Small Business Proposals in Ten Words or Less
Author: Stephen Bush
The use of formal business proposals to assist in sales management is not a new process, but it has fallen into relative disuse among many small businesses. This might be because there are misunderstandings about what business proposals involve and what tangible benefits they can provide. Regardless of what has caused business proposal writing to become almost a forgotten method for developing new business opportunities, this trend should be reversed by any small business interested in increasing sales. Here are several concise observations about small business proposals, and each will be discussed below in more detail:
- Business proposals are cost-effective marketing tools.
- Small businesses often overlook the value of writing business proposals.
- Unsolicited proposals are frequently more successful than formally-requested proposals.
- Successful proposals usually lead to immediate business.
The primary comments above and below are intentionally limited to no more than ten words. The goal is to provide a "short and sweet" rationale for companies of all sizes to increase their usage of business proposals.
- The first concise rationale for encouraging all businesses to become more savvy about this effective business development tool is "Business proposals are cost-effective marketing tools."
Using cost-effectiveness as a criteria for making business decisions is prudent under virtually all circumstances. While many small businesses often fail to ask whether a purchase or other expense is cost effective, business proposal writing will pass this test with flying colors. In comparison to the cost of alternative marketing expenses, a methodical and strategic use of proposals will be among the most cost-effective business development methods available to a small business.
- A second observation, "Small businesses often overlook the value of writing business proposals," has several implications.
Because proposal writing is not viewed as a primary activity by many companies, this provides an opportunity for those that prepare proposals regularly to separate themselves competitively. While of course the goal of any proposal is to obtain a business contract from the process, even a non-winning proposal can serve as marketing for a business. It is not unusual for winning bidders to need additional help later, and a company that participated (but lost) in a competitive proposal process is often subsequently contacted by other bidders to explore collaborative projects. In some cases this might be another proposal requiring additional qualifications that can only be met by submitting a joint bid. Another substantial value of the proposal writing process is that it forces companies to review their strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their competitors.
- "Unsolicited proposals are frequently more successful than formally-requested proposals" is a third assessment of proposals.
The use of business proposals is literally required in a formal "Request for Proposals" (frequently abbreviated as "RFP"). The RFP will solicit submissions from interested bidders, and this process is traditionally what most companies probably think of when the word "proposal" is used. But formally-solicited proposals could represent the "tip of the iceberg" since there is a relatively unlimited potential for each company to create their own business opportunities via unsolicited business proposals. Businesses can be more specific in what and when they seek with an unsolicited proposal, and a higher batting average is often the result of this more targeted and creative proposal mentality.
- The last comment about business proposals as a productive marketing tool is "Successful proposals usually lead to immediate business."
This is the perfect closing thought about proposals because "Timing is everything" when small businesses are reviewing their balance sheet and income statements. For either proposals solicited with an RFP or unsolicited proposals, the process almost always leads quickly to actual work being performed for the agreed and negotiated fees. Depending on negotiations regarding contractual price and schedule that frequently occur after the winning proposal is selected, a portion of payments are often awarded in advance of a project. "Immediate business" is a two-word phrase that should always get the undivided attention of any small business owner.
About the Author:
Stephen Bush is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AEX Commercial Financing Group. He has worked with small business owners for over 25 years and is a business development expert. His experience with business proposals includes public and private companies as well as government agencies at the state and federal level. Steve provides small business consulting throughout the United States and Canada.
Copyright © 2014, Stephen Bush. All rights reserved. AEX Commercial Financing Group
Business Proposal Writing Presentation
Additional Business Proposal Observations
by Stephen Bush
- Effective business proposals can revive a business.
- Negotiating price and timing often happens last in business proposals.
- Successful proposals can be as short as one page.
- Proposal writing is often the best small business development strategy.
- Government agencies and companies routinely request proposals.
- There are several types of business proposals to be considered.
- Collaboration is an important ingredient in developing successful business proposals.
- Unsolicited business proposals are misunderstood and under-utilized.