usually much shorter than formal ones, and they are typically used to win smaller projects. They contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction

The introduction briefly explains the reason for the proposal. To pique interest, include a key selling point such as low costs or quick results, a solution to a serious problem, or a significant benefit.

  1. Background

The background discusses the problem and the purpose of the proposed work or project. The goal is to persuade the recipient that you have a thorough understanding of the problem. For example, if the proposal is a response to an RFP (request for proposal), then use similar language. If you met with the prospect, include the language that he used in describing his company’s needs.

Make sure that your information is accurate and does not make assumptions. If you are unsure about the prospect’s needs or require additional information, then contact the prospect with questions.

  1. Proposal/Plan

This section focuses on the proposed solution. It should provide specific information – such as methods, products, and work to be delivered – about what you will do to benefit the prospect.

Depending on the project, this section might also discuss how the project will be managed and how progress will be assessed as well as a schedule of activities and deliverables.

  1. Key Personnel

Project staff’s  expertise is also a key selling point. Therefore, the proposal should contain a section that discusses the skills and experience of project leaders and other pertinent personnel.

Also mention special facilities, equipment, or technology that will be used to create desired results.

  1. Budget

Cost is always an important consideration. So the proposal should include a carefully prepared budget. Creating a budget can be tricky and particularly anxiety-producing, especially if you do not have enough information about the project. And, sometimes, it is impossible to know the full scope of a project no matter how much information you get from the prospective client.

A budget may be stated as a total sum or include detailed line items. A thorough analysis of the project can help you create the most appropriate budget.  In some cases the prospect may request a particular kind of budget or fee structure.

  1. Conclusion

The conclusion should be relatively brief and restate the most important benefits of your solution to the client’s problem. If it constitutes an agreement, then it should include a statement that asks for the prospect’s signature. Such as in the following example:

“Kingston Manufacturing’s custom-designed widgets create faster, sleeker, more stable scooters. We can guarantee delivery of 7,500 ASCT-certified widgets per month until December 31, 2013, if you endorse the enclosed duplicate copy of this proposal and send it to us with a $5,000 deposit by October 1, 2013.”

An informal proposal, however, may not always constitute a formal agreement.  It may be used to outline how your business can help the prospective client achieve a goal. In that case, it should end with the intent to follow up with the recipient or a request for a decision such as in the following example:

“We are confident that we can create customized widgets that precisely meet your specifications. We also appreciate the opportunity to submit this proposal. Should you need additional information, I can be reached at (771) 555-5912 or jdobbs@kingstonmanufacturing.net. We look forward to your decision.”

Whether a proposal is a 200-page formal proposal with several sections or an informal 2-page, letter proposal, it should contain a professional tone and address the prospective client’s needs and specifications.


Guffy, M.E. 1998. Essentials of Business Communications. Cengage South-Western.

© 2014 Katherine Williams. All rights reserved.

Chicago, Illinois 60615 (773) 405-5916