Writing a business capability statement

To win new customers, your business may need a capability statement – especially if you regularly respond to tenders or pitch for business.

Find out what to include in a capability statement and how to make it as effective as possible.

Definition of a capability statement

As the name suggests, a capability statement is a document that shows what your business is able to do and deliver. Think of it as a resume for your business.

Depending on what you want to use it for, it can vary from a single-page summary to an extensive, multi-page document.

What a capability statement is used for

Many businesses (e.g. those in the construction, logistics or consultancy industries) will need a formal capability statement. You'll probably know if your business needs one.

The 2 main reasons for having a capability statement are:

  • tender responses – if you want to become a supplier for a larger organisation (e.g. government), you'll usually have to submit a capability statement to support your submission
  • business pitches – a capability statement is usually needed when you're doing introductions, presentations or proposals to prospective business-to-business (B2B) clients.

The decision makers at these prospective clients will look closely at your capability statement.

You can also use your capability statement when communicating with other stakeholders such as:

  • employees
  • suppliers
  • partners
  • distributors
  • investors.

Make the most of your B2B marketing

Find practical ideas to help you get more out of your B2B marketing.

A good capability statement...

A good capability statement will typically:

  • be a clear and concise written document
  • share accurate and relevant facts
  • look professional and appealing.

It will help your business to:

  • establish trust and credibility
  • stand out from competitors
  • project a professional image.

Most importantly, it will help you win new business customers.

What to include in your capability statement

The purpose of a capability statement is to provide an overview of your:

  • business – a snapshot of what you do
  • offer – what you can do for the customer
  • difference – what sets your business apart from others
  • track record – the evidence of your achievements.

This is more than 'about us' content. It needs to prove how you can solve problems for prospective clients.

Ask yourself...

What's most important to the decision makers who will read the document?

Prioritise this content.

Also consider:

  • the complexity of your business
  • how and where you intend to use it
  • your target audience.

You can add, change or exclude topics based on what you're aiming to achieve.

Core areas that can be addressed in a capability statement include:

  • business overview: this is the business introduction – it's the story of your heritage, expertise and direction. You can also express your vision and values.
  • core competencies: describe your business capabilities – the value proposition and unique selling points. Highlight the advantages of working with your business.
  • key personnel: meet the people – add professional profiles of management and team members (i.e. name, role, experience and qualifications).
  • products and services: provide a description of your products and services – with an emphasis on how your solution will address the requirements.
  • clients and projects: demonstrate your track record of strong performance – include your list of major clients and examples of relevant projects.
  • contact details: include full business contact details – name, title, email, telephone, locations and website, together with the ABN or ACN.

Checklist for your capability statement

Core information to include:

  • business overview
  • core competencies
  • key personnel
  • products and services
  • clients and projects
  • contact details.

Additional information to include if relevant or useful:

  • policies and procedures
  • accreditations and certifications
  • awards and recognition
  • membership of professional associations
  • client testimonials
  • community involvement
  • insurance details.

Create your capability statement

To create your capability statement, follow these 3 steps.

To effectively show what your business does and how it stands out from other businesses, you'll need information from your:

Other sources of information include your own knowledge and experience, as well as those of your employees, advisers and customers. It's best to adopt a collaborative approach by, for example:

  • organising a meeting with your employees to work through each of the sections
  • talking to clients to find out why they choose to do business with you.

Based on the inputs from step one, you can start to write your document.

  • Plan your outline by looking at the lists above of what to include in a capability statement.
  • Ensure that the flow of the document is natural and logical.
  • Use the information you’ve gathered to populate the capability statement.

Keep a master document

Create a master capability statement and keep a copy on file. This will make it quick and easy to:

  • reuse and repurpose the content
  • create new documents to suit specific audiences and opportunities.

Your capability statement is a public-facing communication tool. It needs to:

  • look professional and visually appealing
  • align with your business brand
  • be user-friendly and easy to read.

To do this, you can:

  • search online for capability statement templates or ask your contacts for sample documents
  • use your unique brand identity and visual design elements
  • where relevant, use visual elements like images, infographics and illustrations – don't just tell, show as well
  • keep it short and sharp (e.g. use bullet points and tables, not just long paragraphs)
  • write in the tone of voice that matches your business brand.

For a do-it-yourself option, you can take advantage of free or low-cost online graphic design applications.

However, depending on the prospective client, you may need to use different formats for your capability statement. For example, if:

  • you're able to submit your document as an attachment, can use your brand design
  • you need to use a template supplied by the client, you might only be able to use your written content.

Using external suppliers

If you're not confident that you have the right internal skills to create a high-quality document, consider engaging a:

  • copywriter to turn your thoughts into a compelling, easy-to-read and well-written business story
  • graphic designer to bring your document to life and make it visually appealing.

Read more about using professional marketing services.

Other formats

You may also need the help of external professionals to create other formats of or additions to your capability statement. You might, for example, decide to:

Top 10 tips for your capability statement

  1. Think about the audience – choose suitable information and language.
  2. Take enough time to draft your capability statement – do it as a team.
  3. Treat it as a 'live' document. Keep it up to date.
  4. Ask for constructive feedback from your business contacts and customers with whom you have a good relationship.
  5. Make the most of your master content by using for other applications.
  6. Add information from third parties such as client references or media coverage.
  7. Keep your website up to date and consistent with your capability statement.
  8. Proofread and spell check – and ask someone else to do this too.
  9. Use clever and thoughtful design to transform your written document into an impressive business tool.
  10. Convert the document into a PDF file. This format is easier to distribute and ensures the content and designs stays the same.

Also consider...