Chapter 13: Proposals, Business Plans, and Formal Business Reports

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Components of Formal and Informal Proposals
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*Copy of RFP (optional) *Letter of Transmittal *Abstract or summary *Title Page *Table of Contents *List of Figures *Introduction *Background, Problem, Purpose *Schedule *Staffing *Budget *Authorization *Appendix
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Preparing Proposals: Introduction
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*Explain why the proposal is being made *Develop a persuasive “hook” such as a)extraordinary results b) low costs or speedy results c) an exclusive, remarkable resource, d) a serious problem and a promise of a solution later or e) a key issue or benefit that represents the heart of the proposal
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Preparing Proposals: Background, problem, Purpose
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*Discuss the proposal’s significance, goals, or purposes *For unsolicited proposals, describe an existing problem *For solicited proposals, show that you fully understand the problem and its ramifications
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Preparing Proposals: Proposal, plan, schedule
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*Present your plan for solving the problem *Describe implementation and evaluation *Outline a schedule showing dates
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Preparing proposals: Staffing
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*Explain the specific credentials and expertise of the key personnel for the project *Show how your support staff and resources are superior
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Preparing proposals: Budget, authorization
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*Itemize costs carefully. Proposals are contracts *Present a deadline for the bid figures *Ask for approval, and make it easy to reply
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Letter of transmittal or executive summary
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*Explain you reason for writing *Provide contact information for all principals *Describe your business concisely *Introduce parts of your plan *Ask for your support
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Table of contents
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*List topics and page numbers
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Company description
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*Identify business form (proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and so on) *Specify business type (merchandising, service) *For existing businesses, explain founding, growth, sales, and profit
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Preparing Effective Business Plans: Product or service description
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*Explain what you are providing and how it will benefit customers *Describe why your idea is better than existing products or services
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Preparing effective business plans: market analysis
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*Discuss market characteristics, trends, and projected growth *Describe customer behavior, complementary products and services, and barriers to entry *Identify your customers and how you will attract, hold, and increase your market share *Specify the strengths and weaknesses of competitors
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Preparing effective business plans: operations and management
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*Explain how you will run your business: location, equipment, personnel, and management *Emphasize experienced and well-trained staff and advisors
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Preparing effective business plans: financial analysis
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*outline a realistic start-up budget *Present an operating budget the projects costs *Explain how much money you have and will need
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Appendixes
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*Provide extras, such as managers’ resumes, promotional materials, and product photos
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Preparing formal reports: Analyze the report problem and purpose
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*Develop a problem question and a purpose statement
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Preparing formal reports: Anticipate the audience and issues
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*Consider primary and secondary audiences. What do they already know? What do they need to know? *Divide the major problem into subproblems for investigation
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Preparing formal reports: Prepare a work plan
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*Include problem and purpose statements *Describe sources and methods of data collection *Prepare a project outline and work schedule
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Preparing formal reports: Collect data
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*Search secondary sources *Gather primary data
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Preparing formal reports: Document data sources
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*Prepare note cards or printouts citing all references (author, data, source, page, and quotation). Use one documentation format consistently
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Preparing formal reports: Interpret and organize the data
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*Arrange the collected data in tables, grids, or outlines to help your visualize relationships and interpret meanings *Organize the data into an outline
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Preparing formal reports: Prepare graphics
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* Make table, charts, and illustrations- but only if they serve a function. Use graphics to clarify, condense, simplify, or emphasize your data
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Preparing Formal Reports: Compose the first draft
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*Write the first draft knowing that you will revise it later *Use appropriate headings and transitional expressions to guide the reader
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Preparing formal reports: Revise and proofread
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*Revise to eliminate wordiness, ambiguity, and redundancy. Look for ways to improve readability, such as bulleted or numbered lists. Proofread three times for 1) word and content meaning 2) grammar and mechanics 3) formatting
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Preparing formal reports: Evaluate the product
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*Decide whether the report will achieve its purpose. Encourage feedback so that you can improve future reports
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: Cover Page
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*Choose a professional binder or cover *Balance the following parts on the title page: ***Name of report in all caps ***Receiver’s name, title, and organization ***Author’s name, title, and organization ***Date submitted
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: Table of Contents
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*Show the beginning page number where each report heading appears in the report
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: List of figures
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*Include a list of tables, illustrations, or figures showing the title of each and its page number *Place the list of figures on the same page with the table of contents if possible
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: Letter or memo of transmittal
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*Announce the topic and explain who authorized it *Briefly describe the project and preview the conclusions- if the reader is supportive *Close by expressing appreciation for the assignment, suggesting follow-up actions, acknowledging the help of others, and offering to answer questions
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: Executive Summary
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*Summarize the report purpose, findings, conclusions, and recommendations *Include strategic words and sentences *Prepare an outline with headings *Fill in your outline *Begin with the purpose *Follow the report sequence *Eliminate nonessential details *Restrict the length to no more than 10 percent of the original document
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Formal Report Components: Front Matter: Introduction
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*Describe events leading to the problem or need *Explain the report topic and why it is important *Clarify the scope and limitations of the report *Orient readers with a preview of the report structure *Identify who authorized the report *Consider reviewing relevant literature *Describe secondary and primary data sources *Define key terms
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Formal report components: Body
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*Discuss, analyze, and interpret the research findings, or proposed solution to the problem *Arrange the findings in logical segments that follow your outline *Use clear, descriptive headings
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Formal Report Components: Back Matter: Conclusions and Recommendations
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*Explain what the findings mean in relation to the problem *Make enumerated recommendations, if requested *Suggest actions for solving the problem
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Formal Report Components: Back Matter: Appendix
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*Include items of interest to some readers, such as data-gathering tools like questionnaires
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Formal Report Components: Back Matter: Works Cited or References
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*List all references in “Works cited” or “references” if footnotes are not provided *Optionally, include a bibliography showing all the works cited (and perhaps consulted), arranged alphabetically

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