by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 5 February 2013
Most small businesses start with an idea. Business plans add contours and a concrete road map to the idea. Writing a business plan, however, is easier said than done. The task is both arduous and confusing. This week, we will look at a solution that simplifies this task.
We will review LivePlan - a SaaS solution that simplifies business plan writing for small businesses and startups. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
The key to working with LivePlan is to understand its approach to business plans. LivePlan deconstructs business plans into constituent parts and enables you to think about your business from the ground up. This approach can be extremely useful for individuals interested in starting a small business as it helps clarify their thought process and focus on the really important elements of your idea.
LivePlan breaks down your business plan into four elements. These elements are reflected in the individual tabs on the interface. They are as follows:
Within each module, LivePlan asks users a set of questions designed to find out more about your plan through entered text and numbers. Then, the solution extrapolates these responses (and numbers) into essential figures that an investor expects to see in a business plan. I especially like the fact that it enables you to do this without complicated spreadsheet formulae. For example, you can generate sales forecasts or projected cash flow statements using LivePlan merely by entering specific information and numbers.
In case you are still confused or unable to answer questions relating to your business idea, LivePlan incorporates examples in its feature list. I thought this was one of the most useful features of the solution. Simply, you can embed examples from previous users for inspiration into your business plan. LivePlan also bundles XpertAccess, a module that provides access to experienced entrepreneurs, and a free eBook by small business expert Tim Berry along with its pricing.
There are several reasons to like the tool. Prime among them is its focus on simplifying a complex and time-consuming task. Reducing a business plan to a simple set of instructions helps you think strategically about your business. Added to these benefits are the pluses of cloud technology that enable collaboration regardless of geography or system.
You can do several things using the solution, including simplify complicated math, visualize your finances, and also, perform lean project management using the Schedule feature. Expert access and freebies such as eBooks only make a further case for LivePlan. Another site www.bplans.com provides free guidance, content and advice from their stable of entrepreneurs. They also have a regularly-scheduled Webinar series that helps first-time entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of risks involved in entrepreneurship.
As someone who is very interested in entrepreneurship, I think LivePlan is an excellent solution. It provides users with a crash course in business planning. What I liked most about the solution is that it implements focus and rigor to your idea so that it can withstand scrutiny from investors.