The startup process has several important components that should never go overlooked, one of which is creating a business plan to get all of your ideas down on paper and evaluate your budding company’s financial viability.
In addition, potential investors, vendors, business partners, and even clients might want to see a copy of your business plan before doing deals. However, you don’t need an MBA to create a savvy business plan.
That’s because there are now online services with intuitive tools for creating fully featured business plans, leaving you more time and energy to focus on building your new company.
Here at Incorporation Guru, we’ve analyzed every angle of the best business planning software solutions, and we’re ready to share our findings with you. Which business planning software company has the pricing and features you want?
Why Do You Need a Business Plan?
A business plan is just what it sounds like: a roadmap for your new company. There is no legal requirement for anyone to create a business plan, but every business should still have one, for several reasons.
First and foremost, it’s enormously helpful for every business owner to put down on paper exactly how they plan to develop and operate their new companies. Sure, you might have thought these things through in your head before, but even the act of putting them in writing can provide a new level of analysis and clarity.
In addition, a business plan helps you set and achieve important milestones throughout the young life cycle of your business. Your business plan should forecast at least the first three years of your company, detailing its purpose and how it will turn a profit. Throughout those first few years, you can revisit your business plan from time to time to evaluate your progress.
Finally, a business plan can help you secure funding from outside investors. Investors love to see detailed business plans because they help them get a complete picture of everything that the company is doing today and plans to do in the future.
What Information Goes in a Business Plan?
There are no set rules regarding what your business plan needs to have in it. Still, there are some general guidelines that we can point out. Feel free to adjust the following information to best suit your business!
- Executive Summary: A high-level overview of your business that includes your mission statement, what your business will sell, and a description of your management structure.
- Business Information: Discuss the markets you’ll serve, the void you’re filling in those markets, and the reasons you think you’ll be successful.
- Competitive Research: Include information about the companies you’ll compete with. What makes them successful? What will you do that they can’t/won’t/don’t?
- Legal Structure and Management: Introduce your management team, and discuss your company’s business entity (LLC, corporation, etc.).
- Products and Services: Go into detail about what your business will sell.
- Marketing Strategy: How will you attract new customers? How will you retain them?
- Funding Needs: If you’re trying to attract investors, you’ll need to tell them how much money your business will need and what you will spend it on.
- Financial Projections: Build a financial overview of your first 3-5 years in business. Forecast your income, cash flow, expenses, and more. Create a detailed outlook of your company’s financial future.
The Best Business Planning Software
Before we dig into the details of each option, we’ll note that many of these companies offer monthly and yearly pricing models. For the sake of comparison, we chose the monthly option for each one. After all, if you’re only using these services to create your initial business plan, you won’t need years’ worth of ongoing service. With that, let’s get to the list!
LivePlan ($20 or $40 per month): Best for Overall Service
- 500+ sample plans
- Great customer feedback
- Automatic financial reporting
- Plenty of integrations
- Can have a bit of a learning curve
LivePlan is the cream of the crop for business planning software, with everything you need to create a top-shelf business plan with prices that won’t break the bank. LivePlan offers impressive financial reporting and forecasting capabilities, plus its one-page infographic pitch builder is an excellent tool to prepare for pitch meetings. It also provides more sample plans than any other competitor, with a whopping 500+ of them.
You’ll also receive the ability to export your business plan to Word, PowerPoint, and pdf formats. If you upgrade to the $40 package, you can get benchmark comparison data, up to 10 financial forecast scenarios, key performance integrators, accounting performance dashboards, milestone planners with email prompts, and Xero and QuickBooks integration.
LivePlan also receives outstanding customer feedback, with more than 1,500 reviews available online and excellent average rating scores. Furthermore, we’re impressed by LivePlan’s 60-day money-back guarantee. However, we will note that LivePlan can take some getting used to, as its interface isn’t quite as user-friendly as some competitors.
GoSmallBiz ($15 per month): Best for Add-On Features
- Low price point
- Complete financial statements and projections
- Marketing tools and advice
- Tons of valuable additional features
- Limited integrations
- No refunds
GoSmallBiz pairs a low, flat-rate price point with lots of additional features, making this a good choice for entrepreneurs who want to customize their business planning software package. With plenty of industry-specific templates, complete financial statements and projections, and helpful video tutorials, GoSmallBiz lays the groundwork for your successful business planning session.
In addition to its base package, GoSmallBiz offers many other services, including incorporation service, annual report filings, a wide variety of consultations, website building software, email marketing, and more. GoSmallBiz also integrates with both MailChimp and Google Analytics, although the only option to export your business plan is Microsoft Word.
We also appreciate the marketing tools and advice provided by GoSmallBiz, and its business document library can prove beneficial as well. However, its strict no-refunds policy is a bit of a drawback.
PlanRocket ($99 per month): Best for Comprehensive Budgeting and Forecasting
- Industry-best financial tools
- Unlimited scenarios
- Lots of integrations
- Robust forecasting functions
- Very high pricing
PlanRocket is obviously a much more expensive business planning software solution compared to the other options in this guide. That said, for businesses that need a more robust application, PlanRocket can be a great fit. This product includes the best small business budgeting and forecasting tools in the industry, allowing you to make projections with an incredible level of detail.
PlanRocket also helps you along the way with many different case studies and video tutorials. You’ll also receive unlimited financial forecast scenarios and 10-year forecasting models with more than 20 different forecasting methods available. PlanRocket also includes tons of integrations with QuickBooks, Xero, Excel, Word, pdf, and more.
We’re also impressed by PlanRocket’s 30-day money-back guarantee, which is a welcome safety net, especially considering its high prices. That said, if you aren’t certain that you need PlanRocket’s advanced features, you can save lots of money with a competing company.
Enloop ($19.95 or $39.95 per month): Best for Free Trial
- 7-day free trial
- Automatic financial statements
- Simple, easy-to-use tools
- Performance assessments
- No industry-specific templates
- No integrations
Enloop’s biggest draw is its seven-day free trial that allows you to set up a full business plan for one business, albeit without a ton of options. If all you need to do is generate one business plan, Enloop is obviously an outstanding choice for this reason.
Enloop also includes plenty of financial reporting tools and performance assessment capabilities. You will also receive automatic financial statements. We really appreciate the simplicity of Enloop’s business planning tools, as they allow you to create your business plans quickly and easily.
However, Enloop has some shortcomings that make them a less-than-ideal choice for paid service. For instance, there are no industry-specific templates available, and Enloop doesn’t offer integrations with any other software solutions. Still, if all you need is the basics, why not get them for free with Enloop?
Bizplan ($29 per month): Best for Attracting Investors
- Fundable integrations
- User-friendly interface
- Powerful financial tracking tools
- Unlimited users
- No industry-specific templates
- Extremely limited refunds
Is your top priority for creating a business plan to bring in outside investors? If so, give Bizplan a long look. Bizplan integrates with Fundable to provide entrepreneurs with a big leg up when it comes to seeking investments. In addition, Bizplan is part of the Startups.com family, meaning it integrates with all other software under the Startups.com umbrella as well.
Bizplan also includes powerful financial tracking functionality and unlimited users. You might be surprised by how much money their competitors charge to add users, so for businesses that need multi-person access, Bizplan is a nice fit.
However, there are also some negatives to Bizplan’s offer. There are no industry-specific templates available, and Bizplan’s refund policy only allows you to request a refund within the first couple of days after you sign up.
No matter what type of business you’re forming or what industry you’re starting it in, you should create a business plan for your new company. A business plan can help you organize your thoughts and share them with other stakeholders to provide a clear picture of where your company is coming from and where it’s going.
With any of the software solutions discussed in this guide, you can efficiently produce a top-quality business plan that’s sure to meet your needs. By reviewing the information presented about each business planning software company in this guide, we think you’ll easily be able to pick the right option for your business.