The Difference Between A Business Plan And A Business Proposal

A business plan and a business proposal are two distinct documents. Most people mistake them for each other, and a lot of articles on the internet that teach how to write a business proposal are actually just explaining how to write a business plan.

While a business plan focuses on a company’s goals, the problems and solutions it’s trying to address, its potential market size, keys to success, products and services, market execution, and more, a business proposal on the other hand usually focuses on how a certain project would be executed, states a quote for the project, terms & conditions, and several other key pointers.

These two documents are very different with each serving distinct purposes. So it is important you know whether what you need is a business plan or a business proposal at any time.

Reasons For A Business Plan

A business plan envisions your pipe dream. It shows how your business goals, objectives, philosophies, industry analysis, target market, products & services, market execution, competitive analysis, financial projections, and a whole lot more will position the business for success.

It is a detailed document that investors, banks, accountants, and financially savvy individuals can easily review to know what your business is about, its chances of success, and how you’ve planned to scale.

Business Plan Structure

In preparing a business plan, here is a sample structure you should follow to get it done right:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description
  • Market Analysis & Strategies
  • Design & Development Plan
  • Organization & Management
  • Service or Product Line
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Funding Request
  • Financial Projections
  • Appendix

Reasons For A Business Proposal

Business proposals are usually solicited or unsolicited. A solicited business proposal is written upon request from an organization, institution, or individual. For example, if you receive a Request For Proposal (RFP), what you’re preparing would be a solicited business proposal. In this instance, you’d have to follow the requirements as stated in the RFP.

An unsolicited business proposal, on the other hand, is prepared in response to a client after a sales meeting, giving you more flexibility in curating the contents of the proposal.

Business proposals are limited in scope, and are thus, written for a specific audience.

Business Proposal Structure

Here’s a sample business proposal structure:

  • Introduction
  • Executive Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • The Body of The Proposal
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix

In your business proposal, you will detail the scope of the work, materials needed, cost estimates, project timeline, previous clients, team members, achievements, and a whole lot more in the body of the proposal. It’s a marketing tool, and its goal is to convince the target customer to do business with you.

What Then Do You Need?

The variations between a business plan and business proposal are wide apart. As shown in this article, they serve different audiences and are prepared for different reasons.

If your goal is to seek investment or a bank loan, a bank and investor ready business plan is what you need. But if your goals are to convince a client to use your service whether the client has asked for a document showing how much value you’d add to them or not, a business proposal is what you need.

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