How do I respond to an RFP?

Hello fellow business owners, entrepreneurs, and friends.  How are you doing?  I have been thinking about the people in my life a lot this past month. I wonder how your mental health is going, I wonder how your physical health is, I wonder if your businesses are still open, I wonder how you are dealing with all of this.    

Overall I am doing just fine and I am celebrating my good health and wellness as much as I can. 

I am having one of those really, really rare days in my life… I have the whole house to myself.  Why this is great? It really gives my creativity a chance to run free.  Writing this month’s newsletter is flowing easily without any other distractions.  You should not start to interpret that I don’t love and adore my husband.  We have grown even closer during this additional time together and our relationship is fun.  For me, it is just nice, every once in a while, to have a day alone to just breathe.  If you want to know why I am not off motorcycling with him around Itasca State Park, it is because I needed to respond to my very first RFP (Request For Proposals) with a proposal for a short term consulting job for an organization that I so strongly believe in (more details to come should I land the position). For anyone who has not submitted a proposal to an RFP now would be the time for me to explain what I have learned so far. Just keep in mind it is my very first proposal and I will learn more once I submit it and we see how it goes.  

Here is what I have learned and I started to understand it more, once I thought of it like road construction bidding or grant writing.  It looks very similar to that for me, but I know that for many business owners outside of the construction and non-profit or art world you might not be so familiar with this process.  

Basic RFP Response Process: 

1- You find or are sent or hear about an RFP you think would be good for your business 

2 – You respond with the intent to submit a proposal by a certain date. 

3 – You respond with initial RFP questions by a certain date. 

4 – Attend group meeting/conference call on a certain date. (in my case this did not happen) 

5 – Submit a proposal by the certain date you mentioned in 2

6 – First round follow up interviews will be scheduled by a certain date. 

7 – Second round interviews will be scheduled by a certain date. 

The reason the government and more businesses use RFPs to hire contractors is because: 

  • It helps them compare proposals equally. 
  • They can find a good company for the lowest price. 
  • It streamlines the procurement process. 

As an SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) if you are not submitting proposals to RFPs, you might be in the near future.   I encourage you to not be afraid of them.  In all of my research this past week they look possible.  

  • Most companies work as a team. There are even softwares to help manage your proposal process, not miss deadlines, and share data with each other. 
  • The RFP process can take months. 
  • Your executive summary needs to be engaging, short, and provide the key points. 
  • Have someone who has not been part of the proposal writing process review the document and redline all issues. 
  • Make sure you submit the proposal on time. 

When it comes to that darn proposal, I have to tell you that I don’t think I have that totally figured out yet.  While Google is helpful, the examples I kept finding where not near the market I am proposing in.  That said, I will share with you the parts of the proposal I am submitting. 

  • Cover/Introduction Letter
  • Table of Contents
  • Answer RFP Questions
  • Certifications/Proof of Insurance/W9
  • Pricing
  • Executive Summary

I hope this little outline of my experience with the RFP process has been helpful.  I am adding a little graphical pop to my proposal because from what I could see of the on-line examples proposals are really boring looking and could use a little updating in their presentation style.  We will have to see how that turns out, too. 

Well, that’s it for me, the bump in the couch who has been typing all day.  The podcast has been going well, Michelle and I are talking about some new directions and ideas…and something else really big that I might be able to share with you next month.   

Please drop me an email, text, or voicemail and let me know how you are doing.  What have you been learning over the past few months? 

Adios muchas gracias,


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