If you're looking for funding to start a new business, or expand an existing one, you'll need to be able to take a working business plan to your bank or investor.
The whole point of a business plan is that it allows you to critically evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, not least via your Unique Selling Point (USP) and make product or service comparisons with competitors.
Ultimately, a business plan will make financial forecasts and projections that will demonstratively prove why your business is a solid enough investment to risk putting money into.
Of course, even the best business plan relies on estimates and guesstimates, as it's impossible to predict market changes, developments, and future performance under such conditions.
However, a business plan shows that you have properly and thoroughly researched your market, and details the real potential of a new business opportunity, which can then be referenced by yourself and investors.
A business plan means that you're serious about business - serious enough that other people can comfortably put their money into it.
Here then are the best in business plan software to help you develop that roadmap to success.
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Best business plan software - at a glance
- Business Sorter
The tool that thousands have used to get off the ground
Bizplan is the online business planning tool that claims usage of 30,000 startup founders from the Startups.co platform. They use a guided creator that can break the big project down into the component pieces that get tracked with a Progress Tracker, and expert guidance each step of the way including templates that can be dropped in, and completed, along with simple integration of visuals along the way.
Additional resources are also provided via the Bizplan Academy, with lessons on relevant topics, for example, “Building a Brand: How to Tell a Powerful Brand Story,” and “Critical Path Your Way to Higher Revenues,” among the many offerings. Those that need even more assistance also can take advantage of an expert consultation from a financial expert that starts at $999.
Plans start at $29 per month, but alternatively you can pay $249 for a year's license. For the serious business consultant, a lifetime license is available for $349.
Powerful business planning software at a cost
PlanGuru is a comprehensive, and powerful software package in the business planning space. Education is provided via a series of case studies at their PlanGuru Univrsity and a whole slew of video tutorials.
The feature set includes flexible budgeting that can handle a simple small business, or a larger multi-department operating budget, and financial forecasting that uses multiple methods, including intelligent and turn-key methods - twenty methods in total. Historical results can also be imported with the general ledger import utility which can then applied to produce a rolling forecast. They also offer PlanGuru Launch, a service to bring in expertise that starts at $250 per hour of assistance.
A significant downside is the cost, with the least expensive plan costing $99 per month, which only includes a single user, and additional users cost $29 each per month. While there is no free trial, PlanGuru does offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
A simple offering for writing a business plan for free
Enloop is a great choice for business planning software for the cash strapped business as it is the rare offering that has a free tier. Step up up to the next tier, and this is no barebones product, as it has over 100 currency symbols, can automatically generate bank-ready financial reports, and even has automated text writing that can sync with financial data to turn it into text. There is also a real time performance score assigned, that dynamically changes as the business plan is strengthened.
The plans start with the Free tier, which is limited to a single business plan with simple text, no images, and does not offer any advanced features. The next plan up is the Detailed plan, that for $19.95 monthly supports three business plans, and offers a significant 55% discount when paid annually, making it even better value.
Software from the business planning veteran
LivePlan is business planning software that offers a simple pricing scheme as there is only a single plan to choose from. As they have a 15 year track record, they offer a clean and simple interface, that can create business plans that look like they were done by an expert consultant, and the software includes a live dashboard that can track day-to-day performance. Those with writer’s block will benefit from the over 500 included sample plans that can be turned to for inspiration.
Rather than complicate things with too many tiers to choose from, LivePlan only has a single offering for $11.66 per month if paid annually, or $19.95 per month on a rolling basis.
Your business plan is all in the cards
Business Sorter promises to simplify and speed up business planning,and claims to be able to flesh out a plan in an hour or two, via a novel 273 card sort system that covers many common situations.
The ability to reword cards is included, or also to add cards to the already expansive deck, so no worries if there is not a pre-made card for your situation. Unlike some sites that have videos, the educational resources here are provided as PDFs and Word files, which can be quicker to access, but harder to follow for some learners.
The lowest tier plan, Basic, starts at $10 monthly, with an annual discount of $80 on an annual basis, is fully featured, and includes up to three team leaders.
Other business plan software to consider
How to write a business plan
A business plan is essentially your roadmap to profitability from an initial investment. Whether it's your own money, or a loan from a bank, it's still a good idea to set up a business plan for yourself.
Main things to look to are a SWOT analysis to provide an idea of your business idea's strengths and weaknesses, as well as identify a unique selling point (USP) that will give your business an edge.
While business plans inevitably demand the use of figures, and while these can be impossible to be accurate with, at least by making intelligent guesses you can set yourself targets to work towards.
That's another common feature of a plan, so that specific periods you can review your business progress and make adjustments to your plan as required. This allows you to use real figures for your projections, allowing you to better plan ahead.
We've only covered some of the most popular business plan software platforms out there, but there are a number of other notables worth mentioning, plus a wide variety of providers of business plan templates. Below we'll briefly cover a range of some of the additional options out there that are worth considering to get your business plan right.
Go Business Plans is more of a consultancy than a software solution, but is worth mentioning for the simple fact that it's one of America's biggest business plan companies. While software might be able to do the job for you, if you're looking for significant funding, it's probably useful to get some professional advice, not least in terms of strategic planning, feasibility studies, and financial projections to ensure you have a solid base for your business plan.
Wise Business Plans provides a very wide range of templates to work from in constructing a business plan. These are particularly designed with funding in mind, no matter what kind of business you run. What is especially helpful is that Wise doesn’t simply deal with business plan templates for a diverse range of business types, the company also provides plan templates for franchises and non-profits.
Plan Writers is another bespoke service that essentially listens to what you want and then puts the plan together for you. Again, this technically falls outside of business plan "software", but the chances are you'll use a software package as a platform to build from, and Plan Writers can then help you build up from that base.
Business Plan Pro really is a business plan software platform, and one of the biggest selling ones over the past decade. What works particularly well here is that there are a huge number of plans and templates to start from, with additional support for planning financials and consultancy services on top, if required. The company also provides customers with access to a number of books and survey data sets, which offers additional value to the product.
Bplans is another provider of business plan templates, but goes beyond that with additional pitch and SWOT analysis templates. There are also business plan guides, industry reports, and a free course on writing a business plan. Bplans also publishes a lot of free-to-use articles on business planning, financials, and tax reporting, to help ensure you can keep your figures and projections accurate and compliant.