What is the Difference Between a Business Plan and a Business Proposal?

What is the Difference Between a Business Plan and a Business Proposal?

A business plan and a business proposal may sound similar, but they are actually two very different documents. If you’re unsure of which is which, read on for our explanation so you can figure out which one you might need to write.


What Is A Business Plan?

A business plan is a factual document detailing various aspects of a company, often with the aim of securing funding, or to help the owners to drive the business towards its goals. They are often written when a business is first being formed, but this is not always the case.

Business plans may include:

  • An executive summary
  • An overview of the industry
  • Goals and objectives
  • Market/competitor analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Management plan
  • Operating plan
  • Financial plan and projections


The aim of the business plan is to provide a road map that helps the business to reach its goals. It is a living document for the business owner and/or staff to refer to, to ensure they are heading in the right direction, to see if what they are doing is working, or to make positive changes to the business.


What Is A Business Proposal?

A business proposal is a sales document offering a product or service, so it serves a very different purpose to that of a business plan. Business proposals are submitted to customers and may be solicited or unsolicited, and they generally detail the work that is being proposed, quote the cost and call for the recipient to take action. They may include the scope of the work, or if they are unsolicited they may be more like a marketing document speculating about work that could be required.

Both of these documents are written with an important call to action in mind. For business proposals, that call to action is for potential customers to agree to a quote for work or a project. A business plan aims to convince a lender or investor to provide funds to help a business get off the ground or grow. One asks customers to work with them, while the other asks for funding from individuals or institutions. Both are very important documents that are integral to the success of many businesses.

If you would like help with writing a great business plan that gets you the results you need, contact cbm online using the form on the right or call 01604 420 420.

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