Six-tier Guide to a Winning Business Proposal

When you’re planning to make an offer or a bid for a project, you need to prepare your business for that particular situation.

The key thing to do here is to write a great proposal.

However, it will take some time and resources to gather all the information you may need to create this document. The business proposal should contain the following points:

  • Your knowledge of the client’s business, operations, previous deals and expectations.
  • Your own business portfolio, with all the successfully finished projects.
  • A cover letter, as the peak of your proposal.
  • A detailed business plan, with all the nuts and bolts your business will provide for the client.
  • Proper time organization and the belonging estimate.
  • Holding several meetings with the client and their key staff members.

In the rest of this text, we’ll talk more about each of these points, so that you learn about each of them in greater details.

Expanding your knowledge of client’s business

Research is one of the key buzzwords of the contemporary business environment. Since knowledge is highly appreciated nowadays, business owners expect that their potential associates and partners show them that they’re familiar with the businesses they want to work with or for.

Because of that, every entrepreneur who wants to apply for a certain deal should spend some time reading about their future business partners.

Search the Web

Type the keywords regarding your business partner in several search engines as they may yield different results.

Nevertheless, the Internet is a fast-growing community with a wide range of individual sources of valuable information.

Therefore, check out D&B Hoovers, to learn more about every business you plan to collaborate with.

Moreover, there are other alternatives to Google when it comes to business data, so don’t hesitate to use them and collect as many precious data as possible.

Visit social media pages

William Shakespeare used to say that “all the world’s a stage”. It would be interesting to see what he would think of the modern world and the domination of social media. If the Bard were a present-day businessperson, he would probably try to grasp the predominant ideas of the present-day reality.

The best place to do that are social media. Your methodology will depend on the type of business you’re going to work with. In the realm of small businesses, Facebook pages still seem to be one of the most important ways of marketing.

According to, about 60 million businesses use a Facebook business page on a global scale.

Moreover, visit LinkedIn and study your client’s previous business deals. Read more about the companies they’ve worked with until that moment. Reach out to some of their previous clients or connect with them.

You may even engage in various social media discussions and dig deeper into the rabbit hole. That way you’ll get the whole picture of their requests and expectations.

Turn to forums

Impersonal, easily available and widely popular, forums are one of the most reliable online places to find information about different businesses.

On the local level, you can learn a lot about a business on general local forums.

As opposed to that, if you plan to apply for projects offered by large national companies or international clients, you should register on specialized forums and draw your inspiration from there.

Presenting your portfolio

Just like the way you’ll be interested in your client’s business results, you can be sure that this client will be excited to know everything they can about you.

The only problem here is that they’ll have neither time nor resources to conduct a thorough investigation on all their potential collaborators. This is why it’s crucial that you provide your client with all the information they need to know about you.

Also, if you want to get hired at once, it’s imperative that you make a selection of your most important CV details. By doing so, you’ll save your client’s time while presenting the gist of your work.

Therefore, you should make two major moves here.

The first one is to create an attention-grabbing portfolio website. You can learn more about it from a course available at This will be the major showroom of your finished projects, reviews and collaborations.

The other feature you should rely on is your CV. Here you should include only the projects and results relevant for your proposal. A wise eye of an experienced entrepreneur can easily tell whether you’ve personalized your proposal for their particular project or you use the same template for every job you apply to.

For all these reasons, make sure that you offer your client the essential bits of your work that will be useful for their project, as well as a comprehensive guide through your work.

A cover letter to personalize your offer

Your cover letter will depend on the size and the type of the project.

When we’re talking about online projects offered via Internet freelance platforms, we don’t send traditional cover letters. Instead, bidders are asked to say why they’re motivated to apply and work on a certain project in several sentences.

Nevertheless, sending an offer for a large, long-lasting project needs to include a cover letter, as well. This should be sent in a separate document, as an addition to your CV.

What you should avoid here is covering the general points. Instead, tell your client what practical aspects of your knowledge, experience and qualifications will be useful for their business needs. Moreover, you can support every point you include in that letter with something from your portfolio or CV.

For example, you can add direct links to your previous projects. It will show your potential client your real work, plus it will encourage them that your brand name is worth giving it a chance and you won’t waste their time.

Offering a detailed but concise plan

When you take a look at an average project offered on Upwork, you’ll see that brevity is the king of modern business offers.

Both employers and employees are trying to save one another’s time and they pack their offers in concise ads. Since you don’t want your client to think that you’re wasting their time, your proposal has to be abridged, but contain all the vital details for the project.

For starters, you should include your solutions for their problems and questions.

For instance, if you’re an app developer and a small business needs a custom-built app, you’ll need to be both adviser and app creator simultaneously.

Be prepared for situations in which you won’t only perform a certain amount of work, but also propose your client different solutions and outcomes that they might be unaware of.

Furthermore, you should introduce them to your business plan. This one-page document should contain the basic information about the project and short explanations for each point. For example, you can start with the duration of the project, the interested parties, the key goals and the expected outcome.

When you create a business plan at the beginning of your collaboration, both you and your client will have a framework that will help you navigate through the project, from day one till the finale of your collaboration.

Apart from that, you should speak your mind and inform your client on the price you want to charge for their project.

Still, bear in mind that this is only the layout. You’ll provide them with thorough details when they accept your offer, in your specifically crafted estimate.

Managing your time and giving the estimate

If you’ve passed all the previous stages of winning your client’s sympathy, it’s time to give them a timeframe for which you’re going to finish their project.

The key element in setting the time is the size of your businesses.

If both you and your clients are sole entrepreneurs, only your and his expectations and conditions will be added to the time-management formula.

Therefore, it’s highly likely that you’ll reach a deal quickly so that you can start working on your common project.

On the other hand, business owners who run enterprises with more employees will need to include their team members in the entire time organization process.

As a result, prepare for a longer negotiation process. In case a larger group of workers from both companies has to collaborate throughout the duration of the project, it’s smart to use one of the cutting-edge project management tools.

What’s more, include this part in your bid, especially if you know that you’re bidding for a project offered by a larger company. It will show your client that you’re a professional and transparent businessperson.

In return, it could be the key element that will nudge them towards hiring you for their project.

No matter what type of business you’re going to work with, you’ll have to provide your client with a proper estimate, once your bid is accepted. It would be wise to set some milestones during the project. For instance, if the project is going to last for six months, you could suggest three-week milestones.

Such a strategy will ensure that both you and your client keep each other under control.

Moreover, when closing the financial part of the arrangement, make sure that you reach an agreement on smooth invoicing, so as to speed up the entire process. Once you’ve received a payment for the finished chunk of work, you can prepare for the next stage of your collaboration.

Holding meetings with people in charge

This string of actions should be performed both during the bidding process and after you’ve been assigned a project.

Business owners and managers who insist on meeting their counterparts in person will look more professional and dedicated to the project.

Of course, this part can’t be performed at the beginning of a bidding process, because it would be time-consuming for both bidders and clients.

However, when you’ve qualified for later stages of a bidding process, it’s necessary to establish direct communication with your potential client. When you get to this phase, it’s essential to learn what your non-verbal communication tells about your business and your personality.

This is where you should use some tricks of body language.

Apart from that, when they give you a project, you have to talk to their managers and employees. When you connect on several levels of management, you’ll be able to compare your ideas and yield new concepts that will advance your collaboration.

Last, but not least, when it comes to larger deals, it’s recommended to hold meetings in person with your clients and get to know each other properly.


In this day and age, writing a business proposal is a complex thing. You need to cover numerous bases of your client’s business if you want to earn their trust.

What matters here most is business transparency from day one.

Moreover, you should always hold on to your agreements and be patient during the negotiation process.

In combination with other features discussed in this article, you should find reliable and professional clients, which will keep your business on a winning streak.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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