Using business plan software might be just what you need to help you write a business plan. It will save you time and the headaches that come with trying to figure it all out yourself. Here are some features of great business plan software that you should look for when making a purchase:
1. Step-by-Step Instructions
Writing a business plan or coming up with a business plan outline can be intimidating for some. It's a lot easier when you're given easy to follow step-by-step instructions, and a great business plan software will do just that. In addition to the instructions, you'll get expert advice to help you think through problems and solutions that your business will face.
2. Large Number of Sample Business Plans
There's nothing like having sample business plans to look at to help craft your own. A good software program will have so many that you're bound to find a company just like yours (or close to it). This will make it easier for you to come up with your own business plan outline, because you can copy it and modify it to fit your business. This will save you time, and it may help generate ideas that you did not think of yourself.
3. Cash Flow Management
One of the most important aspects of writing a business plan are your financial statements. Some business plan software makes it easy for you to create cash flow statements and to see how they're affected by changes to your business plan. For example, after you plug in data concerning your accounts payable and accounts receivable, you might want to test how your cash flow will look if you dropped a particular product or service. Your software should be capable of reflecting the changes in the numbers without having to redo your business plan all over again. It should also have a chart for you to see the effects visually. This makes writing a business plan easier than trying to craft it yourself in Excel or doing the calculations on paper.
4. Customization Tools
You may need to customize the software in order to meet special financing or other requirements. A great feature of a business plan program is the customization tools available. These allow you to insert anything extra that you need, such as tables or fields. If you started your business plan using Excel or another spreadsheet, many good business plan software programs will allow you to import that data into the program. This allows for the flexibility needed in writing a business plan.
5. Plan Versus Reality
Perhaps one of the most helpful features is the ability to compare (at a glance) how your business is really doing versus what your written business plan says. Some will have comparison charts available so that you can readily see if you're meeting your financial, sales, marketing and other goals, or if you're missing the mark. This is important because you want to correct mistakes or change courses quickly, before you suffer unnecessary losses to your business. Without a comparison of your plans versus reality, you might follow a plan that will cause your business to fail.
The beauty of using a business plan software is that as your business grows, you can easily adjust your plans with simple data entry. The software will write your business plan all over again, and you won't need to get bogged down with recalculating everything.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.