A business plan lays out your goals and how you intend to achieve them. Business plans are used to map strategies and tactics, and as a reference to make sure you're staying on track. They are particularly important for startups looking to attract financing as a way to present yourself to potential investors, and define your potential market and how you intend to address it.
If you find that it's one thing to have good business ideas and quite another to organize and express those ideas in a document that can help you achieve them, there is "an app for that." In fact, there are several to choose from.
Here are three leading business-plan creation apps:
Enloop's AutoWrite™ system, a Web-based application, automatically generates basic text for predefined sections that you can then modify and customize for your business. The TextSync™ feature lets you insert sales and other financial data into easily read graphics and charts anywhere in your text, and automatically updates the graphics as the data changes.
Additional features include:
- Collaborative commenting and editing for an unlimited number of users
- Enloop Performance Score™ provides predictive analysis of financial forecasts, updated in real time
- Report card of forecasted financial performance compared to industry-standard metrics
- Interactive PDF creation
- Ratio analysis with tips on how to improve results.
While there's a stripped-down free version, to get all of these features requires anywhere from $132 to $288 for annual subscription plans. You can also make monthly payments, and you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as needed.
LivePlan offers 10 formats that are exportable to Microsoft Word for easy customization. Integrates with QuickBooks or Xero to build and display financials. Web-based to facilitate collaboration and device-agnostic access.
One feature LivePlan emphasizes is "Build Your Pitch." With this tool, you can generate a one-page summary and infographic of key points including:
- Company profile
- Targeted market(s) and segmentation
- Sales channels and marketing activities
- Revenue potential and other financial projections
- Competitive picture
- Key milestones
- Team members and advisors
LivePlan has a 60-day trial period with full refund if you decide it doesn't fit your needs. An annual plan of $139.92 is a 40-percent discount off the $19.95 monthly subscription.
As the name implies, StratPad is a cloud-based app. While it works on any desktop or laptop, it also offers an iPad version. It helps you build your business plan through a series of interactive questions and prompts. There's also a package of instructional videos and a library of commonly used charts and reports.
There's a seven-day free trial and the $36 annual Start Up Plan allows for the creation of one plan and lacks real-time collaboration. The Business Plan costs $99 annually for up to five plans, and there's an Unlimited Plan for $179. While there is a free iOS version, most business users will want at least the $9.99 version. Greater functionality is available with either the $34.99 Premium or $54.99 Platinum version.
All versions include:
- Business planning tutorial
- Summary business plan
- Two monthly financial projection reports
- Six reports
- Sample plans
- Ability to email and print reports as PDFs
- Upgrade path to browser version