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Overall:
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Robustness:
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Overall:
User Friendly:
Robustness:
Customizable:
End Product:
Value:

Business Plan Pro is the best known planning software on the market today…and for good reason. The step by step approach is easy to navigate whether you are using the Wizard Tasks or the Plan Outline view. Before the application is launched the program brings you through a series of questions to customize the plan’s sections and financial templates, giving you a preformatted plan every time. If there are still sections that don’t apply to your business, you can ignore them or remove them using the file menu.
 

Some cool features include two add-ins; one for creating a Web Plan and one for a SWOT Analysis. In addition, the order of the plan’s sections is intuitive with each one building off the last. When the final plan it formatted it is reorder to a more traditional outline. On the downside, while writing our plan, we found the additional resources sprinkled through out the sections to be more distracting than helpful and at times the instructions could have been more complete rather than redirecting you to another part of the program for more information.
 
The financial projection program is easy to use with table wizards for each input section, yet still has the flexibility of a spreadsheet application once the inputs are completed. There is an option for One Table Projections or Full Sets (3-5 Years) and it allows existing businesses to import their current balance sheet from QuickBooks. The Forecaster function was particularly useful with the ability to enter annual or monthly data that is immediately reflected in a graph above your entries. The graphs points can be dragged up or down changing the numbers in the tables below…very useful for visually forecasting sales and expenses. Once the projections are completed there is a ratio table that can search industry data and will auto fill your industry’s numbers for comparison. This feature will help you gauge the accuracy of your financial inputs.
 
There are some drawbacks however to the forecasting portion of the program. First and foremost, the tables for data input are interwoven into the different sections of the business plan. Some users may not know exactly where the data they enter will end up on the final financial projections making it a little confusing. Also, some accounts could be set up more user friendly for those with less accounting knowledge. Some examples include Cost of Goods Sold; which requires you to enter in physical costs rather than a percent of sales and unexplainably, are not tied to inventory levels. Another is depreciation, long-term assets are all lumped together and it is up to the user to calculate and enter depreciation expense. In our test plan we found some data entries didn’t flow through to the projections where we thought they would end up (although we easily went back added it to the relevant section). It would be less complicated if the financial section was completely separate from the business plan so that users could choose to enter all the financial inputs after the written plan is completed and view changes as they occur.
 
DIYBizPlan.com felt that Business Plan Pro has a lot to offer. PaloAlto’s website purports that 50% of fortune 500 companies use their software for planning needs. Looking at the robustness of their application we can understand why…but not a single start-up business is a Fortune 500 company and they may find some of the features to be overkill. Business Plan Pro is a solid application, combining the ease of step by step data entry with the power and flexibility of spreadsheet application, making it the most well rounded business planning program on the market.

Highs: Auto-Customized Plan, Powerful yet Simple Projections
Lows: Financial Data Input Process, Intermediate Knowledge of Accounting Required
Bottom Line: Best All Around Program for New and Existing Businesses


Business Plan Pro
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Business Plan Pro 2006

$99.95
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Produce a professional business plan quickly and easily!

 

Create a business plan in hours, not weeks
 
Business Plan Pro task list It couldn't be easier. Our proprietary EasyPlan Wizard asks you simple questions, then determines the next steps based on your unique answers. Not only does Business Plan Pro walk you through the entire planning process with instructions throughout, but you also have access to detailed examples from over 500 sample business plans from hundreds of different industries. Whether you are planning a new business or simply revising your business strategy, the step-by-step guides and resources will make the planning process simple and easy.
 

 

 

Print and publish your plan
 
Print and publish your business plan Produce a plan that gets attention. Every page is automatically organized and collated to produce a bulletproof business plan, in the preferred format of banks, investors and the Small Business Administration (SBA), that gets results. Customize your plan by easily importing your own graphics, logos, photos, and even fonts and layouts. Conveniently distribute your plan. Easily export your business plan to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Or create an Adobe PDF document. You can even upload your completed business plan to a secure password-protected website.
 

 

 

Forecast expenses, sales, and growth
 
Forecast expenses, sales, and growth Create a foundation for your cash-flow projections with our start-up wizard. Business Plan Pro then guides you through completing an accurate cash flow and balance sheet. Make realistic projections using our break-even analysis tool. It helps you understand when you will break even and when you will start making money. Plan for growth with our Forecaster tool. The Forecaster tool helps you add data to the cells of the income and expense tables.
 

 

Get funding
 
Get funding for your business Everybody knows you can't get money without a plan. Business Plan Pro has everything you need to create a custom business plan so you can get the money needed to execute on your idea. Business Plan Pro includes a valuable venture capital database, and a friends and family financing guide and many Small Business Administration (SBA) resources. The Premier version includes additional funding tools such as a business valuation worksheet and an investment offering table.
 

 

 

Extra value beyond the software
 

Business Plan Pro is not just the most powerful planning software for starting or growing your business. The product also comes with a valuable collection of extras that more than pay back your investment on their own. Included with your purchase are two books on business planning, free guides on financing and small business legal issues, a free company logo, free credits for pay-per-click advertising, and much more.

View Over 100 Sample Business Plans!

 

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