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Proposal-writing is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding tasks that can befall any student, researcher, entrepreneur, or anyone in the academe. But writing academic or business proposals do not have to be a tedious and back-breaking task at all.
In this article, we aim to provide a silver lining into your proposal-writing dilemmas by sharing a few tips on how to create compelling proposals. We will also show some examples of printable proposal templates that anyone may use. These pre-made templates will allow you to focus on gathering information and putting them into words instead of dealing with the nitty-gritty of proposal-writing.
Whether you are writing a student research proposal or a business proposal, the core elements that help make a proposal an excellent one is the same. We have listed down these most essential proposal features below. Read and study each of them so that you will know how to apply them for your proposals.
1.Organized Format: Proposals typically consists of multiple pages of text and occasional images. To prevent readers from getting bored or, worse, confused from all the shared data, it is better to follow a format or outline. The most common formal writing format is the IMRAD method. This is short of Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion. By organizing your proposal text according to this outline, readers can easily determine what part of the proposal they are reading and how this relates to the overall proposal pitch.
2. Data Visualization: Another important component of any formal proposal document is the use of data visualization tools. This refers to using graphics or visual methods in presenting a thought, idea, or data set. Data visualization tools like pie charts, graphs, flow charts, and tables can be very effective ways to explain large amounts of data or to deduce relationships between different variables.
3. Market Research: Finding out what and who your core audience is can help researchers narrow down the content and context of any proposal document you create. This especially applies if you are creating bid proposals, cost proposals, or even sales proposals. This is an important element of any proposal template since it helps potential investors, clients, and stakeholders make a more informed decision whether to approve your proposal or not.
4. Review of Related Literature: This next element is especially important when creating research or academic proposals. If business proposals require surveying the needs and current status of their potential market, research-based proposals need to find out what has already been studied by other researchers in their respective fields. And this comes in the form of a review of all related literature.
5. Action Plan: The best proposals should always contain a smart action plan or a set of recommendations for stakeholders to do when and if they accept your proposal. This allows proposal evaluators and auditors to have an idea if you, the proposal proponent, can really deliver what you promised in your proposal.
And that ends this short list of the most essential features that a formal business or academic proposal should have. Familiarize yourself with all these elements so that you can easily spot their presence or absence from your own (or other’s) proposal documents.
Embedded below are downloadable proposal templates that anyone may edit to match their personal or their business needs. Do not forget to install a compatible graphic design software program before you download and edit your chosen proposal template file.
1. Review the proposal request or submission guidelines: Before you start writing your proposal, you should first read and review all the information shared on Request for Proposal or the proposal guidelines set upon by the client or organization. This way you will know what they expect any submitted proposal to look like and, in turn, you will know what to expect of the entire proposal submission process.
2. Find a need: Business proposals are solutions to a need or pain point that a client or another business entity is experiencing. When you pinpoint this particular need and you formulate different solutions for that need, your proposal will be more tailor-fitted to that specific client or organization and the more likely it will be approved.
3. Choose a formal layout: After figuring out what your proposal will be all about, it is now time to decide on a proposal layout and other formatting elements. Most word processors will have built-in document creation templates that can act as proposal outlines. But if you want a more efficient proposal outline tool, you may look into the use of pre-made proposal templates. Examples of which are embedded in this article. Choose a business proposal template that will best match your business’ image and one that will also help you draft your proposal with ease.
4. List down the solutions you come up of: After choosing the more superficial components of a proposal, it is now time to start actually writing. Since you are writing a business proposal, you should start with all the different business solutions that you or your own business may offer to solve another entity’s problems. These solutions may come in the form of products, specific services, or a combination thereof. It may take a long time to fully create a complete list of solutions that will guarantee the eradication or improvement of a client’s problems.
5. Create a schedule: After formulating all the solutions for a specific problem, it is now time to create a schedule or timeline on when all the different solutions will be implemented. To illustrate, if you are creating a catering business proposal, the proposal timeline will include a rundown of all the business transactions that need to be completed before a catering business can be successfully launched.
6. Make a budget or a quotation: The next step is to create a budget or expense quotation. This is an important part of any business proposal since they will be funded by the client or another business entity if they are approved. A budget plan will let a client know how much will they be spending towards the resolution or alleviation of an existing issue.
7. Include your service contract terms: Another integral part of any proposal is the agreement or contract terms between the client (or proposal grantor) and the grantee (the proposal creator). Including the service contract terms helps both parties fulfill their obligations towards the contract. It will also punish any party who will renege on the agreement.
8. Create a curriculum vitae: A curriculum vitae lets a client or business entity know what the proposal creator is capable. It should list all your experiences and credentials and show how they relate to the business proposal you have submitted.
9. List down all the possible employees: Another important component of any business proposal is a section where you list down all the possible employees or people needed to help bring the proposal into fruition. A business proposal should be as realistic as possible so that it can accurately provide information on its intended outcomes. And listing down the prospective number of employees can help achieve that.
10. Include your references: Lastly, business proposals should include a list of references. As we have reiterated earlier, proposal creators need to show that they are authentic and trustworthy to any prospective clients or stakeholders. And providing a list of character references or a list of past customers and clients can help showcase that.
Proposals are categorized according to the industry or field they are used in. The list below shows a few of these industry niches or fields.
There is no standard paper size used when creating proposals. Nevertheless, most academic and business proposals are printed on paper that follows the 8.5 inches by 11 inches paper size.
A proposal template is a pre-formatted document that contains all the necessary text and design placeholders needed to make a formal proposal. Once these digital templates are fully edited, they can easily be saved and printed using home or commercial printers.
A proposal template is a digital file that contains all the necessary wording needed to convince another person, group, business owner, or entity to approve or give funds towards the creation of or maintenance of a business idea, scientific endeavor, or project.
A quotation template, on the other hand, is a digital file provided to another entity that informs them of either the probable or agreed upon cost and fulfillment method of contracted products or services.
There is no standard format for writing a proposal. It is best to follow your organization’s or business entity’s agreed upon format or outline to make sure that your proposal is tailor-fitted for that specific audience.
Proposal templates are created using standard word processing software tools like Microsoft Word, Publisher, or Mac Pages. But for more formatting options, you may use compositing tools like Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign.
We hope that by reading this article, you have gained useful knowledge and renewed confidence in creating your own proposal documents. Do not forget to bookmark this page so that you can freely refer back to it when the need arises. Happy learning!