Business Proposal vs Business Plan: What's the Difference?

One of the most searched queries on Google is "business proposal vs business plan", and we are here to break the confusion.

August 14, 2022

Business Proposal vs Business Plan by Decktopus content team

What's Inside?

Business Proposal vs Business Plan: Which One Do You Need?

You are starting a new business, and you aren't sure what you need to do. You heard that you needed a business proposal and a business plan, but you weren't sure what's the difference between them.

You did some research and couldn't find what you are looking for... You decided to create both of them, but you need weeks to write and refine them.

business proposal vs business plan 2

Don't worry, we are here to remove this confusing process. Let's see what's the difference between them. You may, and probably do need both of them. But which one should be your priority?

The Difference Between a Business Plan and a Business Proposal

When you're starting a business, one of the most important things you'll need to do is create a business plan . This document will outline your company's goals and strategies for achieving them over the next five years.

business proposal vs business plan 3

A business proposal , on the other hand, is a sales document that you put together to pitch potential projects to clients. It's not the same as a business plan, and it usually includes cost quotes for potential projects.

The main difference between a business proposal and a business plan is that, while a business plan is informative, a business proposal is intended to showcase operations, goals, and potential.

Executive Summary

The executive summary of a business plan will include information about the company leadership structure or the introduction of management. Generally, business plans include an executive summary part while business plans don't.

We have seen some samples that use executive summaries but since the main goal is to close a deal. We suggest keeping them short and clean.

The business proposal format depends on whether the business is solicited or unsolicited . Details of products and services offered, the scope of work and responses to specific questions in an RFP are included in a business proposal.

business proposal vs business plan 4

A business plan documents the vision of a business and how it will be achieved. A business proposal offers comprehensive information for potential investors, suppliers, accountants, etc.

A proposal shows the external player what the company is all about and how it intends to carry out its project. Keep these differences in mind when you're putting together your next business presentation --you'll need to tailor your content accordingly!

What Are Business Plans?

A business plan is a document that outlines the business goals, strategies, and tactics a company will use to achieve those goals. The business plan also includes an overview of the company, its management team, the target market, and the products and services the company plans to offer.

It usually includes information about the company's products and services, target market, marketing plans , financial forecasts, and management team bios.

Here's a sample template to use while creating a detailed business plan.

What Is The Purpose of a Business Plan?

A business plan is a key document for any business. It lays out the goals and strategy of the business and helps to ensure that everyone involved in the business is on the same page. It can also be used as a tool to help secure funding from investors or banks.

A business plan is a document that outlines the strategy and goals of a company. It can be used as a planning tool , to track progress, or as a basis for making decisions . A well-written business plan provides a roadmap for the business , and it can help attract investors or partners.

There are many reasons to create a business plan. Some of the most common reasons include:

What is a business proposal?

A business proposal is a written document that offers a solution to a problem or a way to achieve a goal. It is often used to sell products or services to a potential customer. A business proposal must be well-written, clear, and concise in order to convince the reader to take the desired action.

business proposal vs business plan 5

A business proposal is a formal response sent to an RFP (request for proposals). It is a way for the seller to convince the buyer that their proposed solution is the right one in order to win business. Business proposals are meant to persuade a prospective client.

A business proposal typically consists of four main points: what are the challenges, how your solution solves the problems, why they should choose you over others, and the best pricing options available. The price is typically stated in the document. If a business is requesting proposals, they should be sent in their format. An RFP response should include specific details about the scope of work and the cost estimate.

Here's a sample template to use while creating a detailed business proposal.

Why do you need a business proposal?

A business proposal is a key part of the business development process . It is a document that outlines the business goals, strategies, and tactics that will be used to achieve those goals. A proposal is used to convince potential clients or partners that your business is the best option for them.

It's typically used to pitch an idea to a potential client or customer. A well-crafted proposal can help you win new business and close deals.

business proposal vs business plan 6

Your company might be expanding into a new market and need to propose a new product or service. Or, you might be approached by another company with an opportunity you'd like to explore. Maybe you've identified a gap in the market and want to propose a new product or service to fill it.

How To Prepare For a Business Proposal?

Well, we do have a comprehensive guide to business proposal creation with templates and examples, but if you need a more brief explanation, keep reading!

When preparing for a business proposal, it is important to do your research and understand the client's needs. You should also have a clear understanding of your own company's capabilities and what you can offer the client. Additionally, it is important to be well-organized and to have a strong pitch.

business plan for project teams

You should have a clear understanding of your target audience and what will appeal to them. You also need to have a good grasp of the competition and what they are offering. In addition, you should be familiar with the terms and conditions of any potential contracts that may be involved.

Your proposal should be neatly formatted and easy to read. It should also be free of grammatical errors and typos. Be sure to proofread your work carefully before submitting it.

Make sure you provide complete contact information, as well as an outline of your proposed solution or service. If possible, include testimonials from past clients who have been satisfied with your work.

Remember that you are offering a valuable service that can help the reader achieve their goals. Believe in yourself and your ability to succeed, and you will be able to deliver a winning proposal every time

How To Write a Business Proposal?

When writing a business proposal, make sure to follow this brief outline:

- Introduce yourself and your company

- Outline the proposal's purpose

- Explain the problem that you're trying to solve

- Describe your solution

- Explain the benefits of your solution

- List your qualifications

- Request a meeting

It should include an overview of the product or service, information about the company proposing it, financial projections, and terms and conditions. A well-crafted proposal can help your company win new contracts and increase sales.

Here's another sample template you can use while creating a business proposal:

Business Proposal Template Checklist

Here's a story of our customer John who joined the Decktopus community 2 years ago.

John had been working in sales for years, but he had never worked in a company that sold products. When he was hired by a new startup, he was excited about starting making sales and increasing profits. However, he soon realized that there was no one in the company who knew how to sell. The founder of the company told him that he would need to create a presentation template to share with the other reps.

business plan for marketing consulting

John wasn't sure where to start. He read article after article, trying to gather information about what made a good business proposal. After weeks of research, he finally created a template that he felt confident in sharing with his fellow reps. He was excited to see how it would help them increase sales and profits.

This is the outline we gathered while our support team helped him along the way:

-Executive Summary

-Problem/Opportunity Statement

-Business Plan

- Marketing Plan

-Financial Plan

Types Of Business Proposals

An unsolicited proposal is one in which the company offers a product or service to a potential customer who has not solicited it. Here's an unsolicited proposal template .

unsolicited business proposal cover

A solicited proposal is one in which the company responds to a request for proposal (RFP) from a potential customer. Here's a solicited proposal template .

simple solicited business proposal

A proposal to bid is a document that a company submits to a potential customer in response to an RFP.

The purpose of the proposal to bid is to persuade the potential customer that the bidder's product or service is the best option among those being considered.

Here's a proposal to bid template .

business bid proposal example

Business Plan Structure

A business plan has three main sections: the executive summary, a description of the business model, and financial projections.

The first section is an introduction that should be no more than one or two pages long. It should include a brief overview of your company, its products and services, and how you plan to make money.

The second section, a description of the business model, provides details about your company's competitive landscape, industry trends, and how you plan to reach your target market.

The marketing model is an informative section that should include detailed information about the industry competition and build-out plan. This part of the document can be several pages long and will help investors understand your company's place in the market.

business proposal templates

While all three sections are important, remember that potential investors will likely focus on the financial projections most closely when deciding whether to invest in your company. The financial projections section is important because it shows potential investors how you expect your business to grow over time.

A well-crafted business plan can help convince potential investors to put their money into your company.

<cta-section data-ctaTitle="Start Building Your Business Document Now!" data-ctaDescription="Build good looking and functional business proposals and business plans without touching the design, literally in minutes!" data-ctaButtonText="Start Now!" data-ctaButtonURL=" "></cta-section>

100,000+ Ready-Made Designs, Docs & Templates to Start, Run and Grow your Business

Starting and running a business can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be alone. In fact, you're not alone--over 100,000 companies use our design templates, documents, and tools to start, run, and grow their businesses.

business proposal template

From creating a logo and branding your company to writing a business plan and pitching your idea to investors, we have everything you need to get started. And if you need more help along the way, our team of experts is here to support you every step of the way.

Simply select the template or document that's right for you, fill in the blanks, and hit print. It's that easy!

We understand that starting a business can be difficult--but with our help, it doesn't have to be alone. Over 100000+ companies use our design templates & tools every day to start & grow their businesses successfully. You can too!

Other Resources:

Business plan and proposal software solution, business proposal templates, business plan templates, basic business proposal writing guide.

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

Start Building Your Business Document Now!

Build good looking and functional business proposals and business plans without touching the design, literally in minutes!

Don't waste your time designing your presentations by yourself!

Type your content and let our platform design your presentations automatically. No more wasting time for your presentations. Use hundreds of presentation templates to impress your audience. This is the only tool you need to prepare presentations. Try our Presentation Builder today >>

Don’t waste your time by trying to make a website for all your content

Place your content links and let our platform design your bio link automatically. No more wasting time for your social content distribution. Use hundreds of presentation biolink to impress your audience. This is the only tool you need to prepare good-looking bio links. Try our Bio Link Builder today >>


Do You Want To Create a Presentation?

Latest Articles

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

March 3, 2023

The [Best AI] Presentation Software and Maker Tools for Creating Presentation with Artificial Intelligence

You can create amazing presentations in minutes with the Decktopus AI presentation tool and share it easily with your colleagues. Try your assistant Dektopus AI presentation tool now. There are lots of presentation slides. Decktopus AI presentation tool helps you to create fantastic presentations! 

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

March 1, 2023

Tips for Job Interview Presentations

With the changing, digitalizing, and socializing world companies seek employees with good communication and social skills. It’s often more important than the number of technical skills of an employee because technical skills can always be improved

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

10 Pitch Deck Mistakes Startup Founders Should Avoid In 2023

Raising money for your startup? Avoid these ten common pitch deck mistakes and give yourself the best chance for success!

Ready to dive in? Start your free trial today.

Close 42% more deals with Decktopus slides.

Create a free Decktopus account and start converting more clients with actionable sales decks.

No thanks. My sales deck converts great. logo

Business Plan vs. Business Proposal

business proposal vs. business plan

The terms “business plan” and “business proposal” are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are very different. The main difference between a business plan and a business proposal is that a business plan documents your growth strategy while a business proposal is a specific ask for someone to take an action you desire (e.g., buy your product/service, invest in your company, partner with you, etc.).

In this article, we will define a business plan and a business proposal and give you examples of when each is appropriate for you to use.  

What is a Business Plan?

professional business plan

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

Business Plan Structure

Typically, the business plan structure contains the following 10 components:

It is recommended that a business plan is updated annually to adjust for changes in the industry trends and the business itself.  

What is a Business Proposal?

business proposals

In terms of what you are asking from them, it can be anything that involves funds and time on their end including cash investment, product development assistance, and even employees if they have applicable skill sets.  

Business Proposal Structure

An invited business proposal is written in response to an RFP. A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that invites potential suppliers to submit business proposals. How to write a business proposal depends on the format requested and the questions included in the RFP.

The following are the components that usually make up a business proposal:

An unsolicited business proposal is essentially the same format, but it will solicit the client’s business while anticipating the clients’ concerns and issues. A business proposal is more of a marketing document than an offer because it attempts to persuade the potential client to do business by demonstrating your value proposition and a call to action.  

So, What’s the Difference Between a Business Proposal vs. a Business Plan?

In a business proposal, company representatives typically work with the customer to tailor a business proposition that is attractive to both parties. This usually comes in the form of a written document detailing the services and cost associated with fulfilling an offer or request but can also include electronic contracts.

In contrast, a business plan is a description of your company on the executive and operational levels aimed at investors for raising financial support or other stakeholders in order to facilitate long-term growth. For example, an investor will want to know about how different departments within your business interact with one another, while somebody who will be implementing your product probably only needs more limited information such as design specs because they are not going into production themselves.

A business proposal may provide you with more details of the project, but it does not include information about your company’s operations or future plans.  

Examples of Business Plans vs. Business Proposals

The business plan is a roadmap for your company’s present and future, while the business proposal has to do with what you are asking someone else for money.  Applying this difference into practice can be difficult at times because business plans are often marketed as business proposals. However, it is important to be able to identify the difference between a business plan and business proposal in order to maximize their effectiveness and importance with potential investors or partners.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide for Small Businesses

Business Plan vs. Business Proposal: What’s The Difference?

' src=

“Ok, so you sell things.”

Well, honestly, I wasn’t surprised or peeved at the half-baked knowledge of my friend’s father when he made a snap judgment and conveniently labeled my marketing profession as sales.

After all, this wasn’t my first time when someone tagged me as a salesperson. So, I took a deep breath and explained to him how sales are different from marketing.

We, humans, dwell in a herd mentality and hone our word skills from our surroundings. Sometimes, we are simply careless, sometimes oblivious, but most of the time, we actually don’t know that the word has a different meaning.

This can be ignored in a casual conversation, but using the wrong words in a business space can change the implied meaning and lead to miscommunication. For example, cost vs. price , digitization vs. digitalization , warranty vs. guarantee , machine learning vs. artificial intelligence , etc.

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – C. S. Lewis

This Process Street guest post untangles the confusion between two crucial terms – business plan and business proposal. These are used interchangeably in the business world, but their meaning and application are pretty different.

Words are the building blocks of communication. There is a French phrase for using the right word – le mot juste .

Let us strive for le mot juste !

Hop on and be a part of this fantabulous journey.

What is a business plan?

What is a business proposal, difference between a business plan and a business proposal.

Winding-up: Key takeaways

Here we go! 🚀

A business plan is a formal guide that acts as a blueprint, deciphering every root and branch to make a business successful. It is a written document that provides insights to internal and external stakeholders on business vision, goals, and strategies to achieve those goals.

“Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.” – Yogi Berra

A business plan, at its core, is an explanation of the below questions –

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is not a bag of puffery statements. It is a document with factual information necessary for the survival of a business. You can create a business plan with the right tools or opt for a good business coach to get you started.

Let’s see what Tim Berry , business plan expert, founder and chairman of Palo Alto Softwar and , has to say on business plans.

“What I love most about business plans is the business planning: like walking, it’s constant correction and review and revision. Planning, done right, is steering a business, managing growth, aiming the business towards the right future.” – Tim Berry ,  Small Business Trends

According to a study done by Palo Alto Software, those who create business plans double their chances to succeed in business .


Record and present business information 💾 The primary intent of a business plan is to record and communicate information. It must document the business goals and the methods to attain those goals in a structured manner. It keeps businesses on track with their objectives.

A blueprint for seeking business investment 🗄️ Whether you are a fledgling start-up or an established business seeking expansion or diversification, writing a winning business plan acts as a magnet to attract investors. It builds confidence and trust among investors about the lucrativeness of a business idea.

Lay down the right path ✔️ Not everything discussed verbally at an ideation stage transforms into reality in a pragmatic environment. Jotting down a business plan differentiates achievable from impracticable based on market dynamics, opportunities and threats, and company’s strengths and weaknesses. It sets the right track for business growth.

Establish short-term and long-term goals 🎯 A business plan sets down short-term and long-term goals and the direction to accomplish them, right from baby steps to giant leaps. It becomes a basis to revisit the goals from time-to-time and make iterations depending on the present scenario.

“Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Get clarity on your business 🙋 A frequent question that pops-up in business discussions is: “Are we doing it right?”

A well-articulated business plan brings insightful knowledge on each aspect of a business – from what it has to offer to how to market the offerings.

Make informed decisions 💡 A business plan is a reality check to track what is being fruitful and what is causing hindrance. It paves the way to make a business sustainable.

Predict future financial performance 📈 Financial projection is the spotlight of a business plan. It’s the carrot that captivates the eyeballs and tickles investors to fund a new business.

A promising business plan talks about the company’s future financial performance – expenditure, profit, revenue, etc.

Explore new business opportunities 💰 A business plan is a flexible document that enables learning on the go. It bolsters research and infuses businesses with new and more feasible business opportunities. It gives organizations a fresh outlook and ushers them to be a howling success.

How to prepare for a business plan

Now that we have answered the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of a business plan, let us move forward to solve the next riddle – how do you prepare it?


Identify your company’s vision, mission, and values 🎯 Start by answering and figuring out your business personality:

This is your organization’s compass that acts as a foundation for the succeeding steps.

Know your target audience 🧑‍💼 Dig deep into:

Learn market trends 💹 Identifying market trends keeps businesses ahead of the game. Analysis of industry data leads to business growth and profitability in the long run.

Weigh in the impact of unforeseen circumstances 🤦 From financial turbulence to natural calamities and pandemics – a lot can go wrong in the future and leave a business shaking. Expect the unexpected and gird your loins for these testing times.

How to write a business plan

Creating a winning business plan increases the chances of success and spurs investors to fund your business.

According to a study published in Small Business Economics , entrepreneurs that create a plan are 152% more likely to start their business and appoint a registered agent and 129% more likely to push forward with their business beyond the initial start-up phase and grow it.

Here are the key components of an excellent business plan:

Executive summary First impression is the last impression!

An executive summary is a crucial part of this document. It provides the essence of the whole plan:

It should be informative and able to spark readers’ interest to know more about the business plan.

Overview of the business This section lists down information on:

…and all other related details.

Market analysis and strategies Put forth a strong case built on the solid rock of data analysis and statistics – present data on target market size, industry trends, sales forecasts, and marketing strategy.

Operating plan The operating plan highlights the operational requirements for the smooth functioning of a business. It includes facilities, supply chain management, inventory, manufacturing, shipment, logistics, staff management – everything under the sun that covers capital and expense (CapEx) requirements.

Growth plan This section answers the question: “Where do you see the business going in the next few years?” It provides visibility to investors on the milestones and how you will make money in near future.

Marketing plan Thee marketing plan section describes how to market the offerings to create and fulfill customers’ needs (who are the customers, product positioning, pricing policy, and promotional strategies?)

Management plan This section outlines how your organization is structured and basically how strong you are together. It describes the skills, background, and responsibilities of the management team. It builds conviction that the business is in good hands and has a proficient human capital.

Financial plan and projections This is the part where numbers become the king.

It draws up deets on inflow and outflow of money, sales forecast, profit and loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and budget expense. It discloses and forecasts the company’s financial goals, profitability model, and charts a course for the coming years.

Conclusion and appendix Conclude the business plan by succinctly bringing out the key pointers – the business’s vision, mission, goals, strengths, and growth trajectory. Make it compelling and to-the-point. Add relevant appendices to strengthen your business plan.

Pro tip: Use an all-inclusive ready-made business plan template document and Process Street ‘s business plan checklist to create unbeatable business plans.

Business Plan Checklist

Click here to access the Business Plan Checklist!

Types of business plans

There are varying types of business plans depending on the purpose and usage:

A business proposal is the mantra that draws you closer to win a customer or bag a project.

Generally, it is a formal response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) sent by a prospective client looking for the right solution to their problems. It explains the particulars of a seller’s offerings and convinces the buyer that the proposed solution is the gateway to their business’s success and productivity.

“And, after all, winning business is what writing proposals is all about.” ― Tom Sant, Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win More Customers, Clients, and Contracts

A business proposal comprises of four main points :

Why do you need a business proposal?


A business proposal is a testimony in itself that asserts, “I am the best you can get.”

Here are the reasons why you should and must make a business proposal :

How to prepare for a business proposal

The heart of preparedness is research and further research. 🔍 After all, the devil is in the details.

Talk to prospective customers, visit their website(s), read published articles, and be a know-it-all for your prospective clients.

Sort out the ‘who’ 🤔 First and foremost, dig every possible information about the client:

Understand the challenges 🤗 Find what’s bothering them and what is causing hindrance to their business success. Learn about their existing solution and its challenges.

Stitch the glitch and offer the best solution 🤩 After a thorough review of all the points mentioned above, find the best solution to your prospective client’s problems.

List down key differentiators 👌 This will help you to beat the competition in the dust. It draws a comparison chart and puts you in a superior position.

According to Gray Mackenzie, founder of GuavaBox ,

“Prior to submitting a proposal, make sure you have clearly defined all the major points verbally with the potential customer. By discussing the scope, cost, timeline, and details prior to submitting a written proposal, you can uncover objections earlier in the process.” – Gray Mackenzie, 10 Sales Experts Share Their Best Business Proposal Tips

How to write a business proposal

Let’s get down to the fundamental elements that form a business proposal. Learn how to create a business proposal that stands out and close sales.

Title page/Cover page 🖼 The name says it all.

Pretty easy-peasy thing to understand, right? After all, you have been creating the title pages since school days.

Still, make a note: Always write a gripping title that intrigues prospective clients’ interest and urges them to read on.

Other components that should be included on the title page are:

Table of contents (TOC) 📝 As the name suggests, a TOC is a well-structured layout of the document. It helps to skim and scan and navigate speedily through different sections of a business proposal.

Executive summary 🗒 It sets the tone for a proposal and makes the reader inquisitive about reading subsequent sections. It sums up the entire business proposal – the purpose of sharing the proposal and why and how your solution is the right fit for the prospective client. Leave no stone unturned to boast about your offerings in the executive summary.

Details of offerings 🎁 This is an in-depth description of the products or services your company has to offer.

How will the offerings solve the client’s problems? 💡 This explains why your products/services are the right fit to address a prospective client’s needs and why it is a better alternative than the competition.

The methodology/implementation of offerings 🛠 This section is a blanket explanation of how the promised deliverables will be executed. It provides step-by-step clarity on each action along with timelines. It gives the client peace of mind and builds trust and confidence in the offering.

Pricing, payment, and legal matters 💵 Here, you talk about the pricing structure, applicable taxes, payment schedule, cancellation policy, and how you plan to solve the legal matters (if any arise in the future).

Here are some tips for this section:

Details about your company 🔍 This is an exhaustive overview of your company. Don’t forget to add relevant customer testimonials, case studies, or success stories to build your case among prospective customers.

Signatures and Call to action 🖌 This is the moment that gets butterflies in your stomach; the closure. This is the concluding part of a business proposal. Here (if all your prayers get answered), you and your client sign the proposal and secure the deal. Hurray!

Pro tip: Once you send the business proposal, don’t sit idle in your cocoon day-dreaming of winning the proposal. Always proactively do follow-ups with the prospective clients and clarify their doubts.

For start-ups or small businesses, drafting a business proposal can be an unnerving experience. They work fingers to the bone to write a perfect business proposal. Spending too much time on it might lead to missing the deadline and eventually losing out on a golden opportunity.

According to a report by Better Proposal , sending a business proposal within 24 hours increases the likelihood of winning the deal by 25%. 🤝

Here’s the secret sauce to speedily create flawless business proposals :

First, pick a professionally vetted and ready-to-use business proposal template and draft a business proposal like a cakewalk. Such as the Business Proposal Template included below.

Next, always use Process Street ‘s super-powered business proposal template checklist and ensure no step gets missed in the process.

Business Proposal Template Checklist

It even turns out a blessing for big businesses since they have to draft multiple proposals all the time. Templates and checklists save a lot of time, enhance productivity, and increase the chances of success.

Types of business proposals

Majorly, there are two types of business proposals:

Solicited business proposal 👋 Also known as an invited business proposal, it comes into play when a buyer, or a company, outlines its requirements and requests suppliers to present an offer. It can be a response to a public tender issued by big corporations or government agencies.

Alternatively, a solicited business proposal can also be submitted as a response to the RFP shared by a prospective client.

The difference between the two is that while the earlier one is open to all bidders, the latter’s scope is limited as it is shared with shortlisted suppliers.

Pro tip: Do a thorough check before submitting an invited business proposal. Missing out on-minute details can kick you out from their consideration list.

Unsolicited business proposal 🚪 An uninvited or unsolicited business proposal is a proactive attempt to create a business opportunity. This proposal is sent to prospective clients without being asked.

The good news is, there are slim chances of your rival sending a business proposal simultaneously, so less or no competition.

The bad news is, it might breathe in the customer’s inbox for a few days and then, without being read, depart to the heavenly abode -the trash folder.

But still, like a cold call, it leaves some impression on prospective clients and shoots up the chances to cut a deal in the long run.

Pro tip: An unsolicited business proposal is mostly sent through emails. Make certain to write an attention-grabbing headline and a convincing explanation to draw attention.

Here’s a comparison chart that distinguishes between business plan and business proposal:


Bonus: How to make ‘wow’ business plans and business proposals

Here are the secret ingredients to make awesome and captivating business plans and proposals:


Follow the principle of KISS (Keep it simple, silly) 😛

This is not the right place to brag about your vocabulary skills. You want the prospective customer to focus on reading rather than wasting time looking up for a word.

Always remember! Communication is the key.

So, go simple and ditch those heavy jargons.

Go visual 📷

Don’t wear-out the pupils of your prospects with long-winded documents. Capitalize on the multisensorial abilities of humans as well.

Visuals increase people’s desire to read content by 80%.

Leverage the power of visuals and make your document easily graspable by adding graphs, infographics, flowcharts, tables, images, and videos.

Add social proof 👌

Do not forget to add positive feedback or customer testimonials. If similar projects have been delivered in the past, do add relevant links and case studies of that work. It helps to build trust and strengthen your case.

“Make sure you have great success stories that you can share with potential clients. At the end of the day, most, if not all, potential clients want to know you will provide value to them and generate positive ROI.” – Mathew Bivens, Podcast and marketing consultant,  10 Sales Experts Share Their Best Business Proposal Tips

Proofread 👁️

Ensure the document is free from grammar and spelling errors.

Follow brand guidelines 📖

Your document should reflect your brand. Bring consistency in all your documents and design them as per the brand guidelines.

Use document builder tools 🛠️

Time is money!

The likelihood of getting a ‘yes’ on your business plans and business proposals depends on how fast you can create a flawless document.

Empower your organization with a smart and all-in-one document builder tool like Revv – create, communicate, collaborate, and close your documents in no time.

Business plans and business proposals are two different worlds with distinct purposes and goals. But, both play a prime role in increasing the odds of business success.

People often get the wrong end of the stick and ask for a business plan when they mean business proposal or vice-versa.

But, we don’t need to worry about that since we are now clear on what is what.

Cheers to us! 🍻

P.S: Don’t forget to subscribe to the Process Street blog to get notified of our upcoming articles. We also have a podcast “Tech Out Loud” featuring content written by respected industry leaders such as Peep Laja , Sujan Patel , Tomasz Tunguz , and more! 🚀

What is your take on business plans and business proposals? Have you ever got your wires crossed with these two terminologies? Don’t forget to post your comments below. 👇

Get our posts & product updates earlier by simply subscribing

' src=

Molly Stovold

Hey, I'm Molly, Junior Content Writer at Process Street with a First-Class Honors Degree in Development Studies & Spanish. I love writing so much that I also have my own blog where I write about everything that interests me; from traveling solo to mindful living. Check it out at .

One Comment

Can you please help with a business plan on farming

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

Take control of your workflows today

Business Plan and Proposal: Everything You Need to Know

A business plan and proposal are two different documents with two different purposes and functions. 3 min read

A business plan and proposal are two different documents with two different purposes and functions. A business plan is a document that clearly spells out how a business intends to realize its objectives and goals, while a business proposal is a sales document that a business entity uses to request a contract from a client.

Business Plan vs. Business Proposal

A business plan and a business proposal are different from each other by content, goals, writing style, and structure. The major difference between both is that a business plan is a document that presents facts, while a business proposal is a request for a deal and a quotation of prices.

A Business Plan

You can think of a business plan as the documentation of a company's grand vision. Business plans are naturally tactical. It's like stating where and when you want to start, when you want to get to the next point in view, and how you intend to accomplish that progress. A business plan includes descriptions of how the business is intended to run, the details of financial goals, possible business rivalry, marketing strategy, executive summary, and other factors that affect a company's planned business growth.

A business plan is particularly effective in making potential investors interested in a company (especially a startup company that's yet to make a name in its industry). Additionally, a business plan can provide an idea of what a company requires for professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and potential employees. A business plan distinctly describes the scope of the business, and in so doing, clears your thoughts as a business owner.

The business plan should be honestly made because it's the outline of the company's vision. It indicates whether or not the business goals of the company are realistically achievable. Experts say an effective business plan would take approximately six weeks of thorough research and groundwork to create. In other words, you typically can't create an effective business plan in one day, present it to potential investors the next day, and achieve desired results.

A Business Proposal

A business proposal goes to a prospective client directly from an established business. It's an attempt to sell a business entity's service or product to a client, and not an attempt to sell the business itself. Also, a business proposal isn't an estimate. Though costs and certain other details will be provided in the business proposal, an estimate is a lot more unofficial and simply a provision to skim over the costs. It doesn't present the entire picture.

Basically, business proposals show a particular idea, such as a new, profitable undertaking. The proposal is intended to get investors to support the particular business endeavor being suggested. For instance, a well-known eatery chain may wish to extend its business to a nearby state. Such an eatery would have to compose a business proposal in order to get the financial support of its target investors.

Though the business proposal provides an overview of what the company does (similar to a business plan), its major objective is to provide the details of the suggested business idea, including providing answers in advance for any concerns that could be raised by potential investors.

Components of a Business Plan

Basically, a business plan has three components: business model description, sales tactics, and financial goals. However, more elaborately, it has the following sections of information:

Solicited vs. Unsolicited Business Proposals

A solicited business proposal, when presented in response to a request for proposal (RFP), should be in the format requested by the client in their RFP. The same format may or may not be used for an unsolicited business proposal. Its purpose is to suggest and develop a business idea. Therefore, it's recommended to use the same format or some other format that's well-known in the field of endeavor.

An unsolicited business proposal offers a business entity the flexibility to choose what structure they deem appropriate. However, the proposal is expected to meet industry standards, no matter what format is used. For instance, it should emphasize major areas of interest, be thoroughly researched, offer a proposition of value, and feature a call to action.

If you need help with a business plan and proposal, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees

Content Approved by UpCounsel

How to Write a Business Proposal — 2022 Guide and Template

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

A business proposal can make or break your chances of securing a new client. Write a great one, and you’ll likely snag their business.

Write a poor one, and you might lose out—even if you’re offering the best service out there. So, how do you write a business proposal? What is the proper format? What do you need to include?

While it all depends on your industry, and whether or not you’re offering a product or service, writing a business proposal is pretty straightforward. We’ll answer all those questions and more throughout the course of this guide. 

What to expect with this business proposal guide

Whether you’re starting fresh or need to look at a specific section, here’s what we’ll be covering in this guide. 

How to write a business proposal

You can download a free business proposal template here to start writing up your own proposal as you work through this article. By the end, you’ll be prepared to develop a well-written business proposal that can explain your business clearly and win more clients. Let’s get started.

What is a business proposal ?

A business proposal is a document you’d send to a prospective client, outlining the service you’re offering, and explaining why you’re the best person for the job. 

It’s a pitch by a business or individual to complete a specific job or project, to supply a service, or, in some instances, to be the vendor of a certain product.

What are the different types of business proposals?

A business proposal can be either solicited or unsolicited. With a solicited proposal, the prospective client will put out a request for proposals; with an unsolicited business proposal, you are approaching a client in hopes of attracting their business, even though they did not explicitly request a proposal.  

While both are commonplace, a solicited proposal is an easier sell, as your prospective client has already decided that they want to make a purchase or use a service, and they’re evaluating possible vendors or businesses.

With a solicited proposal, your prospective client might have issued an RFP, or “request for proposal.” This is exactly what it sounds like—they want you to send over a business proposal so they can take a look at it.

New Call-to-action

Differences between a business proposal and a business plan

A business proposal is not the same as a business plan . This is the most common misconception, but while there are areas of overlap (like your executive summary ) the two are different.

That being said, you can certainly pull information from your business plan while writing your business proposal—in fact, that’s a great way to start.

But don’t confuse the two; they are distinct and separate. In short, a business plan represents the cohesive strategy of how your business operates and makes money. A business proposal is an official pitch to clients selling your products or services. 

A business proposal outlines a particular product or service offered by an established business to a prospective client.

You’re trying to sell your prospective client on your product or service, not on your business itself. You’re not after funding, as you are with a business plan, you’re trying to make a sale.

A business proposal is also not an estimate; although you’ll likely touch on costs and pricing in your business proposal, an estimate is much more informal and just a quick look at the costs, not the whole picture.

What goes into a business proposal?

Your business proposal should address the three Ps:

If you’re stuck on how to start, maybe try brainstorming first; start with these three points, and you’ll have a rough, bare-bones version of your business proposal.

Once you’ve done that if you’re ready to go more in-depth, here is a step-by-step look at how to format your business proposal.

Your business proposal should start with a title page, which should include your name, the name of your company, the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your proposal, and the date submitted.

Table of contents

Depending on how long your business proposal is, a table of contents is a nice touch. Include it after your title page, and before you launch into any details. If you’re delivering it as a PDF, including anchor links down to each section, so it’s easy to get to specific areas. 

Executive summary

Introduce your proposal with a great executive summary, one that really sells your business and the products or services you provide—it’s about why you’re the right company for the job. You can draw from your business plan’s executive summary here, too.

Statement of problem, issue, or job at hand

Following your executive summary, go on to discuss the problem that the client is currently facing. Think of “problem” or “issue” loosely; after all, their main problem may just be finding the right person to complete their project. But be sure you understand why they want the product or service they’re seeking. If the proposal is for developing a brand new website, make sure you understand what they want to get out of the site—better sales, more content management flexibility. 

This is the place to show your new client that you understand their needs , and fully grasp the issue they are trying to solve. Take this opportunity to restate the issue they are facing in your own words so that they know you understand what they are looking for.

Approach and methodology

This section shows how you plan to tackle your potential client’s problem, and the steps you’ll take to carry out your plan.

This is where you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how you actually plan to fulfill your client’s needs. While earlier sections might have been a bit surface-level, this section of the business proposal is where you’ll go into detail about what steps you’ll take to solve their problem.

Be careful of going into too much detail, though—keep the jargon to a minimum. Your client should be able to follow along and get a clear sense of your plan, but you don’t want to drown them in minutiae.


Go ahead, brag a little—this is the section of your business proposal where you get to convince your potential client why you are the most qualified person to take on the job.

You can mention any relevant education, industry-specific training, or certifications you have, your past successful projects of a similar nature, years of experience, and so on.

Schedule and benchmarks

Be clear with your potential client: How long will your proposed project take?

Making sure you and your prospective client are on the same page from the outset will help make sure that the relationship stays positive for both of you, and that you don’t set your client up with unrealistic expectations.

While you might be tempted to underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project, don’t. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver!

If you’re offering a product, this section might not be applicable to you, so feel free to omit it. The business proposal format is flexible, so tailor it to suit your business and industry.

Cost, payment, and any legal matters

Here is where you get down to brass tacks and state the cost, and payment schedule if necessary.

How you structure this section will largely depend on the particular project or service you are offering. A section entitled “Fee Summary” may be sufficient if one-time payment is required; otherwise, a “Fee Schedule” list or pricing table might be more appropriate. Always refer back to the client’s RFP whenever possible, to make sure you’re supplying them with all the information they need to help make their decision.

If there are any legal issues to attend to, such as permits or licensing, include this information here. Feel free to add a section entirely devoted to handling the legal side of the project if need be.

This is your final sell—don’t be afraid to detail for your prospective client all they have to gain by choosing you to complete the project.

Impress upon your clients why you are the best choice, and all the ways in which their business will benefit from choosing you and your business as their solution.

How long should a business proposal be?

When it comes to the format of a business proposal, this is the million-dollar question without an answer. Remember in school, when you’d ask your teacher how long an essay should be, and they’d reply, “as long as it takes to answer the question.”

The same applies to your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the scope of the project, and the client’s specifications in terms of detail and elements included.

Make your pitch stand out with SBA-approved business plans. All the info investors and lenders need to evaluate your business. Get LivePlan.

That being said, the tighter your initial proposal can be and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch it to clients. Start by following the business proposal format above as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and securing new clients.

Editor’s note: This article was originally written in 2018 and updated for 2021.

AvatarBriana Morgaine

Briana Morgaine


Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.

Starting or Growing a Business? Check out these Offerings.

Business Plan Writers

Business Plan Writers

Investor-Ready Business Plans Written In No Time

100% Free Quote

LivePlan Pitch

One-Page Business Pitch

Write A Winning Business Pitch In Just 60 Minutes

Start for $20/mo

LivePlan Dashboard

Management Dashboards

All the Insights You Need to Help Your Business Succeed

Works with QBO & XERO


Full Business Plan in Half the Time— and Double the Impact

Save 25% Annually

difference in a business proposal and a business plan

Plan, fund, and grow.

Easily write a business plan, secure funding, and gain insights.

Achieve your business funding goals with a proven plan format.

difference in a business proposal and a business plan


  1. Business Plan vs. Business Proposal: What’s The Difference?

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan

  2. Difference Between A Business Plan And A Business Proposal

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan

  3. The Essential Guide to Making a Business Plan

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan

  4. Difference Between Business Plan And Investment Proposal

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan

  5. Do you know the difference between a business plan and a business proposal? These are two very

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan

  6. What is the difference between Business Model and Business Plan?

    difference in a business proposal and a business plan



  2. Intro To PARLOUR PITCH. Business Pitch Show (Season One TRAILER)


  4. Mentoring BIMITS Business Plan Competition 2022

  5. How To Write / Create / Make A Business Proposal



  1. Business Proposal vs Business Plan: What's the Difference?

    The main difference between a business proposal and a business plan is that, while a business plan is informative, a business proposal is intended to showcase operations, goals, and potential. Executive Summary The executive summary of a business plan will include information about the company leadership structure or the introduction of management.

  2. Business Plan vs. Business Proposal + Examples [Updated 2022]

    The business plan is a roadmap for your company’s present and future, while the business proposal has to do with what you are asking someone else for money. Applying this difference into practice can be difficult at times because business plans are often marketed as business proposals.

  3. Business Plan vs. Business Proposal: What’s The Difference

    A business plan is a formal guide that acts as a blueprint, deciphering every root and branch to make a business successful. It is a written document that provides insights to internal and external stakeholders on business vision, goals, and strategies to achieve those goals. “Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost.

  4. Business Plan and Proposal: Everything You Need to Know

    A business plan and a business proposal are different from each other by content, goals, writing style, and structure. The major difference between both is that a business plan is a document that presents facts, while a business proposal is a request for a deal and a quotation of prices. A Business Plan

  5. How to Write a Business Proposal

    In short, a business plan represents the cohesive strategy of how your business operates and makes money. A business proposal is an official pitch to clients selling your products or services. A business proposal outlines a particular product or service offered by an established business to a prospective client.