What Is Business Plan Software?
Business plan apps help you build comprehensive, attractive, and investor-ready plans for your projects.
But what exactly do they do?
Let’s break it down, step-by-step:
What Is a Business Plan?
Business plans are written documents that describe your goals and the strategies you’ll use to get there. They are a roadmap for the future of your company.
New businesses use plans to structure their ideas and attract investors. Established organizations need a regularly updated strategy describing their activities, goals, and steps for reaching the objectives.
What Are the Three Main Purposes of a Business Plan?
Each business plan has three primary purposes:
- Opportunity analysis—the first step is to analyze the financial, technical, and market details to structure your goals and determine their feasibility.
- Business focus—a business plan is a roadmap for success; it helps you set objectives and stay on track toward achieving them.
- Fundraising—lenders and investors want to understand your idea and its value before deciding whether they wish to contribute.
The best business plans work as internal motivation and strategy for entrepreneurs and their teams and as a blueprint for externals like investors, lenders, and future executives.
What Are the Four Types of Business Plans?
The four types of business plans include:
- Strategic plans give you a big-picture overview of your vision, mission, and company values.
- Tactical plans are granular breakdowns of the strategic plan—step-by-step guidelines for action.
- Operational plans describe ongoing processes—they are the day-to-day steps you take as part of your success tactics.
- Contingency plans are a “plan B”—what happens if you don’t get the expected outcome? They help you manage risk and mitigate damage.
How Do I Write a Good Business Plan?
Whether you’re using software for business plans or doing things from scratch, here is how to create a winning strategy:
Conduct Market Research
You think you have a valuable idea.
But how do you know if it will sell? You check out the competition.
Market research is the process of learning about your future customers and the field you’ll be working in.
Look into the industry size and growth rate—this is a crucial starting point for understanding your potential revenue. Industry outlook also helps investors know if it’s worth putting money into your venture.
Knowing your market will also help you choose the best business plan app for your company.
Next, learn about your buyer persona. Not everybody will want to buy your product.
For example, luxury goods are targeting people with lots of disposable income. Sports equipment is for those who practice that sport.
Get granular with your user persona. Use statistics to learn about their:
- Age and gender
- Family status
These are just the basics—use them for diving deeper into potential customer needs, values, and interests. The information you gather at this stage will help you choose the most appropriate business plan program—from pricing and marketing efforts to your approach to key customers.
Some businesses like to identify multiple buyer personas to help differentiate between use cases. For example, a coffee shop might have:
- Jan, a busy executive who grabs her cup of Joe every morning at 7:00 am sharp
- Stephen, a freelance writer who uses the space to work on projects
- Sophie, a teenager who likes to hang out in the coffee shop with her friends
These people belong to different demographic groups, have different needs and expectations, and a “quality coffee shop experience” looks different to each one of them. Identifying the primary personas and including them in your business plan will help you cater to each customer and, ultimately, achieve sustainable growth.
Whether you choose a business plan writing software or do your own research, knowing your customers will help you grow.
Fund Your Business
You need money to make money.
To raise capital, prepare a clear company overview with key assumptions and risks—this helps investors evaluate your proposal and ROI potential.
Whether you’re trying to attract investors or funding your own project, creating a financial plan is essential.
In your plan, you want to evaluate current finances, future expenses, and financial goals. By creating a sales forecast and setting tactics for smart use of funds, you’ll essentially make a roadmap for increasing revenue and mitigating risk.
Most apps in our business plan software list have specific financial tools for forecasting and tracking progress. This gives investors peace of mind and makes fundraising easier for you.
Pick Your Business Location
When you’re choosing your location, consider:
- Sourcing and fulfillment—the closer you are to suppliers, the lower your transportation costs will be.
- Distribution—whether you’re doing direct or retail distribution, you want a convenient, communicative spot.
- Personnel plan—can you find the people you need near your location?
Of course, make sure you set a budget and stick to it. A large, newly-renovated office is nice, but it might be too expensive for startup companies.
Look into alternative solutions like coworking spaces, which offer flexibility and affordable pricing.
Some business plan creator software could help you determine your needs and make an optimal decision.
Choose a Business Structure
Business structure and ownership will define your taxation, fundraising opportunities, and personal liability.
Sole proprietorship, a partnership business structure, and limited companies all have their advantages—read up on these options or consult a lawyer for advice.
Choose Your Business Name
Pick a name to represent your brand and what it stands for. A good rule of thumb is to choose easy-to-pronounce names and avoid trademarked phrases. Check the .com domain availability through some of the best domain registrars, too.
Some business plan builder software could help you with that step too.
Submit Your Business
There are so many places where you can list your business—start doing that little by little every day.
Submit your listing to Google, Apple Maps, the LinkedIn company directory, social media like Facebook, etc.
Depending on your industry, there might be additional directories—add your business there to start getting noticed.
Get Federal and State Tax IDs
Since you’ll be making a profit, you have to pay tax.
Register to get your state tax ID and Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a federal number. You also need them to open a business bank account, apply for licenses, and hire personnel.
A business plan builder software with HR features could do a lot for you in this regard.
Apply for Licenses and Permits
Depending on your business, you’ll need different documents to run your company legally.
Some of the standard licenses you might need include:
- General business license for operating in your chosen state or country
- Seller’s permit if you’re selling goods
- Professional licenses for specific occupations (e.g., attorneys need a law license)
- Home occupation permit if you’re running your company from home
- Health, fire department, and environmental permits regulating the safety of your operations
Research the required licenses thoroughly—the US Small Business Administration is a good starting point to learn more.
Open a Business Bank Account
Keep your personal and business finances separately for easy bookkeeping and financial analysis. A business checking account will help you track transactions and stay on top of cash flow.
Check if your business plan maker can integrate with accounting software—some of our best choices on this list will automatically import bookkeeping data to create detailed financial forecasts and budget vs. actual reviews.
The best business plan software takes the guesswork out of starting a new venture. Step-by-step wizards and guided business plan makers help you structure your ideas into an action plan with a transparent company and management summary to attract investors.
Whether you’re a small startup or a large company branching into a new industry, a business plan app can optimize your planning process, saving you both time and money in the long run.