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Contrary to what you may have learned in high school, not every piece of writing needs a thesis statement to work. However, most nonfiction writing will have an obvious thesis statement by the time you finish writing it.
Determine the target audience of your eBook. Try to gauge the types of people who will be interested in your book based on its title and description. Are they young or old? Do they own homes or rent? How much money do they make annually, and do they prefer to save or spend? You don’t need to hire an expert; just make your best guesses. This information is only to help you market your eBook later.
Publish to e-Readers with KDP. One of the most commonly used is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. KDP allows you to format and publish your eBook to the Kindle Marketplace for free. Anyone who owns the popular Kindle line of e-readers can then purchase your book from the marketplace and read a copy on their Kindle. Under this setup, you keep 70% of the price of every copy you sell of your book, provided you set that price between $2.99 and $9.99. The main downside is that KDP doesn’t publish to people without Kindle readers, limiting your audience.
Research other eBook publishers. Services like Lulu, Booktango, and Smashwords are also available to take your manuscript and publish it for you in eBook format. Generally speaking, the basic service of these sites is free (and you shouldn’t ever pay to publish your eBook, since it basically costs nothing), but they offer premium packages and services, like marketing and editing, for a fee. Be careful to avoid spending money when you didn’t mean to if you go this route. On the plus side, these services can reach a much wider potential audience than KDP, and sometimes offer more royalties. Lulu, for example, pays a whopping 90%!
Never work with a publisher that won’t let you set your own price. Forcing a price can have detrimental effects on your bottom line in a few different ways, which essentially makes it another fee. As a general rule of thumb, eBooks turn the most profit when priced between $0.99 and $5.99 per copy.
Calibre is a newer program that is quick, powerful, and easy to use. It converts HTML files (and only HTML files) into EPUB (the industry standard) format easily, and costs nothing, though donations are appreciated by the creators. Most word processors can save your manuscript as HTML.
Adobe Acrobat Pro is the gold standard program for creating PDF files, which can be read on nearly any computer or device. Acrobat allows you to password-protect your PDF file when you save it, though once you’ve given out the password, anyone who has it will be able to open the book. It’s a powerful and flexible program, but it isn’t free.
There are many other programs available to help you self publish, both free and paid. If none of the above options sound perfect for you, explore online and find one that suits your needs.
Use social media for visibility. Post about the book (and link to a place it can be bought!) on every social media site where you have a presence: Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Even LinkedIn is a good place to add a link to your book on your profile page.
Rely on yourself. People love it when authors are accessible. Advertise times for virtual Q and A sessions about the book, or send complimentary copies to bloggers who review eBooks and ask to do an interview.
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The body is the longest part of an essay. This is where you lead the reader through your ideas, elaborating arguments and evidence for your thesis. The body is always divided into paragraphs.
You can work through the body in three main stages:
Create an outline of what you want to say and in what order.
Write a first draft to get your main ideas down on paper.
Write a second draft to clarify your arguments and make sure everything fits together.
This article gives you some practical tips for how to approach each stage.Start with an outline
Before you start, make a rough outline that sketches out the main points you want to make and the order you’ll make them in. This can help you remember how each part of the essay should relate to the other parts.
However, remember that the outline isn’t set in stone – don’t be afraid to change the organization if necessary. Work on an essay’s structure begins before you start writing, but it continues as you write, and goes on even after you’ve finished writing the first draft.
While you’re writing a certain section, if you come up with an idea for something elsewhere in the essay, take a few moments to add to your outline or make notes on your organizational plans.Write the first draft
Your goals in the first draft are to turn your rough ideas into workable arguments, add detail to those arguments, and get a sense of what the final product will actually look like.Write strong body paragraphs Start wherever you want
Many writers do not begin writing at the introduction, or even the early body paragraphs. Start writing your essay where it seems most natural for you to do so.
Some writers might prefer to start with the easiest section to write, while others prefer to get the most difficult section out of the way first. Think about what material you need to clarify for yourself, and consider beginning there.Tackle one idea at a time
Each paragraph should aim to focus on one central idea, giving evidence, explanation, and arguments that relate to that idea.
At the start of each paragraph, write a topic sentence that expresses the main point. Then elaborate and expand on the topic sentence in the rest of the paragraph.
When you’ve said everything you have to say about the idea, move onto a new paragraph.Keep your argument flexible
You may realize as you write that some of your ideas don’t work as well as you thought they would. Don’t give up on them too easily, but be prepared to change or abandon sections if you realize they don’t make sense.
You’ll probably also come up with new ideas that you’d not yet thought of when writing the outline. Note these ideas down and incorporate them into the essay if there’s a logical place for them.
If you’re stuck on one section, move on to another part of the essay and come back to it later.Don’t delete content
If you begin to dislike a certain section or even the whole essay, don’t scrap it in fit of rage!
If something really isn’t working, you can paste it into a separate document, but keep what you have, even if you don’t plan on using it. You may find that it contains or inspires new ideas that you can use later.Note your sources
Students often make work for themselves by forgetting to keep track of sources when writing drafts.
You can save yourself a lot of time later and ensure you avoid plagiarism by noting down the name, year, and page number every time you quote or paraphrase from a source.
You can also use a citation generator to save a list of your sources and copy-and-paste citations when you need them.Avoid perfectionism
When you’re writing a first draft, it’s important not to get slowed down by small details. Get your ideas down on paper now and perfect them later. If you’re unsatisfied with a word, sentence, or argument, flag it in the draft and revisit it later.
When you finish the first draft, you will know which sections and paragraphs work and which might need to be changed. It doesn’t make sense to spend time polishing something you might later cut out or revise.Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting
Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:
See an example
Write the second draft
Working on the second draft means assessing what you’ve got and rewriting it when necessary. You’ll likely end up cutting some parts of the essay and adding new ones.Check your ideas against your thesis
Everything you write should be driven by your thesis. Looking at each piece of information or argumentation, ask yourself:
Does the reader need to know this in order to understand or accept my thesis?
Does this give evidence for my thesis?
Does this explain the reasoning behind my thesis?
Does this show something about the consequences or importance of my thesis?
If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, reconsider whether it’s relevant enough to include.
If your essay has gone in a different direction than you originally planned, you might have to rework your thesis statement to more accurately reflect the argument you’ve made.Watch out for weak points
Be critical of your arguments, and identify any potential weak points:
Unjustified assumptions: Can you be confident that your reader shares or will accept your assumptions, or do they need to be spelled out?
Lack of evidence: Do you make claims without backing them up?
Logical inconsistencies: Do any of your points contradict each other?
Uncertainty: Are there points where you’re unsure about your own claims or where you don’t sound confident in what you’re saying?
Fixing these issues might require some more research to clarify your position and give convincing evidence for it.Check the organization
When you’re happy with all the main parts of your essay, take another look at the overall shape of it. You want to make sure that everything proceeds in a logical order without unnecessary repetition.
Try listing only the topic sentence of each paragraph and reading them in order. Are any of the topic sentences too similar? Each paragraph should discuss something different; if two paragraphs are about the same topic, they must approach it in different ways, and these differences should be made clear in the topic sentences.
Does the order of information make sense? Looking at only topic sentences lets you see at a glance the route your paper takes from start to finish, allowing you to spot organizational errors more easily.Draw clear connections between your ideas
Finally, you should assess how your ideas fit together both within and between paragraphs. The connections might be clear to you, but you need to make sure they’ll also be clear to your reader.
Within each paragraph, does each sentence follow logically from the one before it? If not, you might need to add new sentences to make the connections clear. Try using transition words to clarify what you want to say.
Between one paragraph and the next, is it clear how your points relate to one another? If you are moving onto an entirely new topic, consider starting the paragraph with a transition sentence that moves from the previous topic and shows how it relates to the new one.Cite this Scribbr article
Bryson, S. Retrieved July 17, 2023,
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A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.
The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:
While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.Research proposal purpose
Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application, or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation.
In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.
Research proposal aims
Relevance Show your reader why your project is interesting, original, and important.
Context Show that you understand the current state of research on your topic.
Approach Demonstrate that you have carefully thought about the data, tools, and procedures necessary to conduct your research.
Achievability Confirm that your project is feasible within the timeline of your program or funding deadline.Research proposal length
The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.
One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation, only without the results, conclusion and discussion sections.
Download our research proposal templateResearch proposal examples
Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
Try for freeTitle page
Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:
The proposed title of your project
Your supervisor’s name
Your institution and department
TipIf your proposal is very long, you may also want to include an abstract and a table of contents to help your reader navigate your work.Introduction
The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.
Your introduction should:
Introduce your topic
Give necessary background and context
Outline your problem statement and research questions
To guide your introduction, include information about:
Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
How much is already known about the topic
What is missing from this current knowledge
What new insights your research will contribute
Why you believe this research is worth doingLiterature review
As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.
In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:
Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship
TipIf you’re not sure where to begin, read our guide on how to write a literature review.Research design and methods
Following the literature review, restate your main objectives. This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.Contribution to knowledge
To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.
For example, your results might have implications for:
Improving best practices
Informing policymaking decisions
Strengthening a theory or model
Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
Creating a basis for future researchReference list
Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list. To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator.Research schedule
Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.
Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.
Download our research schedule template
Example research schedule
Research phase Objectives Deadline
1. Background research and literature review
Meet with supervisor for initial discussion
Read and analyze relevant literature
Use new knowledge to refine research questions
Develop theoretical framework
2. Research design planning
Identify channels for recruiting participants
Finalize sampling methods and data analysis methods
3. Data collection and preparation
Recruit participants and send out questionnaires
Conduct semi-structured interviews with selected participants
Transcribe and code interviews
4. Data analysis
Statistically analyze survey data
Conduct thematic analysis of interview transcripts
Draft results and discussion chapters
Complete a full thesis draft
Meet with supervisor to discuss feedback and revisions
Complete 2nd draft based on feedback
Get supervisor approval for final draft
Print and bind final work
If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.
Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:
Cost: exactly how much money do you need?
Justification: why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
Source: how did you calculate the amount?
To determine your budget, think about:
Travel costs: do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
Materials: do you need access to any tools or technologies?
Help: do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?Other interesting articles
If you want to know more about the research process, methodology, research bias, or statistics, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.Frequently asked questions about research proposals Cite this Scribbr article
McCombes, S. & George, T. Retrieved July 17, 2023,
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The college essay can make or break your application. It’s your chance to provide personal context, communicate your values and qualities, and set yourself apart from other students.
A standout essay has a few key ingredients:
A unique, personal topic
A compelling, well-structured narrative
A clear, creative writing style
Evidence of self-reflection and insight
To achieve this, it’s crucial to give yourself enough time for brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.
In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through every step in the process of writing a college admissions essay.Why do you need a standout essay?
While most of your application lists your academic achievements, your college admissions essay is your opportunity to share who you are and why you’d be a good addition to the university.
Your college admissions essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s total weight一and may account for even more with some colleges making the SAT and ACT tests optional. The college admissions essay may be the deciding factor in your application, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.What do colleges look for in an essay?
Admissions officers want to understand your background, personality, and values to get a fuller picture of you beyond your test scores and grades. Here’s what colleges look for in an essay:
Demonstrated values and qualities
Vulnerability and authenticity
Self-reflection and insight
Creative, clear, and concise writing skillsStart organizing early
It’s a good idea to start organizing your college application timeline in the summer of your junior year to make your application process easier. This will give you ample time for essay brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.
While timelines will vary for each student, aim to spend at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing your first draft and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Remember to leave enough time for breaks in between each writing and editing stage.Create an essay tracker sheet
Deadlines and number of essays needed
Prompt overlap, allowing you to write one essay for similar prompts
You can build your own essay tracker using our free Google Sheets template.
College essay tracker templatePrevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
Try for freeChoose a unique topic
Ideally, you should start brainstorming college essay topics the summer before your senior year. Keep in mind that it’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic.
If you want to write about a common essay topic, such as a sports injury or volunteer work overseas, think carefully about how you can make it unique and personal. You’ll need to demonstrate deep insight and write your story in an original way to differentiate it from similar essays.What makes a good topic?
Meaningful and personal to you
Uncommon or has an unusual angle
Reveals something different from the rest of your applicationBrainstorming questions
You should do a comprehensive brainstorm before choosing your topic. Here are a few questions to get started:
What are your top five values? What lived experiences demonstrate these values?
What adjectives would your friends and family use to describe you?
What challenges or failures have you faced and overcome? What lessons did you learn from them?
What makes you different from your classmates?
What are some objects that represent your identity, your community, your relationships, your passions, or your goals?
Whom do you admire most? Why?
What three people have significantly impacted your life? How did they influence you?How to identify your topic
Here are two strategies for identifying a topic that demonstrates your values:
Start with your qualities: First, identify positive qualities about yourself; then, brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities.
Start with a story: Brainstorm a list of memorable life moments; then, identify a value shown in each story.Outline your essay
After choosing your topic, organize your ideas in an essay outline, which will help keep you focused while writing. Unlike a five-paragraph academic essay, there’s no set structure for a college admissions essay. You can take a more creative approach, using storytelling techniques to shape your essay.
Two common approaches are to structure your essay as a series of vignettes or as a single narrative.Vignettes structure
The vignette, or montage, structure weaves together several stories united by a common theme. Each story should demonstrate one of your values or qualities and conclude with an insight or future outlook.
This structure gives the admissions officer glimpses into your personality, background, and identity, and shows how your qualities appear in different areas of your life.
Example outline for vignette essay
Topic: Museum with a “five senses” exhibit of my experiences
Introduction: Tour guide introduces my museum and my “Making Sense of My Heritage” exhibit
Story: Racial discrimination with my eyes
Lesson: Using my writing to document truth
Story: Broadway musical interests
Lesson: Finding my voice
Story: Smells from family dinner table
Lesson: Appreciating home and family
Story: Washing dishes
Lesson: Finding moments of peace in busy schedule
Story: Biking with Ava
Lesson: Finding pleasure in job well done
Conclusion: Tour guide concludes tour, invites guest to come back for “fall College Collection,” featuring my search for identity and learning.Single story structure
The single story, or narrative, structure uses a chronological narrative to show a student’s character development over time. Some narrative essays detail moments in a relatively brief event, while others narrate a longer journey spanning months or years.
Single story essays are effective if you have overcome a significant challenge or want to demonstrate personal development.
Example outline for narrative essay
Topic: Sports injury helps me learn to be a better student and person
Situation: Football injury
Challenge: Friends distant, teachers don’t know how to help, football is gone for me
Turning point: Starting to like learning in Ms. Brady’s history class; meeting Christina and her friends
My reactions: Reading poetry; finding shared interest in poetry with Christina; spending more time studying and with people different from me
Insight: They taught me compassion and opened my eyes to a different lifestyle; even though I still can’t play football, I’m starting a new gameBrainstorm creative insights or story arcs
Regardless of your essay’s structure, try to craft a surprising story arc or original insights, especially if you’re writing about a common topic.
Never exaggerate or fabricate facts about yourself to seem interesting. However, try finding connections in your life that deviate from cliché storylines and lessons.
Common insight Unique insight
Making an all-state team → outstanding achievement Making an all-state team → counting the cost of saying “no” to other interests
Making a friend out of an enemy → finding common ground, forgiveness Making a friend out of an enemy → confront toxic thinking and behavior in yourself
Choir tour → a chance to see a new part of the world Choir tour → a chance to serve in leading younger students
Volunteering → learning to help my community and care about others Volunteering → learning to be critical of insincere resume-building
Turning a friend in for using drugs → choosing the moral high ground Turning a friend in for using drugs → realizing the hypocrisy of hiding your secretsStart with a memorable introduction
Admissions officers read thousands of essays each year, and they typically spend only a few minutes reading each one. To get your message across, your introduction, or hook, needs to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read more..
Avoid starting your introduction with a famous quote, cliché, or reference to the essay itself (“While I sat down to write this essay…”).
While you can sometimes use dialogue or a meaningful quotation from a close family member or friend, make sure it encapsulates your essay’s overall theme.
Find an original, creative way of starting your essay using the following two methods.Option 1: Start with an intriguing hook
Begin your essay with an unexpected statement to pique the reader’s curiosity and compel them to carefully read your essay. A mysterious introduction disarms the reader’s expectations and introduces questions that can only be answered by reading more.
ExampleWelcome to The Rose Arimoto Museum. You are about to enter the “Making Sense of My Heritage” collection. Allow me to guide you through select exhibits, carefully curated recollections from Rose’s sensory experiences.Option 2: Start with vivid imagery
Illustrate a clear, detailed image to immediately transport your reader into your memory. You can start in the middle of an important scene or describe an object that conveys your essay’s theme.
ExampleAs I step out of bed, the pain shoots through my foot and up my leg like it has done every morning since “the game.” That night, a defensive linebacker tackled me, his 212 pounds landing decidedly on my ankle. I heard the sound before I felt it.Write like an artist
A college application essay allows you to be creative in your style and tone. As you draft your essay, try to use interesting language to enliven your story and stand out.Show, don’t tell
“Tell” in writing means to simply state a fact: “I am a basketball player.” “Show” in writing means to use details, examples, and vivid imagery to help the reader easily visualize your memory: “My heart races as I set up to shoot一two seconds, one second一and score a three-pointer!”
First, reflect on every detail of a specific image or scene to recall the most memorable aspects.
What are the most prominent images?
Are there any particular sounds, smells, or tastes associated with this memory?
What emotion or physical feeling did you have at that time?
ExampleThe sweet scent of candied yams, fun see, and Spam musubi wafts through the room as we sit around the table. My Pau Pau presents an aromatic melange of American, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine for our Thanksgiving feast. My favorite is cha siu bau, with its soft, pillowy white exterior hiding the fragrant filling of braised barbecue pork inside. Only the family prayer stands between me and the chance to indulge in these delicious morsels, comforting me with their familiar savory scents.Be vulnerable to create an emotional response
You don’t have to share a huge secret or traumatic story, but you should dig deep to express your honest feelings, thoughts, and experiences to evoke an emotional response. Showing vulnerability demonstrates humility and maturity. However, don’t exaggerate to gain sympathy.
ExampleMy broken ankle broke my spirit. My friends steered clear of me as I hobbled down the halls at school. My teachers tried to find the delicate balance between giving me space and offering me help. I was as unsure how to deal with myself as they were.Use appropriate style and tone
Make sure your essay has the right style and tone by following these guidelines:
Use a conversational yet respectful tone: less formal than academic writing, but more formal than texting your friends.
Prioritize using “I” statements to highlight your perspective.
Write within your vocabulary range to maintain an authentic voice.
Write concisely, and use the active voice to keep a fast pace.
Follow grammar rules (unless you have valid stylistic reasons for breaking them).Craft a strong conclusion
You should end your college essay with a deep insight or creative ending to leave the reader with a strong final impression. Your college admissions essay should avoid the following:
Summarizing what you already wrote
Stating your hope of being accepted to the school
Mentioning character traits that should have been illustrated in the essay, such as “I’m a hard worker”
Here are two strategies to craft a strong conclusion.Option 1: Full circle, sandwich structure
The full circle, or sandwich, structure concludes the essay with an image, idea, or story mentioned in the introduction. This strategy gives the reader a strong sense of closure.
In the example below, the essay concludes by returning to the “museum” metaphor that the writer opened with.
ExampleThank you for your attention. This completes our tour. I invite you to rejoin us for next fall’s College Experience collection, which will exhibit Rose’s continual search for identity and learning.Option 2: Revealing your insight
You can use the conclusion to show the insight you gained as a result of the experiences you’ve described. Revealing your main message at the end creates suspense and keeps the takeaway at the forefront of your reader’s mind.
ExampleI still limp down the halls at school, but I don’t seem to mind as much these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers continually invite me to learn more and do my best, excited by my newfound interest in learning. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.
My broken ankle broke my spirit. Then, it broke my ignorance.Revise and receive feedback
Revise your essay before submitting it to check its content, style, and grammar. Get feedback from no more than two or three people.
It’s normal to go through several rounds of revision, but take breaks between each editing stage.
Also check out our college essay examples to see what does and doesn’t work in an essay and the kinds of changes you can make to improve yours.Respect the word count
Most schools specify a word count for each essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit.
Remain under the specified word count limit to show you can write concisely and follow directions. However, don’t write too little, which may imply that you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.Check your content, style, and grammar
First, check big-picture issues of message, flow, and clarity.
Then, check for style and tone issues.
Finally, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.Get feedback
Get feedback from 2–3 people who know you well, have good writing skills, and are familiar with college essays.
Teachers and guidance counselors can help you check your content, language, and tone.
Friends and family can check for authenticity.
An essay coach or editor has specialized knowledge of college admissions essays and can give objective expert feedback.
The checklist below helps you make sure your essay ticks all the boxes.College admissions essay checklist
It looks like your essay ticks all the boxes. A second pair of eyes can help you take it to the next level – Scribbr’s essay coaches can help.
Explore the essay coaching service
Return to checklistFrequently asked questions
Vision statements describe your company’s “why,” while mission statements describe the “who” and “what” of your business.
Vision statements are essential because they reveal a common goal and direction for your employees.
You can craft a compelling vision statement by infusing it with passion, making it inspiring, and aligning it with your business’s values and goals.
This article is for business owners who want to create a vision statement that defines their values and shines a light on their corporate identity.
Writing a vision statement for your business can be challenging because it must define your company, values and future goals. While many established companies focus on their mission statement, a vision statement is a valuable tool for inspiring your team and forging a corporate identity.
We’ll explore vision statements and their importance, as well as offer tools and best practices for crafting an inspiring vision statement that powers your growth strategy.What is a vision statement?
A vision statement is a written declaration clarifying your business’s meaning and purpose for stakeholders, especially employees. It describes the desired long-term results of your company’s efforts. For example, an early Microsoft vision statement was “a computer on every desk and in every home.”
“A company vision statement reveals, at the highest levels, what an organization most hopes to be and achieve in the long term,” said Katie Trauth Taylor, owner and CEO of Untold Content, a writing consultancy. “It serves a somewhat lofty purpose – to harness all the company’s foresight into one impactful statement.”
A vision statement matters because it outlines the common goal of everyone in the company. Businesses that are working toward a higher aspiration are more appealing to current and future employees.
A vision statement can affect a company’s long-term success, so take the time to craft one that synthesizes your ambition and mobilizes your staff.
Did You Know?
A vision statement can increase employee engagement while making it easier to hire new employees for a cultural fit.What to avoid when writing a vision statement
Don’t mix up your mission statement and vision statement. Mission statements are generally easier to write because they reflect what you’re doing now. Remember, a mission statement is what you are working to accomplish today, while a vision statement is what you want to accomplish in the future.
Don’t overthink your wording. One of the hardest parts of creating a vision statement is coming up with the right wording. You may find yourself endlessly rewriting and fretting about getting it right. Does this sentence or two define your values and shine a light on your corporate identity without sounding too vague? Don’t get lost in the pressure of perfect wording; a specific and unique vision statement is a good place to begin distinguishing your business from the rest of the industry.How to use your vision statement
Determine where your vision statement will appear and what role it will serve in your organization. This will make the process more than an intellectual exercise, Shockley said. It’s pointless to hang a vision statement in the lobby or promote it via your business’s social media channels if you never genuinely integrate it into your company culture.
“The vision business statement should be thought of as part of your strategic plan,” Shockley said. “It is an internal communications tool that helps align and inspire your team to reach the company’s goals.”
As such, you should view a vision statement as a living document that will be revisited and revised. Most importantly, it must speak directly to your employees.
“If your employees don’t buy into the vision, you’ll never be able to carry it out,” said Keri Lindenmuth, director of marketing with the Kyle David Group, a web and tech solutions provider. “The vision statement should be something your employees believe in. Only then will they make decisions and take actions that reflect your business’s vision.”
Help employees take ownership of the vision by asking them to identify ways they could incorporate the vision statement into their daily jobs. Reward employees with cool job perks when you catch them exemplifying the vision.Can vision statements change?
Many companies benefit from having a vision statement from their inception, but it’s perfectly acceptable not to commit to one specific vision immediately.
“Getting too tied into one master statement can really mess with the learning and creation process in the early stages,” said Sonia Elyss, president of marketing and communications collective Round Twelve. She encourages her clients to write a vision statement monthly, save the previous drafts, and see what sticks and what doesn’t over time.
“After the first year, you can look back and see how much you have evolved,” Elyss said. “What parts or words within the statement stuck around, and what was dropped? Those key words tend to end up being major brand pillars you can always come back to and eventually become part of the brand ethos.”
Tying yourself to a particular vision statement in the early days of your business may limit your opportunities for growth or blind you to the need for change.
“At the end of the day, trust your gut; test and check; look at the analytics; invest in the feedback your customer is giving you,” Elyss said. “If you aren’t willing to step outside of your initial vision for your business, you might miss a huge opportunity!”
Regardless of how many years you have been in business or how long you have had your vision statement, you’re not stuck with it. Don’t be afraid to change it – even if you spent time and money developing it – if it stops feeling right.The vision for your vision statement
A vision statement is a tool that can help your business grow and achieve brand success. Along the journey of growing your business, you’ll face good months, rough months, and every detour and roadblock imaginable.
Above all, your vision statement should constantly remind you and your team of the end goal. This message is important to hold on to, especially on the most challenging days.
Bassam Kaado and Paula Fernandes contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
To keep your business growing, you need to always be adding to your client portfolio. In order to keep landing new clients, you have to be able to sell them on your business and what you can do for them. One way to do so is by preparing a business proposal. Business proposals not only allow you to include the details of the project, your proposed solution and prices, but also give you the leeway to sell the benefits of your solution and your company. The business proposal is your opportunity to shine and, hopefully, acquire a new client in the process.What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a multipage document detailing how your business can solve a problem or fill a need for a customer. Business proposals can be unsolicited or solicited.
Unsolicited: With an unsolicited business proposal, you create the proposal on your own based on your understanding of the client’s need and send it to the client to capture their attention and win their business. Unsolicited proposals are generally less specific because the prospective client has not told you anything about its needs.
Solicited: With a solicited proposal, the customer identifies its own need or challenge and then asks companies like yours to submit proposals with solutions and costs. This is called a request for proposal, or RFP. There is a deadline by which the proposals are due so the client can compare them to each other, and there may be specific specifications that the solutions need to conform to. Sometimes, companies whose proposals are attractive to the client are called in and asked to make a presentation on their solution so that the client can ask questions. After reviewing all of the proposals, the client will make its choice.
Business proposals should demonstrate your company’s understanding of the client’s problem or need, your expertise and experience in addressing this type of need, your proposed solution and recommendations, your unique selling points, how much you are charging, and what the terms and conditions will be if the client chooses your company for the project.
Business proposals can be printed on paper, in the form of a presentation using software such as PowerPoint (sent electronically or printed), or via proposal software that allows clients to accept the proposal electronically.
Did You Know?
The ideal length for a proposal, on average, is six pages. This gives you enough space to adequately cover the essentials but is short enough to keep the client’s attention.When do you need a business proposal?
Business proposals are not appropriate and necessary for all types of businesses, but in some industries, they are a crucial way to get new clients. They are almost exclusively used in business-to-business (B2B) sales. The reasons for this are twofold. First, to justify a business proposal, the size of the project must be fairly significant, at least $1,000. Second, the project or challenge must have some level of complexity where it needs a custom solution, not something ready-made.
These are some industries that typically require business proposals:
Coaching (business or personal life coaching)Before you start writing your proposal
Writing a business proposal involves a lot of initial legwork. Once you become aware that a potential client is looking for proposals in your business niche, you will want to develop a sound, clear and precise business proposal. To do so, there are many pre-planning activities you will want to conduct.1. Do your research.
If you don’t know much about the potential client, you need to study. Go to the website and read everything. Get names of decision-makers, an idea of its business model, how long it’s been in business, its goals and its financial picture.2. Arrange a meeting with management.
You may not get in to see the CEO, but you should make an appointment with the highest-level manager possible. During this meeting, you want the client to clarify goals and needs, so be a good listener and take notes! You also want to get clear budget parameters so you have a financial framework for your proposal. While the focus of this meeting must be on the client, try to tout yourself a bit. Talk about your successes with similar organizations/industries.3. Develop your solutions.
Once you understand the client’s goals and needs, you are prepared to brainstorm and develop the most effective and cost-effective ways to serve them. For example, if you are in the property management business and have become aware that a large apartment complex owner is looking for a new outside property management firm, you meet with that owner or their rep. You ask about their issues and problems and what made them unhappy with the previous management. These will be critical points in your solution proposal. [Related article: Your Guide to Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan]What to include in the proposal
Writing a business proposal can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. If you don’t know how to write a proposal, you need to be a quick learner. There are templates and samples online that you can study, or you can visit a fellow entrepreneur who has experience and ask for their help. Generally, though, your sections will be as follows.
Introduction: This should summarize the client’s needs, what your company provides and your top selling points.
Description of the client’s current situation: This is a way to describe the need you are trying to solve for. This shows the potential client that you understand what their needs are.
Solution: State your solution, including the goals, objectives and methodologies for meeting the client’s needs and remedying the current situation.
Timeline: This is where you say how quickly you can get started once the client accepts your proposal, when each of the steps you are proposing will take place and the date when the project should be complete.
Proof: Do not be afraid to praise yourself. What are the benefits of choosing your company? Point out your successes with similar projects and provide references.
Pricing: This is where you detail how much the project with the currently described scope will cost. Critically important, the costs must be carefully and clearly broken down so that each facet of your solution methodology has a specific cost. This way, if the client has to cut back on something, they can make informed decisions.
Guarantee and terms and conditions: If you are offering a guarantee or warranty, this is the place to include it. You should also include terms and conditions, such as how much will be charged if the scope of the project changes and how often the client will be billed. You should also outline how approvals and disputes will be handled. To write this section, you may want to consult with a lawyer.
Next steps: At the end of the proposal, include a call to action. How can the client say yes to this proposal? Most proposals include a signature page that allows the client to accept the bid, while some proposal software allows clients to not only accept the proposal electronically, but also pay for it online. In addition, say what will happen next. For example, you might say that you will set up a meeting with the point person at the client company to get more specific information on their needs, or the next step may be for your team to create a proposed design for discussion.
To establish your credibility, include testimonials, examples of similar projects and client references, and awards and press your company has received.How to write the proposal
If you are not a good writer, get someone who is. You never know who will be reading your proposal, so make sure there are no grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors. And above all, keep it simple. Write it in a conversational tone. No one wants to struggle through long and complex sentences with academic-level vocabulary. As an extra check, have someone else read it over to catch mistakes and points that need clarification before you send it to the client.
You may also want to get input from your marketing and sales team. They specialize in communicating with prospects and know their pain points and priorities. So they can help you emphasize the right things and get your message across in a way that will be effective.Design
In addition to the content of your proposal, the way it looks makes a difference. An attractive graphic on the cover page can catch the eye of the client, and high-quality images, charts and layout make your proposal easier to read and more compelling. A well-designed proposal also tells the client that your business is professional and that you took your interaction with them seriously. You can use a business proposal template or software, or you can engage the services of a graphic designer to make your proposal look its best.
Did You Know?
Proposals with an attractive cover page tend to convert 45% better than those without one, according to Better Proposals.How to write different types of business proposal letters Business proposal solicitation letter
A business proposal solicitation letter sets the stage for an unsolicited business proposal and is a formal and much more dignified cold call or cold email. You are trying to drum up business by introducing yourself to potential clients who may or may not have heard of you before. The letter should, of course, be business formal and impeccable in grammar and style. Here are some pointers:
Find out who the decision-maker is before you write the letter. It should be addressed to that individual.
Your opening paragraph should catch their attention quickly. The potential to lower their costs will usually do the trick, so tell them that you can save them money and/or make their operations more cost-efficient.
The next paragraph should provide more detail about your product or service and describe how it saves money or is more efficient.
The third paragraph should speak to your qualifications. How long have you been doing this? Name past and current clients who have experienced cost savings and greater efficiency with your help. Be certain that you have permission to use their names, as they may be contacted.
The closing paragraph should be short and give some call to action. Either ask them to call you or tell them you will call in a few days for an appointment.Business proposal cover letter
Once you have written the business proposal, it is time to send it to the client. Even when the client is expecting to receive it, you should still include a cover letter as an introduction. If the client has issued an RFP or specifically asked you for a proposal, refer to this and express thanks for the opportunity. Let the client know that you have the ability, expertise, experience and creativity to successfully solve their problem. Throw in a few examples, such as how many years you’ve been in business, similar problems you have solved for other companies in the industry and how long clients tend to use your services.
Finally, tell them that the proposal is enclosed or attached, and encourage them to reach out to you if they have any questions.
Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and research in this article.
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