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Writing a Winning Business Proposal

Writing a Winning Business Proposal

Author: Soma Jurgensen

This packet is designed to assist students of writing (whether in school or out) in an effective approach to writing a business focused proposal. The approach illustrated here is for an unsolicited proposal and would not be used for a request for proposal.

Learn to write an persuasive proposal including a:

  • clear purpose statement
  • well defined problem statement
  • solutions section and summary
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Business Proposals 101

What is the purpose of a proposal? What characteristics make for effective proposals? Learn the basics of writing a proposal in this video.

Source: Soma D. Jurgensen, Rasmussen College, Brooklyn Park, MN

Anatomy of a Proposal

What are the parts of a proposal? How do I make each part persuasive and compelling? Take a look at this video, and subsequent sections of this packet, for useful guidelines.

Source: Soma D. Jurgensen, Rasmussen College, Brooklyn Park, MN

Start your Proposal with a Clear Purpose

It's time to start crafting your proposal and if you’re wondering where to start I’ve included some tips here on getting over your writer's block.

What should your proposal be?

  • Organized under subheadings to guide the reader: Purpose Statement, Problem Statement, Solution Statement, Plan-Costs-Schedules, Conclusion
  • Persuasive
  • Well organized
  • Well researched

The first part of your proposal will be the introduction, or the purpose statement. Using this outline will give you a strong start on making sure you connect with the reader right away.

1) Introduction
a) Short summary
b) BRIEFLY touch on the problem, why you’re writing the proposal, and what your solution is. Think of this as the summary you’d read about an article before you decide to read further.

What this means is that your proposal should start with your objectives, the reasons you are making the proposal. It’s essentially like a move trailer. You get a sense of the whole movie, it’s engaging, and you want to learn more because the details are not all there.

One way to draft your purpose is to fill in blanks for the following statement:

I propose to _____________ because of _____________ challenges/opportunities in order for your company to realize _____________ benefits.

Let’s look at an example. I’d like to propose that our Rasmussen Campus include more healthy choices in the vending machines. I’d like fruit and milk and sandwiches. My purpose or introduction might look something like this:


I propose that Rasmussen’s Brooklyn Park campus include a vending machine with healthy lunch options in the student lounge in order to support the health and wellness of its students. Healthy, high fiber and energy rich foods support longer attention and focus in the classroom resulting is greater student learning. Rasmussen will ultimately realize the benefits of healthy food options through greater retention of focused and successful students.

You’ll notice I did enough research to know what business impact my proposal would have on Rasmussen. I could have stopped at happy, successful, students. Instead, I went right to heart of the business problem or opportunity that my proposal would support. Essentially, I told Rasmussen how my proposal would help them be better at business.

Stay tuned for the next installment…what to do about the problem statement.


Here's a link to an article with 38 words to avoid when writing a proposal.


Writing a Problem Free Problem Statement

Having a problem with your problem statement? You are not alone. This section is the analytical part of your assignment and business students in particular love to jump to the solutions. When you write a proposal, however, you are trying to convince the person that they not only need a change, but why they should change and how they should implement the change.

The purpose statement answers the question "what should I do" for the reader.

The problem statement answers the questions "why should I do it?"

Let's use a broken radiator in my home as an example. I want to convince a maintenance person to come out an fix it on a snowy Sunday in MN. I have to prove I really have a problem. I might identify and support the symptoms as follows:

A) It's cold in here and the radiator is supposed to keep the house warm (symptom)

  • It's normally 69 degrees but no matter how high I turn the radiator the house isn't warmer than 58 degrees (evidence and "research" where I give actual numbers)

B) It's leaking

  • There is steam coming out (I can observe and measure this)
  • There is water puddeling on the floor (I can observe and measure this)
  • etc.

C) It's making weird sounds

  • The noise is loud and frequent (still needs evidence)
  • It's so loud that it drowns out the T.V. in the next room (comparison - context - observable)

I think I can convince the maintenance person to come out in the cold because there is an observable, measurable, problem with support and research vs. my own opinion.

When you present the problem (not taking advantage of an opportunity) make sure to back it up with evidence (customer service is down 10% from goal) and even ideas about what experts say when these symptoms exist.


Solutions, Plans, and Budgets

By this point in your writing process you’ve addressed what you propose and why you think it’s necessary. It’s time to tell the reader HOW you plan to accomplish it. The solution statement is the implementation stage, and yet, the persuasion does not end.


  • How will you accomplish what you propose?
  • Why did you select this plan? (This is an opportunity for research – what are best practices?)
  • Who needs to be involved? When?
  • What will the schedule of completion or timeline be?
  • What are some approximate costs?

As you conclude your proposal also include a picture of what the business will “look like” after they’ve implemented your plan. Create a word picture of a brighter future.

Solution Statements that Persuade

Write effective solution statements that convince your reader to accept your idea.

Proposal Writing Checklist

Make sure your proposal is a strong a communication as possible with this checklist.