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" Tips for Writing a Business Proposal "

This article may be reprinted in your ezine or on your site in its entirety so long as the author's credits and all links remain intact.

Tips for Writing a Business Proposal
June Campbell

Business in the nineties means fierce competition, aggressive
marketing and strategic alliances. The extent to which a business
succeeds or fails often depends upon that business's ability to be
awarded contracts or to attract other businesses into Joint Ventures
or strategic alliances. To accomplish either one usually requires two
key items: good ideas and the ability to present those good ideas
in a superbly developed business proposal.

Business proposals are developed for one of two possible reasons.

(1) A business entity has called for tenders or has invited you to
submit a RFP (Request for Proposal). In this case, your goal is to
be  "short listed," meaning that you will be one of the three or four
bidders who is awarded an interview. Your proposal must stand
among possibly dozens of submissions.

(2)  You have an idea, concept or project that you want to propose
to someone with the goal of gaining support, funding or an alliance.
In this case, there is no competitive bidding process. However, your
proposal must make a favourable impression and must explain all
aspects of your proposed concept clearly and quickly. A document
that is vaguely written, difficult to understand or that presents more
questions than answers will likely be discarded promptly.

The following eleven tips are guidelines that I keep in mind when I
develop a business proposal for a client of my writing service:

1. Clarity. Before you begin to write the proposal, summarize the
concept in 2-3 sentences, then show it to a lay person and check
for understanding. If they don't grasp the basic idea, rewrite until
they do. Until you can do this, you are not ready to start writing the
proposal. How many times have you received a document that you
had to read over and over before you comprehended the meaning?
When this happens, it may be because your comprehension skills
are under- developed, but it's more likely that the writer substituted
clarity of thought and good document structure with sloppy thinking,
wordy, rambling explanations, vague descriptions and heavy reliance
on buzzwords and jargon. It's worth saying once again: If you can't
summarize it in 2-3 sentences, you are not ready to start writing.

2. Strive to communicate, not to impress. If you have a good
idea and you communicate that idea clearly and effectively, the
recipients will be impressed. If you try to baffle them with your
brilliance, you'll lose ground.

3. Error Free: Your proposal will be competing with proposals
prepared by professional writers, graphic designers and desktop
publishers. You may not have those resources at your disposal,
but you can be fastidious about checking for typing, spelling and
grammatical errors. Spell checkers can only go so far; the rest is
up to you. Ask someone else to check your document for errors
before you submit it, or wait a few days before rereading it. If you
have worked on a document intensely, you will "learn" to interpret
errors as being correct. It takes a fresh eye to spot the typos.

4. Print and Bind: Print your document on good quality, heavy-
bond paper, using either a laser printer or a good-quality bubble
jet. Take it to an office service for backing and binding. For less
than $10, you can produce a nicely done, professionally presented

5. Layout: When laying out your document, format it so the body
of the text appears in the right two-thirds of the page. The one-third
of the page to the left contains titles and white space. The white
space to the left allows the reader to make notes. This sounds like
a trivial matter, but it elicits positive reactions from recipients.

6. Visual Elements: Include visual elements sporadically throughout
your document. Logos, clip art, graphs, charts, tables and other
elements greatly enhance the visual appeal of your document and
make it easier for many people to read and comprehend. Pages of
pure text are tiring to the eye and a challenge to the attention span.
Additionally, many people are visually oriented, meaning the preferred
method of learning is through imagery and not text.

7. Title Page. Begin with a Title Page that includes images
(graphics, pictures, etc.), the name of the proposal recipient,
the name of the project, your company name and address, the
date, and your copyright symbol.

8. Be Politically Correct. Whether you support political
correctness or whether you don't, the issue here is to avoid
offending the people who will receive your proposal document.
Avoid any language that can be construed as offensive to any group
of people - including women, men, persons with disabilities, persons
belonging to visible minorities, senior citizens, and so on. If you're
not certain of correct terminology, consult with someone
knowledgeable before submitting your proposal.

9. Write for Global Audiences: Emerging technologies,
immigration policies and agreements like NAFTA have produced a
global marketplace. Documents nowadays should be written with
the understanding that they may be evaluated by persons living
in other countries or by persons for whom English is a second
language. Even if you are submitting your proposal to a local
business, they may well have joint ventures with international
companies, and these companies may be asked to peruse your
document. Unless your proposal is local to a specific geographic
area, avoid references that would not be understood by persons
living in other areas (or explain these references if you must use
them). Also, avoid the use of slang or expressions from pop culture.
When persons from other cultures study the English language, they
are taught to speak formal, correct English. They are often unfamiliar
with the use of slang terms.

10. Jargon Free: Every industry has its own particular "language" -
words, terms and expressions that are common to that industry but
foreign to people from other industries. Avoid the use of jargon, or if
you must use it, explain it. For example, expressions like "branding,"
"turnkey solution," "E-commerce" are not necessarily understood by
everyone who is doing business. Also remember that your proposal
may go to a committee that is comprised of people from various
walks of life. Make sure they understand what you are talking about.

11. Technology. What was just said about jargon goes double for
technology. If your proposed project involves the use of technologies,
be very careful with your explanation. The persons reading the
document may have little or no technological background. Therefore,
in the body of the proposal, it's usually recommended that you
explain your technology in terms of what it will do - i.e. "A data base
that members can use to search for information about your products."
There is a place for detailed information about the technology that
you are proposing - and that spot is the appendix. In many cases,
a non-technically oriented business will engage a technology
consultant to review your proposed technology. This person can
use the detailed explanations that you include in the appendix
while other readers will be able to understand the proposal itself.

Keep these guidelines in mind and you will be off to a good start
with your next business proposal!

About the Author:
How to Write Business Plans, Business Proposals,
JV Contracts, Human Resource Package, More!
No-cost ebook "Beginners Guide to Ecommerce".
Business Writing by Nightcats Multimedia Productions

********** Additional References **********

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ClickBank Vendor SuperTips - answers questions about ClickBank.

33 Days to Online Profits - step-by-step roadmap to an internet business.

Mike Chen's BizAutomator - task automator: "answer emails, design web pages, write programs, post on forums".

The Money Browser - direct to desktop stream of money making information.

Best wishes for your online success!

Stan Smith

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