How to Write a Partnership Proposal [Examples + Template]

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Mandy Bray
Mandy Bray

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Partnerships generate $3.9 billion per year in the U.S. and supercharge the revenue of companies like Microsoft, Atlassian, and Shopify. Teaming up with another professional or company can multiply your capacity, expertise, and growth.

Woman shaking hands over partnership proposal

With so much at stake, approaching a potential partner can be intimidating. Whenever I make a business pitch, there are three items I work to perfect. First, an underlying relationship to build on. Second, a stellar verbal presentation for a pitch meeting. And third, a killer partnership proposal.

A partnership proposal is a powerful tool to showcase your professionalism and convince your potential partner why they should collaborate with you. I’ve compiled what you should include in your proposal, plus four partnership proposal templates to give you a head start.

→ Download Now: Free Business Proposal Template

Most partnership collaborations begin with an idea and verbal discussions. “Hey, here’s a crazy idea. What if we…” If you don’t know the person, start with a warm intro email or phone call first.

A partnership proposal is the next step in the process, formalizing concepts to align goals and gain buy-in. While it isn’t a legal contract, it’s often a precursor to one.

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    Types of Business Partnerships

    Before creating a business partnership proposal, it’s important to understand which type of partnership you want to pursue.

    General Business Partnership

    When two or more individuals enter a business agreement and share unlimited liability, you have a general business partnership. A proposal for a general business partnership should include the share of ownership, contributions of each partner, the distribution of profits and losses, and the terms for dissolution.

    Joint Venture

    A joint venture (JV) is an agreement between two companies to combine resources and expertise for a specific purpose. For instance, a global company might form a JV with a local company when bringing a product to a new country.

    Limited Partnership

    A limited partnership (LP) is a business partnership that includes at least one general partner and at least one limited partner. Limited partners have minimal liability and management oversight of the operations. An LP is common in single-purpose scenarios like a real estate transaction.

    Limited Liability Partnership

    The LLP structure is common in professional service fields such as law firms, doctor’s offices, and accounting. Similar to an LLC, a limited liability partnership (LLP) is an agreement between partners that grants them limited liability. LLP requirements vary by state.

    Influencer Partnership

    An influencer partnership is a limited-scope agreement between an influencer or creator and a brand to create and publish branded social media content.

    Sponsorship Partnership

    A sponsorship is a collaboration between businesses, nonprofits, or media companies where one company pays for access to promote their goods and services to the other company’s audience.

    Components of a Partnership Proposal

    When I write proposals, I always aim to personalize each one and find the right balance between personable and professional. While the nuances of each partnership model vary, there are a few common elements that every partnership business proposal should have.

    Executive Summary

    Hook your reader’s attention with a summary explaining the partnership concept, key benefits, and a table of contents.

    Partners

    List each partner with their contact and background information. Specify the role each will have, and whether they are a general or limited partner. Make it visual, with photos or logos.

    Goals and Objectives

    All good partnerships start with shared goals. Explain your goals and dreams for the partnership, from a high-level vision to specific objectives.

    Audience

    Share who your audience is and any key demographics. Make sure that your audience will fit with the partner’s audience, and vice-versa. An audience is a key selling point for partners, especially with influencer or sponsorship partnerships. Some brands go as far as account mapping to identify customer overlap, but general audience data can be as effective.

    Scope of Work

    Next, define the scope of work and projects to be covered with the partnership. If this is for a limited-scope project like an influencer collaboration, give a precise breakdown of project steps. If this is for a general partnership, JV, or LP, list target activities and deliverables and who is responsible for each. Give timelines as appropriate.

    Benefits and Challenges

    If you’ve ever written a business plan, you’re likely already familiar with the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Similar to this, give an abbreviated analysis of:

    • Challenges that will need to be tackled.
    • Benefits to the collaboration.
    • Market research and industry analysis.

    Legal and Financial Information

    Propose terms and conditions for the partnership, like payment and revenue-sharing structures. Spell out who will own intellectual property generated by the company and how royalties will be distributed. Address how disputes or a partnership dissolution would be handled. ​​

    How to Write a Partnership Proposal

    To test this out, I wrote a general partnership proposal between a web designer and a web developer who want to team up to start a website studio. I used HubSpot’s partnership business proposal template to build a professional proposal outlining the partnership benefits and structure.

    Creating a compelling partnership proposal requires a clear understanding of your potential partner's needs and how your collaboration can meet those needs. To simplify this process and ensure you have all the required information, consider using HubSpot Sales Software. This tool can help you gather insights, track interactions, and manage your proposal process more efficiently.

    Here are the steps I took to create the proposal.

    1. Outline the Benefits

    To convince your partner, make the case why it’s worth them sharing their time (and profits) with you.

    I started my proposal with an executive summary envisioning why the partnership would appeal to future clients. That leads into a “Benefits of Collaboration” section where I clearly outline the mutual advantages.

    Partnership proposal summary and benefits

    To make an effective proposal, show that you understand your partner’s motivations, mission, values, and goals. Here, I personalized my pitch with details about my future partner’s values, strengths, and achievements.

    Personalize your partnership proposal

    3. Showcase Your Value

    While the main focus of your proposal should be on your partner’s motivations, you need to prove why you are the right partner for them — and no one else. Talk yourself up and demonstrate how your value proposition can enhance their value proposition. Here, I took a visual approach by showing the career achievements of one of the partners.

    write your partnership proposal with value proposition in mind

    4. Outline the Structure

    Now, it’s time for the nitty-gritty. Remember, this isn’t a contract, but it’s time to start giving shape to the partnership. Ask an attorney to consult on the best legal structure.

    If this is a limited-scope partnership, break down all the little details — budget, timeline, roles, expectations, communication, and deliverables. Specify how disputes will be resolved if there are any.

    how to write partnership proposal terms and conditions

    5. Discuss and Negotiate

    A partnership proposal is just one milestone in a partnership discovery process. Take your time setting the right terms and tone for the deal.

    Once you’ve submitted a partnership proposal, welcome a dialogue and back-and-forth negotiation as you align your goals and values and settle on terms.

    The proposal is a living document that you can update and replace with a formal agreement if all goes well.

    steps of how to write a partnership proposal

    Partnership Proposal Template

    Take and adapt HubSpot’s free business proposal template for a quick way to get started.

    I like this template because it’s easy to use and available in both Word and PDF formats.

    The template comes with expert tips to guide you through each section, from understanding the problem to pitching the solution. Download the free template here.

    HubSpot’s free partnership business proposal template

    Partnership Proposal Examples

    If you’re looking for inspiration — and maybe some more templates — take a look at these stellar partnership proposals.

    Partnership Proposal by Pitch

    business proposal example from pitch

    Format: Slide deck

    What I like: Visuals that pop

    A podcast network pitches a partnership with a creator in this fictional partnership. This colorful proposal by Pitch uses a slide format to outline a potential partnership. Pay attention to the “Values” and “Team” slides, putting the company’s best foot forward through text and visuals. I also like how they break up long walls of text with bullets, graphics, and photos.

    The “Next Steps” section leads into action by making it easy to respond and say yes.

    Business Partnership Proposal by PandaDoc

    business proposal example by pandadoc

    Format: PandaDoc (online or exportable to PDF)

    What I like: Fillable sections

    If you want to impress your partner with a professional document, take a gander at PandaDoc’s business partnership proposal template. It sprinkles tasteful design elements here and there to toe the line between buttoned-up and innovative. I particularly like the layout of the SWOT analysis and goals and objectives sections.

    Fillable sections make it fast to populate. When you enter your partner’s name once, it enters it on every page it’s needed. And when your proposal is ready for a signature, you can e-sign right on the document.

    Influencer Proposal Template by Beautiful.ai

    business proposal example from beautiful.ai

    Format: Slide deck

    What I like: Animated elements

    Most proposals aren’t printed anymore — they’re viewed on a computer or smartphone. So, why not create one that’s designed for it? Beautiful.ai’s influencer marketing proposal gives a gorgeous blueprint for a partnership between a brand and an influencer. This proposal covers everything an influencer might need to know about a campaign, from messaging to budget to the content review process.

    The subtle animation on the graphics gives a nice touch, but the clear outline of goals and metrics is even better. The slides are also quick to customize with just a prompt powered by AI.

    Partnership Proposal Tips

    Brandice Daniel, CEO and founder of Harlem's Fashion Row (HFR) and author of Small Business, Big Partnership, shared how pivotal a proposal is in landing a partner.

    “The partnership deck is so important. You’re basically saying to a brand, ‘You want to have a conversation with me and here’s why.’ You’re building credibility.”

    Daniel also shared tips on the Earn Your Leisure podcast about what makes a great partnership proposal.

    1. Presentation Matters

    “The partnership proposal is like how you’re wrapping your company,” Daniel advises. “Consider getting a professional graphic artist to design your deck, and try to keep it to 10 pages.”

    2. Highlight Your Audience

    Daniel reminds us that, At the end of the day, brands want to partner with your audience. The reason they’re going to partner with you is because they think they’re going to be able to get more business by working with you.” She recommends to “highlight who they are, what they do, and how they connect with your brand.”

    3. Connect Outside of the Document

    A proposal is just a tool — and how you connect outside of the document matters. “People underestimate human connection. If people get on the phone with you, if they’re feeling your vibe and they’re excited, it’s a different conversation,” says Daniel.

    Scale Your Business With Partnerships

    Partnerships are magical because they give you access to a new audience and expand your capacity and expertise. But finding a good fit can make the difference between a successful partnership and a failed one.

    When done right, the proposal process surfaces priorities and values that inform whether the partnership should proceed. I was surprised to find that partnership proposals are such a unique blend of high-level vision and financial and legal details. Neither is more important than the other; both are needed to make a proposal effective.

    business proposal

    Topics: Startups

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