When it comes to starting or running a business, having a solid business plan is key. A good business plan can help you secure financing, keep your business on track, and make sure you’re covering all your bases. Along with business plan templates, good business plan software tools can make the process of creating a business plan much easier and help you create a more polished and professional document.
In this article, we’ll cover what business plan software is, how it can help you create a winning business plan, features to look for when choosing the best business plan software for your needs, and some of the best business plan software solutions available on the market.
Business Plans Explained
A business plan is a document that explains what your business is, how it will make money, and what you need to do to make it successful. Business plans are used to secure investor funding and help set your business goals and a plan for reaching them internally. Most banks and investors will want to see a detailed business plan before offering support. You can create a business plan on your own, with a template, or using business planning software. All companies need a good business plan, including small businesses, startups, and large organizations.
Business Plan Software Explained
Creating a business plan can be a big task, especially if you’ve never done it before. In many ways, business plan software is like an interactive template where you can input your business information and it generates a professionally-formatted document. Just like starting from a template, business plan software solutions can be huge time savers over creating a business plan from scratch.
Who Uses Business Plan Software
Business plan software is used by entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes to create their business plans. Whether you’re starting a small business or trying to get funding for a larger organization, a business plan can give you the structure and guidance you need to get started on the right foot. While business plan software won’t write your business plan for you, it can make the process much easier by providing structure and examples to help you create a polished and professional business plan. In short, business plan software is used by anyone who needs a professional business plan quickly and easily.
Business Plan Software Features You Need
When choosing the best business plan software, there are a few key features you should look for, including:
- Design Choices – A big part of the business plan creation process is design. You want a business plan that looks professional but still represents your business or industry. The best business plan software solutions will give you design options to create a look that works for you.
- Financial Calculations – One of the most time-consuming aspects of creating a business plan is figuring out key financial data and financial projections. Once you have the financial data ready to input, a good business planning tool should automatically calculate and generate the financials needed for your business plan.
- Check Boxes – This may sound simple, but having features like checkboxes improve the overall user experience in a business planning tool. For example, your business planning software might list several options that you want to highlight in a section, and just clicking a box will automatically fill it in for you.
- Sample Text – Being able to fill in pre-defined text lines or sections makes the business plan creation process faster, but sometimes you need more clarity on what you are supposed to write. Having sample text within these fields can help you better understand what to include for your own company.
- Customizable Formats – Not every business plan needs the same format. Great business planning software tools will let you skip over sections that do not apply to your own business.
The Price of Business Plan Software
Like most software, the prices of business plan software tools vary greatly from free to hundreds of dollars. The free options typically lack the best features and are not as customizable as paid software options. That being said, it is certainly possible to find software that does everything you need and stays within your budget.
Picking the Best Business Plan Software for You
The most important thing you can do when picking the best business plan software for your needs is research. You should avoid paying for extra features that you do not need, but remember that many of the free business planning software options do not have the features you want. The best strategy is to find an option within your budget that does what the best business plan software should do: make the business planning and creation process faster and easier for you.
Popular Business Plan Softwares and Templates Compared
Business Plan Software
Overview: PlanBuildr is the fastest-growing business plan software in the world. The software uses fill-in-the-blank questions that help guide you as you create your business plan and includes financial modeling and other features usually only seen with more-expensive business plan software options.
Key Features: User-friendly, financial forecasting
Price: Free and Paid Options
Overview: Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template is the industry standard for business plan templates and has helped launch and raise funding for thousands of businesses. Growthink’s business plan template comes packed with features and gives you access to a member’s area where you can find additional support.
Key Features: Investor-focused, lifetime access
Overview: LivePlan has some great features, including sample pitches, financial forecasts, and resources that help you learn more about the important aspects of business plans as you create your own. The biggest issue many users will face is the time it takes to learn how to use the software and the overall user-friendliness of LivePlan’s interface.
Key Features: Financial forecasting, educational resources
Price: (Standard) $20 per month or $180 per year | (Premium) $40 per month or $360 per year
Overview: PlanGuru offers a wide range of forecasting options that help you add all of the key financial and non-financial projections needed for a good business plan, which many investors might appreciate. PlanGuru’s main downfall is its price tag, which makes it an inaccessible business plan tool for many small business owners.
Key Features: Great forecasting capabilities, scenario analysis
Price: $99 per month or $899 per year
ABS Ultimate Business Planner
Overview: The ABS Ultimate Business Planner offers resources for creating business plans and includes numerous sample business plans to reference when writing your own. The business plan builder takes you step-by-step through the business plan writing process and makes suggestions along the way. Using the ABS Ultimate Business Planner is a bit sluggish, however, and the product has not gone through many changes since its initial launch, making it feel outdated.
Key Features: Sample business plans included, good financial planning