One of the first things you’ll want to do when forming a small business is to implement organizational structure and vision. Studies have found that more than 70% of the fastest-growing companies in the United States have business plans in place. These plans can help convey your vision to your employees. They can also help relay your business ideas to potential investors.
However, as a first-time business owner, you may not have any experience crafting business plans. In these situations, it’s useful to use planning software for direction and guidance.
One planning software option is LivePlan. In this LivePlan review and guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about this business plan software. After reading, you should have no problem determining whether it’s the right option for you.
What Is LivePlan?
LivePlan is an app designed to help small businesses craft a business plan. The software takes owners through a step-by-step process designed to remove the hassle of building a business plan. There are more than 500 sample plans on LivePlan. No matter what type of industry you’re in, you should be able to find a business model on the site that fits your needs. The app has served over 750,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners.
LivePlan is a branch of Palo Alto Software, a company based in Eugene, Oregon. Palo Alto Software believes that “small businesses are the engine of (the) economy and that if (it) can help more companies survive and thrive, we will all be better off.”
How Does LivePlan Work?
LivePlan works by asking you questions about your business. Start by visiting liveplan.com and signing up. Then, all you need to do is fill in the blanks, and the software will give you sample business plans that meet your needs. When getting started, the software will ask you questions about your business’s goals, strategies, and cash flow.
Once you have a business plan in place, you can monitor and make changes in real-time. You can also connect different types of accounting software, including Xero and Quickbooks. By inputting financial data in real-time, you’ll allow LivePlan to work as a forecasting tool so that you can adjust your strategy as necessary. The app provides financial forecast tables and charts in addition to business plans.
LivePlan gives its customers access to numerous features. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most prominent features that the app offers.
One-Page Business Plan
LivePlan enables those who own their own business to understand the fundamentals of their company better. When crafting this business plan, owners will gain a better understanding of who their customers are, the products or services that they’re offering, and what their sales and marketing activities will be.
This business plan is useful for recruiting investors and employees. After creating a layout, you’ll receive a link to the document. You can share this link with others so that they too can better understand your company. You can also export the report to PowerPoint so that you can easily integrate it into presentations.
As time goes on, you can make adjustments to the plan. If you’d like, you can build on your one-page project and create something that’s much more in-depth and complete.
Another exciting feature is that LivePlan allows for collaboration amongst team members. You won’t have to worry about emailing files back and forth to one another or figuring out who has the latest version of the document. Additionally, as the business owner, you control who sees what.
Imagine you have a CFO or accountant in charge of financials and you want them to be able to upload financial information. However, you don’t wish for your hourly employees to see your balance sheet. You can allow your accountant to access your business information anytime, anywhere, thanks to a restrictive software license. But your other employees who have access to the app will only have access to their select files and won’t have access to your company’s financials.
Once you’ve set up your plan, you’ll have access to the LivePlan Dashboard. The Dashboard allows you to integrate your accounting software and monitor your performance. You can track things such as revenue and expenses to see how you stack up compared to the goals that you’ve implemented for the company.
Thus, the app eliminates the need for spreadsheets. You’ll receive your financial forecasts and other relevant information in formats such as graphics and charts that are easy to understand. The Dashboard also makes it easy to make adjustments to things like future budgets.
LivePlan allows you to make hypothetical adjustments to your business plan and financials. For instance, you could run a scenario in which you hire one more employee. You would then see the costs associated with that and how those costs would impact your business goals.
The Dashboards’ performance predictor also works well with the Milestone Scheduler. The Milestone Scheduler allows you to bookmark critical tasks and milestones. Relevant team members will receive emails as the deadlines approach.
Lastly, when using the Dashboard, you can print out any relevant documents or information. You can also create PDFs that you can use in board meetings or during pitches to investors.
Security and Customer Service
LivePlan has invested in safety and customer service. The company says that it writes data on multiple discs, backs everything up daily, and stores your information in various locations, ensuring that it’s never lost.
Large data centers host your information. These data centers are under 24/7 physical security complete with biometric scanners. Palo Alto Software says that it uses Amazon AWS for its data centers and that they “submit themselves to regular SOC 2 audits.”
Furthermore, the company sends your data using HTTPs, meaning that everything is encrypted. Palo Alto Software hashes your company passwords — converting them into a string of characters — so that even they cannot see them. It’s impossible to backtrack a hash, meaning that your passwords are ultra-secure.
In addition to protecting your security, Palo Alto Software has also dedicated a lot to customer service. You can live chat or email the company at any time. You can also call the customer support team Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The Customer Support phone number is 1-888-498-6136.
How Much Does LivePlan Cost?
If you’d like to purchase LivePlan, there are numerous pricing options that you can choose from. The first option is the Annual Plan, which costs about $140 per year or $11.66 per month. You could also purchase the software on a six-month plan for $15.96 per month, which comes out to roughly $192 per year. Lastly, you could opt for the Month-to-Month Plan, which costs $19.95 per month.
Unfortunately, there is no free version available. If you don’t plan to use the LivePlan Dashboard and projection tools long term, you may find it more useful to subscribe to a semi-annual or monthly plan.
What if you’re not satisfied with the product? LivePlan offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. The company says that if you’re not happy with the product within the first two months, you can return it for a 100%, no-questions-asked refund.
Furthermore, the company does not have long-term contracts. You can easily switch from one plan to the other. However, once you pay for a year subscription, you won’t be able to change back to a monthly subscription until your paid year expires.
Lastly, if you decide to cancel your subscription, the company allows you to take your business plan with you. Once you create your business plan, it’s yours to keep. All you need to do is export your project before signing out for the last time.
LivePlan accepts multiple forms of payment. You can pay via PayPal and major credit cards, including:
- American Express
Looking to Learn More About Starting a Business?
As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to put a lot of time into business development. Crafting a clear, concise plan is one of the first steps toward successful business management. Instead of trying to create a project from scratch, you should allow business planning software to do it for you.
LivePlan is an excellent choice for small business owners. Although there is no free option available, investing in the app could be worth it. Business owners find that it’s easy to input data and gain access to relevant business plans and financial projections.
We also like that the company offers reliable customer support. For the first-time entrepreneur or small business owner who has a question about business strategies or how to develop a financial plan, LivePlan is a great learning tool.
But a business plan is just one part of business development. If you’re looking to learn more about starting a company, be sure to check out our article on how to become an entrepreneur.