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Creating Successful Leaders

Last week, I gave you some general guidelines for presenting that great idea of yours to your boss. In this post, I’m going to hone in on one specific, necessary skill in this process: how to draft a knock-out proposal.

1. Provide the problem with the solution

An idea almost always arises from a perceived problem. For example, if I have an idea for streamlining tasks in my business, this is because I first see a problem with efficiency. Be clear about showing the relationship between the problem and the solution.

2. Show each of the steps to solving the problem

A proposal shouldn’t only describe what your idea is, it should also act as a roadmap for how it will be implemented. There will be many factors involved, many of which won’t be obvious at first. Think through the whole process. Make a list of all the resources you’ll need. Then, arrange them in order of importance as they relate to your big idea. That is, how do these resources “plug in” to the main idea to bring it to fruition?

I recommend making an outline to help you sort out how you plan on turning your idea into a reality.  You’ll be able to more easily organize the steps to your plan when you can see them literally written out in front of you.

3. Keep the steps simple, so the proposal stays short

Once you’ve gotten the work done of organizing the proposal, polish it to the bare essentials. Avoid jargon! Your proposal should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.  Avoid being long-winded: you’ll be asked to elaborate on your idea in person if they’re interested. A multi-page proposal is overwhelming, and a turn-off.

4. Know your audience, and write accordingly

You know best what kind of language, keywords, and the overall angle to use when you are familiar with the people you work with. The best kind of proposal is one that addresses the common mission of the business, so be sure to keep that in mind as you draft it.

5. Reach out, welcome feedback

No one expects you to be an expert on all the facets of the proposal. That’s why we have specialists. Perhaps you’re not an expert on the finances, and you may be anxious about admitting this. Don’t be! Reaching out shows strength and builds trust among your organization, and another set of eyes/another viewpoint can make a good proposal great.

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