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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step
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1. Write an executive summary
2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.
A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.
» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .
This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.
Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.
» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps
Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:
Your business’s registered name.
Address of your business location .
Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.
Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.
Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.
» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan
The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.
If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.
For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.
In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.
You should include the following:
An explanation of how your product or service works.
The pricing model for your product or service.
The typical customers you serve.
Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.
Your sales strategy.
Your distribution strategy.
You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.
Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.
Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.
» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing
If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.
You may also include metrics such as:
Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.
Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.
Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.
This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.
» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:
The best business checking accounts .
The best business credit cards .
The best accounting software .
This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.
Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.
Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.
List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.
How Much Do You Need?
Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:
Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.
Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.
Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.
ZenBusiness: Start Your Dream Business
On a similar note...
Home > Business > Business Startup
- 5 Best Business Plan Software and Tools in 2023 for Your Small Business
Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure .
A business plan can do a lot for your business. It can help you secure investors or other funding. It can give your company direction. It can keep your finances healthy. But, if we’re being honest, it can also be a pain to write.
Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch or go it alone. Business plan software and services can help you craft a professional business plan, like our top choice LivePlan , which provides templates, guidance, and more.
You’ve got quite a few choices for business plan help, so we’re here to help you narrow things down. Let’s talk about the best business plan tools out there.
- LivePlan : Best overall
- BizPlanBuilder : Most user-friendly
- Wise Business Plans : Best professional service
- Business Sorter : Best for internal plans
- GoSmallBiz.com : Most extra features
- Honorable mentions
Business plan software 101
The takeaway, business plan software faq, compare the best business plan software.
LivePlan: Best overall business plan software
Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *With annual billing
LivePlan has been our favorite business plan software for a while now, despite the stiff competition.
There’s a lot to like about LivePlan. It has pretty much all the features you could want from your business plan software. LivePlan gives you step-by-step instructions for writing your plan, helps you create financial reports, lets you compare your business’s actual financials to your plan’s goals, and much more. And if you ever need inspiration, it includes hundreds of sample business plans that can guide your writing.
LivePlan software pricing
But the best part? You get all that (and more) at a very competitive price. (You can choose from annual, six-month, or monthly billing.) While LivePlan isn’t quite the cheapest business plan builder out there, it’s not too far off either. And if comes with a 60-day money back guarantee. So there’s no risk in trying LivePlan out for yourself.
With a great balance of features and cost, LivePlan offers the best business plan solution for most businesses.
BizPlanBuilder: Most user-friendly
Need something easy to use? BizPlanBuilder fits the bill.
BizPlanBuilder doesn’t have a flashy, modern user interface―but it does have a very clear, intuitive one. You’ll be able to see your plan’s overall structure at a glance, so you can quickly navigate from your title page to your market trend section to that paragraph on your core values. And as you write, you’ll use a text editor that looks a whole lot like the word processing programs you’re already familiar with.
BizPlanBuilder software pricing
Data effective 3/13/23. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
BizPlanBuilder also offers lots of helpful guidance for actually writing your plan. It gives you pre-written text, in which you just have to fill in relevant details. It offers explanations for what information you need to include in each section of your plan and way. It even gives you helpful tips from experts, so you’ll have all the information you need to plan like a pro.
So if you want planning software with almost no learning curve, you’ll like BizPlanBuilder.
Wise Business Plans: Best professional service
- Custom quote
Unlike all the other companies on this list, Wise Business Plans doesn’t offer software. Instead, it offers professional business plan writing services―meaning someone does all the hard work for you.
Now, you might think that sounds expensive―and you’re probably right (you have to request a custom quote for your plan). But there’s a lot to be said for expertise, and Wise Business Plans has plenty of that. Your business plan will get written by an experienced writer (with an MBA, no less). They’ll get information from you, do their own research, and then write your plan. You get one free revision, and you can always pay for more.
Wise Business Plans service pricing
Your end result will be a polished, entirely original business plan. (You can even get printed copies.) And best of all, you won’t have to spend your precious time working on the plan yourself. Wise Business Plans takes care of all the hard parts, and makes your business look good while doing it. Sounds like a service worth paying for, right?
Put simply, if you want the most professional business plan possible, we recommend using Wise Business Plans’s writing service.
Business Sorter: Best for internal plans
Many businesses need plans to show to people outside the company (to get financing, for example). But what if you just need a plan for internal use? In that case, we suggest Business Sorter.
Business Sorter uses a unique card-based method to help you craft the perfect business plan. (You can watch a demo video to see how it works.) You’ll plan some of the usual things, like finances and marketing. But Business Sorter also lets you make plans for specific teams and team members. It also emphasizes more internal matters, like operations, that might get overlooked in a business plan for outsiders.
Business Sorter software pricing
After you’ve made your business plan, Business Sorter also helps you stay accountable to it. You can create tasks, give them deadlines, and assign them to team members―giving you basic project management tools to make sure your business plans become business actions. (Oh, and did we mention that Business Sorter has the lowest starting prices of any software on this list?)
It all adds up to a business plan software that works great for internal planning.
GoSmallBiz: Most extra features
Want to get way more than just business planning software? Then you probably want GoSmallBiz.
See, GoSmallBiz offers business plan software as part of its service―but it’s just one part of a much bigger whole. You also get everything from discounts on legal services to a website builder to a CRM (customer relationship manager) to business document templates. And more. In other words, you get just about everything you need to get your startup off the ground.
GoSmallBiz software pricing
Don’t worry though―you still get all the business planning help you need. GoSmallBiz gives you business plan templates, step-by-step instructions, and the ability to create financial projections. And if you get stuck, GoSmallBiz will put you in touch with experts who can offer advice.
If you want business planning and much, much more, give GoSmallBiz a try.
- PlanGuru : Best financial forecasting
- EnLoop : Cheapest tool for startups
We recommend the software above for most business planning needs. Some businesses, though, might be interested in these more specialized planning software.
Honorable mention software pricing
Planguru: best financial forecasting features.
PlanGuru is pretty pricey compared to our other picks, but you might find its forecasting features worth paying for. It has more forecasting methods than other software (over 20) plus it lets you forecast up to 10 years.
EnLoop: Cheapest tool for startups
EnLoop doesn’t have our favorite features or interface, but it does have really, really low pricing plus a seven-day free trial. It's the most affordable software for startup business planning and still provides all the essential features like financial analysis, team collaboration, charting, and more.
Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. * With annual billing
Several of our previous favorite planning software, including BusinessPlanPro and StratPad, seem to have gone out of business.
A business plan is a written, living document that tells the story of your business and what you plan to do with it. It serves as the source of truth for you—the business owner—as well as potential partners, employees, and investors, but it also serves as a roadmap of what you want your business to be.
Why you need a business plan
While some small-business owners don’t see the point of creating a formal business plan, it can have some concrete benefits for your business. For example, one 2016 study found that business owners with written plans are more successful than those that don’t. 1
Still too vague? Then let’s get specific.
If you ever seek business funding (from, say, banks, angel investors , or venture capitalists ), you’ll have to prove that your business deserves the money you want. A formal business plan―complete with financial data and projections―gives you a professional document you can use to make your case. (In fact, most potential investors will expect you to have a business plan ready.)
Even if you’re not seeking funding right now, a business plan can help your business. A formal plan can guide your business’s direction and decision making. It can keep your business accountable (by, for example, seeing if your business meets the financial projections you included). And a formal plan offers a great way to make sure your team stays on the same page.
What to include in your business plan
Not all business plans are created equal. To make a really useful business plan, you’ll want to include a number of elements:
- Basic information about your business
- Your products/services
- Market and industry analysis
- What makes your business competitive
- Strategies and upcoming plans
- Your team (and your team’s background)
- Current financial status
- Financial and market projections
- Executive summary
Of course, you can include more or fewer elements―whatever makes sense for your business. Just make sure your business plan is comprehensive (but not overwhelming).
How business plan software can help
With so many elements to include, business plan creation can take a while. Business plan software tries to speed things up.
Most business plan software will include prompts for each section. In some cases, you can just fill in your business’s specific information, and the software will write the text for you. In other cases, the software will give you specific guidance and examples, helping you write the text yourself.
Plus, business plan software can help you stay organized. You’ll usually get intuitive menus that let you quickly flip through sections. So rather than endlessly scrolling through a long document in a word processor, you can quickly find your way around your plan. Some software even lets you drag and drop sections to reorganize your plan.
Sounds way easier than just staring at a blank page and trying to start from scratch, right?
Choosing business plan software
To find the right business plan builder for your business, you’ll want to compare features. For example, would you rather write your own text, getting prompts and advice from your software? Or would you rather go with a fill-in-the-blank method?
Likewise, think about the elements you need. If your plan will have a heavy focus on finances, you’ll want to choose business plan software with robust financial projection features. If you care more about market and competitor analysis, look for software that can help with that research.
You may also want to find business plan software that integrates with your business accounting software . Some plan builders will import data from Xero, QuickBooks, etc. to quickly generate your financial data and projections.
And of course, you’ll want to compare prices. After all, you always want to end up with software that fits your business budget.
The right business plan software can make your life easier. With LivePlan ’s wide breadth of features and online learning tools, you can’t go wrong. Plus, BizPlanBuilder 's one-time pricing makes it easy to invest while Business Sorter has a low starting cost. And if you're business is looking to grow, GoSmallBiz and Wise Business Plans will scale with you.
But of course, different companies have different needs. So shop around until you find the software that’s best for you and your business.
Now that you've got a business plan, take a look at our checklist for starting a small business. It can help you make sure you have everything else you need to get your startup off to a good start!
- 7 Steps to Build a Successful Project Management Sales Plan
- Best Project Management Software and Tools in 2023
- 4 Cost Management Techniques for Small Businesses
Creating a business plan can take anywhere from a couple hours to several weeks. Your timeline will depend on things like the elements you choose to include, whether you use software or hire a writing service, and how much research goes into your plan.
That said, much of the business plan software out there brags that it can help you create a fairly detailed plan in a few hours. So if you’re going the software route, that can help you set your expectations.
If you want to get the most out of your business plan, you should update it on a regular basis―at least annually. That way, you can continually refer to it to inform your company’s strategies and direction.
At the very least, you should update your business plan before you start looking for a new round of funding (whether that’s with investors or lenders).
Thanks to business plan software, you can easily write your own business plan rather than pay someone to do it for you. And in most cases, software will cost you less than a professional business plan service.
There are some times you might want to go with a service though. If time is tight, you might find that it’s worth the cost of a service. Or if you’ve got big investor meetings on the horizon, you might want the expertise and polish that a professional service can offer.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether business plan software or a business plan service will work better for your company.
We ranked business plan software and tools based on features, pricing and plans, and connections to project management and other services. The value of each plan and service, along with what it offers, was a big consideration in our rankings, and we looked to see if what was offered was useful to small businesses or just extra. The final thing we looked at was the ease of use of the software to see if it's too complex for small businesses.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
Sources 1. Harvard Business Review, “ Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed .” Accessed March 13, 2023.
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Best business plan software of 2023
For planning your business finance
- The best business plan software in full
Best budget, best established, best for speed, other business plan software to consider.
The best business plan software makes it simple and easy to plan your business finances in order to present them to a bank or investors.
The best business plan software of 2023 in full 1. Best overall 2. Best budget 3. Best basic 4. Best established 5. Best for speed 6. Other business plan software to consider 7. FAQs
The whole point of a business plan is that it allows you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, not least via your Unique Selling Point (USP) ,and make product or service comparisons with competitors.
Of course, even the best business plan relies on estimates and guesstimates, as it's impossible to predict market changes, developments, and future performance under such conditions.
Ultimately, though, a business plan will demonstratively prove why your business is a solid enough investment to risk putting money into, and shows that you have properly and thoroughly researched your market, and details the real potential of a new business opportunities.
Here then are the best business plan software providers currently available.
You can also look at our featured best free software for small business .
The best business plan software in full:
Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.
Bizplan is the online business planning tool that claims usage of 30,000 startup founders from the Startups.co platform. They use a guided creator that can break the big project down into the component pieces that get tracked with a Progress Tracker, and expert guidance each step of the way including templates that can be dropped in, and completed, along with simple integration of visuals along the way.
Additional resources are also provided via the Bizplan Academy, with lessons on relevant topics, for example, “Building a Brand: How to Tell a Powerful Brand Story,” and “Critical Path Your Way to Higher Revenues,” among the many offerings. Those that need even more assistance also can take advantage of an expert consultation from a financial expert.
PlanGuru is a comprehensive, and powerful software package in the business planning space. Education is provided via a series of case studies at their PlanGuru University and a whole slew of video tutorials.
The feature set includes flexible budgeting that can handle a simple small business, or a larger multi-department operating budget, and financial forecasting that uses multiple methods, including intelligent and turn-key methods - twenty methods in total. Historical results can also be imported with the general ledger import utility which can then applied to produce a rolling forecast. They also offer PlanGuru Launch, a service to bring in expertise and is charged per hour of assistance.
A significant downside is Planguru charges a higher cost than other software options. The cheapest option is around $75 per month for one business entity when billed annually. While there is no free trial, PlanGuru does offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
Our expert review:
Enloop is a great choice for business planning software for the cash strapped business as it is the rare offering that has a free tier. Step up up to the next tier, and this is no barebones product, as it has over 100 currency symbols, can automatically generate bank-ready financial reports, and even has automated text writing that can sync with financial data to turn it into text. There is also a real time performance score assigned, that dynamically changes as the business plan is strengthened.
The plans start with the Free tier, which is limited to a single business plan with simple text, no images, and does not offer any advanced features. The next plan up is the Detailed plan, that supports three business plans, and offers a significant 55% discount when paid annually, making it even better value. This plan costs around $20 per month. For a more comprehensive package you can buy the Performance plan costing around $40 per month.
Read our full Enloop business plan software review .
LivePlan is business planning software that offers a simple pricing scheme as there is only a single plan to choose from. As they have a 15+ year track record, they offer a clean and simple interface, that can create business plans that look like they were done by an expert consultant, and the software includes a live dashboard that can track day-to-day performance. Those with writer’s block will benefit from the over 500 included sample plans that can be turned to for inspiration.
Rather than complicate things with too many tiers to choose from, LivePlan only has a single plan which can be paid for monthly or annually.
5. Business Sorter
Business Sorter promises to simplify and speed up business planning and claims to be able to flesh out a plan in an hour or two, via a novel 273 card sort system that covers many common situations.
The ability to reword cards is included, or also to add cards to the already expansive deck, so no worries if there is not a pre-made card for your situation. Unlike some sites that have videos, the educational resources here are provided as PDFs and Word files, which can be quicker to access, but harder to follow for some learners.
The lowest tier plan, Basic is fully featured, and includes up to three team leaders.
Read our full Business Sorter review .
We've only covered some of the most popular business plan software platforms out there, but there are a number of other notables worth mentioning, plus a wide variety of providers of business plan templates. Below we'll briefly cover a range of some of the additional options out there that are worth considering to get your business plan right.
Go Business Plans is more of a consultancy than a software solution, but is worth mentioning for the simple fact that it's one of America's biggest business plan companies. While software might be able to do the job for you, if you're looking for significant funding, it's probably useful to get some professional advice, not least in terms of strategic planning, feasibility studies, and financial projections to ensure you have a solid base for your business plan.
Wise Business Plans provides a very wide range of templates to work from in constructing a business plan. These are particularly designed with funding in mind, no matter what kind of business you run. What is especially helpful is that Wise doesn’t simply deal with business plan templates for a diverse range of business types, the company also provides plan templates for franchises and non-profits.
Plan Writers is another bespoke service that essentially listens to what you want and then puts the plan together for you. Again, this technically falls outside of business plan "software", but the chances are you'll use a software package as a platform to build from, and Plan Writers can then help you build up from that base.
Bplans is another provider of business plan templates, but goes beyond that with additional pitch and SWOT analysis templates. There are also business plan guides, industry reports, and a free course on writing a business plan. Bplans also publishes a lot of free-to-use articles on business planning, financials, and tax reporting, to help ensure you can keep your figures and projections accurate and compliant.
A business plan is essentially your roadmap to profitability from an initial investment. Whether it's your own money, or a loan from a bank, it's still a good idea to set up a business plan for yourself.
Main things to look to are a SWOT analysis to provide an idea of your business idea's strengths and weaknesses, as well as identify a unique selling point (USP) that will give your business an edge.
While business plans inevitably demand the use of figures, and while these can be impossible to be accurate with, at least by making intelligent guesses you can set yourself targets to work towards.
That's another common feature of a plan, so that specific periods you can review your business progress and make adjustments to your plan as required. This allows you to use real figures for your projections, allowing you to better plan ahead.
You may also be interested in our featured business guides on best business laptops , best business computers and best business smartphones .
Which business plan software is best for you?
When deciding which business plan software to use, first consider what your actual needs are, as sometimes free platforms may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a paid platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, free and budget software options can sometimes prove limited when it comes to the variety of tools available, while higher-end software can really cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require.
How we tested the best business plan software
To test for the best business plan software we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each business plan software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar .
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" LivePlan earns the top spot on our list of best business plan software- and for good reason. LivePlan's slick and interactive service provides a step-by-step business plan approach, a rich collection of cloud-based features, and online learning tools."
Brooke Hayes Software Reviewer
Some of our fans:
Here's how liveplan makes it surprisingly simple to write a convincing business plan.
Plan faster and easier with AI
Ensure your business plan is the best it can be with the AI-Powered LivePlan Assistant.
- Expand upon your ideas with just one click
- Auto-adjust your tone to be more professional
- Improve your writing and remove potential errors
- Start your forecast quickly with suggested revenue streams
" LivePlan saved me a lot of time because the software does so much of the work for you. All you have to do is answer questions and plug in numbers."
Brian Sung Owner of Tailored Coffee
All the financials are calculated for you
LivePlan tells you exactly what kind of financial information you need to enter and then it does all the calculations automatically using built-in formulas. So you end up with razor-accurate financial statements that include all the tables that a lender or investor expects to see.
"Most people are intimidated by the financials, but LivePlan made planning simple, saved me so much time and just knowing that the calculations are correct makes this tool worth every penny! "
Brandie Noelle Notals LLC
If you ever get stuck, we'll help you out
Most LivePlan users are able to breeze through their first business plan. But if you ever have a question, there are 3 ways to get advice:
- Call a LivePlan expert at 1-888-498-6136
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"Once the investor saw the plan, he believed in it. The interface was fresh and lively. The program gave wonderful examples of what should be in the different sections. I was able to take bits and pieces of those examples, but when I finished each section it sounded like I had written it. "I could just plug in information without having to do any of the math. That saved a lot of work. It made it very easy to get the business plan done. Once the investor saw my business plan on LivePlan, he immediately got back to me and said, 'I'm in.'"
E'a Williams BE Fit! Tri Wellness, Chicago, IL
"LivePlan made an overwhelming task easy. LivePlan is incredibly easy to use. LivePlan's web-based nature allows me to log in anywhere (for me it was with my Mac Book Pro or iPad). At times writing a business plan can be a overwhelming task, especially when it comes to formatting and layout. LivePlan has made it easy to focus on putting your business ideas and goals on paper instead of fussing with all the other pesky stuff. I really liked how each section is defined and gives examples of what a quality business plan should look like."
Mandie O'Neill Lucky Dog Daycare, Eugene OR
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Sep. 26, 2023
LivePlan helps put your ideas and beliefs on paper in a professional & organized manner. It guides you through planning, organizing, and monitoring your plan.
Sep. 2, 2023
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Aug. 14, 2023
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Jul. 7, 2023
It's a great Financial planning software. It can also sync with Xero and Quickbooks.
Jun. 17, 2023
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Jun. 28, 2022
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Jun. 24, 2022
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May 24, 2022
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May 11, 2022
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Mar. 29, 2022
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Jan. 27, 2022
- Business Planning
Learn business planning with online courses and programs
What is a business plan.
A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the strategic objectives, operational details, and financial forecasts of a business venture. It serves as a roadmap for entrepreneurs, startups, or existing businesses, providing a structured framework to guide decision-making and attract stakeholders.
Business plans can include key elements such as:
Executive summary: A concise overview of the business idea, goals, and market opportunity.
Business description: Detailed information about the company's mission, products or services, target market, and competitive analysis.
Market research: Data and analysis of the industry, market trends, customer demographics, and competition.
Organizational structure: Information on the company's management team, organizational structure, and key personnel.
Operational plan: Details about the business operations, including production processes, suppliers, and distribution channels.
Marketing and sales strategy: Plans for marketing, customer acquisition, and sales tactics.
Financial projections: Forecasts of income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, along with funding requirements and potential returns on investment.
Browse online business planning courses New
Related topics, business planning course curriculum.
Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, mastering the art of business planning can be critical to setting your business up for success. From understanding markets to developing mission statements, courses in business planning can equip you with the tools needed to transform your ideas into thriving ventures, or elevate your existing business. Consequently, you can study a variety of subjects related to business planning. Some of the topics that you might study in a course can include:
Market analysis: Learn how to conduct market research, analyze market trends, identify target audiences, and assess market opportunities.
Financial planning: Investigate financial aspects as a core component. Learn how to create financial projections, develop budgets, calculate break-even points, and understand income statements and balance sheets.
Business model development: Explore different business models and how they can align with a company's goals and objectives.
Crafting a mission and vision: Learn how to craft a clear and compelling mission and vision statement to articulate a company's purpose and long-term goals.
Strategic planning: Delve into strategic thinking and planning covering topics such as setting goals and objectives, creating action plans, and assessing risks and opportunities.
Business planning courses can also teach you valuable skills including critical thinking, communication, and research skills that you can apply to your professional life. Are you ready to start learning? Sign up for an accelerated boot camp or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor's degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.
Explore careers in business planning
A business planning course can open doors to diverse career opportunities in a variety of sectors. Some careers in which a background in business planning can be useful include:
Entrepreneur/small business owner: Business planning skills are crucial for navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Business consultant: Provides expert advice to organizations looking to improve their operations, solve problems, or grow. They often help clients create or refine their business plans.
Strategic planner: Works within organizations to develop and execute long-term strategies. They use business planning skills to set goals, assess market opportunities, and align business activities with strategic objectives.
Investment analyst: Assesses the potential of investment opportunities, including startups and businesses seeking funding. They rely on business plans to evaluate the viability and growth potential of these ventures.
Financial analyst: Analyzes financial data, including budgets and forecasts, to provide insights for decision-making. They often work with businesses to ensure financial plans align with strategic goals.
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Last updated October 2023
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Best Business Plan Software
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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
- IdeaBuddy : Best for Business Idea Evaluation
- LivePlan : Best for Financial Planning
- Wrike : Best for Team Collaboration
- Bizplan : Best for Startups
- Business Sorter : Best for Planning Multiple Businesses
Best Business Plan Software Reviews
Best for business idea evaluation: ideabuddy.
- 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.
Best for Financial Planning: LivePlan
- 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.
Best for Team Collaboration: Wrike
- 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.
Best for Startups: Bizplan
- 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.
Best for Planning Multiple Businesses: Business Sorter
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
What is the best business plan software, 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
550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration. Go even further with LivePlan , which harnesses AI-assisted writing features and SBA-approved plan examples to get you funded.
Find your business plan example
Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans
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Business plan template: There's an easier way to get your business plan done.
Entertainment & Recreation Business Plans
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Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.
IT, Staffing & Customer Service Business Plans
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Manufacturing & Wholesale Business Plans
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Medical & Health Business Plans
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Nonprofit Business Plans
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Technology Business Plans
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Transportation, Travel & Logistics Business Plans
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Example business plan format
Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:
The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.
Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).
Products & services
The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.
This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.
Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.
Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.
To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.
Marketing & sales
The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.
The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.
Milestones & metrics
The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.
A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.
You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.
Company & team
Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.
Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.
Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.
The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.
Types of business plans explained
While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.
Traditional business plan
The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.
Business model canvas
The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.
The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.
One-page business plan
The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.
By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.
Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.
It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.
It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.
This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
How to use an example business plan to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.
Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company
You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a business plan example as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.
You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Prepare to pitch your business
If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.
Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.
With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.
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Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.
With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .
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Best Business Process Management Software in 2023
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BPM software streamlines and automates business processes for improved efficiency and productivity. Check out our top BPM software to find your best fit.
Asana: Best for team insights
Zoho creator: best for customization, clickup: best for data visualization, monday.com: best for project and team management, ntask: best for time management, jira work management: best for both startups and enterprises.
A big part of growth is knowing you need to change and adapt. Teams that take this to heart will know that even if their work gets done it doesn’t mean you can’t improve it or make it easier for employees. Business process management (BPM) software is designed to help you analyze business processes and understand what works, what can be better and what you can add. The software on this list can offer capabilities to help you on your improvement journey.
Top business project management software comparison
- Top business project management software
- Key features of business project management software
- How do I choose the best business project management software for my business?
The table below shows whether the 4 software have some key features for BPM tools. The pricing is of course also a consideration and is based on the first paid plan regardless of whether they have a free plan or not.
Asana is a feature-rich project management solution with advanced features for reporting and security. You can use their detailed progress capabilities to measure performance and determine team needs based on projects. The software can help you gain in-depth insights into workloads and make changes to current business processes from there.
- Basic: Free with unlimited tasks, messages and projects.
- Premium: $10.99 user/month, billed annually, or $13.49 user/month, billed monthly.
- Business: $24.99 user/month, billed annually, or $30.49 user/month, billed monthly.
- Enterprise: See sales.
- Unlimited projects, messages and file storage.
- Multiple work views include list, board, calendar, Gantt and due date views.
- Native time tracking in higher tiers or through other integrations in lower tiers.
- Custom templates, chart template library and workflow builder.
- Reporting for time tracking, progress view, goals and workloads.
- Through the rules and bundles features, you can automate routine tasks and update processes.
- Security features like multi-factor authentication and data loss prevention (DLP).
- Data visualization to track progress, deadlines and overall time of projects.
- Over integrates to help you incorporate your tech stack.
- Great for tracking changes and overall performance.
- Limits on reporting and integrations in lower tiers.
- Only paid plans have full security features and the Business plan has 24/7 support.
- Enterprise Plan is the only one to have advanced data protection and compliance.
If your team is looking for a BPM that allows you to tailor the application to your needs, Zoho Creator is a unique solution. Tech-savvy teams can use the low-code BPM tool to develop their ideal solutions for their business needs. It may not be suited for simple workflows and less technology, but it is awesome for complex data needs in BPM.
- Standard: $8 user/month, billed annually, or $12 user/month, billed monthly.
- Professional: $20 user/month, billed annually, or $30 user/month, billed monthly.
- Enterprise: $25 user/month, billed annually, or $37 user/month, billed monthly.
- Flex: Teams can contact sales to customize their subscription.
- One custom app per plan and unlimited custom apps for higher tiers.
- Work views like calendar, kanban, tasks, issues, milestones and Gantt charts.
- Access for mobile, desktop and tablet, as well as personal branding.
- Pre-made and custom AI models along with app templates to get started faster.
- Ability to connect with Zoho business suite and other third-party apps, and even make custom connections with preferred apps.
- Developer tools and advanced data analytics.
- Workflow automation for actions, analytics and approvals.
- Companies can create external user portals for clients, vendors or customers.
- Allows teams to create the missing app in their tech stack and improve current business processes.
- Importing and exporting data in all plan tiers.
- Ability to set workflow rules to ensure business processes run according to instructions.
- Strong learning curve.
- Requires tech-savvy skills and has its own scripting language, Deluge, similar to Python.
- Very expensive and the first tier only allows one custom app.
- The highest plan only has 5GB of storage.
One of the best project management tools for team workloads is ClickUp. Their software offers advanced work views, collaboration, automation and reporting options. Teams can streamline business processes with automation, monitor progress in dynamic views and manage employee resources with workload profiles in reporting.
- Free forever: Free with unlimited tasks, and members.
- Unlimited: $7 user/month, billed annually, or $10 user/month, billed monthly.
- Business: $12 user/month, billed annually, or $19 user/month, billed monthly.
- Enterprise: scaled for large teams, see sales.
- Multiple work views, including Gantt charts, mind maps, workloads, lists, calendars and more.
- Ensure business processes follow through with set task dependencies, basic and advanced automation and custom statuses.
- Reporting for milestones, sprints, workloads and time tracking.
- Over 50 native integrations, along with access to Zapier and Tableau Web Connector.
- Free plan accesses a selection of all ClickUp features and even basic automation.
- More affordable than dedicated BPM tools can still handle complex needs.
- Two-factor authentication for all tiers.
- Limited security and compliance options outside of the Enterprise plan.
- Limits across all tiers for automation, integrations and reporting.
For more information, read the full ClickUp review .
One of the best business management solutions is monday work management. The software offers teams automation, reporting and productivity features to stay on task. You can track task dependencies, monitor activity logs and visualize data in multiple views like charts and graphs.
- Free: Free for 2 seats, 3 boards and unlimited docs.
- Basic: $8 user/month, billed annually, or $24 user/month, billed monthly.
- Standard: $10 user/month, billed annually, or $30 user/month, billed monthly.
- Pro: $16 user/month, billed annually, or $48 user/month, billed monthly.
- Enterprise: Advanced automation and security, see sales to learn more.
- Multiple work views for kanban, map, timeline, calendar and chart.
- Tools to stay focused, like time tracking, workload reporting, custom notifications and task dependency columns to visualize important relationships between tasks.
- Tools for collaboration like brainstorming whiteboard, guest users and real-time updates.
- Storage from 5GB to 1000GB in paid subscriptions.
- Advanced performance analytics in Enterprise tier.
- All paid plans have 24/7 support and access to live webinars.
- Two-factor authentication in all plans.
- Advanced security and most admin features in Enterprise tier.
- Automation and integrations are limited to Standard plan and up.
For more information, read the full monday review .
nTask is an affordable project management tool with an abundance of features to meet dynamic needs. They offer time management, multiple work views, remote collaboration and unlimited workspaces. You can track a variety of factors around business princesses while ensuring team progress.
- Basic: Free for 5 users with unlimited tasks and workspaces.
- Premium: $3 user/month, billed annually, or $4 user/month, billed monthly.
- Business: $8 user/month, billed annually, or $12 user/month, billed monthly.
- Enterprise: Offers advanced features and security, see sales for more.
- Multiple work views including list, grid, calendar, kanban and Gantt charts.
- Time tracking, timesheets and time estimates for project insights.
- User management, custom roles and task dependencies to ensure workflows are managed.
- Paid plans start with 5GB storage and go up to 100GB.
- Support features like 24/7 chat, onboarding, training and dedicated account managers depending on the plan.
- Teams can easily manage important processes with budget tracking, issue tracking and risk management.
- 24/7 support for all plans.
- All plans can access integrations, like Microsoft and Google Workspaces, as well as Zapier to extend available connections.
- The Basic and Premium tiers miss out on a lot of advanced features like dependencies and budget tracking.
- Extended onboarding and training are only included in the Enterprise tier.
For more information, read the full nTask review .
Jira Work Management is a great solution for managing projects and complex business processes. You can use it for automation, data visualization, task management and reporting. Teams will absolutely be able to gain insights and manage business processes. Their Free plan has stacked capabilities to effectively use the tool for work or get a taste of the platform before buying.
If you’re looking to buy a paid subscription for less than 10 users, then you need a monthly plan. Annual pricing is for buying a minimum of 10 licenses that you can fill right away or expect to fill that year.
- Free: Allows 3 guests and unlimited customers.
- Standard: $5 user/month, billed annually, or $500 user/month, billed monthly.
- Premium: $10 user/month, billed annually, or $1,000 user/month, billed monthly.
- Work views such as timeline, list, calendar, board and summaries.
- Forms, business project templates and collaborative editing to improve content management.
- Reporting for status, statistics, progress and tasks.
- Automation for recurring tasks and bulk actions.
- Project roles and dependency management.
- Advanced security, like IP listing permissions.
- Storage starts at 2GB for Free which is more than most apps, and goes up to 250 GB in the next plan up.
- Ability to add branding and customize workflows in the Free plan.
- Encryption, disaster recovery and mobile device management in all plan tiers.
- Annual plans require 10 licenses and are very pricey for small teams.
- The learning curve to learn all the software capabilities.
For more information on Jira in general, read the full Jira Software review .
Key features of business process management
Business process management encompasses a variety of factors, but to find a great software, we’ve narrowed down some criteria to get started. Not every feature will be important to you, but most of them are offered by great BPM solutions.
One of the best ways to improve business processes is to streamline repetitive but important tasks by automating them. This way, you also ensure tasks will be completed either through automated alerts, scheduled meetings or reports. If you can sideline it to the conveyor belt, you can spend that time on harder tasks.
You can’t manage business processes if they aren’t completed in the right order. Task dependencies ensure teams know to wait on task delivery before moving on to the next phase. Some tools allow you to look at all dependent tasks in one place, and it can help you gain a deeper understanding of how your team functions.
Another important way to get insight into how your team functions is detailed reporting for progress, performance, time, budget, risks and more. While it sounds obvious, a good part of BPM is analysis. Knowing your work from different perspectives will help you understand critical parts that may not be obvious.
For example, a team might switch to software without color-coded notifications and automated scheduling and suddenly find their team interprets notifications wrong and forgets to schedule important meetings. It’s actually really hard to know which small parts of your workflow are integral. That’s why, through reporting, you can pay attention to changes in progress after switching software or trying a new work style.
We all know that time is everything, but when it comes to BPM it’s an indicator for performance. If you’re able to optimize the time spent on workflow, then you can make room to rearrange your work model and consider new opportunities.
Time tracking and estimations can help you predict, measure and analyze your team from all sorts of perspectives. For example, if approvals average one to three months but the time it takes to actually do them is an hour, it means your managers are overbooked.
While work visualizations are one of the more common project management features, they are for a big reason. With in-depth views like Gantt charts for timelines and due dates, management teams can stay on track. Filtering through work progress, employee status, milestones and deadlines is also important for decision-making. Your team can’t operate cohesively if they can’t take each other’s needs into account.
How do I choose the best business process management software for my business?
When looking for a BPM solution, you need to know exactly what you want to manage. You can choose a solution advertised for business process management systems or find project management and work management tools with advanced automation, reporting and data visualization.
Maybe you don’t know what processes you want to analyze, monitor, improve or streamline. Software with advanced reporting can give you a macro view of your business workflow and future needs.
Tools like Asana, monday, ClickUp and Jira all have great reporting options. You can also use them for project management while you take your time to look for points of improvement in your team. It’s a huge benefit to ask your team about any issues or processes that feel outdated.
You may find you need something you can personalize, so Zoho Creator will be worth considering, but it’s very expensive. nTask will also be great for testing out for time, budget and risk processes you want to dive into.
Many of the business process management systems on this list have free plans you can test out before making a big purchase. We highly recommend taking advantage of that before committing to several months of onboarding.
The software were chosen according to whether or not they had important features for BPM such as tools for monitoring, tracking and reporting. Anything to give businesses a deeper understanding of how they operate. From there, having features to help make changes and improve current workflows is important. Each software on this list has tools to learn and make needed changes.
Cost and whether or not they had free plans were also considered. BPM features tend to be advanced and can get very costly, but most of the solutions listed have a free version. Popularity with users and intuitive learning were also considered, but with the understanding that feature-rich solutions will all have some sort of a learning curve.
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most transformative technology of our generation. If we are going to unlock the full potential of AI to tackle the world’s most challenging problems, we need to make AI education accessible to anyone with a desire to learn.
That’s why Amazon is announcing “AI Ready,” a new commitment designed to provide free AI skills training to 2 million people globally by 2025. To achieve this goal, we’re launching new initiatives for adults and young learners, and scaling our existing free AI training programs—removing cost as a barrier to accessing these critical skills.
The three new initiatives are:
- Eight new and free AI and generative AI courses
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Generative AI Scholarship, providing more than 50,000 high school and university students globally with access to a new generative AI course on Udacity
- New collaboration with Code.org designed to help students learn about generative AI
The need for an AI-savvy workforce has never been greater. A new study by AWS and research firm Access Partnership found the following:
- Hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for 73% of employers—but among these, three out of four say they are unable to meet their AI talent needs.
- Employers expect their workers to earn up to 47% more in salaries if they upskill in AI.
- AI will become more integral to the way business is done, with 93% of businesses expecting they will be using AI solutions across their organizations in the next five years.
Amazon is launching AI Ready to help those with a desire to learn about AI and benefit from the tremendous opportunity ahead. The following initiatives are designed to open opportunities to those in the workforce today as well as the future generation.
Free generative AI training for in-demand jobs
To support professionals in the workplace, we’re announcing eight new, free AI and generative AI courses open to anyone and aligned to in-demand jobs. There is something for everyone with courses ranging from foundational to advanced and for business leaders as well as technologists. These courses augment the 80+ free and low-cost AI and generative AI courses and resources provided through AWS .
Courses for business and nontechnical audiences
- Introduction to Generative Artificial Intelligence provides an introduction to generative AI, its applications, and need-to-know concepts, like foundation models. Find it on AWS Educate .
- Generative AI Learning Plan for Decision Makers is a three-course series covering how to plan a generative AI project and build a generative AI–ready organization. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
- Introduction to Amazon CodeWhisperer teaches participants how to use Amazon’s AI code generator, which produces whole lines of code. Find it on AWS Educate .
Courses for developer and technical audiences
- Foundations of Prompt Engineering introduces the basics of prompt engineering, the practice of designing inputs for generative AI tools, all the way through to advanced prompt techniques. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
- Low-Code Machine Learning on AWS explores how to prepare data, train machine learning models, and deploy machine learning models, with minimal coding and without deep knowledge of machine learning. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
- Building Language Models on AWS covers how to use Amazon SageMaker distributed training libraries to build language models and how to fine-tune open source models and foundation models. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
- Amazon Transcribe—Getting Started explores how to use Amazon Transcribe, a fully managed AI service that converts speech to text using automatic speech recognition technology. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
- Building Generative AI Applications Using Amazon Bedrock teaches how to use Amazon Bedrock to build generative AI applications. Find it on AWS Skill Builder .
$12 million in generative AI scholarships
Through the AWS Generative AI Scholarship , AWS will provide Udacity scholarships, valued at more than $12 million, to more than 50,000 high school and university students from underserved and underrepresented communities globally.
We want to help as many students as possible. Eligible students can take the new Udacity course Introducing Generative AI with AWS for free. The course, which was designed by AI experts at AWS, introduces students to foundational generative AI concepts and guides them through a hands-on project. Upon successful course completion, students earn a certificate from Udacity to showcase their knowledge to future employers.
Accessible and fun introduction to generative AI with new Hour of Code Dance Party: AI Edition
Amazon is kicking off a new collaboration between Amazon Future Engineer and Code.org to launch Hour of Code Dance Party: AI Edition . During this hour-long introduction to coding and AI, students will create their own virtual music video set to hit songs from artists including Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, and more.
Students will code their virtual dancer’s choreography and use emojis as AI prompts to generate animated backgrounds. The activity will give participants an introduction to generative AI, including learning about large language models and how they are used to power the predictive analytics responsible for creating new images, text, and more.
Hour of Code will take place globally during Computer Science Education Week, December 4–10, engaging students and teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade. Additionally, AWS is providing up to $8 million in AWS Cloud computing credits to Code.org, which runs on AWS, to further support Hour of Code.
Cloud skills training investment
Amazon’s new AI Ready commitment is in addition to AWS’s commitment to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people by 2025, which has already trained more than 21 million people.
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Here's what we know so far about Biden's 'Plan B' for student loan forgiveness
- President Joe Biden's new plan to forgive student debt is likely to look much different than his first.
- Here's what we know, so far.
President Joe Biden's new plan to forgive student debt is likely to look much different than his first .
After the Supreme Court ultimately blocked Biden's policy that would have cancelled up to $20,000 in student debt for tens of millions of people in June, the president immediately announced that he would attempt to deliver the relief another way.
His administration has already started that process, and established a "Student Loan Debt Relief Committee" — including Wisdom Cole at the NAACP, Kyra Taylor at the National Consumer Law Center and several student loan borrowers — to hash out the details.
Here's what we know so far.
Reach of relief could drop to 10% of borrowers
Nearly 40 million Americans stood to benefit from Biden's original student loan forgiveness plan.
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The president's Plan B for relief is likely to be much narrower in its reach, said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. That's because the justices ruled that the president's original plan, which would have covered more than 90% of federal student loan borrowers, was too far-reaching.
″'Can the Secretary use his powers to abolish $430 billion in student loans, completely canceling loan balances for 20 million borrowers, as a pandemic winds down to its end?'" wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion for Biden v. Nebraska. "We can't believe the answer would be yes."
Less than 10% of federal student loan borrowers are likely to qualify this round, Kantrowitz said.
Luke Herrine , an assistant professor of law at the University of Alabama, also believes the next forgiveness policy will include far fewer borrowers.
"I think it would be easier to justify in front of a court that is skeptical of broad authority," Herrine said in an earlier interview with CNBC.
Five groups of borrowers may be eligible
The Biden administration seems focused on still delivering relief to five specific groups of borrowers, according to a recent paper issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Those are:
- Borrowers with current balances greater than what they originally borrowed.
- Those who entered into repayment on their student loans 25 or more years ago.
- Students who attended programs of questionable value.
- Borrowers eligible for existing relief programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness, who just haven't applied.
- Debtors in financial hardship.
This forgiveness process is likely to take longer, experts say. Biden first tried to cancel student debt with an executive order in August 2022, and had promised borrowers the relief within six weeks of them completing their paperwork .
This time he's turning to the rulemaking process. That procedure is lengthier , typically involving a public comment period and other time-consuming steps.
"Issuing new regulations can take as long as a year," Kantrowitz said.
If the administration is successful this time, he said, borrowers could see their debt cancellation around the time of the 2024 presidential election.
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I left Washington, DC, for Oklahoma and can finally afford to live on my own thanks to the Tulsa Remote Program
- Ryann Cooke used the Tulsa Remote program to move to Oklahoma from Washington DC.
- Cooke was paid $10,000 and said she was nervous about the move at first.
- She says her community is stronger in Tulsa than it was in DC and she plans on staying for now.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ryann Cooke, a 27-year-old who works in social media and is originally from Washington, DC. It's been edited for length and clarity.
After being born and raised in Washington, DC and spending the first 26 years of my life there, I knew it was time for a change. I figured: if I want to move, why not look into creative ways to do it? That's how I ended up getting paid $10,000 to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It started, like many things, with the algorithm. I was watching YouTube videos of people who were moving, both in the US and abroad, and came across a woman's video about Tulsa Remote , which is a program that pays people $10,000 to move there. To be eligible, you have to be able to move to Tulsa within 12 months, be 18 years or older, be either a remote employee or self-employed, and be eligible to work in the United States.
I started the application process in April 2022 and moved to Tulsa in June that same year
The application asks for the basics: proof of income, educational attainment, and a brief overview of a regular day at work for the applicant.
I had an interview pretty soon after I finished the application and the interviewer asked me what I enjoyed about DC. I told her how I liked cycling and volunteering. She told me there were a ton of great cycling spots in Tulsa and overall made it sound really appealing.
A few days later, I got an email that I would be accepted once I filled out a background check. I started the interview process in April of 2022 and moved here on June 3 of that same year. In between those dates, I had a "hosted visit" where I came toTulsa and saw some of the co-working spaces that program participants are given access to with a free 3-year membership.
I joined a Slack channel with other Tulsa Remote people and I was taken on a tour where I saw so many incredible cultural things, like Black Wall Street . It seemed like something I wanted to do and I was excited. I wanted to be around like-minded, interesting people.
I was a little nervous about making the switch from DC to Tulsa
I was specifically worried about not having a car because I've spent my whole life in DC catching the train and there's not as much public transportation in Tulsa — talk about culture shock — but I moved to the downtown area and it's actually very walkable.
I was also worried about finding a community to fit into but, much to my surprise, my community is stronger here in Tulsa than it was in DC. The Tulsa Remote community is tight-knit and everyone is really intentional about making friends and putting themselves out there to develop connections. Moving here was great and I've made so many new friends.
The dating scene isn't very fun, but I plan on staying for the time being
I have a great apartment and I've never been able to afford living on my own before, but the cost-of-living is so much lower in Tulsa than in DC . Talk about a win–win. The downside is that dating isn't very fun in Tulsa. It doesn't feel like there are as many people to pick from as there was in DC, but I'm still hopeful.
Next year, I'll have been here for two years and I'm planning on staying here for the time being. When I do eventually move, I think it's going to be to another place that pays me to move there. I found a website that lists places that offer incentives to new movers. I figured, why not? I've had such a great time doing it this time. I never would've moved to Tulsa otherwise.
Did you get paid to move to a new city and would like to share your experience? If so, email Manseen Logan at [email protected]