What’s the formula for business success? A killer idea? Good timing? Lots of funding? Maybe. But it also includes preparation. The days are long gone when ideas scribbled on a cocktail napkin were enough to build a startup or take a business to the next level. Today, every company, whether it’s a one-man shop or a small firm, needs to plan for the future. How well your startup or small business does has as much to do with your big idea as it does with the tools used to plan and execute your strategy.
“Planning is not the horrible task it has been made out to be,” says Tim Berry, CEO of Palo Alto Software. “People have this fear and dread of writing a business plan. The plan is only what you need to help you make your business better. People need to focus on priorities, set the steps, and keep track of progress” he says.
So what should an entrepreneur include in her startup arsenal? Besides a good business plan (see our review of Palo Alto’s Business Plan Pro at www.black enterprise.com/bizplanpro), financial management tools are also a good bet along with a good marketing strategy. Here are a few tools to consider:
november 2005 : BLACK ENTERPRISE : blackenterprise.com
Business Plan Pro Standard (www.paloalto.com). The 2006 version adds several key features that can help you develop a killer business plan. These include detailed financial planning and forecasting tools, with more than 9,000 industry profiles and over 500 sample business plans. You get a hefty application: Business Plan Pro tips the scales at over 40MB; if you choose to download the sample business plans that come with it, say bye-bye to another 255MB of disk space.
QuickBooks (www.quickbooks.com). Ranging from easy, beginner applications to enterprise level software, QuickBooks provides a financial solution for almost every type and size of business. QuickBooks Simple Start ($99), for example, lets you track sales and expenses, create invoices, pay bills, and more, while QuickBooks Pro ($499) and Enterprise ($2,500) editions let you select software based on your industry. With the release of QuickBooks 2006, Intuit has simplified functions for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Peachtree (www.peachtree.com). Ranging from First Accounting ($99.95) to Premium Accounting (from $499 for a single user to $999 for a multiuser pack), Peachtree provides small business accounting tools for every level financial experience. If you’re a startup firm, Peachtree First Accounting packs in enough features to give QuickBooks Simple Start some competition.
Business Resource Software (www.brs-inc.com). If you’re a traditional or high-tech startup, PlanWrite has a solution for your business. PlanWrite for Marketing ($129.95) helps you execute your marketing strategy while covering basics such as pricing strategy, advertising, and budgeting. For high-tech companies, PlanWrite for High-Tech Marketing has all the features of a traditional company.