3 Key Factors in Making Proposals Easier to Understand

Photos of Raul Colon Web Developer Puerto Rico

As a small business owner you spend a lot of time waiting on individuals to make a decision if they want to hire you or if they don’t.

I am currently working on multiple internal projects and I also submitted good quantity of proposals these past two weeks.
I guess the approach of submitting formal proposals probably got me into trouble because many people did not get it. Will have to clean my process into making a general proposal and then sending a contract once they agree to continue clarifying what I am offering.

I guess creating a document to make sure to cover all your points and having all parties with a clear idea of what is will be agreed upon can be difficult.

1. The Technical Aspects of the Agreement

In most industries there are many technical terms that are not to be understood outside of the specific industry. Make sure you clarify and provide very clear examples or a place where a person can do a bit more of research so they can understand the information that has been presented to them. .

2. Stay away from the Acronyms

Acronyms change from place to place and industry to industry. In my case my first experiences with overuse of acronyms was in the military. I remember watching the movie “Renassaince Man” where Danny Devito plays a civilian instructor for the Army and they drive him crazy when he gets on base with the acronyms. Make sure you use acronyms that are widely known if you need to use them and provide a brief explanation on what it means. If you really need to use them including a glossary for each item or even other terms that are technical might be a good idea.


3. Outline the Investment in an Easy Way to Understand

Another mistake I see on many proposals (even many I have made) is that the investment the person has to make is not clear. It is preferable to outline the cost with as much detailed needed so nothing is left out. It is key to be detailed but never forgetting to be brief. If the area where you detail your pricing and investment looks to complicated by itself make sure you can simplify it.

Most of these tips are more aligned towards proposals when your client is a small business but I have found that many of these items can be applied in larger businesses.

What other items do you make sure are clear enough when it comes to that?


  1. Gabriele Maidecchi on December 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    From experience, I find it also very important to put particular emphasis on the timeline of the project and payments details. Examples: how many drafts you will include, in how many working days, methods of their approval (signing the printed drafts?), when to pay the first 30%, when the other 70% etc etc.
    Also, in random order:
    – what to do if the client doesn’t provide all the materials in order for you to prepare the drafts?- what to do if the client asks for 1, 2, x more appointments to discuss the project face to face?- what to do if the client doesn’t return the signed project’s proposal / contract within the specified time-frame?- what to do if the client keeps not liking the drafts you show him?And so on along these lines.Lots to think about.
    My final suggestion: proposals or contracts doesn’t matter, have a lawyer proof-read it (ok, if it’s a contract have him write it entirely), or sooner or later you’ll end up wishing you followed my suggestion.

    • Raul Colon on December 14, 2011 at 11:09 am


      I was planning a follow up post and will be using some of your ideas. I guess I wanted to focus more on the actual structure of the proposal and leaving more complex stuff for the contract. 

      Is it ok if I reference you in my follow up post! 

      • Gabriele Maidecchi on December 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

        Of course, feel free and thank you. I am sorry I DID get a bit overboard with my comment since the proposal phase is still very preliminar but hey, I get worked up on contracts and stuff ’cause in my company usually they come to me when something’s wrong with them :p

  2. Prometeo on December 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Acronyms… I remember once being drowned in a company that loved to use those. They were confusing. It’s better to speak simple.