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What Is a Business Plan?

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Beginners or those looking for plan writing guidance What Is a Business Plan? Many of us have been there: That sudden epiphany in the shower or at a bar chatting with friends. The slew of initial ideas hastily scribbled on napkins or perhaps simply forgotten entirely.

Many great businesses started with these same events, but millions more never got beyond them. That's because the next step can be both difficult and labor-intensive, namely writing a coherent business plan.

Going from random napkin-notes to an organized, thorough plan to get your business started, funded, and generating revenue for the foreseeable future can be a mammoth undertaking, especially for beginners and even more so for people trying to go it alone.

Fortunately, there's plenty of help if you know where to look, especially if what you really need is a written business plan that simply communicates a clear vision. This will help you attract the right people and resources to implement your idea. A business plan tells others how you will get customers and clients, who will run the business, and how early-stage venture capital VC will be raised.

Business plans help you talk about yourself, explain your strengths, and ask for money to back up your idea. So, people write business plans in order to acquire funding or to document the company's intended direction. That is, you want a bank loan, VC funding, or other help to get your startup off the ground. A business plan can also be the most concrete way to get everyone's agreement on "This is what we're doing, right?!

In all of these cases, the business owner has to do something that can be scary: That's a tough job. It's hard to express your product's unique selling points, analyze competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and back up your assertions about why you need this much money. Believe me, I know. In my pre-journalistic life, I wrote two in-depth business plans. One plan taught me that I didn't have what it took to pull off that project and the other plan got my startup business accepted by a VC conference.

So, when we lack expertise, we should ask for help. Software with "follow the bouncing ball" instructions for business plans can serve the same role as online accounting services because, in each case, you rely on specialists to walk you through the process. Even better, many of the products we review in this business plan creation tool roundup back up their software offerings with in-person coaching and mentoring as well as loads of online learning resources, like videos and how-to articles.

The 10 online business plan software solutions examined in this roundup —Atlas Business Solutions Ultimate Business Planner 5. So, whether you want to start your own accounting firm, real estate operation, or e-commerce business, you'll be all ready to go.

All of these online business plan software solutions certainly do deliver on their promise to help you, and none of them are bad choices. However, a few of them provide additional services such as connecting you to funding sources EquityNet gets a nod here or comparing your plan to others' plans in your industry such as what Enloop's performance score does.

Ultimately, though, the two Editors' Choice winners were clear: These Software-as-a-Service SaaS applications can't give you the irresistible prose to convince an investor you will make your projections come true, but they do guide you in answering all of the questions that investor is likely to have. Here are eight key factors to look for when choosing a business plan software solution for your business:.

Business Plan Structure Business plans have a lot of elements, some of which won't occur to someone who hasn't written one before. Ideally, the business planning software solution will walk you through each section that is appropriate for your class of business, ensuring you answer all of the relevant questions. These solutions may prompt you to respond to issues that you might not have thought to address.

Do the Numbers Ultimately, a business plan shows how your company will make money. Even the simplest plan needs to include financial reports such as charts for profit-and-loss, balance sheets, and month-by-month and yearly projections.

Context and Analysis Some business plan software solutions such as EquityNet and Editors' Choice Palo Alto Software LivePlan help you compare your numbers to others in your industry, including regions and company size. You might claim that the Jewish deli you propose to open in Asheville, North Carolina will turn a profit in three years, but the market data suggests five years is typical. This data helps you back up your assertions before a banker can raise an eyebrow.

This is a "nice-to-have" feature for some businesses but an irrelevant one for others. Helpful Advice Even if the business plan software solution gives you places to plug in data think "Mad Libs" for businesses , ultimately you need a good idea you're on your own, there and to understand the information investors want to see. As with tax preparation software, it's reassuring when the business planning software solution defines terms, provides sample data, and explains the sort of information expected in each field.

StratPad's educational videos are a model for how this sort of thing should work. Report Depth and Presentation The result of all of this work is a business plan, a document for others to read. These don't always need to be works of art but it helps if the business plan software solution packages your business plan attractively and permits customization.

Don't treat these tools as all-in-one solutions to your problems. Set your expectations correctly and you'll find these business plan software solutions to be far more helpful. But I promise you that, at least once while you use these business plan software solutions, you will say, "Gee, I don't know; I have to look it up.

For any but the simplest of proposals, it's an iterative process. So, you need to highlight the parts to come back to after your accountant responds, for example. Or, the software should at least save data in some kind of draft status. However, across all of these apps, some forms insist you must enter something in a field before it will save everything on the page, which is irksome.

Worse, it could lead to errors because you might not remember to go back and fix the temporary guess. I kept wishing for a way to bookmark "temporary" data that needs to be double-checked "I'll write in for now…" ; the best answer to this was Palo Alto Software LivePlan's comment field but it would be nice to see a business planning software solution that let me mark a field as "Don't forget.

You Still Need a Spreadsheet In general, these business plan software solutions will act as though you are reasonably organized before you log into their websites wherein you will paste summary information. However, based on my hands-on experience, I advise you to still expect to do background math yourself. For instance, if you need to fill in the projected head count for marketing for the next five years and you keep adjusting the number of people to hire based on your spreadsheet guesswork , expect to keep manually updating the total in the software rather than having the data automatically sync.

In other words, these business plan software solutions are helpers, not "I will do the thinking for you" kind of apps. And this is okay, as long as you don't expect them to be something they're not. These are all SaaS apps, some of which have a free version with the basics as well as a paid version with more feature depth. If your needs are incredibly simple and you just need "fill-in-the-blanks" forms to give to a banker, then you may find several completely free options that do the trick.

A Plan for All Businesses These business plan software solutions must be relevant for everyone, from a solo entrepreneur trying to open a small to midsize accounting firm to an established manufacturing company aiming to fund a new factory.

To judge suitability to task, I used data from two real business plans: I also measured the software against the business plan I once wrote with the help of professional advisors back when I sought significant VC. All of these business plan software solutions are good apps; none of them gravely disappoint. It won PCMag's admiration based on the clarity and understandability of their documentation and the impressive depth of their features and options.

However, each of the 10 business plan software solutions reviewed has strengths that may make one a better choice over another for your business.

So, look at all of the options to see which one is the best fit for you. Featured Business Plan Software Reviews: An impressive range of customizable features. Lots of online learning help. Loads of customizable features necessitates a learning curve. Now, when you use our business plan writing services , everything Ultius has to offer is available wherever you go! You can use our mobile friendly site to do things like correspond with your writer, place a new order, or send them helpful documents or other materials.

Access our full site and all our amenities from wherever you are. When you use our custom business plan writing services , you are entitled to an unlimited number of revisions. While it is always our goal to provide you with a product that is up to your exact specifications the first time, we understand that after you review your business plan, you may find that you want some information changed or added.

If you would like to have your writer revise your work, you have seven days from when you receive the order to request a rewrite. After you submit your revision request, your writer has three days to complete the rewrite, though rewrites very rarely take our writers three days to complete.

We want to provide you with a product that adheres to all your specifications and that leaves you completely satisfied, so we promise to provide you with as many revisions as it takes for that to happen.

When trying to find high-quality business plan writing services , an important factor to consider is where each company finds their writers. Some of our competitors choose to cut corners and save themselves money by outsourcing writers from other countries. Most of the time, these outsourced writers do not speak English regularly, and that is reflected in the work they produce.

All of our writers are American-based and speak English fluently. Each and every one has a very firm grasp on the English language to ensure that all the work we produce is of the highest quality. When you use custom business plan writing services , it is important that whoever writers your plan understands the necessity for excellence.

Your plan needs to effectively market your idea in addition to showing the benefits of proceeding with your plan. You want to leave a lasting impression that leaves little doubt in the success of your business venture. Our writers have years of experience in their field and each one of them has received education from prestigious American universities across the country.

They understand each aspect that is an important part of your business plan and know how to best represent your plan in a way that highlights its success and efficiency. Our writers will dedicate their time, effort, and impressive work ethic to ensure your professional success. We are confident that our writers will do whatever it takes to provide you with the very best product possible.

The most important quality that sets Ultius apart from our competitors is the unmatched quality of our writing staff. Our writers are the very best in the business. Each one is highly educated from esteemed universities and has spent years honing their pristine writing skills.

They truly believe that your success is our success and is more than willing to but in hours of hard work to provide you with the very best business plan writing services you could find. When you order a plan from our competitors, you will likely receive some basic, generic plan that generally outlines your strategy and goals, but does not necessarily set your plan apart from any other.

At Ultius, we know how to formulate your business plan in a professional way while also making sure that it leaves a lasting impression on those who review it.

A business plan from Ultius is guaranteed to impress your employers and help them see the merits and benefits that come with proceeding with your plan. Your writer will then send you a message asking for the specifics of your business plan in order to accurately present it in your finished product. They also may ask about the company you work for so they can research the company to find out how best to market your business plan to them.

Once they are confident that they have all the information that they need, they will then being t integrate all this information together to craft your perfect business plan. Once finished, the product you receive will perfectly market your plan to your employers and highlight the benefits of proceeding with your plan. When you want the quality of your business plan to be assured, always go with Ultius!

In terms of business plan writing services, we are simply the best in the business. Your work will be done by a highly educated and trained professional writer who will provide a product that adheres to your exact specifications and be provided to you in a timely manner. Our customer service staff is always ready to help you with whatever you need. At Ultius, we will do whatever it takes to ensure your success.

Ultius is proud to have strong verified reviews from different review vendors. Last updated on 16 January Connect with a professional writer by placing your first order. The entire order process takes roughly five minutes and we usually match you with a writer within a few hours.

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A business plan writing service is a team of business experts that take your ideas & numbers, combine it with some of their own research and produce a professional, well-formatted business plan. We looked at the 3 top business plan writing services and compared their features and pricing.

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When you choose to use our custom business plan writing services, your order appears on our writers’ dashboard where they can review it before claiming it. Your writer will then send you a message asking for the specifics of your business plan in order to accurately present it in your finished product.

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