How to Write a Successful Business Proposal

How to Write a Successful Business ProposalBy Holly Reisem Hanna

When I first started out, I was so eager to market my business, that sometimes I may have crossed the fine line between self promotion and aggressive marketing tactics. Since then, I have learned that it always better to take things one step at a time and build up slowly.

This is especially true when it comes to approaching individuals for collaborative efforts and partnerships. The whole idea behind a successful partnership or collaboration, is that both parties benefit from the deal, not just one individual.

Ideally, you should start with a soft outreach campaign, what this means is make an appearance and general introduction. This could be done through social media, forums, blog comments or the like. Once you have the initial building blocks in place, then send a brief complimentary email, remember no proposal yet, you’re still building the relationship. Once you’ve established a rapport, you can send a business proposal for consideration.

But what should you include and what makes a successful business proposal?

Follow these general guidelines below and you’ll be well on your way to building successful partnerships.

Personalized Salutation:

If you’re following the tips above, this shouldn’t be an issue. But let me tell you, how many emails I receive on a daily basis that do not include a personalized salutation. Everything from Dear Webmaster, Sir, Madam and my personal favorite, Hey! Nothing says that you don’t care, more than a non-personalized salutation, especially when the email address contains the recipients first name. Take the time to personalize your email and make sure to spell their name correctly, the small details matter. And never ever, copy and paste your press release into the body of an email, take the time to write a personalized letter just for them.

Being Abrupt:

What would you do if you received this email?

“Give me your phone number, so I can tell you about my business” – yep, me too, delete!

Again, if you’re following the tips above this shouldn’t be an issue. You need to take it one step at a time. Sending abrupt emails will will not only make a bad first impression, but nobody is going to respond to your query, so now you’ve wasted your precious time and burned a bridge. Make your emails short, sweet and concise. Always start your email off with a complimentary word about the correspondent, and then get into why you’re writing. Remember to remain positive and polite though out the entire email.

No Ideas:

Before you jump into writing your business proposal, take some time to think out the logistics, and research your potential business partner. What exactly do you want from the individual? What do they get in return? How will it be executed? I can’t tell you how many individuals have approached me about partnering in some shape or form, but then had no clue on the logistics or even what they wanted out of the partnership. Do your due diligence and research the best ways for you to work together before sending over your business proposal. Many individuals will have FAQ section on their website, seek these out and see if your questions can be answered there. Remember people are busy, so you need to respect their time.

No Value:

These are samples of emails that have been sent to me…

  • Can you take a look at my site, and post a link to it on your site. Wording for the link is included below.
  • I just opened a new store. Could you spread the word?
  • Our book has been nominated for an award. Please vote here, you can vote daily until March 30th.

Besides failing in the departments of personalization and abruptness, these business proposals fail to offer any benefit to the recipient. When you send a business proposal there needs to be some benefit in it for the recipient. If there is not, you are asking a favor. And believe me, there is etiquette for favor asking in which you need to consider your relationship with the recipient, and what the task involves. If the recipient does not personally know you, they could consider your email to be spam. If they decide to hit the spam button, you’re out of luck. Not only have you killed the connection, but again you’ve wasted your valuable time.


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “you catch more flies with honey, than vinegar” and nothing is more true than when you’re writing a business proposal. Telling me that my traffic sucks, or that my list is too small, does not give me warm fuzzy feelings, it fact it does the complete opposite. When you insult someone that you’re trying to work with, you immediately put a sour taste in their mouth, and the chances of them working with you is little to none. If you have a recommendation for them, make sure to spin it in a positive light.

By building the foundation, and taking the time to craft a personalized and well thought out business proposal, you’ll help boost your business through collaboration and successful business partnerships.

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