Answered By: Kate Anderson, Business Librarian
Last Updated: Dec 05, 2018     Views: 837

According to the Encyclopedia of Small Business "Business proposals are documents that attempt to persuade targeted clients to buy a particular service or product. These documents, which are used in academia and government as well as business and industry, may range from relatively short (a few pages) proposals to "formal" documents of 50 or more pages" (Hillstrom & Hillstrom, 2007, para. 1).

Furthermore, the basic elements of a proposal are described by Hillstrom & Hillstrom (2007) as follows:

  • Cover letter
    • Provides a brief overview of your proposal, your company, and your qualifications.
  • Title page
    • Includes your name, the name of the company, the name of the person or company the proposal is being submitted to, the data of submission, and title.
  • Table of contents
    • Not always necessary if it is a shorter or informal proposal.
  • Executive summary
    • Provide key pieces of information in order to state your case or business argument. It will be read by key decision-makers, so be clear, concise, and convincing. 
  • Body/procedures section
    • Provide detailed and technical information here. Areas sometimes included are: price, training, implementation approaches, and support options. Legal experts advise scaling back some of these areas if your proposal is unsolicited, since proposals can become binding contracts.

Consult the following resources to learn more about writing and presenting a business proposal.

Persuasive Business Proposals

 Sample Proposal (from Writing Winning Proposals—Business Skills )

Business Proposals (from Encyclopedia of Small Business)

Chapter 1: Business Proposals 101 (from Complete Guide to Writing Effective & Award Winning Business Proposals)



Chat with the Rasmussen Library

Chat Hours


12pm-8pm CT

Friday Offline
Saturday Offline
Sunday 4pm-8pm CT

Chat Expectations and Guidelines

Submit a Question

Submit Your Question
Your Info
Fields marked with * are required.