How to Write a Proposal in 8 Steps

You may find yourself needing to write a proposal in order to gain support. Maybe you’re a businessman or woman looking to solve a problem at work, or a vendor hoping to add a client. Or, maybe you’re a teacher hoping to receive a grant to purchase much-needed supplies for your classroom. Whatever the case may be, knowing how to write a proposal will help you write engaging copy, and help you get the results you want. To do this, here are 8 steps you should follow.

Step 1: Hold a Brainstorm Session

In order to get the support that you need and the results that you want, it’s vital to address the correct people. So, start by brainstorming who the recipient of your proposal should be. Depending on the purpose of your proposal, your audience may be easy to define. If it is, you’re ready to start analyzing your audience.

If you’re presenting it to a board, think about how familiar they already are with the topic. Based on this answer, you may need to provide more background information or details. On the other hand, you may be able to skip this part and focus on the solution to the problem instead.

As you consider your audience, you should also think about what you can do to make your writing engaging. Consider the audience’s hobbies and interests as you come up with a way to capture their attention right from the beginning. By doing this, you can increase the chances that your proposal will get more than a quick scan.

Step 2: Research

Before you sit down to write your proposal, you need to do some research. Research is one of the best ways to build your credibility on the topic. It also helps you prove that there is a problem and you have the best solution for it.

You can find examples, facts, figures, charts, graphs, and other data to include. Since you want to avoid using only your opinion to support your proposal, you need to find the best information to back up your points and gain support from your intended audience. In some cases, you may need to gather the data on your own. You may need to get out and conduct surveys, gathering your own data to prove your point.

Step 3: Hook the Reader

As previously stated, it’s important to capture your reader’s attention from the beginning. Your introduction should do two things: engage the reader, and set yourself up as a credible source. On top of hooking the reader, you need to provide background information on the topic. Remember that you should consider your audience as you determine how much background information is necessary. As you do this, you don’t want to ramble on and on. Instead, think about interesting facts that could get your audience thinking about the topic.

If you’re introducing your business to your audience, this would be a great time to deliver your company’s mission statement. Give a little information about your company’s history and your professional background, too.

Step 4: Present the Problem

In the next section, you need to define the problem. What is the issue that you hope to resolve? Address the cause of the problem and the side effects that have occurred because of it. Most importantly, don’t forget to discuss why this is a problem worth addressing.

This is the time to demonstrate your knowledge. Discuss the problem using your own experience; however, don’t forget to include the facts and figures that you found during your research. And as mentioned before, think about your audience as you decide how in-depth you need to go on the topic.

Step 5: State Your Solution

Now that your audience is well aware of the problem, it’s time to discuss your proposed solution to it. How will you solve the problem? Why should they follow this solution over another? You may want to discuss some of the other solutions that others may propose and discuss why these aren’t viable options. If they are viable, then discuss why your solution is better. Will it cost less or have a greater impact?

Since you’re writing this proposal to gain support, this document should be persuasive in nature. Remember this as you discuss the solution. Not only do you need to convince your audience that this is the best solution to the problem, you want them to get behind you. As you write out the solution, think about what you could include to support your ideas, and convince others that they should support them too. Include case studies, examples of people who used a similar approach, facts, and statistics to show why your approach is the right one. You could even try the solution on a smaller scale to show the results.

Step 6: Outline the Project

While you state the solution, take some time to discuss the feasibility of your project. Discuss the plan as if you already got the greenlight for it. Have a schedule laid out with the start and end date. Let them know how the steps should happen and whether or not anything can happen simultaneously.

As you plan the schedule, multiply the time you think it will take by 1.5. So, if you think it will take 10 hours to complete the first step, plan for 15 hours instead (10 x 1.5 =15 hours). Overestimating will account for any unexpected issues that arise. Besides, clients probably prefer getting the results ahead of schedule rather than behind schedule.

It’s also important to talk about the budget. How much will it cost to implement your solution? Break it down as much as possible, itemizing at each step of the way. If you’re looking for financial backing, it’s important to know your numbers and share them with your audience. Make sure that you have a realistic budget that will clearly show your audience what everything will cost and how much you’ll need to make it happen.

Step 7: Bring It All Together

The final part of your proposal is the conclusion. How will you bring everything together? What ideas do you want your audience to remember? In the conclusion, emphasize the most important parts. You’ll probably want to briefly restate the problem and the solution. You could also reiterate interesting facts that will help your proposal stand out to others.

At the end of the conclusion, include a call to action. What do you want your audience to do after reading your proposal? Should they cut you a check? Would you like them to hire your company? Whatever the case may be, let your audience know what they can do once they’ve decided to support you.

Step 8: Proofread Your Proposal

Knowing how to write a proposal wouldn’t be complete without this step! Before sending any document out, you need to take time to proofread it. Your writing will make an impression on your audience. Minor errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation could leave a negative impression, and impact the support for your proposal. Once you’ve spent time correcting it, send it to someone you trust to look it over again. The more people who can check for errors, the better!

How to Write a Proposal: Final Thoughts

If you still have questions about how to write a proposal, take a look at examples and videos that you can use to help format your document. Once your proposal is ready to go, you can present it to your audience.

Hopefully, you’ve done what it takes to convince your audience that they should support you. Then, you can put your plan into action and get the results you hope to see. Good luck!

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.