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12 tips for writing a winning proposal

By Michael W. McLaughlin

The words "send me a proposal" are music to the ears of many consultants. The invitation to write a proposal is a milestone in the sales cycle an opportunity to get one step closer to a client and a new project. Even though they might not really enjoy writing proposals, most consultants jump at the chance because they believe that exciting, lucrative work might be right around the corner. A great proposal can be decisive in winning a project, while a poor one can cause you to lose a project, even if everything else in the sales process has gone flawlessly. Follow these 12 tips to a write a killer proposal every time. 1. Create a powerful, but concise executive summary Decision-makers start with and focus on the executive summary, so create this section with that fact in mind. When writing the executive summary, assume that the reader knows little or nothing about the proposed project. 2. Quantify the results that the client can expect from engaging you Some consultants create proposals that overemphasize their consulting process and methodologies. Clients buy results, not tools or methodologies. 3. Be generous with your ideas You may fear that revealing your ideas about how to solve a problem during the proposal process could result in clients taking those ideas and completing the project themselves. In rare cases, that may happen. But you'll have more success if you don't hoard your ideas. Use them to show clients that your team thinks and approaches problems in creative and innovative ways. 4. Size does matter Keep your proposals as short as possible, while meeting the client's request. Think quality, not quantity. 5. Focus on the client Many proposals begin with a long discussion of the consulting firm, describing its qualifications and history. Focus your proposal on the client's needs first, and then describe your firm's capabilities. Remember, clients care only about how you'll address their issues, so show them how you'll do that. 6. Beware of best practices The client may view your liberal use of "best practices" as a convenient crutch. Instead of relying on answers that worked for a previous client, find a blend of outstanding practices and innovative solutions that fit your client's particular needs. 7. Be accurate If you are using client data to support aspects of your proposal, doublecheck and triple-check that information. It's easy for facts to be misunderstood and misused in a proposal. You'll risk turning a winning proposal into a loser if you present inaccurate data to the client. 8. Sweat every detail Watch for typos, use high-quality materials, and make sure that the right people receive the proposal on time.

9. Rewrite your resume for every proposal Highlight the skills in your resume that demonstrate your qualifications for the project at hand. A boilerplate resume is rarely up to the task. 10.Finish early Let your proposal sit for a day after you've completed the final draft, and then reread it completely before sending it to the client. You're likely to come up with some new ideas that enhance your work, and you may find errors that you missed earlier. 11.Let your personality shine through Give clients a sense of your firm's culture and its style of working. The traditional, stilted language of many consulting proposals doesn't help clients answer the all-important question: What will it be like to work with these consultants? 12.Don't let your claims outdistance your true capabilities Some proposals tout the expertise of the consulting firm by referring to past successes with similar projects. These testaments to past achievements are important, but be sure that the capabilities of the proposed consulting team can live up to your firm's claims. The proposal is a crucial step in the consulting sales cycle. Don't trip by providing a misleading, sloppy proposal. Instead, engage your client with clear, thoughtful explanations about how your firm is uniquely suited to meet your client's needs. About the author Michael W. McLaughlin is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). As a practicing management consultant, McLaughlin has helped clients achieve their desired results through innovative strategies for project planning, client/consultant collaboration, project execution, and change management.

Project Proposal Writing

Compiled by: Leonellha Barreto Dillon (seecon international gmbh)

Executive Summary
A proposal is a request for financial assistance to implement a project. The proposal outlines the plan of the implementing organisation about the project, giving extensive information about the intention, for implementing it, the ways to manage it and the results to be delivered from it (FUNDS FOR NGOS 2010).The following guidelines are designed to help you prepare your full proposal. How well you plan the action is critical to the success of the project. A project proposal is a detailed description of a series of activities aimed at solving a certain problem (NEBIU 2002). In order to be successful, the document should (REPOA 2007):

provide a logical presentation of a research idea illustrate the significance of the idea

show the idea's relationship to past actions articulate the activities for the proposed project

Designing a project is a process consisting of two elements, which are equally important and thus essential to forming a solid project proposal:

project planning (formulation of project elements) proposal writing (converting the plan into a project document)

The project proposal should be a detailed and directed manifestation of the project design. It is a means of presenting the project to the outside world in a format that is immediately recognised and accepted. Getting Ready to Start a Project Proposal

From vision to proposal: The first step is to decide what the problem is and develop a rough idea (vision) of how this could be solved. This vision is then to be transformed into an idea for a specific project proposal. A logical framework may help you to structure this idea in a systematic way, and clearly define the aim, purpose, outputs, activities, means, costs and the methodologies for monitoring and evaluation, and will thus from the basis for the preparation of the narrative of the proposal. Remember that your idea may have to fit certain requirements if you are answering to a call for proposals, and that it must also fit local policies and frameworks. Identify potential funding options: It is necessary to find out in advance what sources of funding are available, through governments, international cooperation agencies, some international NGOs or private foundations. Build a project proposal team (adapted from PHILIP et al. 2008): a leader will be needed to manage the proposal development in an efficient way, and therefore it is advisable to assign the lead role to one specific person. This person is then responsible for the coordination of the overall proposal development, for communication with potential funders and for making sure that all different pieces of input are brought together in a consistent and coherent text. Experts with more detailed technical knowledge might be part of the team, or simply contribute to an initial brainstorming session. Furthermore, the budget should be compiled in close cooperation with staff from the financial department. Input from stakeholders or other specialists with different backgrounds helps bring in the necessary expertise to the project. Hold a kick-off meeting: It is helpful to discuss and develop the proposal in a small team and share drafts with experts of all relevant disciplines not just from within the administration, but also from outside it. Input from stakeholders or other specialists with

different backgrounds helps bring in the necessary expertise, but also a larger variety of ideas on how to solve a particular issue and achieve the previously agreed objectives. Proposal Writing

The proposal format might sometimes be of importance for the donor. Source: unknown The requirements of content and format of proposals differ noticeably from one sponsoring agency to another. While some may provide their own application forms to be filled, and others may request on-line submission of proposals, others will accept a proposal in any format as long as it features the necessary information, and does not contradict their conditions (AUB 2010). Proposed Format for a Full Project Proposal (Adapted from NEBIU 2002) A full proposal should have the following parts:

Title page: A title page should appear on proposals longer than three to four pages. The title page should indicate the project title, the name of the lead organisation (and potential partners, if any), the place and date of project preparation and the name of the donor agency to whom the proposal is addressed.

Project title: The project title should be short, concise, and preferably refer to a certain key project result or the leading project activity. Project titles that are too long or too general fail to give the reader an effective snapshot of what is inside. Abstract/Executive Summary: Many readers lack the time needed to read the whole project proposal. It is therefore useful to insert a short project summary, an abstract or executive summary. The abstract should include: the problem statement, the projects objectives, implementing organisations; key project activities; and potentially the total project budget. Theoretically, the abstract should be compiled after the relevant items already exist in their long form. For a small project the abstract may not be longer than 10 lines. Bigger projects often provide abstracts as long as two pages. Context: This part of the project describes the social, economic, political and cultural background from which the project is initiated. It should contain relevant data from research carried out in the project planning phase or collected from other sources. Project justification: A rationale should be provided for the project. Due to its importance, this section is sometimes divided into four or more sub-sections: o Problem statement: The problem statement provides a description of the specific problem(s) the project is trying to solve, in order to make a case for the project. Furthermore, the project proposal should point out why a certain issue is a problem for the community or society as a whole, i.e. what negative implications affect the target group. There should also be an explanation of the needs of the target group that appear as a direct consequence of the described problem. o Priority needs: The needs of the target group that have arisen as a direct negative impact of the problem should be prioritised. An explanation as to how this decision was reached must also be included. o The proposed approach (type of intervention): The project proposal should describe the strategy chosen for solving the problem and precisely how it will lead to improvement. o The implementing organisation: This section should describe the capabilities of your organisation by referring to its capacity and previous project record. Describe why exactly your organisation is the most appropriate to run the project, its connexion to the local community, the constituency behind the organisation and what kind of expertise the organisation can provide. If other partners are involved in implementation provide some information on their capacity as well. o Project aims: This information should be obtained from the Logframe Matrix, including the project goal (a general aim that should explain what the core problem is and why the project is important, i.e. what the long-term benefits to the target group are), project purpose (that should address the core problem in terms of the benefits to be received by the project beneficiaries or target group as a direct result of the project) and the outputs (i.e. results describe the services or products to be delivered to the intended beneficiaries). Target group: define the target group and show how it will benefit from the project. The project should provide a detailed description of the size and characteristics of the target groups, and especially of direct project beneficiaries.

Project implementation: The implementation plan should describe activities and resource allocation in as much detail as possible. It is exceptionally important to provide a good overview of who is going to implement the projects activities, as well as when and where. The implementation plan may be divided into two key elements: the activity plan and the resource plan. The activity plan should include specific information and explanations of each of the planned project activities. The duration of the project should be clearly stated, with considerable detail on the beginning and the end of the project. In general, two main formats are used to express the activity plan: a simple table (a simple table with columns for activities, sub-activities, tasks, timing and responsibility in a clear and readily understandable format) and the Gantt chart (a universal format for presenting activities in certain times frames, shows the dependence and sequence for each activity, see project management for more info. The resource plan should provide information on the means necessary to undertake the project. Cost categories are established at this stage in order to aggregate and summarise the cost information for budgeting. Budget: An itemised summary of an organisations expected income and expen ses over a specified period of time. Monitoring and evaluation: The basis for monitoring is set when the indicators for results are set. The project proposal should indicate: how and when the project management team will conduct activities to monitor the projects progress; which methods will be used to monitor and evaluate; and who will do the evaluation. Reporting: The schedule of project progress and financial report could be set in the project proposal. Often these obligations are determined by the standard requirements of the donor agency. The project report may be compiled in different versions, with regard to the audience they are targeting. Management and personnel: A brief description should be given of the project personnel, the individual roles each one has assumed, and the communication mechanisms that exist between them. All the additional information (such as CVs) should be attached to the annexes.

More Tips to Write a Successful Proposal (Adapted from AMERICAN RED CROSS 2006)

Plan ahead. Allow plenty of time for those involved to meet, discuss, and review progress in the grant writing process. Also, allow enough time to get the required signatures and to get the proposal to the funder. Make it a team effort. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to people in terms of developing the proposal. Be realistic in what you are proposing. What can reasonably be accomplished in the scope time and resources of this grant?

Be a learning organisation. Learn from your own and others experiences with the same donor! Read the reviews of other proposals that have been submitted to the same donor if is possible. Be factual and specific. Don't talk in generalities or in emotional terms. Be sure to substantiate all statements in your proposal, otherwise don't make them. Limit technical and organisational jargon. Use language anyone will understand no abbreviations, initials, or jargon. Don't assume the reader will understand your acronyms or abbreviations, and also make sure to include an acronyms page. Call the donor if you have questions. Realise that many others will be calling as well and don't wait until the last minute. Consider collaborating with other organisations. At a minimum, find out what other proposals are being submitted to the same donor at the same time. Clarify partners roles and responsibilities. When collaborating with partners, be sure you have determined who will be responsible for what. After the project is funded, it is not the time to discover there were differing opinions. Choose a format that is clear and easy to read. Readers are overloaded with proposals and appreciate legible, attractive proposals. Make sure tables are legible and easy to figure out. Keep within page limits. Stick to the specified number of pages. Extra pages or attachments may either be removed before the proposal is read, or may disqualify your entire proposal from the reading process. Be aware of donor priorities. Carefully match your project with an appropriate funding source. The primary difference between successful grant writing and inefficient proposal submission is the amount of time invested in the strategic identification of appropriate funders. Use action words when writing your proposal, such as achieve, engage, begin, compare, evaluate, exhibit, offer, lead, involve, organise, prepare, research, restore, reveal, support, demonstrate, define, implement, instruct, produce, validate, verify, test, recognise, use, etc.

Applicability Proposals are prepared to apply for external funds for the implementation of a project. Most grant applications ask for the same information, but they often have different formats. Some will have a list of questions. Others will ask for a narrative the story of your project. Advantages

A proposal is an essential marketing document that helps cultivate an initial professional relationship between an organisation and a donor over a project to be implemented A proposal facilitates appropriate words for the conception of an idea The proposal has a framework that establishes ideas formally for a clear understanding of the project for the donor Successful proposals mean financial aid for the organisation to grow for the replication of project and ideas


Planning problems: Although a good idea exists, yet when we try to plan it out extensively, we face many unexpected challenges There are often tight deadlines, and proposals may be rejected

References AMERICAN RED CROSS (Editor); INTERNATIONAL SERVICES (Editor) (2006): Integrated Planning Process, Project Design & Proposal Writing Guide. Washington: Red Cross. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2012]. PDF

Guide for Writing Project Proposals

This is a summary of how to write good, concise proposals for course projects. The focus of this summary is on programming or implementation projects, but the general ideas can be applied to most proposals. The recommended lengths of sections are given assuming a document length of 2 to 5 pages. Use appropriate scaling for longer proposal documents. Sample Outline The following is a sample outline for a project proposal. Note that all questions for a section may not apply to your proposal, and should be used as a general guide only. 1. Introduction (1 or 2 paragraphs) o Motivation Sentence o Summarize the problem (1 or 2 sentences) o Summarize the solution (1 or 2 sentences) o Describe format of rest of proposal (sections, etc.) 2. Motivation (1 to 3 paragraphs) o What is the history of the problem? o Why is this problem interesting? o When and why does the problem occur? o Is the problem already solved? What is done now? o Are there any similar systems or solutions to the one you propose? If so, reference and very briefly explain them. o Are there are possible improvements to current solutions? 3. Project Summary (1 paragraph) o What in general will this project achieve? (Do not delve into details or timelines.) 4. Project Details o Architecture and Environment (2-3 paragraphs + figures) Describe the project environment (software, hardware, languages, organizations, etc.) Diagrams and figures are useful here if appropriate.

What software, hardware, or tools will you use? o Implementation Issues and Challenges (2-3 paragraphs) What will be the most difficult issues and challenges in the implementation? How are you using or extending current tools/systems for your problem? What makes your project unique? o Deliverables (3-5 paragraphs - point-form may be used for some of the description) What will the project produce? (program, report, etc.) Describe in relative detail the features of each of the project's products. You may wish to separate deliverables into phases and indicate optional components given time. Emphasize what your project contributes or achieves! o Timeline (1 paragraph - point-form is suitable) Provide an estimated timeline of project deliverables and important dates. 5. Conclusion (1 paragraph) o Summarize the project including the problem, motivation, and proposed solution, and re-state important (planned) contributions. 6. References o List references used to compile proposal and references that will be used for project (if already known). 7. PROPOSAL WRITING: STAGES AND STRATEGIES WITH EXAMPLES 8. Preparing the Proposal: Stages 9. Worksheets for Proposal Preparation 10.Sample Time/Task Chart 11.Strategies & Writing Tips 12.Proposal Checklist 13.Federal Agency Review Procedures 14.Guides for a Successful Proposal (from NIH, HHS, & NEH) 15."Subjective variables effecting funding decisions by 16.federal research & development agencies: the grantsmanship" by Dr. Raymond A. Shapek 18.BA-23 form 19.Materials are adapted for use by CLA faculty from instructional materials prepared by the National Council of University Research Administrators and the Society for Research Administrators. 20.July 1995 21.PREPARING THE PROPOSAL: STAGES 22.A. Define the project (establish a working title). 23.B. Identify the agency and obtain guidelines and deadlines. 24.C. Write preliminary material (preproposal). 25.D. Conduct literature search. 26.E. Write first draft of full proposal. Consider the following parts: 27.1. Introduction (Research history, pilot project, literature review, the institution -- boiler plate) Max. 10%of full proposal.

28.2. Problem Statement 29.3. Objectives Min. 50%of full proposal 30.4. Methodology 31.5. Evaluation ( Max. 10%, if required) 32.6. Dissemination (eg. where material might be submitted for 33.publication) 34.7. Future Funding (if required by project) 35.8. Budget 36.9. Appendices 37.10. Abstract or Project Summary 38.11. Curriculum Vitae 39.Not all of these parts will be required by every proposal, but most of them are. Individual agencies will have different forms or requirements. 40.PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES AND WRITING TIPS 41.1. Use outline formats and listings whenever possible to break up narrative texts. 42.2. Use visuals to enhance and explain abstract concepts and relationships. (Do not overuse.) 43.3. Don't overkill a point. State it, support it, and move on to the next point. 44.4. Use forecasting and internal summaries to help the reader know where they are and where they are going. 45.5. Be generous with transitions as they will help the reader to know where they have been and where they are going. 46.6. Avoid equivocal language, such as: "might, could, ought, may, should, hope, will consider, it appears". 47.7. Don't avoid significant issues which apply to the project or potential problems which may be relevant to the project. It is better to take a stand and discuss a process for dealing with anticipated problems than to avoid these questions. 48.8. Avoid inflated rhetoric or impossible promises. 49.9. Avoid unsupported subjective arguments. 50.10. Do not assume that the reader will be intimately familiar with the subject. 51.11. Sequence the components of the proposal in a logical manner. 52.12. Carefully review, edit, and proofread -- again and again . Get others to help, as in another opinion in a medical manner. Avoid errors in grammar, spelling, math, and maintain a clean overall appearance. 53.13. A proposal should be readable, should not be missing pages, and should be written in the same consistent style throughout. 54.SOME WRITING TIPS David R. Krathwohl 56.Obvious errors in writing undermine other evidence of competence. If basic English is a weakness, that is beyond our scope. Ask a friend for help or hire an editor. There are, however, simple things each of us can do to improve our writing. 57.Assume the writer's task is that of capturing the attention of busy but committed people, holding it, and leading them to the important points in the proposal. Make their reading easier by organizing ideas clearly. Increase the impact of what they are reading by suitable direct and simple language.

58.Organizing 59.1) Make the structure of the proposal clear.Use a variety of "road signs" to guide the reading and to highlight important points. Foreshadow what is coming and indicate what has been. Techniques for doing this include headings, marginal notes, sectional introductions and prefaces, summaries and appendices, outlines, charts and diagrams. Overusing them however, clutters the visual field. Don't! 60.Look for large, black sections of text. Break them up with paragraphs and headings. If titles and subtitles are difficult to assign or do not sequence properly, refine the organization of the text. 61.Diagrams and arrows can help show the flow of ideas and highlight important points. Be careful of boxes. If possible, leave the sides open so the reader has visual entry. Some people read around closed boxes, intending to come back, but then forget. 62.2) Make the proposal easy to skim.Clear organization with distinct "road signs" eases skimming. In addition: 63.Set a topic sentence into every paragraph. If an important topic sentence does not begin the paragraph, show where it is embedded with underlining, italics or boldface type. 64.Use white space to set off and highlight significant items. 65.Set parallel structures and comparisons side by side, if possible, to make the correspondences self-evident. 66.Use white spaces to provide visual relief and to frame the text pleasingly. Do not go overboard, however. Keep within the page allowance, if there is one. 67.Skim the proposal yourself, or better yet, ask someone for whom the proposal is new to skim it. Assure that the "road signs" lead the reader to the correct meaning. 68.3) Make transitions smoothly.Do not let the reader get lost at junction points. Proper sequencing, clear reference to earlier discussion, and constructive reasoning from such references join up with selective repetition of key phrases and words to assure easy shifts of perspective between sections, paragraphs and even sentences. 69.Direct, Concise Language 70.4) Use active verbs and simple constructions.Active verbs bring lucidity to sentences. Complex, passive constructions diminish the intensity of the communication by leading the reader into grammatical bottlenecks, thus breaking his or her concentration. By striking out words and phrases and rearranging the remainder (changing only a few words), good technical editors markedly clarify meaning. Try it! 71.Change passives to actives. For example, "It has been reported by the NIH that the India proposal was found to be complex," becomes, in the active voice: "The NIH found the India proposal complex." 72.Find extra "to be" verbs and eliminate them. For example, "The argument of social workers was that welfare is necessary," can be reduced to: "Social workers argued welfare is necessary." Another example, "Reductions in excess verbiage were more noticeable than reductions in clarity," can become: "Verbiage declined more noticeably than clarity." 73.5) Simplify sentences.When a page seems one big, black, unbroken wall of words, skim it for periods. Find sentences that go on and on and break them up. But keep an interesting rhythm of long and short sentences; don't let the writing become too choppy, too staccato.

74.6) Use concrete, "picture" language.Except when familiarity with technical terms must be shown, substitute everyday words for the more abstruse (eg. "end" instead of "terminate"; "begin", not "institute"). 75.7) Convey liveliness and enthusiasm.This marks the proposer's commitment to the project. 76.These tips won't change a writer's style; by the time one is mature enough to be writing proposals, writing style is largely set. But posting a list like this where it will spark renewed effort can result in improvement. (Yes, it can! You should have seen this text's first drafts!) 77.Better still, make a list of personal weaknesses. Kathleen Dugdale's A Manual on Writing Research, 2nd Edition (Indiana University Bookstore, Bloomington, Ind., 1967) lists good suggestions for clear and effective writing plus eleven pages of troublesome words and constructions. Carolyn Mullins' Guide to Writing and Publishing in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (John A. Wiley and Sons, New York, N.Y., 1977) includes a useful chapter entitled "Revision of Text: Home Remedies for Prosaic Problems" with similar hints and lists. Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers by Jacques Barzun (Harper and Row, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1975) and similar books provide extensive suggestions. Find those that "strike home". Tape them to a corner of the desk or post them prominently on the wall where you can't avoid them. 78.David R. Krathwohl. How to Prepare a Research Proposal, 2nd Edition . 1977. 79.GUIDELINES FOR EDITING AND REVISING PROPOSALS 80.Consider the act of editing and revising a piece of writing as an act of quality control. If you (or your university representative) sign your name to it, you are asserting that the words and ideas are accurately expressed. Most technical people are not trained in editing and revising. Thus, they have no method or theory for undertaking revision of their proposals. Furthermore, you may do a better job of reading faculty proposals if you have a set of guidelines and a specific methodology to follow. 81.Here are some guidelines for editing and revising proposals (or any piece of professional communication): 82.1. Editing is the process of recognizing and identifying problems in the writing. Revising is the process of changing the items to conform with rules or to produce clearer, more effective writing. 83.2. Editing/revising can be done for mechanics, style, and structure. It is necessary to check mechanics. It is desirable (and sometimes necessary) to check style and structure. 84.3. Each type of editing/revising should be done independently. 85.4. It is not necessary to know the accurate grammatical term or concept to do effective editing and revising, but it is important to have adequate reference books for consultation. At minimum, there should be an up-to-date desk dictionary and a grammar handbook. (One possible source is Handbook of Technical Writing , Charles T. Brusaw, Gerald J. Alred, and Walter E. Oliu, St. Martin's Press, 1976.) 86.Editing/Revising for Mechanics : 87.This type of editing/revising is done word by word, with a concern for identifying individual items which do not conform with accepted grammatical or spelling rules. The goal of this process is uniformity and accuracy.In editing/revising for mechanics, look for the following: 88.1. Punctuation, both sufficient and accurate

89.2. Spelling 90.3. Pronoun agreement (case, number, person, type) 91.4. Verb agreement (tense, number) 92.5. Numbers (accuracy, word versus figure) 93.Editing/Revising for Style : 94.This type of editing/revising is done by reading phrases and sentences for clarity, tone, readability, consistency and other qualities which contribute to overall skillful writing. The goal of this process is smooth, clear, unambiguous papers which can be read and understood in one reading.In editing/revising for style, check for the following: 95.1. Word precision 96.2. Wordiness 97.3. Omitted words 98.4. Nominalization: use of nouns where a verb would be better 99.5. Technicality of words for audience 100. 6. Tone and level of formality of words -- consistency 101. 7. Redundancy 102. 8. Sentence patterns 103. 9. Sentence length 104. 10. Sentence openings 105. 11. Passives: use of passive where active would be better 106. Editing/Revising for Structure : 107. This type of editing/revising is done by reading through the entire document to discern a structure, its relevant parts, and their relationship to the whole. The goal of this process is coherence and a sense of direction in the entire paper.In editing/revising for structure, consider the following: 108. 1. An overall pattern of organization or structure 109. 2. Devices to indicate structure: headings, bullets, numbers, underlining, indentations, spacing, etc. 110. 3. Parts or divisions 111. 4. Clear transitions between parts 112. 5. Proportion of parts 113. 6. Relationship between importance of idea and structure 114. 7. Index and/or table of contents 115. PROPOSAL WRITING: TITLES 116. Some principles for developing effective titles: 117. 1. Try to formulate a title with 10 words or less. Some granting agencies specify a title with less than 60 letters or characters. 118. 2. Use as short but as descriptive a working title as possible, for your own early reference. Even a couple of words will do. 119. 3. Use a clear adjective-noun combination to identify the project with its generic class. 120. Example: "Visual Acuity in Infants", rather than "Studies on the Development of Objective Techniques for Monitoring the Development of Visual Acuity in Infants". 121. 4. If necessary to further distinguish the focus of the problem, use a subtitle. 122. Example:

123. "Visual Acuity in Infants: Objective Monitoring of its Development" 124. 5. Select words which accent the main category of the study and which help to describe its distinctive features. This is the traditional genus-species method of describing an item. 125. 6. Avoid such fillers and non-communicating devices such as 126. A Study of... An Exploratory Study to Determine... 127. An Examination of... A Method to Explore... 128. unless the focus of your project is the methodology itself, rather than the results of using the methodology. 129. 7. Study titles of other funded projects in your field, for several reasons. (Refer to Smithsonian Scientific Exchange of Information for details of currently funded research projects.) You will get some sense of the type of research currently funded and you will see how specifically other researchers describe their projects. You will also see the extent of precise technical language in your discipline. 130. 8. State the major idea as quickly as possible, with the modifiers following, rather than preceding, the main category. 131. 9. Avoid jargon or vogue words, even though you may use them daily in practicing your profession. Grants are permanent records, accessible to the public, if awarded by a government agency. You want to remain clear, unencumbered by dated or limited language. For example, "parametrize", "infrastructure", "heuristic", "impact" (as verb), "cost out", and "resource utilization" are all being used now in various disciplines. Like most jargon, these words have clear, simple substitutes which convey the same message with more economy and precision. 132. PROPOSAL WRITING: ABSTRACTS 133. Project Abstracts: Guidelines 134. Contents : While the abstract's contents should vary to include information most salient to each project, each abstract should say something about each of the following topics: 135. Subject:What is the project about? 136. Purposes and Significance:Why is the project being done? What is to be accomplished? Why is it important? 137. Activities:What will be done? What methods will be used? 138. Target Population:What special group is being studied or served? 139. Location:Where is the work being performed (if different from the location of the Principal Investigator's organization)? 140. Expected outcomes:What types of findings or results will be produced? To whom will these be useful? How will they advance knowledge or the state of the art in your profession? 141. Writing the Abstract : In general, abstracts should not exceed 200 words. They are intended to provide a general understanding of what the project is about, not detailed explanations. Each sentence should say something specific and worth knowing. 142. Allowing 200 words, with roughly 20 words per sentence, the abstract will have approximately 10 sentences. It needs no introductory or concluding sentence and it is generally one paragraph. It may, however, be divided into paragraphs if the topic allows. 143. The abstract should be written last, after the entire proposal is composed. It should be a very clear, direct statement of the project so that a reviewer can decide whether or not it fits the funding priorities of the agency and who to use as a technical reviewer. Often the

abstract is entered into computerized retrieval sources as the project description, so it is worth taking time to write it well. 144. PROPOSAL WRITING: ABSTRACTS 145. Types of Abstracts 146. In technical writing, including proposal writing, there are two basic types of abstracts which may be used: Descriptive and Summary . Most research proposals ask for a Summary abstract, while many journals require a Descriptive one. 147. Summary : The abstract summarizes the main findings or theories of the proposal or article. The reader can see the projected thrust of the article or project and understands the (potential) outcomes. 148. Example: Two principal themes are observed in software development, both aimed at improving the productivity of developing and maintaining new applications. The first is to provide increasingly rich system programming function in order to handle the details of managing hardware resources. The second is to provide application development facilities with logical structures and building blocks more closely aligned with the logic of the application itself. An additional challenge is to provide these in a way that will allow continued enhancement of existing software. 149. Descriptive : The abstract tells what is in the article or proposal, but it does not offer any conclusions or information about the findings. 150. Example: Enormous progress in electronic technology is accelerating the use of computers in everyday life. In this article trends in hardware, input-output technology, computer architecture, software, communications, and artificial intelligence are examined and complexity is identified as a limitation to further progress. Promising directions of research, which may extend the range of computer applications, are discussed . 151. (Additional Samples on page 21) 152. CHECKLIST FOR STATEMENT OF GOALS, OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES 153. 1. Are there one or more goals that reflect the need for the project and clearly show its purpose and direction? 154. 2. Is there at least one objective for each need or problem committed to in the needs/problem statement? 155. 3. Are the objectives realistic and appropriate? 156. 4. Are the objectives stated in terms of outcomes and not in terms of methods or activities? 157. 5. Do the objectives describe the population that will benefit? 158. 6. Do the objectives state the time by which they will be accomplished? 159. 7. Do the objectives describe the outcomes of the project in measurable terms? 160. 8. Do the activity statements show how the objective will be put into operation and accomplished? 161. AESTHETICS CHECKLIST 162. 1. Does the cover express something of the content of this proposal or the nature of your organization? 163. 2. Is there a Table of Contents? 164. 3. Is there a title page with all necessary background information describing this document?

165. 4. Is the summary no more than 3/4 of a page long? 166. 5. Does the organization of the proposal enhance the content and make it easy to find/avoid types of information? 167. 6. Are the margins consistent? 168. 7. Is the pagination accurate? 169. 8. Did you use a consistent type-style? 170. 9. Is the copying high-quality? 171. 10. Did you footnote narratively? 172. 11. Did you use color coding? 173. 12. Did you avoid unnecessary charts, tables, diagrams? 174. 13. Is the binding neat and attractive? 175. 14. Has it been reviewed for spelling/grammar/diction? 176. 15. Is the typing accurate? 177. 16. Are the section-headings clear and consistent in format? 178. TITLE PAGE CHECKLIST 179. 1. Is the information attractively formatted? 180. 2. Does the project/program title communicate meaningful information? 181. 3. Is the source of the funds indicated? 182. 4. Is the funding agency's address given? 183. 5. Is your address given? 184. 6. Is your phone number listed? 185. 7. Is an institutional contact person indicated? 186. 8. Is the title page dated? 187. 9. If required, is the page signed? 188. FEDERAL AGENCY REVIEW PROCEDURES 189. A. Proposal Review by Federal Agency 190. The proposal is received and numbered by the reception center or application control center of the federal agency. Within 30 days, a card should be received by the project director indicating the number that has been assigned to the proposal. If this card is not received in 30 days, contact the program manager. 191. Upon receiving the proposal, the program manager or staff member will conduct a preliminary review for the required components of the proposal. If these components are not included, the proposal will be sent back and the project director will be requested to supply the necessary information. 192. If the proposal is complete, the review process commences. The process can entail three separate review procedures and generally consists of at least two of the three methods presented below. 193. 1. External Panel Review . A copy of the proposal is sent to reviewers located around the United States who are experts in the discipline. If a proposal is in a specialized area, it is appropriate to submit a list of potential reviewers. The agency is under no obligation to use these; but in most cases, one, if not more, of the potential reviewers will be asked to review the proposal.

194. 2. Panel Review . The panel is a chosen group of experts within the discipline(s) who meet on a regular basis and rate proposals submitted to a particular program. The list of review panelists is public information and can be obtained from the agency. 195. The proposals are sent to the reviewers before the panel convenes. During the panel sessions, proposals are rated in rounds. In most cases a narrative review will accompany these point-rating systems. The program's staff has input during these sessions, but it is primarily concerning technical information. 196. 3. Program Manager and Agency Staff Review . This review is separate from the external mail review and the panel review. The program manager usually follows the comments and ratings of the reviewers, but a program manager has the authority to reject or approve a proposal based on his/her own judgment and knowledge of external factors. 197. A proposal may be withdrawn from the reviewing process by the project director at any time. If withdrawal is initiated by the project director, a letter of withdrawal must be written by the project director, and a copy sent to the appropriate institutional office. 198. In certain agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the second round of reviews is made by an advisory council which determines funding priorities. 199. FEDERAL AGENCY REVIEW PROCEDURES, cont. 200. B. Request for Reviews 201. The project director may request copies of the anonymous written reviews from most agencies. Inquire about the procedures of the granting agency for obtaining reviews. These reviews are useful for all project directors, even if the proposal is granted an award. The reviews can be used when conducting the research or when revising a proposal for resubmission at a later date. 202. C. Budget Negotiations 203. If a project director is contacted by the program manager to negotiate the budget and scope of the project, inform the institutional representative. Any significant changes in the budget or the scope of the project must be made through and approved by the institutional representative. 204. D. Award or Declination 205. The award letter or declination notice will be sent by mail. In general, agencies are restrained from making verbal announcements of awards or rejections. The award letter must be received prior to spending any funds. After receiving either an award or declination letter, notify the institutional representative. ORTTA will review the award and establish an account, assuming the appropriate submission procedures have been followed. 206. COMMON REJECTION REASONS 207. A few years ago NIH analyzed the reasons why over 700 research proposal applications were denied. Their findings are worth reviewing before preparing a proposal for submission to NIH or any other granting agency. 208. I. Nature of the Problem (18%) 209. A. It is doubtful that new or useful information will result from the project (14%). 210. B. The basic hypothesis is unsound (3.5%). 211. C. The proposed research is scientifically premature due to the present inadequacy of supporting knowledge (0.6%). 212. II. Approach to the Problem (38.9%)

213. A. The research plan is nebulous, diffuse and not presented in concrete detail (8.6%). 214. B. The planned research is not adequately controlled (3.7%). 215. C. Greater care in planning is needed (25.2%). 216. 1. The research plan has not been carefully designed (11.8%). 217. 2. The proposed methods will not yield accurate results (8.8%). 218. 3. The procedures to be used should be spelled out in more 219. detail (4.6%). 220. D. A more thorough statistical treatment is needed (0.7%). 221. E. The proposed tests require more individual subjects than the 222. number given (0.7%). 223. III. Competence of the Investigators (38.2%) 224. A. The applicants need to acquire greater familiarity with the 225. pertinent literature (7.2%). 226. B. The problems to be investigated are more complex than the 227. applicants realize (10.5%). 228. C. The applicants propose to enter an area of research for which 229. they are not adequately trained (12.8%). 230. D. The principal investigator intends to give actual responsibility 231. for the direction of a complex project to an inexperienced 232. co-investigator (0.9%). 233. E. The reviewers do not have sufficient confidence in the applicants 234. to approve the present application, largely based on the past 235. efforts of the applicants (6.8%). 236. IV. Conditions of the Research Environment (4.8%) 237. A. The investigators will be required to devote too much time to 238. teaching or other non-research duties (0.9%). 239. B. Better liaison is needed with colleagues in collateral 240. disciplines (0.4%). 241. C. Requested expansion on continuation of a currently supported 242. research project would result in failure to achieve the main 243. goal of the work (3.5%). 244. Based on the above analysis, a carefully designed, well reasoned proposal will overcome these common pitfalls. It also represents and important credibility statement about the investigator. 245. -----------------246. A comparable study was conducted in the Bureau of Occupational and Vocational Education. Based on a sample of 353 research grant applications, 247. -- 18% forgot to number the pages. 248. -- 73% forgot to include a table of contents. 249. -- 81% had no abstract. 250. -- 92% failed to provide resumes of proposed consultants. 251. -- 25% had no resume for the principal investigator. 252. -- 66% included no plan for project evaluation. 253. -- 17% forgot to identify the project director by name.

254. -- 20% failed to list the objectives of the project. 255. All proposals should be double-checked for these and similar weaknesses. A few minutes spent in careful proofreading can catch these problems before the reviewers do. 256. CONSIDERATIONS IN OBTAINING GRANT AND FOUNDATION DOLLARS 257. (Major reasons for being turned down) 258. 1. Must not ask for just operating funds. Funding agencies are looking for tangible signs of effective working concerns relative to major societal issues. 259. 2. Agencies must believe that their money will be making a significant difference in the areas of policy, procedures, or services as a result of the project. They are also interested in how their funds will change the responsiveness of the institution to the needs of its clients and the community. These issues must be addressed in all proposals. 260. 3. The funding organization will want evidence that the organizational board has shown an attempt to develop a leadership role directed toward a continuing process of adaptation to changing societal needs. 261. 4. The funding organization is concerned if you treat their funds in the same way that you do tax support. Their analysis is that they might as well pay more taxes and let you obtain more money from the government rather than receive their funds. The point is that you must do something unique with funds from non-governmental sources. 262. 5. Funding organizations will look hard at the evidence you present in your proposal for its integrity and application to the problems and issues at hand. There also needs to be a solid evaluation plan. The evaluation plan must not only monitor on-going activities but assess whether the funds are making significant differences regarding services. 263. 6. It is important to provide testimony from grant groups to be served in addition to your own analysis of their needs. A critical criteria along this line is that your project encourages clients to be less dependent on your agency rather than more dependent over time. The goal appears to be increased self-reliance rather than increased dependency upon institutional assistance. 264. HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR PREPARING PROPOSALS 265. FOR EXTRAMURAL SUPPORT 1 266. Recent conversations with program officers at the National Science Foundation and at the National Institute of Health produced ideas which may be generally useful in the preparation of applications for extramural support of research projects or scholarly activities: 267. How Will Your Proposal Be Judged? 268. In preparing a research proposal it is essential to bear in mind that it will be read and judged by astute reviewers who are experts in your specialty. Many other authors will be competing with you for the attention and favorable reaction of those reviewers. It may be useful to consider some of the kinds of questions that will arise in the minds of the reviewers as they evaluate your proposal and determine its merit ranking relative to other competing proposals. 269. 1. What exactly is the work to be accomplished ? The proposal should be as explicit on this point as is possible. 270. 2. What is the current state of our knowledge ? Where does one begin in working on the task to be accomplished? The author should assume that reviewers will be as well informed

on this point as he or she is. They will almost surely react unfavorably if the author appears to be ill-informed on this point. 271. 3. What will be the state of our knowledge after successful completion of the proposed work? To answer this question the proposal must communicate: 272. a. The criteria for determining when the objective has been attained. 273. b. The nature of the boundary conditions surrounding the state of our knowledge when work toward the objective began. 274. c. The criteria by which progress toward the goal may be measured. 275. 4. What are the methods of procedure for performing the proposed work? Is it clear that these methods are applicable to the proposed task? Are they independent and nonsequential? Is each method subject to independent verification? Is it possible to estimate the probability that the chosen methods will, in fact, yield the desired information? Have all the apparent methods been considered and from those, have the most promising been selected? Are the limitations of the chosen methods recognized? Does the author of this proposal have the expertise which the methodology requires? 276. 5. Is it possible to predict the consequences that will fall out from achievement of the stated objective? Are the positive, as well as negative, value functions of these consequences recognized? 277. 6. What are the potential benefits to be derived from achieving the stated goal? 278. Matchett, cont. 279. 7. What is the probability of successful achievement of the goal? Is "success" subject to an "all or none" effect or is it possible that the work could be partially successful? 280. 8. How much effort will be required to perform the proposed work? How much support of all types will be required to perform the work? Is the author's estimate of the required effort realistic? 281. 9. Taking into account the answers to questions 5, 6, 7, and 8, and considering the severe limitation on available funding, why should this project be supported ? 282. Why Are Proposals Turned Down? 283. One of the most helpful publications on this question is an article written by Ernest M. Allen, "Why Are Research Applications Disapproved?" ( Science 132:1532-1534, 1960). This study, even though twenty-one years old, is still contemporary and relevant. (Cf. Eaves, G.N. "Who Reads Your Project-Grant Application to the National Institutes of Health?" Fed. Proc.31:2-9, 1972) Table I of this article lists several classes of deficiencies which tend to recur in research applications which fail to receive approval. These deficiencies may not all be relevant to your particular work, but they can serve as a rough checklist of mistakes to avoid in preparing an application. They are: 284. 1. The problem is trivial or is unlikely to produce new or useful information. 285. 2. The proposed research is based on a hypothesis that rests on doubtful, unsound or insufficient evidence. 286. 3. The problem is more complex than the author realizes. 287. 4. The problem is local in significance, production, or control, or otherwise fails to fall clearly in the mainstream of the discipline. 288. 5. The problem is intellectually premature - only a pilot study.

289. 6. The problem as proposed is overly involved with too many elements required to be investigated simultaneously. 290. 7. The description of the research leaves the proposal nebulous, diffuse, and without a clear aim. 291. 8. The proposed methodology, including tests and procedures, are unsuited to the objective. May be beyond the competence of the investigator. 292. 9. The over-all design is not carefully thought out. 293. 10. Statistical aspects are not given sufficient consideration. 294. 11. Approach lacks imagination or originality. 295. Matchett, cont. 296. 12. Controls are either inadequately conceived or described. 297. 13. Proposed material for research is unsuited or difficult to obtain. 298. 14. The number of observations proposed is unsuitable. 299. 15. Available equipment is unsuited to the research. 300. 16. Investigator does not have experience or training for the proposed research. 301. 17. Investigator appears to be unfamiliar with pertinent literature or methods, or both. 302. 18. Investigator's previously published work in the field does not inspire confidence. 303. 19. Investigator relies too heavily, or insufficiently, on experienced associates. 304. 20. Investigator is spreading himself too thin. 305. 21. Investigator needs more contact with colleagues in this or related fields. 306. 22. Requirements for equipment, personnel or time are unrealistic. 307. 23. Other responsibilities prevent the investigator from devoting sufficient time to this project. 308. 24. Institutional setting unfavorable. 309. 25. Current research grants held are adequate in scope and funding to cover the proposed research. 310. In general, disapproval of the request results from a combination of these faults in the eyes of one or more of the reviewers. Probably the largest single group of faults would come under the heading of "Methodology", or in the investigator's ability to carry out the research in the manner proposed. 311. Trivial Errors That Can Shoot You Down 312. A memorandum from a major section of the National Science Foundation states "Many proposals received...present incomplete data which results in processing delays." The data most often missing were biographical material for the principal investigator; listing of all current research support including title, source, period and amount, and fraction of effort devoted to the work; list of all pending proposals; for renewal proposals, expenditures under current grant by major categories and a budget for the uncommitted balance; and a new budget for each year for which support is requested and a total budget page. The importance of including a 200 word abstract of the proposed work is also stressed. In other words, try to follow requested formats very closely. 313. Matchett, cont. 314. The Need For Peer Review 315. Perhaps the single most important factor in preparing a successful application is peer review prior to submission to the agency. The University requires administrative review by

the department chairperson and the administrative unit prior to submission. There is no University requirement for peer review, yet in the long run, it can be the most important of all. Such review is necessarily left to the investigator, since he or she is best able to identify reviewers with appropriate competence and interest. 316. What To Do If You Are Turned Down 317. If your proposal is not accepted by a sponsoring agency, one of the most important things you can do is to request evaluations and reviewer comments. Not only will these evaluations indicate the weak points of your project, but they will be invaluable in submission of future proposals. The success rate with most federal agencies is less than 25%. The best way to get your projects funded is to use the reviewer comments and apply again. 318. Other Suggestions 319. One way to keep current on topics of interest to sponsoring agencies is to volunteer to serve on review panels. Also, when considering a sabbatical or leave of absence, you may want to consider working for a federal agency closely allied to your research areas. This would also help you to know of current research emphases. 320. Excerpts From an HHS Guide for Evaluation of RFP's 321. These excerpts give specific points for the reviewers to look for. It should be helpful to anyone seeking external support of projects. 322. Scope of Work 323. This section of the proposal should be the most comprehensive because it reveals the offeror's knowledge of the field and contains the suggested approach for performing the requirements of the evaluation study. In most instances, the heaviest weight will be given to this section of the proposal. 324. Has the offeror demonstrated adequate knowledge about the background, operations, and status of the program to be evaluated? 325. Has the offeror presented an approach which will achieve the stated objectives of the RFP? 326. Is the proposed approach supported with justification of why it should achieve the evaluation objectives? 327. Do you think the suggested approach will work? 328. Has the offeror introduced unanticipated events which may result in a project overrun or an expanded scope of work? 329. Has a specific management plan by task for period of performance been included? 330. Has the offeror demonstrated efficient use of time and resources, especially if special services such as computer time are required for a short duration of the study? 331. Has the offeror been realistic in the amount of time allotted for the performance of each task? 332. Has the offeror demonstrated competence in a highly specialized area, such as statistical analysis, which is required for the evaluation study? 333. Has the offeror allowed for slippage in the preparation of questionnaires, test instruments, test administration, data process, etc.? 334. If appropriate, have site visits been adequately provided for throughout the period of performance? 335. Are reports keyed to major milestones/events of the study?

336. If appropriate, has the offeror provided for use of community resources? 337. If data collection is required for a comparative study, has the offeror allowed for an adequate sample of an experimental or control group? 338. Does the offeror specify the products which will result from the evaluation study? 339. Has the offeror allowed for OMB clearance on the development of measurement instruments? 340. HHS Guide , cont. 341. Has the offeror demonstrated knowledge about evaluation techniques and procedures? 342. If appropriate, has the offeror indicated that an adequate representative of all levels of program personnel will be included in the evaluation? 343. These questions are not all inclusive and items specifically related to the proposed study should be added. 344. Personnel 345. Proposed personnel should be examined critically because they are critical to the successful completion of a study. The capabilities, experience, and training of the personnel relative to their specific assignment on the study should be explicitly reviewed. If the RFP also requested references for projects on which personnel worked, then these references should be at least spot-checked. 346. Is it clear to which tasks in the study specific personnel will be assigned and for what length of time? 347. Are the personnel assigned to specific tasks qualified by training and experience to successfully perform the tasks? 348. Has enough information been provided about personnel to allow adequate judgments to be made about their proposed roles in the study? 349. Is the apportionment of personnel level and time to specific tasks realistic? 350. What assurances are made concerning the availability of personnel proposed? Was a contingency plan requested if certain personnel become unavailable? 351. Have enough time and personnel been included to provide adequate administrative management of the study? 352. Are consultants to be utilized; if so, to what extent? Is the proposed use appropriate? 353. Is the author of the proposal one of the key personnel? 354. Does the success of the project depend, to a large degree, upon personnel not directly associated with the prospective firm? 355. Facilities 356. On-site availability of special facilities or easy access of required facilities must be indicated in the proposal. The source of facilities and equipment necessary for successful completion of the study, but which is not on site, should be stated, as well as the expected provision for use. 357. Are the facilities and equipment needed for successful completion of the study specified in the proposal? 358. How does the offeror intend to access facilities not at the contractor's site? 359. HHS Guide , cont. 360. Does the use of facilities outside of the contractor's firm require a subcontract?

361. If subcontracting is necessary, is the proposed subcontractor specifically mentioned, along with an explanation of its required qualification? 362. Is the planned use of facilities such as printing, data processing, etc., realistic in terms of the planned evaluation? 363. Is a realistic time schedule planned if some services are to be performed at facilities located apart from the contractor? 364. If computer services are required, are there controls built into the processing so corrective action can be taken at intermittent points if necessary? 365. Past Performance 366. An organization's "track record" supplies some insight into the firm's capability to perform activities within specialized areas. Reference to past experience establishes a frame of reference from which to judge organizational capability. However, it can also be misleading in terms of the requirements of a study. Keep this in mind during the evaluation process. Glossy, vaguely worded statements with little support provide meaningless information. If the proposer has been asked to provide references regarding work performance, then the contracting officer should spot-check those given. 367. Do the references to past experience include activities specifically related to the requirements of the proposed study? 368. What reputation does the firm hold in the area of the proposed study? 369. Has the proposer been honored by professional societies because of their performance in a specific professional area? 370. Are the statements of past performance worded in a meaningful way so you can identify what work
was actually performed? 371. Has the offeror bid for a contract in an area where the performance has not yet been demonstrated? 372. One or more meetings of the evaluation panel is held to determine the acceptability, unacceptability, or potential acceptability of the technical proposals. Each proposal must receive an absolute, rather than a relative, judgment; a pre-determined cut-off score must not be used. A proposal is considered acceptable if, without qualification or revision, the panel judges that the offeror can perform the work competently. An unacceptable proposal might be made acceptable with the submission of clarifying data and therefore be included in the zone of consideration. This may delay the final award for a few weeks. An unacceptable proposal requiring major revision would not receive a rating worthy of selection for the competitive zone. 373. HHS Guide , cont. 374. The contract file must contain documentation of who and why certain decisions were made in the evaluation of proposals. The responsibility for this justification rests with the technical representatives on the panel. These representatives rate and rank each proposal on a separate score sheet, then state why those ratings and rankings were given. This is especially critical if a debriefing is requested by contractors who want an explanation of their proposal's deficiencies. Rarely will contractors pursue this issue beyond the normal debriefing unless they feel unfairly treated, discriminated against, etc. Evaluations of proposals should be carefully thought out and recorded if the unhappy occasion should require presentation of this evidence in court. 375. Cost Information 376. (Note: The evaluation panel reviews cost information after considering the technical aspects of the proposals. The responsibility for evaluation of costs often rests primarily with the contracting officer, who relies on input from other members of the evaluation panel.) 377. Is the overall cost within the rate of your (the contracting agency's) budget? 378. What is the relationship between the cost figures and equivalent items in the technical proposal?

379. Are the personnel costs reasonable according to the tasks to be performed? 380. Are the appropriate personnel assigned to perform the appropriate tasks? 381. Have expenditures been set aside for subcontracting requirements such as data processing? 382. If a large-scale questionnaire must be mailed, has an adequate sum been set aside for postage? 383. Have costs for development of instruments, purchase of materials, such as scoring sheets, etc., been included? 384. Does the travel seem reasonable when compared to the tasks to be accomplished? 385. If consultants or experts are included, is their daily rate reasonable and within the proper financial range for your agency? Is the proposed time reasonable? 386. If appropriate, have costs for local personnel been included? 387. 1 Reproduced with permission of William H. Matchett The 10 Don'ts of Writing a Winning Business Proposal by Elizabeth Henry and Jeff Scurry Note From RainToday: As part one of a two-part series on proposal writing, this piece covers some essential guidlines that will help anyone draft better proposals. Learn the first 5 of 10"Don'ts" here.

Businesses cannot survive without winning proposals. The funny things is, even the most successful businesses have more of their proposals rejected than accepted. To net more clients for your business, regardless of its industry, you should avoid the following items in order to write more winning business proposals. Don't #1: Don't Start With An Old Proposal When a request for a proposal (RFP) hits the desk or inbox, proposal writers first tend to find a previous proposal that fits the bill. Typically, there isn't a proposal that fits the bill and, if there is, it won't be found easily. Proposal writers waste many hours trying to locate these proposals when they could instead use that time to begin writing. For this reason, and others, don't start your next proposal with an old proposal. Other reasons include:

The perfect proposal (for your needs) doesn't exist You should avoid cutting and pasting A cloned proposal cannot show that you truly understand the client's needs

Don't #2: Don't Proceed Without Doing A GoNo-Go Evaluation

The most important aspect of beginning proposal work is the go-no-go analysis. "Do you want this work?" "Can you win this work?" "Can you perform this work?" These are the questions you should ask. Using a decision tree like the one below can help you through the process.

(Click Here To View A Larger Image) Don't #3: Don't Create A Proposal Without A Value Proposition Based on what you know so far, compare the value you have to offer to the prospect to the value they will receive from the competition or from not acting at all? If you don't show value, winning is a game of chance. You must establish superior value based on technical, contractual, managerial, qualitative, or service-oriented differentiators, or the prospect will select based on price. Since you're not always the low cost provider, you must show your value. What is a value proposition?

A clear statement of the tangible results or benefits a prospect will get from your services The answer to a prospect's "so what" It's about the client

Some characteristics of a good value proposition:

Concise and to the point Meaningful to the prospect

Clear benefits (not focused on the features) Paints an accurate picture Answers the "so what"

To illustrate the final bullet, consider the following example: "Our methodology is designed to deliver a consistent standard of service, using the same software systems, to clients and their subsidiary operations no matter where they operate..." So what? What we could say is: "To serve your global needs, our methodology uses the same software system worldwide and delivers a consistent standard of service for you and your subsidiary operations... This means you and your team will not need to reconcile documentation from a patchwork of different tools, and you will not get repeated requests for the same information." Here's the process for developing value propositions:

Craft value propositions for service offerings Develop initial value propositions for a specific prospect Refine value propositions using what you learned at scoping meetings

Don't #4: Don't Use An Old Executive Summary Your proposals can become better, more effective and win you more business if you focus on the executive summary. The executive summary is the single most important part of any proposal. Why? Because it's the only part that is likely to be read by everybody involved in the final decision. In fact, it's the only part of the proposal that some decision makers will read at all! However, calling it an executive summary is somewhat misleading--misleading because it doesn't really summarize anything. Rather, it is, or should be anyway, a business overview that only includes the content that matters


well-prepared, attractive written business plan is an essential document in the quest for either debt or equity financing, to provide a benchmark against which to compare actual company performance, and to refine strategies and develop ideas on how the business should be conducted. Although the written business plan of a start-up venture must be tailored to the particular business and industry, the essential items in a written business plan include the following:

COVER PAGE The cover page should include the following: A. B. C. D. E. F. Company Name Logo Contact Person Address and Phone Number Date and State of Incorporation Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Statement

TABLE OF CONTENTS AND TABLE OF APPENDICES The table of contents and table of appendices should refer the reader to the sections and subsections of the business plan. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The executive summary is the first part of the business plan to be read by potential lenders and investors. In the case of a poorly written executive summary, the executive summary is often the only part of the business plan that gets read. Accordingly, you should take the time necessary to prepare a dynamic executive summary that describes the business, identifies the stage of the company and its strategic direction, describes the company's market and marketing plan, briefly discusses the background of management, and states the company's revenue and profit expectations. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. BODY OF BUSINESS PLAN The body of the business plan should include detailed discussions of the following subjects: I. Background and Purpose A. B. C. D. History - a brief overview of the history of the company Current Status of Company The Product or Service Concept Business Objectives

II. Market Analysis A. B. C. D. Overall Industry or Market Specific Market Segment Competition Sales Forecasts

III. Product or Service Development

A. B. C. D. E.

Research and Development Production Requirements and Process Proprietary Features and Protections Thereof Quality Assurance Measures Contingency Plans

IV. Marketing A. Survey Results B. Marketing Strategy C. Contingency Plans V. Financial Data A. B. C. D. E. F. G. Current Financial Position Accounts Payable Accounts Receivable Cost Control Measures Break-Even Analysis Financial Ratios Financial Projections

VI. Organization Structure and Management A. Key Personnel -- describe the qualifications and responsibilities of management. The quality of management is often the key factor in obtaining debt or equity funding. B. Other Personnel C. Directors and Advisors D. Professional Advisors. E. Key Future Personnel F. Forecasted Labor Force VII. Ownership A. Business Structure B. Current Capitalization C. Forecasted Capitalization -- how much money will be sought, the form of the proposed investment, how the funds will be used, and the percentage of ownership to be provided in exchange for the investment D. Exit Strategy -- how and when investors will be able to get their money out of the business E. Royalty or Licensing Arrangements VIII. Risk Factors Describe the key risks facing the company, including risks presented by:

A. Cost Overruns B. Failure to Meet Production Deadlines C. Problems with Labor, Suppliers, or Distributors D. Sales Projections not Met E. Unforeseen Industry Trends F. Competition G. Unforeseen Economic, Social, or Political Developments H. Technological Developments I. Inadequate Capital J. Business Cycles K. Other Risks IX. Conclusion A. Summary B. Timetable for Funding and Future Developments APPENDICES A. Photograph of Product or Service B. Sales and Profitability Objectives C. Market Surveys D. Production Flowchart E. Marketing Materials F. Advertisements G. Press Releases H. Historical Financial Statements I. Table of Current Profit and Loss Statement J. Projected Profit and Loss Statement K. Cashflow Projections L. Balance Sheet M. Projected Balance Sheet N. Asset Acquisition Schedule O. Break-Even Statement P. Key Contracts

What is A Business Proposal?

Unlike a business plan, which is written to run your company and raise capital, a business proposal is an unsolicited or solicited bid for business. There are two types of business proposal that can help you gain more business to grow your company. Solicited Business Proposal:

A corporation or government body is seeking a business to fulfill a project or complete a task and thereby, allows companies to bid for the project. An open bid is placed on the market with other companies competing for an interview spot. The winning candidate is offered the project. Unsolicited Business Proposal: At some point, your small business may want to do business with a larger company or forge a joint venture. A well-written business proposal can win the hearts and minds of your target audience. If you need to write a business proposal to win a bid, you will need to know the key winning elements of a successful proposal. Make sure your proposal stands out in the stack of competitor proposals by including the following 5 elements: 5 Key Elements of Winning Business Proposals

Solutions: After you have written a lead paragraph on the company's needs and problems, follow up with a solid presentation of how your business can provide solutions. The key here is to promise solutions you can deliver. Benefits: All winning business proposals, clearly outline for the company the benefits to be gained from doing business with you. If your small business can offer complete confidentiality and meet tight deadlines state it in your benefits section. Credibility: This is often the overlooked portion of a business proposal but all winning proposals glow with credibility. If you have worked with clients in the same field or have an award-winning business, then third-party endorsements will build credibility. Samples: A business proposal with samples and evidence of your ability to deliver is vital to gaining the winning bid. A small sample of your work can show your ability to do the job. Targeted: A winning business proposal is all about communication. Speak in a language spoken by your intended audience. If the proposal evaluators are from an engineering background or financial department use the appropriate jargon.

Ultimately, the best business proposal is none. When your company is well-positioned and unique in the marketplace then it is only you who can meet the needs of the company requesting the bids. If a retail craft chain is looking for a web design firm and your company specializes in web creation for the crafts industry you might be able to circumvent the proposal process. In the end, you may not win all bids, but will win business that best matches your company to the prospective business. A win-win for all parties involved. More Business Proposal Tips

Business Plan Template

Executive Summary
OWNERS AUTHORS ADDRESS PHONE EMAIL FAX This is where you succinctly sell your company. Like your two-minute elevator pitch, this is the one to two pages where you engage the reader and potential investor. What sector are you in? What products/services do you provide? Who is your target audience? What does the future of your industry look like? How is your company scaleable? What are the next steps? Who are the owners of your company? Backgrounds? Experience in sector/business? What motivated you to start your company? Why now? When it comes down to it, the team matters just as much as the product or service, if not more so. Investors want to know your motivation and dedication to your product. This is where you put it. Next, summarize The Ask: How much money are you asking for? How are you going to use that money? How it will make your business profitable? (Which essentially gets into how and when you will pay it back)

Marketing Proposal Template

Cover Letter
::ClientPrimaryContactName:: ::ClientCompany:: ::ClientCompanyAddress::

Dear ::ClientPrimaryContactName::, Marketing a new product or service in todays highly competitive environment can be a challenge to any new or old business. The volatile condition of the market and a highly informed and spoiled for choice customer base in the RELEVANT sector, make it a specialized task to position your brand for both maximum visibility and enhanced respect among the customers. We are a group of marketing professionals providing quality services to businesses in your area/ your sector for the past number of years. We provide custom made marketing strategies and services for your brand in accordance with the vision of your company and its goals. The results are an enhanced market presence for your brand and a significant return on your investment as our growing list of satisfied clients will bear witness. It would be our honor and pleasure to work with your prestigious company in marketing your products to a wider customer base. An upcoming EVENT at ----- provides a significant marketing opportunity for the BRANDS OF YOUR SECTOR. Given a chance, we can prove our value for your prestigious company by producing and delivering a specific marketing plan aiming to reach the highly influential customers expected to attend the event. Please take a moment to go through our attached business proposal to find out the value our collaboration promises to bring to your business. Looking forward to hear from you soon, Sincerely, ::SenderName:: ::SenderEmail:: ::SenderCompany:: ::SenderCompanyPhone:: ::SenderWebsite::

Business proposal format start with a winning structure

A successful business proposal format begins with a compelling framework a structure for your proposal that sells your ideas and solutions. This section introduces the Winning proposal framework a structure that will maximize the success of every proposal you write in future. Lets Talk Proposals Too many people get caught up in thinking too much about the specifics of different businesses proposal formats forgetting the purpose of their proposals to establish a dialogue with their prospect readers. If, instead of writing a proposal, you were having a one-on-one conversation with your client, trying to sell your superior solution to their requirements, you would very likely make the points outlined in this greatly condensed conversation: We understand your requirement inside out, and we have designed a great solution that meets every part of that requirement. Heres why that solution will have so much value to your organization. We will deliver all of these benefits for a cost of justOh, and by the way, I have detailed information to prove every one of the claims I just made here it is The most effective business proposal format establishes precisely this dialogue with their readers, and thats why the Winning proposal structure is based upon it. Each element of this conversation suggests a section essential to every business proposal:

We understand your requirements inside out The first thing you absolutely must establish for your client is that you understand their requirements inside out; that you have as detailed an appreciation of what they are trying to achieve as they do themselves (perhaps even better than they do themselves). This is essential. Many proposal writers undervalue the persuasive power of re-stating their own understanding of the client requirement doing an exemplary job of outlining the requirement in your proposals can very often be the difference between winning and losing the target business. Dale Carnegie said that sales success depends upon getting them saying yes, yes immediately. How better to do so than confirm the requirements they outlined to you? The logical first section in the winning business proposal format does, therefore, detail the client requirement, and for discussion purposes we will call this section: The Requirement.

We have designed a great solution to those requirements Your first section sets out to convince your client that you have a good understanding of what they are trying to achieve, of their requirements. You now have their attention, so continue your conversation by describing the way in which you can address these requirements outline your

solution. This is the key section of your proposal. You are, after all, writing the proposal to sell this solution. So, your second proposal section will be a staple in any proposal format and should be called something like The Proposed Solution. Heres why that solution will have so much value to your organization The client will certainly want to know just what is in your solution for them, what benefits will accrue to them from selection of your solution over that of your competitors.Your business proposal format must support you in emphasizing the particular strengths of your solution, and minimize any weaknesses in your solution. At the same time you will also need to highlight any particular weaknesses in likely competitors solutions, whilst, at the same time, minimising th e importance of any strengths they might be able to demonstrate.This is your third proposal section: Benefits of the Proposed Solution. We will deliver all of these benefits for a cost of just Having established that you understand the requirement, that you have a good solution to these requirements, and that your solution will be of particular benefit to your client, your client is certainly going to want to know how much this solutions is going to cost. Your fourth section will detail the costs associated with your proposed solution, and for discussion purposes we will name it: Costs

I have detailed information to prove every one of the claims I just made Up to this point you have focused on communicating just one basic message we have the best possible solution to your requirements. To communicate this message most effectively you should confine yourself to the main points that support this contention, staying away from excessive detail that might distract the client, drawing their attention off on a tangent. In the sections mentioned above include only as much detail as is necessary to support the main message you are trying to communicate with each of them. Many business proposal formats take an approach of cramming everything into the main body of the proposal making the proposal overly heavy and difficult to read. To be effective all of the detailed technical material such as technical specifications, product descriptions, supporting research and so on, should be confined to appendices at the back of your proposal, with your main text making frequent reference to the presence of this supporting material in theAppendices section of your proposal.

The Winning Framework for Your Proposals

So, by establishing this simple Requirements-Solution-Benefits-Costs-Proof dialogue with your client in your proposals, you end up with a basic business proposal format for all of your proposals that will always contain at least five sections. The figure below graphically illustrates this basic proposal model that you can now use as the basis of all of your future proposals. Besides the self-explanatory Title Page & Table of Contents this figure also contains an additional section that has not yet been discussed the Executive Summary.

The Executive Summary The Executive Summary is a section that provides an overview of the total content of your proposal. It is designed for those senior executives in your client organisation who do not have time to consider any more than the highlights of your proposal. It is also designed to be a general introduction for other readers who will wish to read your proposal in its entirety, orienting them on how your proposal is laid out and preparing them for the main points which your proposal will present. Think of your Executive Summary as the equivalent of what you find on the jackets of novels a quick-to-read summary that provides the reader with what they need to buy your story. Build your Executive Summary using the Winning structure with a few lines summarising each of your completed main sections. Think of the main points you want each proposal section to make and ensure that these are briefly covered in this summary. After the Solution section the Executive Summary is arguably the most important section of any proposal it truly crowns your business proposal format as it may well be the only section that some key readers will bother to read. So invest the time in getting it right.

Adapt and Thrive Undoubtedly some of your business proposals will not be of a size that allows you to make your case adequately in just six sections. Similarly, some of your proposals will not be longer than a single letter and you may think at first glance that this winning business proposal format could be overkill. Not so. Regardless how large or small your planned business proposal you can very effectively employ the basic Executive Summary-Requirements-Solution-Benefits-Costs-Appendices structure. A one-page letter proposal should still use the same structure, with brief paragraphs substituting for the sections discussed above. Similarly, larger proposals may demand many more sections with entirely different titles. The key is to ensure that, however large or small your proposal, you successfully establishes this dialogue flow get your readers saying yes, yes throughout. I cant promise that adopting this winning business proposal format will result in eliminating your hate of proposal writing but I can guarantee that youll get a vastly higher hit rate for your hateful labours. - See more at:

Write a Winning Business Plan

Business Planning
What are the Benefits?
Every wholesale, retail, and/or service business can benefit from the preparation of a carefully written business plan. There are two main purposes for writing that plan. There is an additional benefit if you do business internationally.
1. Your business plan will serve as your guide during the lifetime of your operation. It is the blueprint of your business and will provide you with the tools to analyze your operation and implement changes that will increase your sales and, ultimately, your profitability. A business plan is a requirement if you are planning to seek financing. It will provide potential lenders or investors with detailed information on all aspects of your company's past and current operations and provide future projections. If you do business internationally, a business plan provides a standard means of evaluating your products' business potential in a foreign marketplace.

2. 3.

Business Plan Outline

The following pages provide a suggested outline of the material to be included in your business plan. Your final plan may vary according to your specific needs or individual requirements of your lender or investor.
A. B. C. D. E.

Cover Sheet (Serves as the title page of your business plan)

Name, address, and phone number of the company. Name, title, address, phone number of owners/corporate officers. Month and year your plan was prepared. Name of preparer. Copy number of the plan.


Table of Contents (Quick reference to major topics covered in your plan) Executive Summary

The executive summary is the abstract of your business plan. It summarizes the content and purpose of your finished plan, covering all of the key points. This is a key section if you are seeking funding.
A. B. C.
Your Company (introductory overview - who, what, where it is and why it is unique) Market Opportunity (opportunities your company is positioned to take advantage of) Capital Requirements, Breakdown of Uses of Funds, Repayment of Loan or Benefits to Investors. (include only if you are seeking funding)

D. Mission Statement E. Management (who they are and strengths each one brings to the company) F. Competitors (direct and indirect); list their strengths and weaknesses. G. Your Company's Competitive Advantages H. Financial Projections (summary of Income Statement Projections for next 3 years)

Note: Write the executive summary after you have completed your business plan. It is a summary.
IV. Part I: The Organizational Plan

What is included? This section should include a "summary description of your business" statement followed by information on the "administrative" end of your company.

Summary Description of the Business

In a paragraph or two give a broad overview of the nature of your business, telling when and why the company was formed. Then complete the summary by briefly addressing:

mission (projecting short- and long-term goals) business model (describe your company's model and why it is unique to your industry) strategy (give an overview of the strategy, focusing on short- and long-term objectives) strategic relationships (tell about any existing strategic relationships) SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that your company will face, both internal and external)


Products or Services

If you are the manufacturer and/or wholesale distributor of a product: Describe your products. Tell briefly about your manufacturing process. Include information on suppliers and availability of materials. If you are a retailer and/or an e-tailer: Describe the products you sell. Include information about your sources and handling of inventory and fulfillment.


If you provide a service: Describe your services List future products or services you plan to provide.

Administrative Plan

Intellectual Property

diagrams, etc.

Address Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents Back up in Supporting Documents with registrations, photos,


Supporting Documents.

Describe your projected or current location. Project costs associated with the location. Include legal agreements, utilities forecasts, etc. in

Note: If location is important to marketing, cover in Part II - The Marketing Plan.

Legal Structure

your company.

Describe your legal structure and why it is advantageous for List owners and/or corporate officers describing strengths

(include resumes).



List the people who are (or will be) running the business. Describe their responsibilities and abilities. Project their salaries. (Include resumes in Supporting Documents)

Accounting & Legal

How many employees will you have in what positions? What are the necessary qualifications? How many hours will they work and at what wage? Project future needs for adding employees.

Accounting: What system will you set up for daily accounting? Who will you use for a tax accountant? Who will be responsible for periodic financial statement analysis?
Law' in mind.) Legal: Who will you retain for an attorney? (Keep 'Murphy's


Life & Health)

What kinds of insurance will you carry? (Property & Liability, What will it cost and who will you use for a carrier?


information (online and off).

Address security in terms of inventory control and theft of Project related costs.


Part II: The Marketing Plan

What is a marketing plan? The Marketing Plan defines all of the components of your marketing strategy. You will address the details of your market analysis, sales, advertising, and public relations campaigns. The Plan should also integrate traditional (offline) programs with new media (online) strategies.

A. B.

Overview and Goals of Your Marketing Strategy Market Analysis

Target Market (identify with demographics, psychographics, and niche market specifics) Competition (describe major competitors assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Market Trends (identify industry trends and customer trends) Market Research (describe methods of research, database analysis, and results summary)


Marketing Strategy

General Description (budget % allocations on- and off-line with expected ROIs) Method of Sales and Distribution (stores, offices, kiosks, catalogs, d/mail, website) Packaging (quality considerations and packaging) Pricing (price strategy and competitive position Branding Database Marketing (Personalization) Sales Strategies (direct sales, direct mail, email, affiliate, reciprocal, and viral marketing) Sales Incentives/Promotions (samples, coupons, online promo, add-ons, rebates, etc.) Advertising Strategies (traditional, web/new media, long-term sponsorships) Public Relations (online presence, events, press releases, interviews) Networking (memberships and leadership positions)


Customer Service

Description of Customer Service Activities Expected Outcomes of Achieving Excellence


Implementation of Marketing Strategy

In-House Responsibilities Out-Sourced Functions (advertising, public relations, marketing firms, ad networks, etc.)


Assessment of Marketing Effectiveness*

* To be used by existing companies after making periodic evaluations

VI. Part III: Financial Documents

The quantitative part of your business plan. This section of the business plan is the quantitative interpretation of everything you stated in the organizational and marketing plans. Do not do this part of your plan until you have finished those two sections. Financial documents are the records used to show past, current, and projected finances. The following are the major documents you will want to include in your Business Plan. The work is much easier if they are done in the order presented because they build on each other, utilizing information from the ones previously developed.

Summary of Financial Needs (needed only if you are seeking financing)

This is an outline giving the following information:

1. 2.
Why you are applying for financing How Much capital you need


Loan Fund Dispersal Statement (needed only if you are seeking financing)

You should:
1. 2. C.
Tell How you intend to disperse the loan funds. Back Up your statement with supporting data.

Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement (Budget)

This document projects what your Business Plan means in terms of dollars. It shows cash inflow and outflow over a period of time and is used for internal planning. It is of prime interest to the lender and shows how you intend to repay your loan. Cash flow statements show both how much and when cash must flow in and out of your business.

Three-Year Income Projection

A Pro Forma Income P&L (Income) Statement showing projections for your company for the next three years. Use the revenue and expense totals from the Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement for the 1st year's figures and project for the next two years according to expected economic and industry trends.

Projected Balance Sheet

Projection of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of your company at end of next fiscal year.

Break-Even Analysis

The break-even point is the point at which a company's expenses exactly match the sales or service volume. It can be expressed in: (1) Total dollars or revenue exactly offset by total expenses -or- (2) Total units of production (cost of which exactly equals the income derived by their sales). This analysis can be done either mathematically or graphically. Revenue and expense figures are drawn from the three-year income projection. Note: The following (G-J) are Actual Performance (Historical) Statements. They reflect the activity of your business in the past.

If your business is new and has not yet begun operations: the financial section will end here and you will add a Personal Financial History. If yours is an established business: you will include the following actual performance statements.

G. Profit & Loss Statement (Income Statement)

Shows your business financial activity over a period of time (monthly, annually). It is a moving picture showing what has happened in your business and is an excellent tool for assessing your business. Your ledger is closed and balanced and the revenue and expense totals transferred to this statement.
H. Balance Sheet

Shows the condition of the business as of a fixed date. It is a picture of your firm's financial condition at a particular moment and will show you whether your financial position is strong or weak. It is usually done at the close of an accounting period. Contains: (1) Assets, (2) Liabilities and (3) Net Worth.
I. Financial Statement Analysis

In this section you will use your income statements and balance sheets to develop a study of relationships and comparisons of: (1) Items in a single year's financial statement, (2) comparative financial statements for a period of time, or (3) your statements with those of other businesses. Measures are expressed as ratios or percentages that can be used to compare your business with industry standards. If you are seeking a lender or investor, ratio analysis as compared to industry standards will be especially critical in determining whether or not the loan or venture funds are justified.

margin) Liquidity Analysis (net working capital, current ratio, quick ratio) Profitability Analysis (gross profit margin, operating profit margin, net profit Debt Ratios (debt to assets, debt to equity) Measures of Investment (return on investment) Vertical financial statement analysis (shows relationship of components in a

single financial statement)

Horizontal financial statement analysis (percentage analysis of the increases and decreases in the items on comparative financial statement)

J. Business Financial History

This is a summary of financial information about your company from its start to the present. The Business Financial History and Loan Application are frequently one and the same. If you have completed the rest of the financial section, you should have all of the information you need to transfer to this document.


Part IV: Supporting Documents

This section of your plan will contain all of the records that back up the statements and decisions made in the three main parts of your business plan. The most common supporting documents are:
A. Personal Resumes

Include resumes for owners and management. A resume should a one-page document. Include: work history, educational background, professional affiliations and honors, and a focus on special skills relating to the company position.
B. Owners' Financial Statements

A statement of personal assets and liabilities. For a new business owner, this will be part of your financial section.
C. Credit Reports

Business and personal from suppliers or wholesalers, credit bureaus, and banks.
D. Copies of Leases, Mortgages, Purchase Agreements, Etc.

All agreements currently in force between your company and a leasing agency, mortgage company or other agency.
E. Letters of Reference

Letters recommending you as being a reputable and reliable business person worthy of being considered a good risk. (both business and personal references)
F. Contracts

Include all business contracts, both completed and currently in force.

G. Other Legal Documents

All legal papers pertaining to your legal structure, proprietary rights, insurance, etc. Limited partnership agreements, shipping contracts, etc.
H. Miscellaneous Documents

All other documents which have been referred to, but not included in the main body of the plan. (for example: location plans, demographics, competition analysis, advertising rate sheets, cost analysis, etc.)

Putting Your Plan Together When You Are Finished: Your Business Plan should look professional, but the potential lender or investor needs to know that it was done by you. A business plan will be the best indicator that can be used to judge your potential for success. It should be no more than 30 to 40 pages in length, excluding supporting documents. If you are seeking a lender or investor: Include only the supporting documents that will be of immediate interest to the person examining your plan. Keep the others with your own copy where they will be available on short notice. Make copies for each lender or investor you wish to approach. Keep track of each copy that you give out. If you are turned down for financing, be sure to retrieve your business plan.

Keep Your Business Plan Up-to-Date!!! Your business plan will be beneficial only if you update it frequently to reflect what is happening within your business. Measure your projections against what actually happens in your company. Use the results to analyze the effectiveness of your operation. You can then implement changes that will give you a competitive edge and make your business more profitable.

automation software.

How to Write a Farming / Agriculture Business Proposal

Are you in the business of agriculture, or planning to get into it? If you're running a big, established farm operation, you may be selling crops the traditional way, through brokers and middlemen, and see opportunities to pitch new ideas. Or you may be selling or servicing industrial farming equipment. Or maybe you want to lease property to another party or start a pilot research project and need to pitch your idea to a local farm or ranch. If you're a small farmer or a specialty operation, or if you're looking to start up such an organization, you'll be searching for new customers, or funding, or both. The best way to begin your quest is to learn how to write a business proposal. Writing a proposal doesn't have to be hard. You know the business. You know what you want to do. The next question is: how well do you know your potential customer or funding organization? You need to keep that person or organization in mind at all times while writing your proposal, because (of course) your objective is to persuade them to do business with you. How do you start off a proposal project? By writing a simple Cover Letter. Just introduce yourself and your proposal, explain what you'd like the recipient to do after reading the proposal, and provide all your contact information. Next, create a Title Page for your proposal. Choose a descriptive title, like Funding Request to Start a Local Organic Farm, Plan to Increase Efficiency in the Smith Farm Operations, Pilot Research Program to Reduce Crop Damage, or Fresh Local Produce Delivery for Your Restaurant Chain. The next pages should be a description of what your potential customers or funders need and want. Put yourself in their position, and describe the need, as well as any limitations or deadlines you're aware of. For example, markets may not be keeping up with the demand for kosher beef in your area; or perhaps there are no Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in your county, and customers are driving to the next county to buy produce subscriptions. Pages in this section will have titles like Needs Assessment, Market Demand, Restrictions, Opportunities, Schedule, and so forth. If you are applying for funding to start or enlarge an operation, you may have received a checklist of items you need to provide, and you can insert that checklist here. Funding topics may include Funding Request, Use of Funds, Repayment Plan, and various financial topics that a lender will want to see. After you have described the need or opportunity, it's time to describe the solution by providing all the details about what you propose to do. This section could have any number of pages, based on your plans and ideas. For example, if you want to sell products to restaurants or stores, you'll want to include pages describing your Products and their Availability, as well as explaining Costs and Distribution or Delivery Details. You might describe different Deals or Options, or tell about your Organic or Environmental practices. If you are starting a farming operation, you might describe your Project Plan and Schedule as well as your existing or needed Real Estate and Equipment. If you propose to provide a service to existing agricultural operations, such as Consulting, Packaging, Transportation, Training, or Services, then you'll want to describe all the tasks you will do.

After you have thoroughly described the need or opportunity and your proposed solution, it's time to describe why you can be trusted to deliver on your promises. In the final proposal section, you should describe your Company History, your Personnel or Team Members, your Expertise, and your Experience. If you've worked on similar Projects, add a page listing them. Include pages about any special Training or Credentials you have, as well as any Referrals or Testimonials that others have given you. If you've won Awards or have a list of special Achievements, you'll want to put those in this final section, too. Remember that recognition by others is always more credible than bragging about yourself. That's it - now you understand that the basic structure of a business proposal is:

Introduce yourself and your plan Explain the needs/opportunities and requirements Describe the solutions you propose that will meet that need or take advantage of that opportunity Describe why you can be trusted to carry out your plan