[This article was written by Laura Butler.]
Business plans are useful in many situations. Usually, small business owners start developing them when they want to:
- Appraise the costs of starting a new business.
- Analyse potential profitability in the short- and medium-term perspective.
- Wow the investors to attract some venture capital.
- Benchmark your competitive potential against those of the key rivals.
However, there literally exist hundreds of established models and templates focusing on different performance indicators and development strategies. This complexity simply becomes an additional burden for startup owners rather than a way to ease them of their worries. Below, we appraise 5 best software products for creating business plans that can make your life much easier.
BizPlan is a powerful software suite with an intuitive module interface allowing you to drag and drop various plan elements. It incorporates automated tools such as self-calculating financial projections, investor collaboration suggestions, and great standard templates. This solution can be recommended as a good starting ‘all-round’ option for laying down your business plan and preparing it for the demonstration to prospective funders. Subscription plans start with $19 per month, which is highly affordable.
This solution is used by thousands of practitioners on a global scale for a very good reason. It is incredibly simple and is perfectly suited for startups. Here are just some of its key features:
- More than 100 supported currencies with official symbols.
- Automatically generated bank-ready reports with any financial data.
- Integrated performance measurement instruments allowing you to perform real-time appraisals.
- Automatically generated text for promotional pitches and reports.
- Auto-insertion of any financial figures into your texts.
- Synchronisation across multiple devices and users.
As opposed to its competing products, Enloop also offers a free one-week trial, which makes it a no-brainer choice to experiment with if you are just starting out with your business plan development.
LivePlan is a template-oriented cloud-hosted package. As opposed to some alternatives insisting on a particular approach to building your business plan, it shows you a variety of options to choose from. Every option can be expanded with budgeting worksheets, automated financial calculations, graphs, and any other elements you consider necessary. Subscription can be purchased from $15 per month with the service providing 100% refund guarantees during the first 60 days of use.
- Business Sorter
Business Sorter is another template-based solution sporting 273 ‘cards’ designed for specific business ideas, company types, and planning purposes. While this approach may not be suitable for every user, it definitely has some benefits such as:
- Greater speed of work allowing you to draft individual plans in 1-2 hours.
- Ease of creating multiple plans from the same templates to compare available options.
- A comprehensive structure providing a clear vision of the key business dimensions for any type of organisation.
Moreover, similar to Enloop, Business Sorter offers 14 days of free trial to decide whether its unconventional approach suits your business needs.
This is one of the oldest business plan tools in the industry dating back to 1988. With multiple ‘Best Buy’ awards from leading tech and marketing magazines and more than 2,000,000 copies of this software sold globally, this Californian powerhouse has a lot to offer. Effectively, BizPlanBuilder is a consultancy app as much as a business plan builder. Its features include:
- Summarised expertise of thousands of users concentrated in the templates that work.
- On-point suggestions on how to support your points and ideas with industry examples and relevant statistics.
- Suggestions for stakeholder communication and crowdfunding campaigns organisation.
- Thousands of sample auxiliary documents such as cover letters, financial projections, business plan presentations, etc.
These features substantiate the ample subscription prices ranging from $27 to $97 per month. However, you can also set up a free guest account for 14 days and even get all saved results at the end of it without extra charges.
It can be summarised that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ product that is perfectly suitable for the needs of all small businesses. Your choices can be dictated by:
- Resources available.
- Your professional experience.
- The goals for creating a business plan.
- The type of data that you have access to.
If you just want to construct a single plan, going with a free trial can be a good option. This way, you can create your first plan with minimal expenses while also learning how to use industry-leading software products. However, we would also recommend that you should appraise the potential costs of future subscription or consulting services. Business plans require finesse and expertise to be convincing and well-substantiated. Hence, ordering one from a professional agency or asking them to revise your document may be a good idea to get the most from your pitching presentations.
Laura Butler is co-owner at Outreach Lab, who specializes in providing content writing and SEO services to businesses around the world. Having worked in multiple start-ups over the years, she has experience in building businesses from the ground up. Laura enjoys writing content on a variety of topics, from business strategy to marketing, SEO, and sustainability.