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    7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 7, 2011 5:35 PM by smmoore2

    Business Planning Software

    vision2win Newbie

      Hi, I am new to the forum and joined so that I could get some tips on how to start my new business. It is a training business and will be based in North Carolina. My question is about the software that is offered for new business planning. I am considering one called PaloAlto Business Plan Pro. Does anyone have any experience with any other business planning software or have used the one I have in mind? If so, is it worth the money or can you get the same help on business planning websites for free?
        • Re: Business Planning Software
          Johnsquest68 Adventurer
          www.sba.gov the Small bussiness administration has free information. Including Business plan writing and tutorials. It is an excellent resource for the new entrepreneur. Also see the local SCORE counselors. Thewy should be located in the local community college. These counselors are retired executives. They have TONS of knowledge. Utilize it! Business plan pro is a good software program, but why pay $80 or more for information you can get for free?
          • Re: Business Planning Software
            IAmSpartacus Adventurer
            I used Business Plan Pro several years ago and was very satisfied with it. I am going to be writing another plan soon and intend to upgrade to the latest version. It obviously won't write the plan for you, but I found it superbly useful. For one thing, it performs all of the "non value-add" grunt work for you like formatting, charts, graphs, etc... In that regard it saves lots of time. Another benefit is the templates that are delivered (many more today than when I used it), which help get you organized and form a framework from which you can customize your plan.

            I would definately second the advice to contact SCORE and make use of all of the free resources you can. However, in my opinion, their software is well worth the money.
              • Re: Business Planning Software
                vision2win Newbie

                Thank you for your response. If you will upgrade and use it again, it must be decent. I'm glad I talked with an actual user. I don't mind spending the money if I know it is worth it. These days, you just don't know, even the bad software is expensive and then you're out the money. Thanks for your opinion.
              • Re: Business Planning Software
                Lighthouse24 Ranger

                Welcome to the community.

                Functionally, this is one of the better business planning products available -- I think everything you could want is there.

                Technically, this product can be annoying -- hangs up, crashes, and the output (printed or exported) often has format problems.

                One advantage of using planning software like this is that it (in effect) asks you questions you wouldn't think to ask if you are a new entrepreneur. Yes, there are spreadsheets and templates you can download for free that provide the same advantage, and if you connect with a SCORE counselor or other mentor, he/she can probably guide you through the planning process far more effectively than software can. If you're going it all alone, however, you'd have to figure out what to download and from where -- so the software would probably save you time and be worth the price.

                Another advantage of this software (for some business owners) is that it provides operational figures for similar businesses in the same industry (for instance, if you were opening a new pizza restaurant, you could see the operating expenses and ratios for other pizza restaurants -- which could really aid you in making realistic projections about yours). However, I can tell you that having data for other businesses in the education/training industry is all but useless to a small enterprise in that industry (so if you are a one or two person contract training firm or seminar provider, I don't think that feature woould really benefit you very much).

                Hope that helps. Best wishes.