I’m in the middle of responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the feds. I’ve done a million of these, and though each is different, there are plenty of similarities in approach, requirements and process. That often means I can use an old proposal as a template and customize it according to the RFP. However, too often, it also means that I tend to ignore some of the finer details that make the RFP unique. In doing so, I miss things that I should include and I find my proposals lack focus and ingenuity.
After I lost a few bids because of that lack of effort on my part, I realized I needed to have a more focused and innovative way of doing proposals. So here are my 3 simple steps to creating something you can be proud of:
- DREAM: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? That’s the attitude I take whem I start dreaming about the proposal. Then, anything I include, in terms of requirements, actions, activities, whatever, is possible. This kind of attitude means I don’t just follow what I’ve done before. Instead, I allow myself to dream.
- PARTNER UP: Now that my proposal is filled with dreams and big ideas, I turn to a partner – right now, I’m working with Gail and Sue. They can look at my dreams, winnow out those that may not suit what we are trying to achieve, and make the proposal even better. A second or third set of eyes poses questions I hadn’t considered, and has answers to those I have.
- BREAK THE RULES: Napoleon broke the rules on the proper way to conduct a military assignment. Beethoven, one of my personal heroes, broke the rules on how a symphony should be written. At this point in the proposal, I’ve dreamed, I’ve had new perspectives shared, and now I can revisit the proposal by challenging the rules.
Try this approach the next time you write a proposal, a research paper, or pretty much anything related to your business. Dream, partner up, and break the rules. You won’t win every contract, but you will transform the way you work for the better!