How to Write a Simplified Business Proposal

A simplified business proposal

Over the years, I’ve gained extensive experience in creating online learning materials. A while back, I had the opportunity to work with a colleague who wished to submit a business proposal to produce an e-course for a bank.

Many proposals are sent in response to a request for proposal, what is known for short as a RFP. In this case, however, my colleague sent an unsolicited proposal to the vice president of the bank to convince him to expand his existing online financial program.

My colleague, a specialist in e-learning, a baby boomer, and a bank client, felt that there was an excellent opportunity for the bank to provide additional value to its clients.

Business proposals are often complicated documents full of jargon and numbers. We decided to create a streamlined business proposal that would be as clear and understandable as possible. You want your message to be succinct and focused, as I point in Effective Business Writing: Understand your focus.

So what did we include in the proposal?

Here is an overview of the seven parts of the simplified business proposal we created:

    • Cover page
      – include a title for the proposal (“East Bank Financial Literacy e-Course Proposal”),
      – write a subtitle, such as “Statement of Work,”
      – write the client’s name and developer’s name.


    • Context
      – explain the relevance of the proposal (older people not saving enough),
      – refer to research reports or studies to support your case (older people need to be better informed about money matters),
      – make it clear how your prospective customer will benefit (e-course will give more value to banking clients),
      – mention some e-courses that you’ve already produced.


    • Setting
      – describe the purpose of the program,
      – specify the instructional plan (create three modules called Financial Literacy 101, 102 and 103),
      – offer two different options: basic or advanced depending on the kinds of audio-visual features.


    • Design and development methodology
      – lay out clearly the objectives of the e-course,
      – describe briefly how the storyboard will work,
      – specify the number of slides for each module as well as the software tools used.


    • Cost
      – present the global costs for the two options covering a) project management, b) course development, and c) graphic design.


    • Milestones
      – describe what is to be delivered or created, such as the storyboard,
      – specify when it will be created and the number of working days it will take.


  • Constraints
    – explain the ground rules or expectations for each of the participants, for example, the storyboard can be modified only twice.

Use these simple guidelines when writing your next business proposal. Or ask Craig and me if you need help.

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