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How to Choose Business-Planning Software

Software programs allow you to automatically assemble all the components of a business plan, turning them into a polished, ready-to-print document. The best programs also make easier work of the financial parts of business planning — creating income statements and cash-flow statements, for example, or making financial projections.

Most software programs also allow you to add graphics, such as tables and charts, into your plan, providing an easy way for your audience to see at a glance what you’re describing in the written document.

Business-planning software programs can make the job of business planning almost too easy. With all the software bells and whistles, newcomers can inadvertently skip the serious (that is, difficult) work of creating and writing an effective plan.

Remember, the best software-planning tools guide you through the important aspects of business planning and then keep track of your words, sentences, and paragraphs — they don’t think for you. You still have to do the serious mental work yourself.

Investors and bankers who make a living reviewing and funding business plans are all too familiar with the look and feel of the most popular software-generated business-planning documents. When using one of these programs, customize your plan to make it unique. The last thing you want is for your business plan to look exactly like the others that cross a venture capitalist’s desk.

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