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What is a Business Proposal?
A written business proposal is a legal document that a business owner or salesperson sends to a prospective client to win a job. Customers often request business proposals from companies to get an idea of what work is needed, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what qualifications the company has to complete the job.
What's Included in a Business Proposal?
Successful business proposals are all-inclusive of all the information a customer needs to decide whether to do business with a particular company. Business contract lawyers specialize in ensuring that each detail of a business proposal is accurate and reflects all the information needed for such a decision.
Here is a rundown of what a business proposal includes:
- Cover letter
- Title page
- Table of contents
- Statement of issue
- Approach and methodology
- Schedule and milestones
- Payment schedules
- Legal measures
Check out this article to learn more about what's included in a business proposal.
How to Write a Business Proposal – Step by Step
Writing a business proposal might sound intimidating, but it's not as difficult as you might expect. Business contract lawyers typically complete the work in nine simple steps.
Here's a description of each step in the process:
Step One: Decide How to Format Your Proposal
The way you format your proposal significantly impacts how well it will convince the requestor to hire you. You must make sure the document is easy to read, broken up into the right sections and is not overwhelming to look at.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using a contract template to guide you. This takes the format work out of it and leaves you to focus on the meat of your proposal.
Step Two: Create a Cover Letter
The cover letter includes high-level information about the job, how the issue will be solved, and what qualifications the bidder possesses that makes them suited to complete the work. It can also include a summary of pricing, schedules, and legal matters regarding the job.
Step Three: Craft Your Title Page
The title page identifies the parties to the business agreement. It contains this information:
- Name of the bidder and the bidder's company
- Name of the person requesting the proposal
Step Four: Write a Table of Contents
The table of contents helps define words used throughout the proposal to ensure that anyone that reads it thoroughly comprehends what the document says. This portion of the proposal should always be placed after the title page and before the body of the proposal.
Step Five: Draft a Statement of Issue
This section of a proposal is intended to identify the needs of the requestor. It gives the bidder a platform where they can demonstrate that they understand the issue.
Image via Pexels by Sora Shimazaki
Step Six: Describe Your Approach and Methodology
The approach section of a business proposal describes how the bidder plans to solve the problem or complete the job. While each of the previous areas of a business proposal are high-level overviews, this is the first portion of the document that should be very detailed. It should contain an in-depth look at how the bidder intends to fix the problem.
While this section is designed to be as detailed as possible, everything should be explained in layman's terms. This ensures that the requestor doesn't get lost in confusing jargon, discouraging them from choosing the bidder to complete the work.
Step Seven: Describe Your Qualifications
The qualifications section of a business proposal is where businesses describe the skills and qualifications they have to complete the job. This section is significant because it sets bidders apart from the competition, making it easier for requestors to choose the right bidder.
Step Eight: Outline Project Schedule and Milestones
The schedule and milestones section of a business proposal describes how long the job will take and what actions will be taken in which timeframes to get to the finish line. Many bidders find it helpful to break jobs down into sections, also called milestones, to best communicate how they plan to tackle the job.
Step Nine: Quote Cost, Payment Schedules, and Legal Measures
Business proposals exist to allow businesses to win jobs to make money. The last section of a business proposal outlines how much the job will cost and the payments. It should also describe what actions can be taken if payments are late or missed altogether.
This portion also includes details about legal measures that govern the business proposal and relationship. If any special licensing, permits, or other formal documents are needed, they will be outlined here.
This section might also include details about these:
Here is an article about how to create a winning business proposal.
Types of Business Proposals
There are two different types of business proposals: unsolicited and solicited .
Unsolicited business proposals are sent out to potential customers even despite not being requested. These proposals are helpful for companies that see an opportunity to provide a service to a client who may not know how to benefit from the services.
Unsolicited business proposals are especially valuable to companies who are new to their platform. It allows them to market their services to gain their first clients and build their reputation as an authority in their field.
On the other hand, solicited business proposals are requested by an entity searching for someone to complete a job or project. Requestors can send requests for proposals directly to specific clients or place the project as "out for bid," which alerts qualified business owners about the opportunity to decide if they want to place a bid.
Solicited business proposals are significant for clients who want to make sure they hire the perfect person for the job. Since the submission contains all the information they need to make a hiring decision, requesting a proposal is the best way to organize a pool of applicants.
Learn more about the types of business proposals by checking out this article .
Business Proposal Examples
Business proposals are legal documents that exist to tell potential clients about services a business has to offer. Here are some examples of the types of business proposals out there:
Solicited Business Proposal Example
Teyana decides that she wants to hire a website designer to recreate her company's website. She asks around and gets referrals to three separate web design companies. She requests a proposal from each of them and compares the terms of each to help her decide which person to choose. In the end, she decided to hire a company that combined the most experience with the most competitive rate.
Unsolicited Business Proposal Example
When Kareem checked his morning emails, he came across a business proposal from a local landscaping company, which described the company's services to make his home office have better curb appeal. Even though he didn't request the proposal, he found that he was interested in the company's services. He contacted the company and decided to move forward with the proposed work.
Learn more about business proposals by reading this article .
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Meet some of our Business Proposal Lawyers
John Daniel "J.D." Hawke is an experienced attorney with a law practice in Mobile, Alabama. He was born in Fairhope, Alabama and after earning his undergraduate degree at Auburn University, he received a law degree from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in 2010. After law school, he formed the Law Office of J.D. Hawke LLC and over the last decade he has fought incredibly hard for each and everyone of his clients. His practice focuses on representing people facing criminal charges and clients dealing with family law matters. In addition to criminal defense and domestic relations cases, he also regularly handles contract disputes, personal injury cases, small business issues, landlord/tenant disputes, document drafting, and estate planning. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
Thomas Codevilla is Partner at SK&S Law Group where he focuses on Data Privacy, Security, Commercial Contracts, Corporate Finance, and Intellectual Property. Read more at Skandslegal.com Thomas’s clients range from startups to large enterprises. He specializes in working with businesses to build risk-based data privacy and security systems from the ground up. He has deep experience in GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, FERPA, CALOPPA, and other state privacy laws. He holds the CIPP/US and CIPP/E designations from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Alongside his privacy practice he brings a decade of public and private transactional experience, including formations, financings, M&A, corporate governance, securities, intellectual property licensing, manufacturing, regulatory compliance, international distribution, China contracts, and software-as-a-service agreements.
Attorney of 6 years with experience evaluating and drafting contracts, formation document, and policies and procedures in multiple industries. Expanded to estate planning last year.
George is a lifelong Houston resident. He graduated from St. Thomas High School and then Texas A&M University. He obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2007. He is experienced in real estate, estate planning & probate, civil/commercial matters, personal, injury, business matters, bankruptcy, general counsel on-demand, and litigation. He is active in the community serving as past-president of the St. Thomas Alumni Board, a current member of the Dads Club Aquatic Center Board of Directors, current member of the Dickinson Little Italy Festival of Galveston County Board of Directors, and former PTO President for Briarmeadow Charter School.
My clients are often small and medium size technology companies, from the "idea" stage to clients who may have raised a round or three of capital and need to clean up a messy cap table. I help with all legal matters related to growth that keep founders up at night - hiring people, allocating equity, dealing with shareholders and investors, client negotiations and early litigation counseling (before you need a litigator). I've seen a lot, and because I run my own business, I understand the concerns that keep you up at night. I’ve been through, both on my own and through other clients, the “teething” pains that will inevitably arise as you scale-up – and I’m here to help you. I have over 20 years international experience devising and implementing robust corporate legal strategies and governance for large multinationals. I now focus on start-ups and early/medium stage technology companies to enable a sound legal foundation for your successful business operations. Many of my clients are international with US based holding companies or presences. My 17 years abroad helps me "translate" between different regimes and even enabling Civil and Common Law lawyers to come together. Regularly, I handle early stage financings including Convertible Notes, Seed and Series A/B financings; commercial and technology contracts; international transactions; tax; mergers and acquisitions.
Sammy Naji focuses his practice on assisting startups and small businesses in their transactional and litigation needs. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Sammy worked on Middle East diplomacy at the United Nations. He has successfully obtained results for clients in breach of contract, securities fraud, common-law fraud, negligence, and commercial lease litigation matters. Sammy also counsels clients on commercial real estate sales, commercial lease negotiations, investments, business acquisitions, non-profit formation, intellectual property agreements, trademarks, and partnership agreements.