Before embarking on a new business venture, seasoned entrepreneurs will tell you how invaluable a well-written business plan is. Whether you are starting a new business or trying to secure funding to expand an existing one, business plans lay out each step to take to ensure the greatest return of your time and monetary investments. While there are services that will write your business plan for you, for at least $1,000, the best business writing software will give you the same research access and tools at a fraction of the cost. You can also work on your plan at your own pace rather than relying on someone else and their timetables.
The top-ranked products on our business plan software review are LivePlan, Business Plan Pro and PlanMagic Business. Don’t forget to check out the articles on business plan writing for more hints and tips on how to start, run and finance your small business.
When looking to purchase business plan software, check to see if the product supports specific industries rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. This support can be either through software specifically designed for that industry, or through industry-specific templates and sample plans, so you can see the direction of the software and make sure it's the best for the business you are establishing. Some of the more commonly supported industries include retail, construction and technology.
Also, while you can purchase some software in CD-ROM form, most will allow you to either download it from the company website, or access it online through a cloud-based solution. Each has its own advantages, including security measures and quick access. Here are a few other features we reviewed while comparing business plan writing programs.
Types of Plans
The type of business plan you need depends on your goals. If you are seeking funding, each plan has specific information and sections that you should include in order to be considered by serious investors. All of the programs we reviewed are designed to help you create a startup business plan, and most also have options for funding and investment plans.
The best business plan writing software will include specific templates, software or guidance in creating business plans for market strategies, feasibility determination plans and growth plans. Immigration plans are uncommon, but there are some programs we reviewed that have these business plan templates available.
Writing a business plan entails more than just writing down your company name and a few goals. Effective plans include financial projections, advertising strategies, market analysis and competitor profiles. In addition to basic word-processing tools, such as spellcheck, image importing and document preview, business plan software programs should also include tools to help you with the financial and budget aspects of your plan. Look for financial calculators, chart generators and organizational chart builders.
Step-by-step guidance includes examples of the information investors are looking for each section. The ability to import financial information from another program, such as QuickBooks or Excel, is also a valuable tool to have. Also, look for software that lets your whole team to connect in the program at the same time to collaborate.
For the most part, each of the business plan programs we reviewed are intuitive to use, though some are laid out better and include tutorials and help tabs that make it easier to use. Usually, you can save and print your finished business plan from both DOCX and PDF formats, though printing your final plan into a PDF is the more secure and the preferred format.
Guidance & Research Resources
Gathering accurate information is important when writing a small business plan. Many business planning programs give you access to business statistics and market analysis publications and databases. The best business writing software includes expert guidance, help with identifying investors and funding, and can point you in the right direction of expert legal advice and resources. Some programs include training for presenting your pitch and a way to track your business progress after the plan is complete and in the implementation stages.
Technical support is there to help you with the program itself. This support is different from research help, which is part of a company's guidance and research resources for the plan itself. Support options vary from telephone support, email assistance and limited live-chat options. Several programs have social media support and user guides available, either online or embedded within the program itself.
Writing a business plan requires a lot of time and dedication to ensure all of the necessary information is included and formatted in the best way possible. Business plan writing software makes creating this important document easy with resources to make the final product just as good as a professionally written plan, but for a lot less money.