Planning Ahead

Business Plan Pro 2.0

When you create a new plan in Palo Alto Software's Business Plan Pro, a Plan Wizard asks you a series of basic questions, creates a file and activates the Task Wizard.

The Task Wizard offers a checklist of eight to 10 steps, depending on the kind of business you're planning. Each step has up to six associated tasks. For example, the Initial Assessment includes Objectives, Mission, Break-Even Analysis and Potential Customers.

Click on a task, and the program takes you to its input screen, which consists of two horizontal panes. In the top pane, you can toggle between instructions and an example. In the bottom pane, you enter your version of the text or numbers.

The controls on this screen give you plenty of flexibility. You can pop into a word processor to edit your text more fully or format it for readability. You can access the previous topic, or the next one, with buttons of the same name, or select a topic from a plan outline. Another button returns you to the Task Wizard.

Besides the extensive wizards, the program offers built-in "plan versus actual" analysis, so you can compare real outcomes to predicted results.

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Planning Ahead.

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