Business Proposal Writing Package

In the Business Proposal Writing Package, we shall look at how to structure and present a business proposal in a modern, professional style. Specifically we shall work on strategies and skills that will allow us to present a simple, direct, reader-friendly and audience-focused proposal.

In this package, we shall learn how to:

What’s the problem?

The main problem that people face when writing a proposal is that they get confused proposals and reports. They both cover a wide range of purposes and they are both used to pass information from one person to another, either within the same organisation or between one organisation and another.

What’s the difference between a proposal and a report?

There are many similarities between proposals and reports. Both contain similar sections including a purpose and perhaps background information and often reports make recommendations which are a key feature of a proposal.

In the context of this package, a proposal is essentially a type of report that makes suggestions about what a company or organisation should do the future (e.g. a feasibility study). So whilst a report might have more of a tendency to focus on the past, a proposal tends to be more forward looking.

Proposals are also often commissioned in response to a problem which needs to be solved. This is not so frequently the case with reports.

Proposals also have a tendency to express opinions supported by objective facts rather than simply to record objective facts.

In this package, we are going to limit our focus to short proposals. These usually have a single purpose and a limited scope.

Activity 1

How are proposals organised?

As with reports, the headings and structure of a proposal may vary depending on its purpose and content. The structure that we are going to look at contains all of the key parts of a proposal but clearly depending on the complexity of the client’s requirements, the amount of detail required and the size of the document may vary. For the purpose of this package, we shall concern ourselves with 10 sections.


Title page
Executive summary
Client operation / business
Client requirement / need / problem / objective / purpose
Proposal / soluton / recommendation / action<
Benefits, rationale and suggested evaluation of proposal / solution / recommendation / action
Project costing, fees and resource requirements
Timetable / timeline / schedule
Contract details
Persuasive overview of track record and reputation of proposal provider


Activity 2

What is included under these headings?

So we now have an idea about how to structure a proposal but what exactly should we include under each heading?


1. Title page

E. This should be short and to the point. Do not include the word ‘proposal’ in the heading and try to present it as a story.

Marketing Proposal for ABC Limited ✘
New Website Development Proposal for ABC limited ✘
Increasing Leads Through Social Media Campaigns ✔'

2. Executive summary

F. Clearly, this is an overview of the whole proposal. It should include a general statement of the client’s need and the solution and how it will benefit the client in a way that promotes the proposer. It should also mention the completion date, a general statement about the extraordinary value of the proposal (without mentioning the actual quotation price itself) and why the proposer is the right person / company for the job. This section is not necessary in a short proposal.

3. Client operation / business

C. This is a summary of the field in which the client is involved together with some background information on the project in hand. For an in-house proposal, clearly the ‘client’ will be one’s own company, organisation or department. For an academic proposal, the ‘client’ could be the hierarchy within a department, a university or a government committee.

4. Client requirement / need / problem / objective / purpose

H. In this section the proposal should detail exactly what the client wants the proposal for. This could be a problem that needs to be solved or it could be asking for ideas to add value to a company or organisation. Essentially this section identifies the aim of the proposal, the needs of the client and the reason the proposal is being requested.

5. Proposal / soluton / recommendation / action

J. This is arguably the most important part of the proposal as it presents how the client’s problem can be solved or needs satisfied. This should be presented as a practical step-by-step procedure that outlines very clearly what needs to done and how effectively the proposer can do it. This also gives the proposer an opportunity to promote their own expertise and why the client should choose them.

6. Benefits, rationale and suggested evaluation of proposal / solution / recommendation / action

A. This is a section which is surprisingly often neglected and yet it provides a clear opportunity for the proposer to sell their idea. Whilst the actual proposal itself outlines the steps which need to be taken, this section provides the reasons why they need to be taken, how they can be implemented and perhaps of equal importance, how their success and effectiveness can be measured and followed up, if necessary.

7. Project costing, fees and resource requirements

D. In this part of the proposal, you need to outline the financial implications of the proposal. This will certainly include the proposer’s fees plus all the additional costs including manpower, equipment, research, training and any other overheads which are necessary for the successful completion of the project. The figures should be presented in a positive a way that highlights their competitive value.

8. Timetable / timeline / schedule

I. Obviously the client will need to know when the project will be completed and how long it will take; in fact most clients will stipulate a deadline or completion date as part of the project brief. Depending upon the complexity of the project, the proposer may also want to include a series of ‘mini-deadlines’ for various parts of the proposal.

9. Contract details

G. This may or may not be included in the proposal as it can be a very complicated legal document or one that is, as a matter of course, presented separately from the actual proposal itself. An alternative to including the whole contract in the proposal, is to provide a summary detailing the key points

10. Persuasive overview of track record and reputation of proposal provider

B. This provides a last opportunity for the proposaer to sell themsleves / their company / organisation / team and clearly, their proposal. This section can also recount examples of previous successful projects, prestgious clients, jobs which have ‘come-in’ under budget and ‘on time’ or before the deadline, testimonials and awards. It is also a good idead to finsh with a ‘Why choose us?’ section in which the proposer can briefly promote themselves one last time.


Activity 3

Proposal analysis

Here are some preparation notes written by someone about a proposal she has to write.

To be read by: Board of Directors

Subject of proposal: software range

Main reason for new activity: demand from existing clients

Also include in proposal:

  • Reasons for adding to product range
  • Types of products, e.g. stock-control tools, online advertising applications etc.
  • Resources, i.e. staff, etc.
  • Extra costs


  1. identify
  2. through
  3. satisfaction
  4. demand
  5. currently
  6. tailoring
  7. initial
  8. outlay
  9. space
  10. proceed


Activity 4

You work for a consultant, Clifford Charles Communications Limited which advises companies on setting up their businesses in China.

You have been contacted by JP Stanley, a company which specialises in providing financial and investment advice, wealth management services and personal insurance policies to people with considerable disposable incomes.

JP Stanley are having problems ‘breaking into’ the China market and have asked you to come up with proposal to solve these difficulties.

Specifically, JP Stanley are having difficulty establishing contacts and finding clients in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming, three of mainland China’s second tier cities, because of:

  1. poor Mandarin language skills among staff
  2. lack of knowledge about corporate law in PRC
  3. limited number of contacts in three of China’s main second tier cities: Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming

Activity 4


1. Title page


Increasing opportunities and improving financial services in the PRC

2. Executive summary


PJ Stanley Limited, a major global financial services operator is experiencing problems accessing its client base in China, particularly in some of China’s emerging ‘second-tier’ cities.

Clifford Charles Communications Limited has compiled a comprehensive proposal to deal with PJ Stanley’s difficulties which include:

  • language and legal training for staff
  • revising staff recruitment procedures especially regarding language skills and expertise in the legal system in China
  • marketing and public relations action to promote PJS in China

Based upon CCC’s impressive record over the years helping major international firms to establish themselves in mainland China, it is predicted that the recommendations in this document can be achieved within budget and according to schedule.

3. Client operation / business


PJ Stanley Limited is a well established financial services company originally founded in the United Kingdom and now operating worldwide. PJ Stanley’s Hong Kong operation has been in existence for over 50 years and incorporates:

  • financial and investment advice
  • wealth management
  • personal insurance

The scope of PJ Stanley’s clients work has always been on personal clients in the upper income bracket and so, given the enormous personal wealth generated there in recent years, PJ Stanley has been keen to enter the mainland Chinese market. In particular though, they are targeting China’s second and third tier cities as cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are already saturated with financial advisers. Initial forays into Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming have so far yielded only very modest results.

4. Client requirement / need / problem / objective / purpose


The main problems faced by PJ Stanley in their efforts to get a foothold in the China market are related to difficulties establishing contacts and finding clients in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming because of:

  • poor Mandarin language skills among Hong Kong originated staff
  • lack of knowledge about corporate law in PRC among front-line staff
  • limited number of contacts in the three cities

5. Proposal / solution / recommendation / action


Based upon similar cases involving previous clients, we strongly recommend the following action to cement PJ Stanley’s position in China.

  • Language skills

    Short term - To ease the immediate problem, we shall investigate local translating services in the three cities as well as in Hong Kong. Clearly using a local service in China will be cheaper but in terms of confidentiality, Hong Kong might prove to be a better provider. We shall advise you accordingly.

    Long term - Given that many of the Hong Kong based staff are not proficient in Mandarin, we shall also make enquiries about running regular in-house customer service and business Putonghua classes. We have a number of providers that we have worked with before and will obtain quotes before making a final recommendation.

    Short - medium term - However, we believe that as it will take some time to see results from this initiative, PJ Stanley need to recruit bilingual / trilingual sales staff who will be responsible for ‘on-the-ground’ operations in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming immediately. We suggest these staff be divided into three specialised promotional and sales teams operating in the three cities. We will be happy to work alongside your Human Resources Office in the recruitment process and to assist in the vetting procedure.


  • PRC legal system

    Since there are clearly problems understanding the complex and often contradictory content of business law in China, we recommend that staff attend a series of training sessions under the heading of ‘Business Law in China’ run by Prof. Edmund Xiao at Hong Kong University. These courses are offered over four weeks and they run three times a year covering:

    1. trading and foreign investment laws
    2. import/export control
    3. taxation
    4. foreign economic and trade regulations

    It might be possible to run the sessions as an in-house training course we will certainly discuss this with HKU. Again though, as with the language skills problem, we must advise PJ Stanley to look closely at their recruitment policies as it seems clear that staff with comprehensive knowledge of the legal system, particularly the corporate legal system, is crucial to establishing a client base and expanding it in the long run.

    We shall also contact the Hong Kong Trade Development Council which publishes a Guide to Doing Business in China annually.


  • Contacts in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming

    It is clear that contacts in the local business communities, media and government authorities have to be established in order to make progress in China. It is equally clear that lack of experienced, Putonghua speaking front-line staff is one of the key reasons for this shortcoming and as such, we believe that the measures suggested to solve the first problem should in part at least solve this one.

    However, the concept of guanxi should not be underestimated and it appears that here, JP Stanley is in a decidedly disadvantaged situation.

    For each city, we will therefore draw up a comprehensive list of:

    • key contacts, local dignitaries and business leaders
    • senior and influential government officials
    • chambers of commerce and other professional organisations
    • social, sports and professional club and societies
    • media organisations particularly those focused on business, commerce, finance and economics

    Upon compiling the list, we shall work closely with JP Stanley’s in-house public relations team and the translation service provider to develop a bi-lingual introductory information package for distribution in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming.

    We shall also arrange a number of presentations at venues at some of the locations on the list as well as at major hotels in the three cities.

6. Benefits, rationale and suggested evaluation of proposal / solution / recommendation / action


The benefits to JP Stanley of the recommendations outlined in this proposal are many and varied.

  • Language skills

    To improve the language skills of JPS staff, clearly more than one approach is required and we believe that tackling the issue in the short, medium and long term will provide the most effective and comprehensive solution. We also believe that liaising with language experts is vital for effective communication in China.

  • PRC legal system

    As with the language skills proposals, we firmly believe that working with experts in the field and spending time and money on training will bring about positive results in the long run.

  • Contacts in Chungking, Chengdu and Kunming

    We cannot stress too highly the value which must be placed on public relations and networking in China. In order to do business, you have to meet people and in order to meet people you have ‘get out there’ in the market place and sell your services. We are confident that the suggestions we have proposed will provide JP Stanley with the platform and the audience to do business in China.

7. Project costing, fees and resource requirements


    Language skills training
  1. Translation service - quotations to be obtained from:
    1. First Mandarin, Hong Kong
    2. Putonghua for You, Hong Kong
    3. Chinese Language Services, PRC
  2. In-house language training - quotations to be obtained from:
    1. First Mandarin, Hong Kong
    2. Putonghua for You, Hong Kong


    PRC legal system training
  1. Business Law in China Course, HKU – 4 sessions for each course
    1. trading and foreign investment laws
    2. import/export control
    3. taxation
    4. foreign economic and trade regulations
      1. Complete package - $9,000 per participant
      2. Individual courses - $2,500 each per participant
      3. Quotation to be obtained for in-house course


    Making contacts
  1. Comprehensive list of:/Contact list
    1. Chungking – contacts list
      1. Lump sum $20,000
    2. Chengdu – contacts list
      1. Lump sum $20,000
    3. Kunming – contacts list
      1. Lump sum $20,000
  2. Bi-lingual introductory information package
    1. Chungking}Estimated cost for each location including printing and distribution costs:
      $60,000 x 3 = $180,000
  3. Presentations
    1. To be quoted on an event-by-event basis as details, number of attendees and venues will vary. Estimated cost per presentation $5,000

8. Timetable / timeline / schedule


  1. Language skills training
    1. Translation service
      • quotations to be obtained by 30/XX/20XX
      • contract to be awarded and agreed 14/XX/20XX
      • commencement of service TBA
    2. In-house language training
      • quotations to be obtained by 30/XX/20XX
      • contract to be awarded and agreed 14/XX/20XX
      • commencement of service TBA
  2. PRC legal system training
    • in-house quotation to be obtained by 30/XX/20XX
    • contract to be awarded and agreed 14/XX/20XX
    • commencement of service TBA
  3. Making contacts
    • Chungking – contacts list}Deadline 21/XX/20XX
      Chengdu – contacts list
      Kunming – contacts list
  4. Bi-lingual introductory information package
    • Chungking}Deadline 28/XX/20XX
  5. Presentations
    • List of potential dates and venues deadline 07/XX/20XX

9. Contract details


This will be dealt with separately and once all of the points itemised in this proposal have been agreed upon.

10. Contract details


Having advised a significant number of major international companies on increasing their exposure in China and accessing customers, we believe that here at Clifford Charles Communications Limited, we possess:

  • the expertise
  • the experience
  • the insight
  • the contacts

to allow you to establish a solid foundation and lucrative business venture in mainland China.


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