Interested in starting a business? You’re in good company – the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s reports that 13.8% of Americans were starting or running companies less than 3 ½ years old.
But what if I told you that the chance that these businesses fold within 5 years is the same as flipping a coin – 50%? That statistic is according to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) in their latest FAQ, released in 2014.
Countless articles on the web explain in depth the numerous reasons why businesses can fail. One reason these articles all have in common is that in many cases, these business owners are winging it, and lack a business plan to help guide them through the first few years.
In the past, completing a business plan was a difficult task. Writing one required an MBA and accounting skills that could take years of college to obtain, or cost thousands of dollars to hire an expert to do it for you.
Nowadays, affordable business plan software can help guide you through the business planning process, and do the complicated calculations necessary to make it realistic.
If you’re hoping to start a successful business, be smart and make a plan. Here is a list of 5 popular business plan writing software tools you can use to help you create yours.
BusinessPlanToday’s software guides the user through the Plan Fundamentals, Financial Forecasts, Executive Summary, Appendix, and Glossary portions of a business plan.
It is online software, meaning that you do not need to order or install it on to your computer. You simply need to log in, and you use the software via the website.
Financial forecasts are calculated up to three years. The appendix gives detailed calculation for each month.
In all, the user will create a 9-chapter business plan that covers all financial calculations, assumptions, and statements, supported by market research. Each section gives detailed writing instructions and real-life business plan examples to help guide your plan in the right direction.
You can download their free business plan template to create your plan on your own, if you know how to do the financials by yourself. The site also has a business plan sample library to help give ideas and inspiration.
You can create as many business plans as you desire.
Purchasing the software gives complete access to all parts of the software, with no extras to purchase.
- Monthly Plan: $39/mo
- Annual Plan: $29/mo
LivePlan is similar to BusinessPlanToday in that you access the software via their website. LivePlan also helps guide the user through each chapter of the business plan, though some of the chapters are in a different order. LivePlan gives financial projections of up to 5 years in advance.
The software also allows you to target your business plan to your country’s market, including income tax rates (GST, VAT, Sales tax) to your national rate, and set your country’s currency.
LivePlan offers 10 different document themes, allowing you to choose a look and feel that you feel suits your business pitch and your sense of style.
- Monthly Plan: $19.95/mo
- Annual Plan: $11.66/mo
Enloop offers online-only planning software similar to LivePlan and BusinessPlanToday.
Enloop differs with its patented AutoWrite + TextSync features, which automatically writes perfect grammatical sentences based on the financial data you input into the app. The business plan chapters referencing the financial forecast and financial statements sections will be automatically written, using the important details that investors want to see.
If you change your financial data, these sections are automatically updated, saving you a significant amount of time going back into your business plan and manually updating the numbers based on the new financial projections.
Pricing for enloop is separated into four categories, depending on how much detail you need for your business plan.
- Free – (minimum details)
- Basic: Annual = $6.99/mo, Monthly = $9.95/mo – (Standard Details)
- Advanced: Annual = $11/mo, Monthly = 19.95/mo – (More Details)
- Professional: Annual = 24/mo, Monthly = 39.95/mo – (Most Details)
Note: On their website, Enloop provides a chart to show you which details are included in each version.
PlanWare offers several five sets of software: financial projection, cashflow forecasting, strategic, marketing, and business planning.
Due to its complexity, PlanWare offers several different packages and bundles. For instance, their financial plan software alone offers 9 different versions, and two different editions. Each version is built to service companies at different stages in their growth.
The business plan software portion is divided into two pieces – Plan Write Business Planner and Plan Write Expert Business Planner. The Expert Business Planner will give you expert insights as you write your plan, based on the information you are inputting.
PlanWare’s software is NOT hosted online, meaning that you will have to order and install it on to your computer.
It is only PC compatible.
- Plan Write Business Planner: $129.95
- Plan Write Expert Business Planner: $229.95
Note: There are several packages and bundles including other pieces of more specific software that you can use to create a stronger business plan. View the website for more details.
JIAN has been in the business plan software industry since 1988. In its software, JIAN offers a suite of business planning tools to help create your business plan and pitch it to investors.
The software helps you manage Word, Excel, and PowerPoint templates to make a comprehensive pitch. As with its competitors, it offers financial modeling up to 10 years.
JIAN software comes with a Handbook of Business Planning, an eBook about Ways to Fund Your Business, and 45 letter templates, worksheets, and calculators for adapting your business plan.
- CD-ROM Installation: $97
- Annual Online: $97/yr
- Monthly “Start Up” Package: $19.97/mo
Note: There are some other bundles and products that JIAN offers, take a look at the website to see their full offerings.
Although these companies are offering the same core product, their usability, interface, bonus offerings, and payment schemes are different. The differences are great enough that savvy entrepreneurs can choose the product that best suits their budget and business goals.
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