Best Business Plan Software

by Andreas RiveraLast Modified: March 12, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
Reviews
Pricing
Negotiation Tips
State of the Industry
Free Templates
Downloadable Guides
Common Business Plan Software Questions & Answers
Map
Services

The Best Business Plan Software & Services For 2018

From startups to established corporations, business plans lay the framework for a company's vision and its financial future. Drafting a business plan is a crucial step in the growth of any business. For small businesses looking to take steps toward funding, creating a business plan can be a daunting task. The required accounting and financial data required alone could result in youa business owner spending all yourhis or her time crunching numbers instead of guiding and growing yourthe business.

Different types of business software and services can help solve this problem. By using a software to guide you through the writing process, or investing in a service tothat taps into its extensive research network to write your business plan for you, you can savespend your time and spend your effort on other aspects of your business.

Best Picks

Best Software
Most Intuitive
Best Service
Most Thorough
Best Critique
LivePlan

Best Business Plan Software

LivePlan

LivePlan is straightforward, easy-to-use business plan creation software that walks you through each step of the writing process. This web-based program is great for business owners looking to create plans for startups, strategic marketing campaigns or funding proposals. LivePlan is also a good option for business owners who aren't sure what type of business plan they need, because it walks you through the process and proposes templates based on your business's goals.

The program is template-based, providing a simple, intuitive way for you to craft your own plan. LivePlan also provides the option to start from scratch. In addition to word processing, LivePlan offers advanced financial services that can automatically calculate financial projections for up to five years. You can import data from QuickBooks, and LivePlan even features a forecast mode that proposes different financial outcomes based on certain scenarios.

BizPlanBuilder

Most Intuitive Business Plan Software

BizPlanBuilder

BizPlan Builder has an extremely intuitive interface that focuses on professional business plans for securing an SBA loan or other funding strategies. A setup wizard walks you through the writing process, asking business questions and inputting answers directly into the plan. In addition to written responses, BizPlan Builder provides financial tools like calculators, graphs and budget-feasibility tools. You have the option to import data from other accounting programs or Excel.

This program also features real-time team collaboration. This allows multiple team members to edit and adjust the business plan simultaneously. Real-time collaboration means that businesses can save time by working on the same plan at the same time. Like LivePlan, BizPlan Builder doesn't provide the ability to create organizational charts.

Go Business Plans

Best Business Plan Service

Go Business Plans

This business plan writing service can draft business plans in two weeks and provides a revision period of up to three weeks after the first draft. With access to 16 research databases and the ability to conduct its own research, Go Business Plans has vast resources to draw from when creating your plan. This is especially helpful for analyzing the industry your business is looking to enter and the competition it will face.

Go Business Plans also offers in-depth consulting for businesses looking for more input. The company has a host of experts at its disposal and can tap into its extensive resources to provide advanced strategic planning. Businesses can use this service on a long-term basis, usually ranging from four to six weeks. This could include a review of your existing business plan.

Wise Business Plans

Most Thorough Business Plan Service

Wise Business Plans

Wise Business Plans is a writing service that provides in-depth plans for businesses looking to secure venture capitalist investment, SBA loans, E-2 or L-1 visas, and other types of funding. The company works with Fortune 500 companies like UPS. It provides deep dives into industry analysis and growth trends, as well as demographic data about your business's potential market. Wise Business also offers in-depth marketing plans, which include data to support different marketing channels beyond SEO.

Wise Business' turnaround time is between five and 10 days, and you can expect to receive revisions, once they are made, after another five business days. There's also a consulting service for businesses looking for input on an existing plan.

The Plan Writers

Best Critique for Existing Business Plans

The Plan Writers

The Plan Writers offers a variety of services for drafting a business plan for funding, like SBA loans, angel investment or venture capital investment. The Plan Writers will critique existing plans as well at no additional cost. The company is experienced with helping companies go public and can create feasibility plans.

The Plan Writers offers services outside of business plan writing, like management consulting. It has a short revision period, with a nine- or 10-day turnaround time and a one- or two-day revision time. This quick revision period allows you to adjust and quickly modify your business plan. The Plan Writers also includes design services in the plan, plus a lot of other features and extra services at no extra cost. This makes The Plan Writers a great option for businesses looking to leverage a service beyond business plan writing.

Reviews

Below are all of our reviews for business plan software and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of the best business plan software and online business plan services. Business plan software is a type or program to build a business plan, while online services are third-party companies that can help with organizing and writing a business plan, or editing an existing one. See all our reviews below.

Pricing

Business plan writing software will generally be less expensive than an actual business plan writing service. Software price is structured as either a monthly fee or a one-time price. LivePlan, for example, is primarily web-based and can be purchased for a monthly fee of $19.95. Business Plan Pro is a desktop program and can be purchased for $159.95. Business plan services' costs will vary based on the features your business needs. These companiesy generally charge a writing fee, and then added features cost extra. Go Business Plans, for example, charges $1,500 for plan writing and $150- to $300 for review.  

 

Negotiation Tips

The first big decision to consider is whether you want to draft your own plan or you outsource it to a third-party service. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so consider the following when thinking about what's best for your business.

  • Time – Depending on how quickly you need your business plan, different services offer different turnaround times. This can range from 10 days to up to 6six weeks. The time it takes for revisions to be returned is important as well. Some companies can get them back within a week, while others can take up to two weeks. This can make creating your business plan a multi-week process. Business plan software puts your business plan in your own hands, so you are responsible for how long the writing process takes.  
  • Resources – Each writing service andor software offers different resources. If your business is young and in need of guidance, some writing services offer consulting and other options to help your business grow. If your plan needs extensive research on things like market conditions, software offers access to research materials, while writing services have access to different databases.
  • Depth of service – Software and services canmay offer features for creating your plan. Services, for example, offer rush jobs, printing, design services and even sample plans for you to review before deciding whether to hire the company. Software offers more research-oriented resources, like business tips, investor information and market analysis. While these features are usually built into business plan writing services as well, research-oriented software allows the business owneryou to review and adjust research on yourtheir own.

State of the Industry

The value of a business plan has been ais widely debated topic, as some companies have achieved success without laying out a firm framework laid out. Whether your business needs a business plan depends largely on your short-term goals as a company. For startups still finding their footing, it may be a bit too early to lay out a rigid plan that could end up constraining the company. If you're a business owner looking to map out your business's growth so you can secure investment, then you need a business plan. Data supports this, with statistics indicating that businesses with business plans are twice as likely to secure funding and subsequently grow their business. According to surveys, 64 percent of businesses that completed a plan experienced growth, while only 43 percent of businesses that didn't draft a plan experienced growth.

There are two main ways to build a business plan: either by using software or outsourcing to a plan writing service. Software is oriented to walk business owners through the plan writing process with setup wizards and questions about the business. In addition to word processing, business plan software includes powerful finance and accounting tools so you can crunch numbers quickly to create multi-year projections. This is a do-it-yourself business plan construction model.

Business plan writing services will, on the other hand, do all the heavy lifting for you. With turnaround times ranging from 10 days to a few weeks, services will review your company's data, conduct research and draft your plan. Once it's finished, there is usually a revision period where your company can review and propose edits to the plan.

Another perk of different types of business plan software and services is they provide extensive resources for your company to use as ityou drafts its your plan. Some services can source 16 different research databases in addition to conducting their own research to ensure that sections on the market and industry your business is entering are accurate. Others will provide independent consulting, edit an already existing plan and pair your business with experts to help you grow different areas of your business. These resources can be a big help with not only drafting a business plan, but also with establishing a company vision and framework.

Free Business Plan Templates

SCORE, a nonprofit association that helps foster startups by providing mentorship and planning tools, says that the value of completing a business plan is not the finished product, but rather the process.

"The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It takes time now, but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later," the introduction to SCORE's business template says.

Having a clear picture about the purpose of your business, its goals, and how it will operate is critical not only for your understanding of these issues, but more importantly to get potential lenders and investors to buy in.

Thankfully, you don't have to go to business school—or hire someone who did—to create a business plan. You can download a free business plan template and customize it to your needs.

Free Download: Putting It On Paper: Free Business Plan Template [DOWNLOAD]

Where to Find Free Business Plan Templates

 

1. SCORE

The nonprofit business mentorship program offers free templates for both startup and established businesses, as well as planning tools for nonprofits. Their startup business plan is made up of a narrative along with financial worksheets. The template includes over 150 questions to establish the body of your business plan and can be answered in any order. The executive summary, however, should be completed last. The goal of this completed template is to provide you with a fluid narrative.

2. BPlans.com 

This site offers a free, basic template to download. The BPlan free template offers an organized guideline to creating your business plan and takes you though the steps to get your business plan "investor-ready and SBA-approved."  If that's not in-depth enough for you, then you can buy their Business Plan Pro software or use LivePlan, an online business plan creator with built-in formulas for financial planning, videos from experts and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues. 

3. Office.com 

The Microsoft Office site offers a gallery of templates, including business plan checklists, financials, presentations and marketing. These templates are useful if you want a specific template, rather than a general business plan. In addition, there is a PPT for business presentations for when you are ready to showcase your business to potential investors.

 4. Free-Plan

Offers a comprehensive Word-based document that contains a detailed framework for building your business plan, including sample text, tables and charts, as well as a manual with section-by-section assistance. Free-Plan is ideal for new and established businesses looking to expand and in need of a business plan for internal or external use. Their micro-plan is designed for startups and very small businesses.

5. U.S. Small Business Administration

This site allows you to fill out a template online, with instructions on what to include in each section. Next to each category, tips and examples are provided as an additional resource. After completing the template, you can generate your business plan and save it to your computer as a Word document.

6. VFinance.com

VFinance is a publicly traded company that uses their own personal knowledge of investment knowledge in creating a business plan template. With this site you can download a free business plan template targeted to your industry, plus you'll get $75 toward three months of professional posting of your plan for potential investors to view. 

7. BizGym.com

This online business planner allows you to fill out a template on the site section by section, tracks your progress on the plan, and allows you to share the plan once its completed. BizGym's recent update offers a collaborative platform with multiple pricing options, including a free "Inventor" plan. Through this application you can access resources such as a deck builder, budget builder and pivot plan.

 Tips

  • Write your executive summary last, after you've done the work of researching and thinking about your business.
  • Explain the fundamentals of your business in two pages or less. Make it enthusiastic, professional, complete and concise, advises SCORE.
  • If a section of the template doesn't apply to your business, don't worry about filling it out.
  • If you're having trouble filling out your template or have questions about creating a business plan, SCORE has mentors that can give you free advice in person or via e-mail. Or, look for feedback and advice from groups like the Small Business Network  on LinkedIn.
  • As evidenced above, there are plenty of options for free business templates, so don't feel like you need to pay for one, unless you can't find a template that thoroughly addresses your needs. Software like Business Plan Pro or Plan Write Business Plannercan provide you with further customization and assistance.
  • In addition to completing a business plan checklist, look for a due diligence checklist from potential lenders or investors to make sure you have a better understanding of the types of information they need.
  • Many sites, including Bplans.comEntrepreneuer.com and toolkit.com, offer free samples of business plans categorized by the type of company for you study before starting your own.
  • According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a good business plan is a living document that should be reviewed and updated regularly.
  • Before getting bogged down in the details of business planning, make sure you have a clear vision and set of values for your company. This creates a road map for you to follow in the rest of your planning.

Downloadable Guides

10 Innovations in Business Plan Creation
10 Innovations in Business Plan Creation

Download the Guide Below

Download eBook

Major changes in technology and the economy have created for a shift in the business landscape, and traditional business plans are being thrown out the window. But where do you go from here? In our Business Plan Innovations (10 Best Practices) guide, you’ll gain helpful insight on a number of new ideas and learn how to apply them to your business.

3 Ways to Optimize your Business Plan with Business Intelligence
3 Ways to Optimize your Business Plan with Business Intelligence

3 Ways to Optimize your Business Plan with Business Intelligence

Download

Business intelligence (BI) is what happens when big data analytics are made available throughout the organization, democratizing the access and analysis of data. This makes it possible for your company to optimize its business plan and gain key competitive advantages, even from unexpected sources.

Common Business Plan Software Questions & Answers

Have a business plan software question of your own?

Heather. Since you've already made the commitment to start a business and have purchased the truck, I suggest that: 1. Turn off the engine. 2. Do some critical thinking and research. Specifically, if you've not already done so, formulate a business model. You can find numerous examples on the web. The purpose of this exercise is to test your original assumptions with reality. It is not to your benefit to try to confirm your original beliefs (hopes and dreams), rather you need to find out...

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Check the SBA and score websites. Even as a business coach, I utilize Business Plan Pro and free online formats. The key to a good business plan is to have an outline of the various points in the document, which is not rocket science, does not vary much from one type of business to another, and can be found for free. The key is how well the various elements are addressed -- not any type of fancy pre-written document or format. My last theoretical point is that I distinguish between a...

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If you're not looking for outside investment then you don't have to necessarily complete a formal business plan. The purpose of the plan shifts from trying to convince others about the potential of your business to a mechanism to motivate yourself and help you think through all the aspects of your business. Because of this you need to think about what approach will be most effective in doing this. For some people they might find it easier to plan using post it notes on an office wall, for...

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Amber - your pitch is much more important than your business plan. If you cannot articulate in 3-4 minutes the purpose of your business, the opportunity you think you have, what you want the money for, and how you plan for the investor to get their money back, you will never get to share your business plan. On top of that, investors know that whatever you put into a business plan and forecast are assumptions and estimates, and we all know that these are often (usually!) wrong. So do they....

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The obvious advantage of knowing your competitors 3 year business plan is that it allows you to adjust to what they are doing. That may be ziging when they are zaging or it may be to try to zig before they do but if you know what they are doing you can adjust your own business plans. That said I don't think the odds of getting your competitors business plans are very likely. Public corporations may have some generalities in information they release and there can always be some leaks but I...

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Tammy, what is the purpose of writing your business plan? Is it to obtain financing or provide a road-map to your plan over the next few years. I have helped many companies raise money or presented them to different investors and critical components along this path include having a section on management expertise, a succinct and accurate product description including features and benefits, identification of target market. (Note this should not be the market is 100 M and I expect to achieve...

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Map

Pro Business Plans
300 Park Ave.
New York, NY
Pro Business Plans
PlanIt Business
15400 Knoll Trail Dr
Dallas, TX
PlanIt Business
Go Business Plans
12777 W Jefferson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Go Business Plans
Bargain Business Plan
12400 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA
Bargain Business Plan
Joorney
407 Lincoln Rd
Miami Beach, FL
Joorney
Wise Business Plans
7251 W Lake Mead Blvd
Las Vegas, NV
Wise Business Plans
The Plan Writers
8383 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA
The Plan Writers
Optimus Business Plans
13355 Noel Road
Dallas, TX
Optimus Business Plans
Cayenne Consulting
155 N Riverview Drive
Anaheim, CA
Cayenne Consulting
LivePlan
44 West Broadway
Eugene, OR
LivePlan
iPlanner.NET
13155 Noel Road
Dallas, TX
iPlanner.NET
Capital West Advisors
9107 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA
Capital West Advisors
Masterplans
1355 NW Everett Street
Portland, OR
Masterplans
BizPlanBuilder
401 el Cielito Road
Santa Barbara, CA
BizPlanBuilder
Business PlanMaker
2301 Armstrong Street
Livermore, CA
Business PlanMaker
Business Plan Pro
44 West Broadway
Eugene, OR
Business Plan Pro
Ultimate Business Planner
PO Box 9013
Fargo, ND
Ultimate Business Planner
Plan Write for Business
2013 Wells Branch Pkwy
Austin, TX
Plan Write for Business
PlanMagic Business
420 South Riverside Ave
Croton on Hudson, NY
PlanMagic Business

Services

List of 20Best Business Plan Software

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