Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Best Business Plan Software

Business plans serve many purposes. Before starting a business, a simple business plan enables would-be entrepreneurs to flesh out their ideas and lay out their vision. When it comes to seeking funding or planning for expansion, a comprehensive business plan is almost always a must. And when it comes to problems down the road, business plans help business owners foresee issues, make adjustments and plan their attack.

To help you choose the best solution for your business, our sister site Top Ten Reviews does extensive in-depth reviews of business-plan software. Here are the top three recommendations:

  1. Business Plan Pro

Business Plan Pro leads Top Ten Reviews’ rankings for business plan software, as it provides everything beginners need to develop a professional business plan, and also has several options for advanced users. The Standard Edition of the software has many features, including more than 500 sample business plans, industry profiles and planning e-books. The Premier Edition adds the ability to import data from QuickBooks or Excel, visual cash-planning capability, valuation-analysis tools and additional financial tools.

Research and Forecasting Tools: Business Plan Pro provides more than 500 sample business plans covering several diverse business concepts. Additional resources are available to determine the best way to forecast numbers for marketing, cost per unit and other industry expenses. The “drag and drop” graphic forecaster lets users quickly and easily create graphs and charts.

Help & Support: Business Plan Pro provides beginners and professionals with a business-plan wizard, step-by-step guidance and informational videos.

2.  Biz Plan Builder

Biz Plan Builder ranks highly for its multiuser capabilities, including the ability to share securely stored files over the Internet. The software includes everything needed for a customizable, professional business plan. It also helps users create an understanding of their business to help sell themselves to investors and bankers. It includes future strategy development to review the prospects of an acquisition through valuation analysis, adding value for a potential merger and cultivating ideas and advice on restructuring or reorganization.

Research and Forecasting Tools: Forecasting tools include a comprehensive budget/feasibility analysis using a “best/worst” case analysis. Models and financial analysis are also available to help users make the best assumptions, projections and financial determinations.

Help & Support: Supporting documents include business forms such as articles of incorporation, résumé templates, team responsibilities and general partnership agreements, as well as personal financial statements, press releases, private offering disclaimers and stock-option tracking worksheets. Business-plan updates, business-plan FAQs, an online business-plan workshop and an expert referral network are also part of the program. Built-in advice and support include interactive guides, built-in sample plans and expert explanations.

3. BizPlan.com

BizPlan.com earned Top Ten Reviews’ Bronze Award for offering a contemporary online interface that is simple to use, while also providing enough flexibility for the advanced user. The software allows other collaborators to access, edit and share information easily. BizPlan.com has recognized the significant advantage of providing applications that allow for online collaboration and integration with other services and products.

Research and Forecasting Tools: BizPlan.com provides spreadsheet forecasting templates that can be customized and then imported with the final business plan. A full marketplace will soon be launched, which will include access to business resources, as well as the abilities to add features to the business plan and send a completed plan to professionals for printing and binding. Sample plans are also included in the professional package.

Help & Support: Both email and telephone support is available for new subscribers.

Simple Business Plan Templates

Writing a business plan is an important step in the startup process. It helps you and your partners decide if you will work well together, teaches you about the marketplace, and lets you brainstorm business and product goals. But because of all the effort and detail involved, many entrepreneurs dread the thought of sitting down and creating this critical but time-consuming document. Here are five resources you can use to help you craft a professional business plan quickly and easily.

Not all small businesses are concerned with credit lines, partnerships and office space — at least not in the beginning.  Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan doesn’t. Instead, it offers a business-plan template fit for the real would-be entrepreneur’s world. Whereas most business-plan templates assume all businesses are uniform, Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan was created to get to what entrepreneurs really need to know to start a business: the ins and outs of the product or service, how customers will find the business and how the business will make money. Simply copy and paste the template of the Remarkably Simple Business Plan, created by Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Copyblogger Media, and you’re good to go.

Founded in 2011, Enloop is regarded as an innovative player in the business-plan-creation industry. Like many others, the service uses an online interface to help automate your business plan’s creation. To get started, users enter basic information about their businesses, including product details. Then, Enloop’s software uses metrics to help predict the financial performance of the company in comparison with others in the sector. According to CEO Cynthia McCahon, the goal of the company is to help entrepreneurs make better-informed decisions. Users can get started on Enloop for free; more advanced paid options are also available.

LivePlan is a relatively new entrant to the online business-tools market that helps you every step of the way, from the planning stages through your launch. Like other services, LivePlan allows business owners to craft perfectly formatted plans. From there, users can create the presentation necessary to pitch their business ideas to would-be investors. Once off the ground, businesses can track revenue and expenses against forecasts, and multiple users within a company can work through the LivePlan interface. Pricing starts at less than $12 a month.

Created by The One Page Business Plan Company, this simple business template covers only the key areas entrepreneurs need to address to start a business: their vision for the company, mission for why the business exists, objectives for setting out goals, strategies to make the business successful and action plans indicating what work needs to be done. Unlike complicated business plans, boring blocks of text are not required — bullet points will do.

Look no further than Angela Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan. Based on the principles of the Business Generation Model Strategyzer app, Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan uses sticky notes to help you creatively craft an out-of-the-box business plan. To create a One-Page Visual Business Plan, start by separating a single page into different sections or columns, such as company information and customer segments. Write down your ideas or responses on a sticky note, and then stick it on the corresponding section. You can also color-code the sticky notes for better organization. Then, if your plans change, you can easily remove a note, move it around or add new ones to better fit the direction in which your business is headed.

Writing a Business Plan?

Starting a business? Entrepreneurs know that dreaming up a business idea is the easy part — it’s making your dreams come to fruition that’s the real challenge. And one of the first steps to taking on that challenge is creating a business plan, a task that can be pretty daunting no matter how great your idea is. Your business plan is essentially your map to success — it’s an outline of the goals, research and projections you have for your new company so that you can stay on the right track, and is an especially important document to have if you’re seeking funding. Business News Daily asked business owners, strategists and experts what the most difficult part of writing a business plan is. Here are 7 challenges you’ll face writing your business plan.

  • Actually starting it

The hardest part about writing a business plan is getting it started. Lock yourself in a room, turn off your phone and focus.

  • Filling out your financials

The most difficult part of writing a business plan is the financial section. It is difficult to project figures on a brand-new business with, possibly, a brand-new concept. There is not roadmap, no one to follow. The best you can do is find a similar company and try to gauge what they are making.

  • Knowing your demographics

The hardest but most important piece is getting your target demographics dialed in properly. You need to know who you’ll be selling to and how big the market is to estimate with some accuracy how many people you can reach and sell your product or service to.

  • Planning for tech changes

Predicting the unforeseen technology variables that the future holds is a challenge. When I started my business nearly 10 years ago, there was no marketing on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram did not yet exist. Today, these social media platforms play a huge role in my business’ marketing strategy and directly affect sales.

  • Being concise

One of the top challenges is keeping it short and sweet. The more concise and focused a plan is, the more likely business owners are to achieve the goals they have set out for themselves and their business.

  • Making it interesting

The hardest thing about writing a business plan is being able to tell your story in such a way that people buy into your idea. If you tell a lousy story, people won’t want to invest.

  • Establishing workable goals

Establishing clear, concise and understandable goals — these goals must also be realistic. When people can’t see the vision of the plan, they won’t take action to pursue the plan. In addition, by having set goals that align with your plan, you have measureable targets to track your progress.

Fast Fixes to Jump-Start Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be tricky and time-consuming, but it’s a crucial step if you’re starting a new business. Not only is a business plan helpful if you’re looking for investors, but it can also be a great structural resource to help guide you and remind you of your business goals. So how do you create an efficient business plan that meets your needs? Here are five expert tips.

Before you start writing your business plan, you need to make sure your business idea or product is actually desirable to your intended customer base.

So what’s the first step in actually writing your business plan? Startup consultant Kristi Klemm said the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “Who am I making this plan for?” There are usually two answers to this question, Klemm said: You’re writing it to fit your own needs, or you’re writing it for investors or partners.

A great way to simplify your business plan, both for yourself and your investors, is to make it more visual. Zack Pennington, chief operating officer at online music instruction resource Collabra Music, said you shouldn’t be afraid to use charts in place of long text paragraphs.

When you’re creating your business plan, you also have to think about the time it will take you to reach your goals. Lora Ivanova, co-founder and chief marketing officer of at-home STD testing company myLAB Box, said that it’s key to ask yourself about your time line or personal runway.  For example, “How long can you and the people on your team — co-founders and anyone investing sweat equity — commit yourselves to full-time work or any meaningful capacity dedicated to your business?” Ivanova said.
Once you have that time frame, Ivanova said that the second most important question is, “Is that enough time, conservatively, to get your business to a place where it can sustain your ongoing commitment?” Or, in other words, “At what point in time can your business provide enough income for you to keep working on it? From there, you can figure out what goals you need to achieve and how to achieve them.

Business plans are important, but it’s also important to remember that not everything will go according to plan. That’s why you need to keep your business plan flexible, said Cindy Jones, CEO and formulator at skin-care company Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin.