To be honest, I use business plan software because I don’t see any downsides. Should you obsess and spend way too much time writing, researching, re-writing, and planning? No. Get out there! Experiment, make mistakes, hustle, and learn.
But after years in this industry there’s no doubt in my mind, reasons to use business plan software vastly outnumber anything nay-sayers could toss out trying to sound savvy. Below you’ll find my 7 hard-to-argue-with reasons to use business plan software, enjoy the brain food. At the end though you’ll be confronted with three potential paths to test whether you’re ready to make your move or not.
If you’re like most people, and like me, when you first sit down to create a “business plan” it’s as though you’ve been tasked with writing a novel or a research paper or something. It can be intimidating. Business plan software breaks it down into an outline encompassing only the most important and pertinent information. Then, you’re guided step-by-step and each section comes with (depending on the provider) side-bar walkthroughs, pop-up video tutorials, etc.
No matter how you slice it, business plan software isn’t expensive. Considering the costs of most necessary startup expenditures…we’re talking peanuts here. Maybe $10-$30 a month or so on average but that’s just off the top of my head. So it comes down to whether you actually USE it and leverage everything your provider puts on the table. Business plans themselves do absolutely nothing.
Let’s touch on this again. Listen, I’ve known and met so many brilliant people who’ve created great products and services, but only actually “learn the biz lingo” through planning software. It becomes their first steps into Executive Summaries, Financial Forecasting, and really nailing down their Target Market. Know what I mean?
While business plans do nothing by themselves and there’s really no evidence to suggest they improve business performance, studies do show they dramatically increase your odds of following through. The software is light years beyond writing your goals down on a piece of scratch paper or shelving them in the back of your mind for years.
There’s like a 90% chance you a) aren’t a numbers person, b) are horrible when it comes to really tackling all the numbers beneath the surface of your business, and c) completely understand the value of automation. Or maybe you’re in the brainstorming phase and interested in business plans to check viability? See if the forecasts pan out? Either way, great planning software these days typically integrates all the best features of accounting software.
Same thing goes with collaboration tools. Tons of treps use business plan software because of these alone. Heard of the messaging app Slack? Ever used Trello? So, business plan software has these types of communication functionalities but totally centered on/around business plans. Some providers are better than others, but we’ll get to our top three picks in just a moment.
All the screenshots you see in this article are of LivePlan. When I founded Startup Savant, I chose to create my business plan on their platform, which is where it’s still maintained to this day. Pretty neat. Is it another data set and dashboard along with our website analytics, social media metrics, and on and on…? Yes. But, it’s by far the lightest and least expensive.
Now, let’s jump right into the titans of the business plan software world in my humble opinion.
Seasoned, social-proofed, and comprehensive, Business Plan Pro is a solid choice.
Their most affordable plan is $99.95 and includes: industry/market research tools, printing/publishing tools, forecasting, sales and growth tools as well as financial analysis galore. One thing to note though is that currently their software is not compatible on a Mac.
Enloop is great and among the only providers who offer a completely free version of their software. That said, it’s VERY limited and there’s a decent amount of reviews claiming it’s buggy. Too many sales prompts. Stuff like that. If you dig their style monthly subscription is only $9.95.
Features include an intuitive Performance Score, Invite and Share features for collaboration, multi-currency support, great customer service/support, Financial Ratio analysis, interactive PDF creation, and much more.
As users, we’re a part of LivePlan’s 375,000 strong community of entrepreneurs and startups! It’s great. You can’t beat their over 500 real (many user-submitted) plan templates to choose from, their collaboration features are top notch, their training/support is great, and on and on.
Whether you go with their annual or monthly plans, there’s a 60-day money back guarantee that gives you full access. Get in there, get your hands dirty, and see if you don’t fall in love the way so many are today. Cheers, thanks for reading this little-tiddy on reasons to use business plan software, and here’s to a growth-filled year ahead.