Business Plan Software: Do You Need It?

Business  plan  software is something that often gets overlooked

and isn’t considered to be a necessity for some reason. In my

opinion, business  plan  software is essential, it is not a luxury.

I am a huge advocate of business  planning . When people ask me if

they need a business  plan , my response is, “Absolutely!” You see,

starting a business without a business  plan  is akin to starting

college without a degree  plan . If you don’t know where you are

going, you won’t know how to get there. You will waste your time

and your money if you are not following a  plan . It’s really that


So, you know you need a business  plan , but what about business

 plan  software? For business  planning , there are really three

alternatives: 1) crafting your own business  plan  from scratch; 2)

hiring a business  plan  writer or business  planning  consultant; or

3) using business  plan  software to write your own business  plan .

Each of these alternatives has its own advantages and


Writing your own business  plan  from scratch is certainly a

possibility. Doing so gives you the freedom to format and arrange

the  plan  in any way that you see fit. On the other hand, doing

financial projections, which are necessary for the purpose of

budgeting and financial  planning , can be difficult to do without

a business  plan  program, or at least financial projection

software or spreadsheets.

Hiring a business  plan  writer makes sense for some people. A

business  plan  writer is generally well-versed in business

 planning  and will have insight that will assist you in preparing

a comprehensive business  plan  that takes everything into account.

The disadvantages to having your business  plan  professionally

written are the expense associated with the initial  plan , and the

limitations that exist in regard to changing it as your business

evolves, which is something that business  plan  software empowers

you to do.

Business  plan  software is relatively inexpensive when compared to

hiring a professional business  plan  writer or consultant.

However, when compared to doing your own  plan  from scratch, it

may seem like an unnecessary expense. Business  plan  software does

have many advantages. A good business  plan  software package, like

Business  Plan  Pro by Palo Alto, has the headings and categories

for a business  plan  already set up for you. It also has guidance

throughout the business  planning  process that explains what to

include in each part of your business  plan .

What I really love about Business  Plan  Pro is that it is so easy

to do financial projections using the business  plan  software,

whether or not you understand accounting. The main financial

sections include a section for start-up costs, one for income

projections, one for a proforma balance sheet, and one for a

projected cash flow statement. Information that input into one of

the financial forms automatically transfers calculations to the

other financial statement forms making the process of projecting

your financial  plan  a breeze.

Another huge advantage I see in regard to business  plan  software

is that when you use business  plan  software to create your own

business  plan , you can make changes to it anytime you need to. It

doesn’t become a stale document that sits on the shelf and

collects dust. A business  plan  should be always evolving. You

should update your business  plan  frequently including new goals,

objectives and milestones. You should also adjust your financial

projections regularly for the purpose of budgeting. Business  plan 

software makes it easy to do.

If you choose not to use business software, and to create your

own business  plan  from scratch, you will need some guidance

unless you are a professional business planner yourself. The

Small Business Administration has some excellent

resources and guides about business  planning . If you choose to

hire a professional business  plan  writer, do review their

qualifications and references and make certain that you

understand exactly what is included in the business  planning 

services they are offering.