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Business Plan Software: Do You Need It? - Articles Surfing

Business plan software is something that often gets overlookedand isn't considered to be a necessity for some reason. In myopinion, business plan software is essential, it is not a luxury.I am a huge advocate of business planning. When people ask me ifthey need a business plan, my response is, "Absolutely!" You see,starting a business without a business plan is akin to startingcollege without a degree plan. If you don't know where you aregoing, you won't know how to get there. You will waste your timeand your money if you are not following a plan. It's really thatsimple!

So, you know you need a business plan, but what about businessplan software? For business planning, there are really threealternatives: 1) crafting your own business plan from scratch; 2)hiring a business plan writer or business planning consultant; or3) using business plan software to write your own business plan.Each of these alternatives has its own advantages anddisadvantages.

Writing your own business plan from scratch is certainly apossibility. Doing so gives you the freedom to format and arrangethe plan in any way that you see fit. On the other hand, doingfinancial projections, which are necessary for the purpose ofbudgeting and financial planning, can be difficult to do withouta business plan program, or at least financial projectionsoftware or spreadsheets.

Hiring a business plan writer makes sense for some people. Abusiness plan writer is generally well-versed in businessplanning and will have insight that will assist you in preparinga comprehensive business plan that takes everything into account.The disadvantages to having your business plan professionallywritten are the expense associated with the initial plan, and thelimitations that exist in regard to changing it as your businessevolves, which is something that business plan software empowersyou to do.

Business plan software is relatively inexpensive when compared tohiring a professional business plan writer or consultant.However, when compared to doing your own plan from scratch, itmay seem like an unnecessary expense. Business plan software doeshave many advantages. A good business plan software package, likeBusiness Plan Pro by Palo Alto, has the headings and categoriesfor a business plan already set up for you. It also has guidancethroughout the business planning process that explains what toinclude in each part of your business plan.

What I really love about Business Plan Pro is that it is so easyto do financial projections using the business plan software,whether or not you understand accounting. The main financialsections include a section for start-up costs, one for incomeprojections, one for a proforma balance sheet, and one for aprojected cash flow statement. Information that input into one ofthe financial forms automatically transfers calculations to theother financial statement forms making the process of projectingyour financial plan a breeze.

Another huge advantage I see in regard to business plan softwareis that when you use business plan software to create your ownbusiness plan, you can make changes to it anytime you need to. Itdoesn't become a stale document that sits on the shelf andcollects dust. A business plan should be always evolving. Youshould update your business plan frequently including new goals,objectives and milestones. You should also adjust your financialprojections regularly for the purpose of budgeting. Business plansoftware makes it easy to do.

If you choose not to use business software, and to create yourown business plan from scratch, you will need some guidanceunless you are a professional business planner yourself. TheSmall Business Administration www.sba.gov has some excellentresources and guides about business planning. If you choose tohire a professional business plan writer, do review theirqualifications and references and make certain that youunderstand exactly what is included in the business planningservices they are offering.

Submitted by:

Christopher Enders

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