Business Plans – how to make them simpleBusiness Plans Small

Open any book  aimed at start up businesses or those looking to raise finance and it will probably start with a section on preparing your business plan.

I can remember when I prepared my first business plan, some fifteen years ago, it took quite a long time to complete and was something of a work of art. I thought that writing it was the difficult bit, but finding someone interested in reading it was even harder. So first piece of advice

  1. Keep it concise and to the point. You can always add Appendices with further information i.e. detailed reports on competitor analysis.
  2. If you want to get it done in a reasonable time consider a Business Plan software or SaaS ( cloud option )
  3. As I sometimes tire of saying you do get what you pay for.

 A Professional Business Plan Software

Looking round for a good quality business plan software that is easy to use and not too expensive is not all that simple.  There’s a lot of choice on the market but I decided to narrow it down to 4 options as I think that more will just add to the level of confusion.

I’ll start with a brief comparison and then say a little about each closing with my personal conclusion.

Compare top 4 Business Plan Products

 

 TechImporting PrintResearchForecastOverall  
SupportoptionsoutputToolsToolstotal
BizPlan Builder 444.54.5522
Business Plan Pro54554.523.5
Bizplan.com343.533.517
Business Plan Writer321.51.52.510.5

Lets take a quick look at each

BizPlan Builder

This is an excellent tool for those wishing to prepare a plan, although it may be difficult for beginners to use and as most people preparing business plans are beginners this is a problem. In addition it is a product from the USA so not geared to handling UK tax VAT etc.good program.Busines plan box

Produced by Jian it has multiuser capability and a considerable range of back up information to help the writer to produce well supported evidence to back up the claims of their business plan.

It comes in at £ 79.00 approx ( dependent on $ exchange rate ). It is available for PC or a cloud version for Mac or as a bundle with several other business softwares.

Business Plan Pro UK

This is the number one planning product in the UK outselling all it’s competitors put together. It entails at £ 79.99 for the Business Plan Pro UK version.  In addition there is a Premier edition at £ 129.99 and also an online ( cloud ) version at £ 11.99 / month.

The pro version comes with an impressive array of capabilities including 500+ sample plans from all types of businesses enabling you to adapt one of these rather than starting your own from scratch. It also contains many industry profiles and data from real companies enabling you to support any claims in you plan with facts.bus plan

As if this were not impressive enough there are two free eBooks several financial spreadsheets and a free magazine subscription. OK its not the cheapest but the amount of time saved can exceed the cost many times over and the finished plan may well make the difference between getting funding and not.

The Premier edition comes with additional features such as Funding tools, Management dashboard ( allows budget against actual comparisons), cash flow tools and an import from excel spreadsheet tool.  The fact that this tool is only available on the premier edition is a slight black mark against the otherwise unassailable Pro package.

Both come with 60 day money back guarantee.

BizPlan.com

BizPlanBuilder-2013-BoxThis is another US product which is charged on a monthly online basis at $29.00 month. Don’t assume that the exchange rate will apply as often the UK billing is closer to 0ne £ equals one$. Extra users can be added at $4.97 per month so if you are collaborating this may be useful. I don’t see that this feature will be used very often.

The product does have one very interesting feature which enables you to add sound bites and video if this is something that would help to support your business plan.

Business Plan Writer

After a bit of searching I have managed to come up with  another UK software Business Plan Writer at £ 49.99

Based on a standard plan structure that you adapt to produce your offering there are five sample plans for you to work from. You decide what to include or not and also there are sample wordings to help with getting the text to readbus plan writer correctly.

The manufacturers are UK based in Plymouth and for those of a nervous nature there is a 60 day money back guarantee.

Once the plan has been produced it can be outputted to PDF, Microsoft Word or HTML format to suite your requirements.

 

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