Business Plan Software
Business plan software is something that often gets overlooked
and isn’t considered to be a necessity for some reason. In my
opinion, business plan software is essential, it is not a luxury.
I am a huge advocate of business planning. When people ask me if
they need a business plan, my response is, “Absolutely!” You see,
starting a business without a business plan is akin to starting
college without a degree plan. If you don’t know where you are
going, you won’t know how to get there. You will waste your time
and your money if you are not following a plan. It’s really that
So, you know you need a business plan, but what about business
plan software? For business planning, there are really three
alternatives: 1) crafting your own business plan from scratch; 2)
hiring a business plan writer or business planning consultant; or
3) using business plan software to write your own business plan.
Each of these alternatives has its own advantages and
Writing your own business plan from scratch is certainly a
possibility. Doing so gives you the freedom to format and arrange
the plan in any way that you see fit. On the other hand, doing
financial projections, which are necessary for the purpose of
budgeting and financial planning, can be difficult to do without
a business plan program, or at least financial projection
software or spreadsheets.
Hiring a business plan writer makes sense for some people. A
business plan writer is generally well-versed in business
planning and will have insight that will assist you in preparing
a comprehensive business plan that takes everything into account.
The disadvantages to having your business plan professionally
written are the expense associated with the initial plan, and the
limitations that exist in regard to changing it as your business
evolves, which is something that business plan software empowers
you to do.
Business plan software is relatively inexpensive when compared to
hiring a professional business plan writer or consultant.
However, when compared to doing your own plan from scratch, it
may seem like an unnecessary expense. Business plan software does
have many advantages. A good business plan software package, like
Business Plan Pro by Palo Alto, has the headings and categories
for a business plan already set up for you. It also has guidance
throughout the business planning process that explains what to
include in each part of your business plan.
What I really love about Business Plan Pro is that it is so easy
to do financial projections using the business plan software,
whether or not you understand accounting. The main financial
sections include a section for start-up costs, one for income
projections, one for a proforma balance sheet, and one for a
projected cash flow statement. Information that input into one of
the financial forms automatically transfers calculations to the
other financial statement forms making the process of projecting
your financial plan a breeze.
Another huge advantage I see in regard to business plan software
is that when you use business plan software to create your own
business plan, you can make changes to it anytime you need to. It
doesn’t become a stale document that sits on the shelf and
collects dust. A business plan should be always evolving. You
should update your business plan frequently including new goals,
objectives and milestones. You should also adjust your financial
projections regularly for the purpose of budgeting. Business plan
software makes it easy to do.
If you choose not to use business software, and to create your
own business plan from scratch, you will need some guidance
unless you are a professional business planner yourself. The
Small Business Administration www.sba.gov has some excellent
resources and guides about business planning. If you choose to
hire a professional business plan writer, do review their
qualifications and references and make certain that you
understand exactly what is included in the business planning
services they are offering.