Best Business Plan Software of 2020
Updated: March 2, 2020
When starting a new business, flying by the seat of your pants to get things off the ground isn't the best strategy. To set yourself up for success, having a well-thought-out business plan is a necessity. To ensure the plan covers all of the bases, many entrepreneurs turn to business plan software for help. Business plan software takes the legwork out of writing a business plan by simplifying the process and eliminating the need to start from scratch. The software makes sure you have all the details covered to not only guide you down the road but also to help attract potential investors should you be looking for some.
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Best Overall Business Plan Software
Best Business Plan Software for Raising Capital
Best Business Plan Software for Startups
Editor's note: Looking for information on business plan software? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.
Business plans serve many purposes. Before starting a business, a simple business plan enables would-be entrepreneurs to flesh out their business idea and lay out their vision. When it comes to seeking funding or planning for expansion, a comprehensive business plan is almost always a must. And when it comes to problems down the road, business plans help business owners foresee issues, make adjustments and plan their attack.
To help you find the right business plan software for your needs, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Our best picks are below, as well as a comprehensive list of business plan software applications in case our choices don't fit your needs.
While do-it-yourself online planning templates can be a great resource for business owners who are familiar with the planning process and the requirements of the funding and support they expect to seek, most entrepreneurs and small business owners feel more comfortable with a team of experts at the ready.
Wise has gathered and trained a premiere staff of writers, researchers, financial modelers and graphic designers to back our clients up as they launch, fund and grow their companies. In addition to step-by-step plan-building assistance, Wise offers a full suite of concierge services, including website creation, legal support and branding, as well as stand-alone planning products that include feasibility studies, market research reports, management consulting and more.
Once you choose a template, the software walks you through each phase of the plan step by step. LivePlan is filled with all of the tools you are looking for in business plan software, including automatic financials, drag-and-drop financial forecasting, budgeting worksheets, automatic charts and graphs, and a host of performance dashboards.
The software allows you to start with a simple one page business plan. Once that is refined, you build out a complete and thorough plan that is worthy of being presented to potential investors. Each step of the way, the software provides easy-to-understand tutorials to ensure you are developing a well-defined plan.
LivePlan costs between $11.66 and $19.95 per month depending on how long you commit to the service.
The cloud-hosted software features a step-by-step builder that walks you through each section of the plan. The process is designed to break things down into small, easy-to-understand pieces, so you don't become overwhelmed by the process. There are drag-and-drop templates and a progress tracker, so you know where things stand each step of the way.
The financial dashboard tracks key business metrics in one centralized location. The software can provide projections on everything from available cash and revenue to gross margins and break-even points. Once your plan is complete, you can share it with potential investors via Fundable, a crowdfunding platform, for no additional charge.
BizPlan costs $29 per month, or $20.75 per month with an annual commitment. You can purchase a lifetime subscription for $349. Included in the cost of each plan are the ability to take more than 600 classes and online courses, as well access to Startups.com's online community.
GoSmallBiz is a cloud-based service. The software has everything new ventures need to adapt from an idea to the real world. It offers industry-specific templates, a step-by-step wizard that makes creating a detailed business plan an easy one, and expert video tutorials to ensure you are building a plan that is accurate and makes sense.
Additionally, the software offers all of the tools you need from a financial standpoint. The software easily lets you create multiyear financial projections and statements; perform sales and profit analyses; and review income, cash flow, and balance sheets.
What really makes GoSmallBiz standout for startups is all of the added services available. While you can purchase access to only the business plan software for $14.95 per month, for $39 per month, you can tap into the business plan software, as well as a litany of other helpful services. This includes unlimited business consultation, a website builder, customer relationship manager, digital marketing dashboard, website analysis and an HR document builder.
The software walks you through the process of generating easy-to-understand financial forecasts. With Enloop, you don't need the knowledge of a former chief financial officer to put together an impressive financial plan. Besides the ability to automatically add in charts and graphs, the software allows you to analyze up to 16 different financial ratios. You can compare your financial projections against industry averages to see where your potential business will stack up in the marketplace. Additionally, Enloop provides a predictive score designed to give you an idea of how successful your plan is.
Besides all of the financial tools, the software offers everything required to build out the rest of your plan. You can quickly add your basic business information and edit prewritten text to tailor Enloop's suggestions to suit your specific needs.
The cloud-based software is available in two service plans, each of which lets you create three business plans. The Detailed plan costs $19.95 per month and analyzes three ratios, while the Performance plan costs $39.95 per month and analyzes 16 ratios. Enloop offers a seven-day free trial of the Performance plan.
Business Plan Software Pricing
The cost of business plan software varies based on how it is hosted. You can pay smaller ongoing fees for cloud-hosted software or larger one-time fees for a lifetime license for software you download on your computer.
Most business plan software providers that offer cloud-hosted services give users the option of paying monthly for anywhere from six to 12 months at a time. If you commit to the service for six or 12 months, your per-month costs will drop. When paying month to month, expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $40 per month. Making an annual commitment can drop those costs down to $11 to $25 per month.
There are sometimes other costs with cloud-hosted software. While each provider is different, you may need to pay an extra fee depending on how many people you want to work on the business plan at one time. Some software allows for only one contributor, while others include five or 10. If you need more users than what is included in the base price, you could pay $10 per month, per user.
If you would rather opt for traditional software that you download on your computer, you will pay a larger one-time cost that can range anywhere from $100 to $1,000 depending on the software. While you can use the software forever, you won't get any upgrades should a newer version be released. You also need to make sure the program is compatible with the computer and operating system you have. Most of the software we came across during our research was only available for Windows operating systems. If you use a Mac, you are better served choosing a cloud-hosted option.
Business Plan Software Features
When you're considering buying business plan software, there are several key features you want to make sure it includes so that the process of creating your plan is a smooth one. Here's more about the specific features to look for in a software application.
Step-by-step wizard: Step-by-step wizards take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to decide what sections of your plan you should work on and in which order. This feature takes you through each section and makes sure you are including everything your plan needs.
Business plan template: Creating a business plan from scratch can be tough. That's why it is nice to have a jumping-off point. Many software programs include dozens, if not hundreds, of templates to choose from. Many templates are geared toward specific types of businesses so you can choose one that is right in line with the business you are planning.
Financial projections: Nearly all software applications can provide you with financial tools so you can lay out your case for a successful venture. However, how you get to those projections can vary. You want software that makes it easy for nonfinancial wizards to get the end result they need. With some software options, you plug in the numbers for things like expenses, revenue, cash flow, etc., and churn out financial projections. The easier this step of the process is for you, the better your business plan creation experience is going to be.
Charts and graphs: You want your business plan to be visually appealing. The software you choose should be able to automatically turn the financial data you enter into eye-catching charts and graphs. This will make the documents more enticing to potential investors.
Integrations: Some business plan software integrates with popular accounting programs, like QuickBooks or Xero. This can be especially helpful when transferring financial details from your accounting software into your business plan so your plan is free from mathematical errors.
Contributors: Many new businesses aren't being launched by one person. When multiple people are involved, you want all of your collaborators to contribute to the development of the business plan. This is why you need to verify the number of people who can make edits to the plan. Some providers cap this number; others allow for unlimited contributors.
Video tutorials: In addition to wizards that walk you through each section of the plan, some programs feature built-in video tutorials that provide an explanation of each part and what needs to be included. This is another way to ensure your final document includes everything needed to get your business started off on the right foot.
- Added services: Some software providers only offer a program to users, others, however, provide access to additional services that new entrepreneurs may find helpful, such as website design services, digital marketing help, and direct contact with business plan consultants who can provide knowledgeable advice.
Benefits of Using Business Plan Software
Writing an effective business plan is more than just having a good idea for a new business. When your plan is finished, you want it to be a roadmap for the future of your business. A good business plan helps you set measurable goals; it shows you whether your idea has solid potential, and it may ultimately help you find others to invest money in your idea.
With so much riding on your business plan, it is important to get it right. While you could technically create your own business plan from scratch, using word processing and spreadsheet programs, business plan software makes the process a whole lot easier.
One huge benefit of business plan software is it gives you a good starting point. The software's step-by-step wizards then walk you through each key component, such as the executive summary, financial statements, and target market and customer base details. Software wizards help you understand exactly what you are including in the plan and why and guide you in including everything that is needed in good business plan.
If you don't have a financial background, using business plan software to help you with your financials is a huge advantage over doing it yourself. The software can take your raw numbers and compile them in a way that makes them easily digestible to those reading your plan.
Another benefit, especially with cloud-hosted software, is that multiple people can contribute and review the plan as it is being developed. Many software programs allow multiple people to tap into the plan to make changes. Having that true collaborative input can create a better plan in the end.
Time is another huge advantage of business plan software. Having so many tools to turn your thoughts and raw numbers into a presentable business plan saves you a tremendous amount of time. Instead of struggling to piece meal something together, the software does much of the heavy lifting for you.
Business Plan Software vs. Business Plan Writing Services
Entrepreneurs not wanting to write their business plan from scratch have another option besides DIY software: There are a number of business plan writing services that do even more of the development work for you.
Instead of entering text and numbers on your own into a software app, business plan writing services handle all of that for you. The process typically starts with a consultation. You meet with the writers to explain your business idea and what you are looking for in your plan.
The writers then work with you to learn more about your business and then often conduct their own research about the marketplace so they can best position your new company. They then take all of your information, as well as what they have gathered on their own, and produce a draft for you. You can then work with them on revisions to ensure the final product is exactly what you were hoping for.
Besides taking all of the heavy lifting off of your plate, one big benefit of using these services is that business plan writers have a great deal of experience in putting plans together. They know what works and what doesn't, and what is likely to draw the interest of potential investors. By working with a business plan writing service, you can lean on years of experience.
Cost is another big difference between software programs and writing services. Hiring a service to do the work for you will likely cost significantly more money. While a subscription to a cloud-hosted program may cost you $20 to $40 a month, you can expect to pay anywhere from several hundred dollars to more than $10,000 for a business plan writing service. These services base their pricing on several factors, including the scope of the project, how much outside and advanced research is needed, and how long it is projected to take to complete.
Just as there are a wide range of business plan software providers, there are also a large number of business plan writing services on the market. Among those are Go Business Plans, Pro Business Plans, Master Plans and Wise Business Plans. You can read a review of Wise Business Plans here.
Business Plan Software FAQs
Q. How does business plan software work?
A: Business plan software provides you with tools to create a professional-looking plan on your own. It walks you through each part of the business plan, making sure you understand what's needed.
The software makes it easy to input information and financial data. Once all of your information is entered into the software, it can automatically turn it into a fully presentable document that not only provides you with a roadmap for how your business should be run but also helps entice potential investors.
The software takes most of the guesswork out of deciding what to and what not include in your business plan. The last thing you want to do is put together an incomplete business plan. Business plan software helps make sure all of your bases are covered.
Q. What should you look for in business plan software?
A: With such a wide range of business plan software options on the market, it is important to look for a solution that fills all of your needs. The biggest factor you want to take into consideration is how easy it is to use.
You want software that walks you through each stage. In addition to having step-by-step wizards that highlight the key points you need to make in your plan, you want to understand why you need that information in your plan. Having tutorials that explain what each section is and the details of not only what is needed but why they are needed helps you produce the best business plan possible.
Another key component concerns the financial portion. Many entrepreneurs don't have a background in finance. Compiling the proper numbers and arranging them in a way that makes your case for why your business will be successful can be difficult. You want software that does it all for you. Once you enter the numbers, you want the software to present them in a way that makes the reader understand how your business will be profitable. The best software program convert numbers into charts and graphs.
Other important factors to consider are how many business plans the software will let you work on at one time, and how many people can contribute and provide feedback on the plans as they are being developed.
Q. How does using business plan software make the process faster and simpler?
A: Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you have a foundation from which to work from.
Most planning software options provide numerous templates that give you a jumping-off point. It also takes you through each step to ensure you aren't forgetting any sections. Just having this framework to work from can save you time in trying to decide what the plan should include.
In addition, having software that can take your raw financial numbers and convert them into long-term projections can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort. Without this type of software, it falls on you to do the math required to determine the key metrics your plan needs.
The software product also serves as a central hub from which the plan can be worked on. If you have multiple people who need to work on the document, everyone can log into the system and access it when they need it.
We're dedicated to helping you find the best project management platform for your small business, and it's important to understand how we came to our conclusions. Here's how we analyzed vendors and arrived at our best picks.
Locating the Best Services
To determine the best business plan applications, we started with an initial list of all the vendors that have good reputations online (i.e., services that other websites favorably and consistently reviewed). We then conducted our own search to see what other software was included on any lists. Overall, we considered more than 20 different business plan software providers.
Choosing the Best Services
After conducting some initial analysis into each option, which included reviewing each company's website, checking out what features were offered and how the software worked, we narrowed our list down to nine finalists. These programs included LivePlan, GoSmallBiz, Plan Magic Business, Biz Plan, Plan Guru, Enloop, BizPlan Builder and Biz Plan Shop.
Researching Each Service
Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, testing the software when possible via demos or free trials, watching tutorials and how-to videos, and reading user comments. We contacted each company's customer service department posing as business owners to gauge the support each provider offers. Finally, we evaluated the pricing that was viewable on these services' websites or what they quoted to us during our calls. We analyzed each system based on these factors: deployment options, service options, cost, features, integrations, mobile availability, contributor options, templates, ease of use and customer support.
Business Plan Pro
Business Plan Quick Builder
Go Business Plans
The Business Plan Shop
Ultimate Business Planner
Wise Business Plans
Editor's note: Looking for information on business plan software? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.