- Best Small Business Tax Software For Mac
- Accounting Programs For Mac Computers
- Best Small Business Management Software For Mac
What Is a Business Plan?
Many of us have been there: That sudden epiphany in the shower or at a bar chatting with friends. The slew of initial ideas hastily scribbled on napkins or perhaps simply forgotten entirely. Many great businesses started with these same events, but millions more never got beyond them. That's because the next step can be both difficult and labor-intensive, namely writing a coherent business plan. Going from random napkin-notes to an organized, thorough plan to get your business started, funded, and generating revenue for the foreseeable future can be a mammoth undertaking, especially for beginners and even more so for people trying to go it alone.
Freshbooks – overall best accounting software for small business with great scalability and freemium. Xero – recommended for Mac users. QuickBooks Online – most widely used but features are limited. Zoho Books – with most complete basic features but which you can easily outgrow.
Fortunately, there's plenty of help if you know where to look, especially if what you really need is a written business plan that simply communicates a clear vision. This will help you attract the right people and resources to implement your idea. A business plan tells others how you will get customers and clients, who will run the business, and how early-stage venture capital (VC) will be raised. Business plans help you talk about yourself, explain your strengths, and ask for money to back up your idea.
So, people write business plans in order to acquire funding or to document the company's intended direction. That is, you want a bank loan, VC funding, or other help to get your startup off the ground. A business plan can also be the most concrete way to get everyone's agreement on 'This is what we're doing, right?!' Keeping the plan updated as the business matures is an easy way of measuring success.
In all of these cases, the business owner has to do something that can be scary: become a business document management expert by creating a structured document (that is, a business plan) with lots of numbers and compelling prose, with the awareness that this pitch is make-or-break for the company's vision. That's a tough job. It's hard to express your product's unique selling points, analyze competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and back up your assertions about why you need this much money. Believe me, I know. In my pre-journalistic life, I wrote two in-depth business plans. One plan taught me that I didn't have what it took to pull off that project and the other plan got my startup business accepted by a VC conference.
So, when we lack expertise, we should ask for help. Software with 'follow the bouncing ball' instructions for business plans can serve the same role as online accounting services because, in each case, you rely on specialists to walk you through the process. Even better, many of the products we review in this business plan creation tool roundup back up their software offerings with in-person coaching and mentoring as well as loads of online learning resources, like videos and how-to articles.
Business Plan Software Options
The 10 online business plan software solutions examined in this roundup—Atlas Business Solutions Ultimate Business Planner 5.0, Enloop, EquityNet, NetEkspert iPlanner.NET, OnePlace, Palo Alto Software LivePlan, PlanGuru, StratPad, Tarkenton GoSmallBiz, and The Business Plan Shop—each promise to help you construct a polished business plan, with all of the numbers and narrative you need. So, whether you want to start your own accounting firm, real estate operation, or e-commerce business, you'll be all ready to go.
All of these online business plan software solutions certainly do deliver on their promise to help you, and none of them are bad choices. However, a few of them provide additional services such as connecting you to funding sources (EquityNet gets a nod here) or comparing your plan to others' plans in your industry (such as what Enloop's performance score does). Ultimately, though, the two Editors' Choice winners were clear: Palo Alto Software LivePlan and Tarkenton GoSmallBiz, both of which checked off most boxes on a typical entrepreneur's wish list.
These Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications can't give you the irresistible prose to convince an investor you will make your projections come true, but they do guide you in answering all of the questions that investor is likely to have. Here are eight key factors to look for when choosing a business plan software solution for your business:
1. Business Plan Structure
Business plans have a lot of elements, some of which won't occur to someone who hasn't written one before. Ideally, the business planning software solution will walk you through each section that is appropriate for your class of business, ensuring you answer all of the relevant questions. These solutions may prompt you to respond to issues that you might not have thought to address.
2. Do the Numbers
Ultimately, a business plan shows how your company will make money. Even the simplest plan needs to include financial reports such as charts for profit-and-loss, balance sheets, and month-by-month and yearly projections.
3. Context and Analysis
Some business plan software solutions (such as EquityNet and Editors' Choice Palo Alto Software LivePlan) help you compare your numbers to others in your industry, including regions and company size. You might claim that the Jewish deli you propose to open in Asheville, North Carolina will turn a profit in three years, but the market data suggests five years is typical. This data helps you back up your assertions before a banker can raise an eyebrow. This is a 'nice-to-have' feature for some businesses but an irrelevant one for others.
4. Helpful Advice
Even if the business plan software solution gives you places to plug in data (think 'Mad Libs' for businesses), ultimately you need a good idea (you're on your own, there) and to understand the information investors want to see. As with tax preparation software, it's reassuring when the business planning software solution defines terms, provides sample data, and explains the sort of information expected in each field. StratPad's educational videos are a model for how this sort of thing should work.
5. Report Depth and Presentation
The result of all of this work is a business plan, a document for others to read. These don't always need to be works of art but it helps if the business plan software solution packages your business plan attractively and permits customization. Don't treat these tools as all-in-one solutions to your problems. Set your expectations correctly and you'll find these business plan software solutions to be far more helpful.
6. Treat the Business Plan as a Work-In-Process
Collect everything you think is necessary before getting started. But I promise you that, at least once while you use these business plan software solutions, you will say, 'Gee, I don't know; I have to look it up.' That's a good thing as it means the software is asking for relevant information you didn't think to include on your own.
For any but the simplest of proposals, it's an iterative process. So, you need to highlight the parts to come back to (after your accountant responds, for example). Or, the software should at least save data in some kind of draft status. However, across all of these apps, some forms insist you must enter something in a field before it will save everything on the page, which is irksome. Worse, it could lead to errors because you might not remember to go back and fix the temporary guess. I kept wishing for a way to bookmark 'temporary' data that needs to be double-checked ('I'll write in 800 for now…'); the best answer to this was Palo Alto Software LivePlan's comment field but it would be nice to see a business planning software solution that let me mark a field as 'Don't forget.'
7. You Still Need a Spreadsheet
In general, these business plan software solutions will act as though you are reasonably organized before you log into their websites wherein you will paste summary information. However, based on my hands-on experience, I advise you to still expect to do background math yourself. For instance, if you need to fill in the projected head count for marketing for the next five years and you keep adjusting the number of people to hire (based on your spreadsheet guesswork), expect to keep manually updating the total in the software rather than having the data automatically sync. In other words, these business plan software solutions are helpers, not 'I will do the thinking for you' kind of apps. And this is okay, as long as you don't expect them to be something they're not.
These are all SaaS apps, some of which have a free version with the basics as well as a paid version with more feature depth. If your needs are incredibly simple and you just need 'fill-in-the-blanks' forms to give to a banker, then you may find several completely free options that do the trick.
8. A Plan for All Businesses
These business plan software solutions must be relevant for everyone, from a solo entrepreneur trying to open a small to midsize accounting firm to an established manufacturing company aiming to fund a new factory. To judge suitability to task, I used data from two real business plans: a New Jersey restaurant startup and a nine-year-old horror film festival. I also measured the software against the business plan I once wrote with the help of professional advisors (back when I sought significant VC).
All of these business plan software solutions are good apps; none of them gravely disappoint. However, Palo Alto Software LivePlan and Tarkenton GoSmallBiz were head and shoulders above the rest. It won PCMag's admiration based on the clarity and understandability of their documentation and the impressive depth of their features and options. However, each of the 10 business plan software solutions reviewed has strengths that may make one a better choice over another for your business. So, look at all of the options to see which one is the best fit for you.
Featured Business Plan Software Reviews:
Palo Alto Software LivePlan Review
Pros: An impressive range of customizable features. Lots of online learning help.
Cons: Loads of customizable features necessitates a learning curve. Limited third-party integrations.
Bottom Line: Delivered in slick, cloud service packaging, Palo Alto Software's LivePlan is a very nice business planning tool that comes complete with loads of customizable features and solid online help and learning resources. Even so, the products sheer depth means you're still facing a bit of a learning curve.Read Review
Tarkenton GoSmallBiz Review
Pros: Highly configurable and detailed business plan. Advice from business experts. Able to generate financial statements and projections without outside spreadsheet software. Links to third-party services.
Cons: Few sample business plans. Only exports to Microsoft Word and PDF formats.
Bottom Line: Heavy on the mentoring and advice side, Tarkenton GoSmallBiz delivers an an easy-to-use business planning application that works using step-by-step templates with built-in advice modules.Read Review
Pros: Offers unique services that match entrepreneurs with investors, with business plan features to enable that process.
Cons: Its design is in the framework of crowdfunding investments from people you don't know. If you simply need a plan to sell your local Angel investor on your process, EquityNet probably is overkill.
Bottom Line: EquityNet doesn't focus exclusively on business plan creation. Instead, it's really a platform for those seeking investors as well as those looking to invest. Still, its bundled business planning tool is solid and can help speed startups toward getting funded.Read Review
Pros: Strong budgeting and forecasting features. Links to analytics add-on. Breakeven analysis. QuickBooks support available.
Cons: Requires some financial sophistication to use. Lacks sample business plan templates.
Bottom Line: Less a business plan creator than a financial reporting tool, PlanGuru nevertheless does a creditable job for those seeking to build a worthwhile business plan document. Still, rank beginners or those less focused on financial calculations might need to look elsewhere.Read Review
Pros: Adds project management tools to business planning. The price is unbeatable.
Cons: It's a starting point rather than an entire toolkit. Expect to do more work on your own.
Bottom Line: If you've got a clear idea of what you want your burgeoning organization to accomplish, but you just need some help with organizing and project management, then StratPad may be your ideal solution.Read Review
Atlas Business Solutions Ultimate Business Planner 5.0 Review
Pros: Interview-based format. Useful graphics. Sample business plans. QuickBooks import.
Cons: High degree of manual input and spreadsheet work needed.
Bottom Line: ABS Ultimate Business Planner 5.0 works using a fairly intuitive interview format to gather the data needed for your business plan. Unfortunately, that process is marred by the need for extensive manual data entry and spreadsheet work.Read Review
Pros: Plenty of customization options. Excellent automation of variable data.
Cons: Doesn't provide much guidance for some important elements including how to enter some required fields. Not much help text provided for how to create missions and operations statements.
Bottom Line: Enloop is a solid choice for those looking to build a business plan quickly. Good data syncing capabilities are enhanced by a solid collection of features, most of them customizable. While its help resources leave something to be desired, Enloop is a good choice for those with relatively simple planning needs.Read Review
NetEkspert iPlanner.NET Review
Pros: International, multilingual approach. Simple user interface. Variety of currencies and templates.
Cons: Rudimentary set of options. Limited flexibility.
Bottom Line: iPlanner.NET from NetEkspert is a fairly easy way to build a quick business plan, but the company seems more focused on helping consultants build plans for clients rather than on folks building business plans for their own use. On the other hand, fewer features mean a simple process and it's even got a fairly nice price.Read Review
Pros: Team-based collaborative approach to business planning. Ability to bring in outside parties through the portal. Detailed project and task management.
Cons: Lacks templates for creating a business plan.
Bottom Line: OnePlace wants to be considered as a business plan creation tool and the foundation is certainly there. But once you dig into it a bit, you'll find it's far more capable as an online collaboration and project management tool than simple document creation.Read Review
The Business Plan Shop Review
Pros: Lots of opportunity to customize business plan elements.
Cons: Not much education or encouragement about what to say in a business plan. You get good structure but little inspiration.
Bottom Line: The Business Plan Shop provides a good-enough business plan writing aid, but mainly for people who know what needs to be in the document. Beginners or those looking for plan writing guidance will need to keep looking.Read Review
Aug 30,2019 • Filed to: Business Tips • Proven solutions
The thing about small businesses is that they tend to grow. As our businesses get bigger, though, we need better tools to manage them – otherwise we spend all of our time on administration, and none of it actually growing the business. That is why we created this guide to the best small business software packages for Mac (High Sierra Compatible) available on the market today – to help you stay productive without falling behind on your paperwork!
Using Mac Small Business Software in General
Before we get to the list, let me tell you 3 things small business software Mac users need to know:
- Make sure you choose something that will be easy to integrate not just into your devices but your business processes. Change takes time and energy you might not have
- Do not underestimate the value of accessing your files over an iOS app. This can be a lifesaver, especially in the field
- Don’t be afraid to test-drive free versions before shelling out for the premium version. This will eliminate a lot of costly mistakes
The Top Small Business Software for Mac Users
1. PDFelement for Business
You doubtless use a lot of PDFs in your business – purchase orders, receipts, invoices, and so on. PDFelement for Business may be one of the best Mac small business software titles going because it gives you a way to create and manage these PDFs all in one place. This little gem was designed around the concept of creating, editing and sharing PDF business files, and it does its job very, very well.
Why You’ll Love It:
Best Small Business Tax Software For Mac
- Excellent user interface
- Allows you to edit text and images
- Good OCR features
- Compatible with macOS 10.13 High Sierra
2. Hiveage for Mac
Hiveage is one of the best invoicing tools I’ve ever used, and a piece of small business software Mac users should never be without. As it is cloud-based, it requires little initial investment and can be used a cross a number of different devices easily. It offers PayPal integration, and has a good set of tools for automated billing.
Why You’ll Love It:
- You can use it for free
- It is cloud-based, making sharing secure and easy
- An excellent time tracker is included
- It makes creating detailed reports very easy
Why Some Hate It:
- While the basic package is free, you’ll have to pay to use many advanced features
3. Billings Pro for Mac
This is small business software for Mac at its finest. It excels at creating and sending estimates to prospective clients, and comes with several pre-generated template to get you up and running in minutes.
A Mac based small business software that also comes in handy when you want to create ad send cost estimates to new clients. It comes with different templates to make the whole process easier. These templates make invoicing so easy to understand even for the beginner.
Why You’ll Love It:
- It costs only $10 per month
- It offers templates for many different types of businesses
- Easy to use ‘right out of the box
Why Some Hate It:
- It can be a bit difficult to integrate into iOS if you’re not a ‘power user’
4. Cognito Software MoneyWorks Gold 7
When it comes to small business software for Mac users, MoneyWorks is an excellent choice. It can essentially ‘be’ your finance department. As your business grows and you eventually put more than one person in the account, it can accommodate multiple users easily and effectively.
Why You’ll Love It:
Accounting Programs For Mac Computers
- Very user-friendly, with a gentle learning curve
- Excellent at file sharing
- Supports multiple users with password protection
Why Some Hate It:
- You’ll have to manage each user individually, which will be cumbersome once your bsiness grows enough
5. Moon Invoice for Mac
Moon invoice is one of my favourite pieces of Mac small business software. As you might have guessed from the name, it excels at invoicing. It also integrates with your iPhone (or any iOS device) with a very nice app. The most useful feature, for me, is the ‘iCloud sync’ feature, which keeps all of your documents up-to-date across any devices you might be using. This feature alone has saved me more time than you can imagine.
Why You’ll Love It:
- iCloud sync is an absolute game changer
- Very easy to create and track invoices
- Several flexible payment options for the paid version
Why Some Hate It:
- The free version is a bit limiting, and you’ll soon outgrow it
- Rather steep learning curve
Best Small Business Management Software For Mac
Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now! Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!