Starting a new business, and yet to write a business plan? Heard of business planning software, but unsure which provider would bring the value you need?
Our team has evaluated the major players in the business planning software industry and, naturally, we’ve discovered some are better than others. Even so, we realize everyone has different needs, so there’s no single across-the-board answer for which service is best.
In this PlanGuru vs. LivePlan review, we’ll aim to give you an objective, highly-specific look at the differences and similarities between these providers to help you decide which is right for you. Enjoy!
Recommended Business Plan Software: LivePlan
What They Have in Common
- Both offer recurring month-to-month or annual payment options.
- Both integrate with accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks Online to make importing your financial data super-easy.
- Both are fronted by extremely friendly and responsive customer service teams.
- Both come with money-back guarantees.
- Both offer plenty of support tools for getting accustomed to the software.
What Sets Them Apart
- The software must be downloaded to your computer. Cloud hosting is available, but it’s an extra $45/mo.
- Only compatible with Windows, unless you invest in PlanGuru Cloud, which can function on any OS.
- They offer a 30-day free trial to allow prospective users to get a feel for the software. The trial’s fully functional, except you can’t print or export reports.
- Their rates are more expensive than LivePlan’s, starting at $99/mo for month-to-month service. Every extra user costs an additional $29/mo.
- Focused on producing extremely detailed financials, but not much emphasis on the finishing touches necessary for a readable, presentation-ready business plan.
- More complex system than LivePlan, but they compensate with in-depth training via PlanGuru University.
- LivePlan is automatically cloud-based, so it’s compatible with any OS and accessible from any device, anywhere you have internet connection.
- Their month-to-month rate is only $19.95, about $80 less than PlanGuru’s.
- They include one collaborator in their packages at no extra cost.
- Super sleek and user-friendly platform with step-by-step instructions built in.
- Includes ten business plan templates that you can customize based on your brand, along with over 500 sample business plans for reference. You can trust you’ll come out with a beautiful, focused business plan.
- Used by over 400,000 entrepreneurs so far.
PlanGuru doesn’t have any one centralized location for their customer reviews, but they do currently have 22 total between TrustPilot and SoftwareAdvice.com. See their rating breakdowns on each below:
So, average 4/5 stars on both platforms. Most of their negative reviews are from folks who struggled to get the hang of the software, but many other users comment that PlanGuru’s training resources make up for the learning curve. It seems to simply depend on how much effort people are willing, or expecting, to put in at the start.
Here are a couple of their satisfied customer testimonials:
“The software is very user-friendly and customer service is very responsive. I would highly recommend this software for those companies with minimal money to spend on forecasting software.”
“Anytime when I have questions or need help, I always get tremendous support from PlanGuru. The people work there care about their clients. That is important to us. I want to give special thanks to Thomas Murray, Tripp Graham, and Christian Wielage.”
LivePlan’s customer feedback is exactly what we like to see: hundreds of user reviews concentrated in one location. Take a look at their Shopper Approved rating distribution:
To be frank, 4.8/5 is pretty much as high as it gets. Of the hundreds of reviews they’ve received, only 1% have been lower than 4 stars. And, out of those, several have been adjusted to 5-stars by the original reviewers, likely because LivePlan resolved whatever issues the users were facing. Here are a couple of LivePlan testimonials:
“LivePlan is awesome. I love what you guys are doing. You actually helped my startup win a national business plan competition! I've created a business plan by scratch on my own before and I was able to GREATLY reduce the time it took me to complete it using LivePlan.”
“LivePlan was user friendly, supportive and provided meaningful guidance all while remaining very flexible. With LivePlan, I was able to build a logical and cohesive business plan that accurately reflected the unique nature of my business. Thank you very much!”
Pricing & Feature Differences
PlanGuru and LivePlan are similar in that they each offer one straightforward package that can be paid for on an annual or month-to-month basis. Take a look at PlanGuru’s pricing model below:
So, a month of their services starts at $99 (assuming you purchase the month-to-month plan). The annual plan will save you 25% per month, but it requires committing to a full year of their services, which might be more than you need. Keep in mind, though, that both plans come with money-back guarantees (the monthly plan is 30 days and the annual is 60 days).
If you want to add any extra users, it’ll cost an extra $29 per person per month, or $299 per person per year. Additionally, if you like the sound of PlanGuru Cloud, their hosting fee is an extra $45 per month. Seems steep, we know - but again, PlanGuru’s ultra-comprehensiveness makes it worth the extra cost for many businesses. Here’s a list of some of their package features:
Some of their most notable features are their Analytics dashboard, Advanced Reporting Excel Add-in, and 20+ forecasting methods. Not every software has such thorough financial features. That said, not every business requires this level of complexity, either.
Now, let’s take a quick peek inside to give you a sense of the software design. Here’s a screenshot from their main budgeting and forecasting software:
Like many comparable services out there, PlanGuru looks a lot like an Excel spreadsheet. Many people enjoy this no-frills presentation, while others find it intimidating. It really just depends on your personal preference!
Now, here’s a shot from their web-based analytics dashboard:
Compared to their primary software, PlanGuru Analytics is definitely more sleek and minimalist, which can help you take a step back and see the big picture when you’re feeling intimidated by all the spreadsheets.
For a closer look at PlanGuru’s features, check out our comprehensive review!
As we mentioned, LivePlan also has one package and two payment options. Have a look:
Needless to say, it’s much cheaper than PlanGuru. For the month-to-month plan, they’re currently offering your first month for $9.95, half off their usual rate ($19.95). Their annual plan comes with an even better discount than PlanGuru’s, too, saving you 40% per month - but again, you might not require a full year of their services anyway. And regardless of the payment plan you choose, you’ll get a 60-day money back guarantee.
One thing we love about LivePlan is the emphasis they place on crafting a beautiful, concise business plan without neglecting the necessary data collection. You choose from their ten customizable templates, follow their step-by-step instructions, and end up with a plan that’s ready to present to investors. Take a peek at the sample excerpt below:
Based on our research, this is an area where PlanGuru seems to be lacking. Their financial management and reporting tools are top-notch, but when it comes to creating a well-rounded document, they don’t have much to flaunt.
LivePlan’s platform is extremely user-friendly, too. Here’s a peek at their Pitch section:
And their progress scoreboard:
LivePlan’s data-presentation style has gotten tons of positive customer feedback, and personally, we think it’s the most user-friendly platform out there. But again, this part is all a matter of preference, and the most important thing is that you’re comfortable navigating whatever program you choose.
For an in-depth look at LivePlan’s features, head over to our comprehensive review!
PlanGuru and LivePlan are both highly regarded business planning programs. Both bring immense value in different areas.
That said, we prefer LivePlan for their lower rates, abundance of customer feedback, and overall more comprehensive services. Based on this side-by-side comparison, LivePlan wins!
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