Writing A Formal Proposal

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Many new professionals, even some “seasoned” professionals, struggle with writing formal proposals. Proposals are even more important when owning your own business. They come in handy in various areas such as the office, consulting or selling equipment. I thought this might be helpful for those entrepreneur readers we have frequenting us.

Some Key things to consider:

  • Proposals are written offers to solve problems, provide services, or sell equipment as mentioned above.
  • A Request For Proposal is most often known as a RFP for short.


  • Explain the purpose of the proposal.
  • “Hook” them from the get go. Suggest excellent results, low cost, or exclusive resources. If you really want to impress them, identify a problem, address the issue and show them you’re the best person for the job.


  • Talk about the importance of the proposal and its goals.
  • For unsolicited proposals—convince the reader that a problem exists (I don’t like this method much, but it works).
  • For solicited proposals—show that you get the problem and understand its importance to get resolved.


  • Present your plan.
  • Talk about the implementation and evaluation (evaluation is a hot topic for most companies because they want to make sure your services are working and helping the company).
  • Outline a schedule showing dates (this makes clients feel more comfortable as opposed to having no idea when to expect things).


  • Explain your expertise on the content being addressed or the project
  • Show that your resources are superior than the competition


  • Itemize all costs carefully
  • Proposals are essentially contracts


  • Ask for approval; make it easy for them to reply.

Intro, background, proposal, staffing, budget and authorization; there you have it. A crash course on writing a RFP. Obviously, the final product will be more detailed and more elaborate, but this gives you a good foundation to work with. If you use this as an outline to formulate your next consultation or bid, be sure to send me a link or comment to this post, very much appreciated ;-)

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13 thoughts on “Writing A Formal Proposal

  1. Ha I’m working on a marketing plan and feasibility research as well as structural research for a new business for my cleint… this content helps me!

    1. Sounds like you know what you’re doing…but having a set structure to go by always helps
      Thanks for sharing Jeff!

  2. Excellent proposal Jane!
    I’ve read a quite a few RFPs from large companies and they’re usually a big turn off.
    They’re usually all “We want this. We expect that. We don’t care about the 20 pages of information we’re making you fill out because all we want in the end is the cheapest price anyway”.
    But getting ahold of RFPs in your industry is a great resource. You get an idea of what people expect and you can tailor your own proposals to meet those needs.
    And it puts you in the drivers seat when you’re sending out your own proposals rather than just responding to RFPs

  3. Great information. I use a very similar layout when I write proposals for my web development clients. Itemizing the work is key.

  4. Any tips on how long the background section should be? I tend to end up rambling…

  5. Of course you should be careful in not showing the answer to the problem or the Proposal receiver could give your proposal to any other, or sign an NDA first.

  6. Hey All ! ! !
    Successful people say “Time is money”,
    go Clock ,
    and make sure that …

  7. If you’re looking for a place to find new projects to write proposals for, visit the RFP Database

  8. will you please send me the difference between a formal and informal proposals as soon as possible?thanks.

  9. Thank you for this post. I am a student and have never had to write a proposal before. However, I am proposing a fundraising event for a student organization a group of fellow students and I have recently formed. This was exactly what I needed to know in a good format that was easy to read. I was able to create a very detailed very eloquent 4 page proposal from a simple idea. Thanks so much for the help! I really appreciate it!

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