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Best Business Plan Software | Money

Finding the best business plan software can help you reach your goals faster. But what factors matter when choosing a platform? How do you get the best deal? And which business planning software is right for your unique needs and preferences?

This guide answers all those questions while providing detailed guidance on choosing and using some of the top software options on the market today.

Our Top Picks for Best Business Plan Software

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Best Business Plan Software Reviews

  • Has affordable plans ranging from free to $22 monthly
  • Allows 10 collaborators and 10 plan ideas on highest tier
  • Includes several built-in features for simplified idea evaluation and collaboration
  • Offers both monthly and annual billing options
  • Laggy and buggy features
  • Not much guidance

Why we chose it: IdeaBuddy is an affordable business plan software with many features to support idea generation and evaluation, including one-page plan summaries and a whiteboard for simplified collaboration.

IdeaBuddy is a good entry point into the world of business planning software. It’s free to begin using and has scalable plan options ranging from $5 for the Dreamer package to $22 per month for the Team Pro package with more features.

The software is an especially good fit for idea evaluation. Its one-page business plan summaries make it easier to evaluate a new idea from the top down. You also get virtual sticky notes and a whiteboard allowing multiple collaborators to contribute to your evaluating business ideas.

Some complaints about the software’s bugginess and slow load times have occurred. But these issues don’t appear to impact all users. There’s also not as much guidance as you might receive from other companies, but you can try IdeaBuddy for free to determine if it’s right for you before making a financial commitment.

  • Helps you visualize company finances in different scenarios
  • Allows unlimited guests and collaborators
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and Xero
  • Offers detailed instructions and guides to help you get started
  • No free trial or plan
  • Users report the software and the graphs it creates can be challenging to learn

Why we chose it: LivePlan automatically turns hard data into easy-to-understand graphs, charts and branching what-if scenarios. It also allows unlimited collaborators and can integrate with third-party accounting software.

Turning your company’s hard financial data into insightful reports and visualizations is challenging. LivePlan makes it easier to understand and learn from that data by automatically creating a variety of visualizations that you can program based on different what-if scenarios. The software also allows unlimited contributors and integrates with popular accounting software, such as QuickBooks and Xero. This integration is useful for businesses looking to streamline their accounting processes.

There’s no free trial or plan, but pricing is either $15 for Standard or $30 for Premium per month when you pay annually. That’s more affordable than some alternatives. Additionally, although LivePlan offers detailed step-by-step instructions to help you learn the platform, it’s still complicated enough that some users struggle to do so. But once you figure it out, the software can be a powerful solution to your financial planning needs.

  • Includes on-platform team messaging
  • Offers business plan templates to get you started
  • Has a free plan option
  • Doubles as project management software, so you can plan an idea and build it on the same app
  • Premium plans are more expensive than the competition’s
  • Doesn’t include financial planning tools

Why we chose it: Wrike is a multidimensional business tool you can use to plan a new idea, discuss it with your team and execute it through the platform’s project management features.

Wrike may be ideal for you if you want business plan software that allows you to communicate with team members within the same application. The platform also offers a variety of templates to get your planning started and has a free option so you can try it out without assuming any risk.

Plan options include the following:

  • Free: for teams just getting started
  • Team ($9.80 per user per month): for growing teams
  • Business ($24.80 per user per month): for all teams across an organization
  • Enterprise: custom pricing for large teams
  • Pinnacle: custom pricing for teams with complex needs

Wrike was technically designed as a project management platform, but it offers enough business plan features to satisfy some companies. The downside is that you don’t get financial planning tools from Wrike, and you have to pay a monthly fee per user if you want access to more than basic features.

If you’re looking for robust business planning software with all the bells and whistles, Wrike may not be for you. But it could be a great fit if you want a versatile platform that enables idea planning, team communication and ongoing collaboration.

  • Paid plan gives you access to the crowdfunding platform Fundable
  • Offers detailed guides and step-by-step instructions for creating business plans
  • Allows unlimited contributors and business plans
  • Offers online business courses
  • No free trial
  • Doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks
  • Offers limited options for layout customization

Why we chose it: Bizplan makes it easier for startups to create thorough business plans with guided walkthroughs, automatic chart generation and unlimited collaboration.

Bizplan offers various features that address startups’ unique needs when creating business plans. It helps new business owners understand business planning with thorough, easy-to-follow guides and automatic forecasting. The app also allows for unlimited contributors and guests, so you can easily partner with a variety of freelancers to potentially save money.

Additionally, when you sign up for Bizplan, you get access to online startup courses and the crowdfunding platform Fundable. When you create a business plan through Bizplan, you can easily share it on Fundable to try and attract investors. No other software on our list offers something similar.

The downsides to Bizplan are that its third-party integrations are limited to Xero, and you can’t customize your layout as much as you can with other options. But it can be an effective tool to fuel your startup’s growth goals. There’s also no free trial, and the only plan option that’s billed monthly costs $29. However, you can pay an annual fee which lowers your monthly cost to $20.75, or you can opt for lifetime access at $349.

  • Allows you to work on up to 40 business plans with 30 or more users
  • Features a card system that helps you stay on track with multiple projects
  • Includes business plan templates
  • Makes it easy to scale up or down as your needs change
  • Offers limited third-party application integrations
  • No in-app messaging

Why we chose it: Business Sorter is built for the large-team collaboration often needed when managing multiple businesses. It lets you create up to 40 business plans with teams of 30 users or more.

Business Sorter is a cloud-based business plan software that automatically analyzes the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the plans you create. It includes easy-to-follow plan templates and has a simplified card system to help you stay on track when working on multiple ideas simultaneously.

The platform also gives you the ability to create up to 40 unique business plans at the same time. Its pricing is based on the number of users you have, so you can easily scale up or down as your needs change. These features make planning and managing business ideas for multiple companies on Business Sorter easier than the competition.

There are a few downsides, however. For example, no in-app messaging and minimal integrations with third-party applications exist. But a free trial is available, and paid plans start at just $10 per month. You can choose from the following options:

  • Small team (3 users): $10 per month
  • Medium team (10 users): $30 per month
  • Large team (30 users): $80 per month
  • Enterprise (unlimited users): Customized pricing
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Other business plan software we considered

There are other business plan platforms you may be able to benefit from using. Here are a few highlights of other options that almost made our list.

Enloop

  • Helps you automatically generate business plans
  • Offers a free trial
  • Includes helpful scorecards to indicate how likely a business plan is to succeed
  • Doesn’t offer strong tools for collaboration or ideation
  • No way to communicate with teammates through the app
  • No long-term free plan

Enloop stands out with strong financial forecasting and automated plan creation features. However, it didn’t make our list because it doesn’t include enough tools for collaborative strategizing as compared to the competition.

GoSmallBiz

  • Provides extensive advice and guidance from business experts
  • Helps with financial projections
  • Integrates with third-party services
  • Includes only a few sample business plans
  • Can only export business plans in Microsoft Word and PDF formats
  • Complicated pricing structure

GoSmallBiz is another stand-out business planning software option that’s especially good for those looking for extensive advice and guidance. However, it didn’t make our list because you can get the same features from other platforms that are either more robust at similar prices or cost less.

PlanGuru

  • Very good at financial forecasting and budgeting assistance
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and analytic tools
  • Offers built-in break-even analysis
  • Better for financial planning than business planning
  • Not a good fit for beginners
  • Doesn’t include business plan templates

PlanGuru is a strong financial forecasting tool that also provides basic business planning services. It’s a great fit for entrepreneurs needing to focus on financial planning, but it didn’t make our list because its business plan features are more complicated and less effective than the alternatives.

Business Plan Software Guide

The best business planning software does more than show you how to write a business plan. It also helps you collaborate, create detailed visualizations with data and assess the likelihood of your business idea succeeding.

To get the most out of the business plan software you choose, research the different features platforms offer and how they may be able to help you achieve your goals.

That’s what this guide will focus on. Keep reading to learn more about business planning software and the factors that matter when choosing one.

What is a business plan?

To understand business plan writer software, you first need to know what a business plan is. It’s a document that describes your company, details its goals and provides guidance on how it will achieve them.

You can think of a business plan as a single document that anyone could look at to understand why your company exists, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there. This can be important to have, not just for your own purposes but also when considering how to get a business license and whether to seek investment from venture capital firms.

With that in mind, the average business plan contains the following pieces of information:

  • Executive summary: Most business plans start with an executive summary. This provides a high-level overview of the company and its leaders. It’s also typically where you put your mission statement.
  • Product and service descriptions: This section describes the products or services that your business will offer the public. You’ll want to include details about pricing, benefits offered to the consumer and any manufacturing details that are important to your company’s products.
  • Market analysis: Your market analysis assesses how your company will compare to the competition. It should answer the question of why a customer would buy a product or service from your company instead of an existing firm.
  • Marketing strategy: The marketing strategy section describes how your company will appeal to consumers, including the channels it will use to do so.
  • Financial planning: Your business plan should include detailed financial planning and projection sections. This should cover balance sheets, financial statements and other information projecting your company’s sales and forecasted revenue.
  • Budgeting details: This section outlines the costs your company will have and how it plans on paying for them. Be sure to include information about employees, manufacturing and rent, among other expenses.

Your business plan may include other details as well, such as a request for funding if you need it or a more detailed management structure if it’s a large company. It depends, to an extent, on the type of business you’re running and the goals you have in creating a business plan.

What is business plan software?

Business planning software is a tool designed to help business owners create better business plans. Platforms provide access to features that help with various parts of the business plan creation process.

For example, this type of software may give you access to each of the following features:

  • Automated financial planning: One of the best features of many business plan software options is automated financial planning tools. These help you efficiently project your company’s finances and visualize budgets with automated graphics and charts.
  • Built-in collaboration tools: This type of software typically makes it easier for multiple people to collaborate on a single business plan. Several leaders can simultaneously work on different aspects of a plan to finish it faster.
  • Strength and weakness analysis: Some of the most powerful business plan software options also include automated analysis features. These tools help to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business plans you create, so you can assess your best opportunities for improvement.
  • Integrations with third-party applications: Many applications also integrate with third-party software like QuickBooks and Xero. These integrations make it easier to use existing company data to create detailed financial projections.
  • Business plan templates: You’ll also typically get access to business plan templates after purchasing software. These can be a great starting point for a well-structured business plan and may save you a lot of time.
  • How-to guides: Many providers also include how-to guides and instructional manuals with their software. These may provide step-by-step instructions for creating a business plan and ongoing support for continued growth.

Some business plan software offers all of these features, while others, such as free business plan software, may not. You may want to compare the included features and pricing options for multiple providers to choose the best option for your needs.

How does business plan software work?

Online business plan software is designed to guide you through the process of creating your business plan. It does that by giving you templates to work from, instructions for filling in each section and the tools you need to collaborate and share your business plans.

Some business plan software providers also offer online educational resources. These can help you learn things like how to set up an LLC or choose between a sole proprietorship and LLC, among other tips.

It’s also worth mentioning that business plan software typically requires you to fill out each segment manually. Some automated data visualization and financial planning features may auto-populate into your business plan to save you time. But not every platform offers these features.

How to choose a business plan software solution

Choosing the best set of integrated business planning tools for your needs can be complicated, even if you’ve already made it this far. Here are a few additional tips to ensure you select the best possible fit for your company.

Jot down the basic and advanced business planning tools you’ll need

It’s good to start by understanding the tools you’ll need to achieve your goals. Your needs may require powerful financial planning features, built-in messaging capabilities, strength and weakness analyses or all of the above. The key is clarifying what matters most to you so you can start looking for business plan software to help you meet your goals.

Listing the features you don’t need from business planning software may even be helpful. Doing so could help you steer clear of more expensive options that go above and beyond what you need.

Have a budget in mind

You may also want to set a budget before going shopping. It’s easy to get swept away into the world of advanced features and spend more than you need. Although the budget you start with may not always be the budget you end up with, it’s good to have one in mind so that you don’t end up overspending.

As part of this, you may want to ask yourself if a free business plan software option offers enough tools to satisfy your needs. For example, IdeaBuddy has a forever-free plan option. Before setting a budget, evaluating whether that offers enough to help you reach your goals would be smart.

Decide how many users will need access to the software

The number of people you want to have using the software can play a large role in determining which option makes the most sense. Some platforms allow unlimited contributors, while others will limit you based on your plan tier.

Another question to ask is whether you want to use the business planning software you purchase to execute your strategies as well. If so, then you may need to add more employees and freelancers to your plan over time.

Opt for business planning software that has a simple and functional user interface

Finally, choosing software that’s easy for your team to use is important. If you’re going to invest a lot of time and energy into whatever software you select, you don’t want your employees wasting too much time trying to figure out how to use it.

Business Plan Software FAQs

What is the purpose of a business plan?

A business plan is meant to describe your company, what it offers the public and how it plans to grow over time. Many entrepreneurs use their business plans as a roadmap for future growth.

There are also plenty of businesses that never create a business plan. You can get away without having one as well, but it will likely be more difficult to lead your company toward its goals. The process becomes easier when you have a clear document telling you what those goals are and how you’re going to reach them.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is an overarching document describing your company and how it will become successful. That’s beneficial to leadership because it provides an outline of what needs to happen as the company grows.

Business plans are also important for funding purposes. Most investors and lenders will want to look at a business plan before considering investing in your business. Having a stronger business plan to show them may help you secure the funding you need to grow.

What is integrated business planning?

Many business planning tools support integrated business planning (IBP). This means aligning your business goals with specific tasks and functions in finance, supply chain, marketing, product development and other sectors. The main idea is to connect your overarching business plan with the specific departmental functions needed to make it successful.

What is the best business plan software?

The best business plan tools for your needs will depend on the type of business plan you want to create, how you plan on making it and the features you need to make something meaningful. We like IdeaBuddy for business idea evaluation, LivePlan for financial planning and Wrike for team collaboration. But your preferences and goals could lead you to another option.

How We Chose the Best Business Plan Software

Our analysis of the best business plan software packages was informed by careful consideration of each of the following factors:

  • Features: We looked at the included features in every major business plan creation platform to assess which provides the best tools for business owners.
  • Pricing: It’s not enough just to offer great features. Platforms also need to be priced competitively enough to be a realistic option. We considered which platforms offer the best features at the lowest prices.
  • Ease of use: Your platform needs to be simple enough to learn quickly so that multiple contributors can help you bring your business plan to life. We looked at user reviews and ratings to assess this factor.
  • Verified customer reviews: It was also important for us to assess how real customers feel about each of the software options we considered. We did this by analyzing verified reviews on trustworthy third-party websites.
  • Inclusion of other software types: Some business planning software options can double as project management platforms and budget planning software for your business. We took this into account while comparing options with similar business plan creation features.

Remember, the features we emphasized on this list may not be the same ones that matter to you. You may want to conduct further research if other factors will play a role in your decision-making process.

Summary of Money’s Best Business Plan Software