How can you boost your career and income with ideas for the business?
Begin by transforming your ideas into Business Proposals
Writing a business proposal brings together all of the explanations, solutions, justifications and qualifications needed for your colleagues and management to reach a decision in favor of your proposal.
Before looking at how to put a proposal together, here are three questions often asked -
"Must a proposal always be written?"
Writing a business proposal is needed for most ideas and goals.
Also, remember that the first person the proposal must convince is you! Writing you proposal is a personal check that you have captured all of the details and most of the issues likely to be raised by the business.
There will always be a few ideas, easy and quick to implement, that can be proposed without being written up - provided that the proposal checklist described below is reviewed.
"How long does a business proposal have to be?"
For a small change it can be summarized in your mind, or on half a page. A major proposal can fill many pages. Whether small or major, all business proposals need to follow the same checklist of points.
"Business proposal or business plan writing - what's the difference?"
Occasionally there is no real difference. However, usually the proposal comes before the business or project plan. The goal of the proposal to to get the agreement of the business to go ahead.
Following approval of the business proposal, you can get down either to business plan writing; or to a project specification; or simply preparing a detailed implementation plan.
The Business Proposal checklist
Here is a 12 point checklist which can be used for any business proposal, from changing a room layout up to massive changes in the business.
- Name Always give your proposals a name.
- Purpose This goes to the heart of your idea or goal.
- Current situation Life now, before the solution is put in place.
- Requirements Conditions any solution must fulfil.
- Solutions considered This shows that you considered all options.
- Proposed solution The specifics that will satisfy the requirements.
- Benefits How the solution will benefit the business.
- Costs Speaks for itself.
- Implementation plan What will be done and when.
- Risks and other factors Issues to be taken care of.
- Compliance Shows that the solution complies with any government or other external regulations.
- Recommendation Always be asking for approval to go ahead!
Lets explore each of these points on the checklist. For almost every point there is a separate page providing more details and information.
Always name your proposals. A name creates the feeling that the proposal is beginning to take on a life of its own.
PurposeBe very specific about the idea or goal, for example -
"This proposal recommends a solution to reduce customer calls by 30% by enabling customers to identify and buy replacement parts directly from our website from the start of next financial year."
If relevant, include numbers and financial information to describe 'life now'.
Requirements are not solutions. Instead, they explain the conditions and standards that a solution will have to satisfy.
Why separate requirements from the chosen solution? Because the best solution can only be built when all of the requirements have been gathered. If requirements are mixed together, it becomes impossible to know whether the solution will do what you want in the best possible way.
For a greater understanding of requirements, go to the paper on Requirements.
Usually, there will be more than one solution. Explaining why you have considered and rejected other options will increase your credibility. Remember always to include the solution option "Do Nothing".
This needs to be comprehensive and specific. Persuasive writing will give this section a great lift. Techniques of persuasive writing are covered further down this page.
The beating heart of any proposal is the group of benefits that it will deliver to the business and individuals. The benefits breathe life and energy into any proposal. Without them, the rest is worthless.
A statement of costs that is understandable and credible, together with a persuasive set of benefits, makes a powerful convincer for any decision-maker.
Involve others, for example an accountant during preparation of costs, and a colleague to check that your cost statement is understandable.
This can be as little as start and finish dates for a tiny proposal, up to a bar chart or critical path analysis showing key steps and resources required for a larger proposal.
This plan must be accurate. However it will be a more of an outline, compared to the plan eventually prepared for implementation after approval of the proposal.
Risks and other factors
All projects have risks and issues attached to them. Risks, assumptions, issues, dependencies, and constraints that could impact your proposal need to be identified, together with actions to be taken to offset their possible effects.
There is a great deal of legislation that can affect even small projects. Identifying any compliance issues, and how they will be dealt with, will further enhance your credibility in the business.
Keep your recommendation short and to the point. Remember, it is really a request "Please approve this proposal now."
Turning your business proposal into a winner - for the business and you
The twelve point business proposal template above (and don't forget the detailed pages!) has given you an incredibly strong framework for any proposal.
Here are seven ways that you can turn your proposal into a certain winner. Each way has its own page with valuable guidance for you.
What would you like to do now?:
- Persuasive writing You don't have to be a Hemingway - just apply some simple persuasive writing techniques.
- Business goals and culture Aligning with these raises your proposal to a different level.
- Pressure areas Types of pressures that you can apply in support of your proposal.
- Rules and regulations Most people think of them as a pain. Find out how to turn R&R to your advantage.
- Analysis techniques The use and presentation of analysis techniques will be one of the most powerful convincers of your chosen solution.
- Bubble diagram planning The easiest way and fastest to begin planning how to implement your proposal.
- Kipling's six servants Who? what? where? when? how? and why? Ask these questions about your business proposal and information and ideas will come tumbling out.
Run a health check on business processes recently? Do process maps still match today's reality? Sharpen them up with business process management tools and solutions Processes are the arteries of any business. Click here to find out how to keep the business processes fit, and adapted to today's challenges.
Whatever you are doing, communication is at the heart of success in business. Visit the home page for a refresher on the five steps in using communication in business methods - and of course a business proposal - to benefit the business and yourself.