See an example

Sometimes, all you need to get started is a simple example. If you’re working in a business or marketing plan, we give you a quick and easy feature that shows you how another business plan writer handled the same topic you’re trying to address.

To see an example for the current topic, click the Examples tab in the Instructions and Examples window:

Examples

Click Next Example to see more.

Click Paste Into Topic to paste the current example into your topic as a starting point for your own text.

Selling subscriptions

Are you a magazine or newspaper publisher? A SaaS (software as a service) provider? A nonprofit asking people to pledge periodic donations?

Then you might want to consider forecasting your sales (or part of your sales) with a subscription, or churn-rate, model. This kind of sales forecast allows you to make projections that take into account ongoing revenue, new customers, and cancellations.

Both Business Plan Pro and Marketing Plan Pro have a special add-in sales forecast for handling subscription sales. To access this feature:

First, download it from our website

  1. Make sure you have a working Internet connection open
  2. Open your business or marketing plan in your Palo Alto software program
  3. On the Tools menu, click Add-ins
  4. (Note: your serial number should automatically load in the web page. If it doesn’t, you can find it by clicking About in the Help menu)
  5. Scroll down the list until you find Sales Forecast-Subscription (Churn Rate) Model
  6. Click Download Component
  7. If prompted to Find a program or Save the file, click Save. Then browse to a location where you want to save it, such as your Desktop.

Then, import it into your plan

  1. Return to your plan software
  2. On the File menu, click Import
  3. Choose Import an Add-In, and click Next
  4. Browse to the location where you saved the downloaded file
  5. Highlight the downloaded file name and click Open, then click Next
  6. Click Finish

The new subscription model sales forecast will open for you to see and work with. Instructions above the spreadsheet get you started. You can also click Search on the Help menu, and search for “subscription” to find more information.

Finally, link it to your tables
The Subscription forecast currently exists in your plan as a stand-alone table. It doesn’t replace your regular Sales Forecast table, and doesn’t feed into your plan’s financial data. To make your subscription forecast part of your financial plan, you can build a link in the main Sales Forecast table to the “Total Sales” row of the Subscription Model sales forecast.

Click here for detailed instructions on linking your Subscription Model to your main Sales Forecast.

Get help: Any row, any time

Our software offers two ways to get data into your tables – table Wizards, which walk you through the data entry and questions about expected sales, costs, expenses, and so on, and table Spreadsheets, where you can enter the data directly in a format similar to Microsoft Excel.

While the wizards are designed for users who aren’t used to doing their own financial projections, the spreadsheets still offer a great deal of help in understanding what kind of data belongs where.

Row Help
In addition to the general Instructions above each table, spreadsheets contain definitions for every row, which depend on your Table Settings. To see Row-by-row help in your Spreadsheet, simply click on a cell in the row you wish to learn more about, and read the definition which displays along the bottom of your program window.

Can’t See Row-by-Row Help?
If you do not see the Row definition window below your spreadsheet, make sure there is a checkmark next to Row by Row Help on the View menu.

Example
The top line of your Row-by Row help lists the row number and label, to make sure you are reading the right definition. In the example below, all three row names have been filled in; note how the new row labels appear as part of the row definitions (“University Students“).

Row by Row Help

Business Plan Pro tip: How Do I…?

I have a confession: I hate to read help files.

How could this be? I WRITE help files for a living!

Well, first, they often have so much information it takes forever to wade through it to find what I want, and I’m terribly impatient. Secondly, help authors seem to phrase everything in unexpected ways – if I want to know about ADDING, they talk about SUMS. Harrumph. I’d much rather turn around and ask the expert user sitting next to me a question, in plain English, that cuts right to what I want to do.

Did you know that we’ve tried to give you that quick, expert user answer on every screen of Business Plan Pro?

How Do I?At the top right of every screen, just below the buttons to close and minimize the program, is a little “How Do I?” button, offering shortcuts to the most common questions our users have. Go ahead and click it; I bet your question is in there.

And since planning involves different tasks, like writing text, projecting financials, printing your plan, etc., the How Do I? button will give you additional task-specific tips when you click it from within a topic, table, or chart.

So there you go. A little digital expert to consult for your quick questions, with quick, easy to follow, simple answers.

Of course, when you’re ready for more complex questions, like the difference between expenses and assets, or whether labor costs for production belong in your Sales Forecast or your Profit and Loss tables, we’ve got that covered in the full Help file.

With features like full-text searching, an Index, and lots of ‘Related Topics’ links, we hope using the Help is easier in our programs than in some software we’ve had to use. But, if you end up using only the built-in Instructions, Wizards, and the occasional How Do I? tip, we won’t blame you.

In fact, we designed it that way.

Business Plan Pro tip: Finding tables, topics, charts

View menuWant to quickly jump to a specific topic, table, or chart in your plan, but can’t remember where it is in the Outline or Tasks list? The software has quick shortcut for finding exactly what you want:

  1. On the View menu, point to Tables, Topics, or Charts (depending on what you’re looking for)
  2. An alphabetical list of all the tables, topics, or charts in your plan will display
  3. Click on the name of the item you wish to open

It’s that simple!

And you can see the same list by clicking the All Items area below the Outline, then using the drop-down box to filter the list by Tables, Topics, or Charts.

Business Plan Pro tip: Import from accounting files

AccountingBusiness Plan Pro has an Import function that lets you pull major categories and useful information from your QuickBooks or Peachtree accounting files into your plan file. (Note: Business Plan Pro UK Edition imports from Sage Line 50, rather than Peachtree.)

Bringing Planning and Accounting together
Accounting software and Business Plan Pro have different, but related, purposes. Accounting must necessarily go very deep into detail. Planning requires a balance between detail and concept, because there are times when too much detail is not productive. The key to bringing them together is being able to show the same summary categories in your plan projections as you have in your bookkeeping. This gives you a powerful tool for planning and management.

The Import function:

  • Imports accounting categories for sales, cost of sales, and/or expenses.
  • Matches major categories only, to turn accounting data into future planning. Accounting information for subcategories is summarized in the major categories.
  • Can optionally apply growth rates to past amounts to provide estimations of future amounts for planning purposes. The approximate amounts are only slightly different from accounting totals.

(Premier Edition) Additionally, users with the Premier Edition can import data as you begin to plan, so your business plan row labels match your accounting categories. Then import actual accounting data again in a few months or a year to start using the built-in Plan vs. Actual analysis tools.

To get started, click Import on the File menu, and choose your accounting software.

Business Plan Pro tip: “Goodwill” as an accounting concept

GoodwillWhen a company purchases another company for more than the value of its assets – which is quite common – the difference is recorded as an asset named “Goodwill.”  This is not a general term for the value of a brand, for example, but a very specific accounting term.

For example, if one business buys another business for $1 million, then it needs to show the $1 million spent as an asset. If there are only $500 thousand in real assets, the accounting result should be $500,000 in real assets purchased and another $500,000 in “Goodwill.”

Goodwill is normally amortised over 5 to 40 years, depending on variables determined by the accountants.

In Business Plan Pro, you would include this goodwill value as part of your Long-term Assets. You can then record the amortization of goodwill as Depreciation. Remember to explain this asset in the Balance Sheet topic.

Business Plan Pro tip: Handling loans

If your business plan includes receiving loans, you will need to enter the loan amounts in the Start-up Funding or Past Performance table (for loans received before the plan’s starting date), or in the Cash Flow table (for loans received after the plan’s starting date).

You will also need to enter the planned repayment amounts in the Cash Flow table, and projected Current and Long-term interest rates in the General Assumptions table. The Profit and Loss table will automatically calculate the tax-deductible interest on the loans from these numbers.

About current vs. long-term loans

While the distinction between current and long-term assets has to do with depreciation, standard accounting makes an arbitrary division between current and long-term liabilities. The idea behind this division is about establishing a difference on how long such liabilities last. The division between long-term and current liabilities might be three, five, or ten years.

Each company makes its own decision, usually in agreement with financial management and accountants. You can make that decision yourself or ask an accountant. If you are just starting a new business, and have no idea, then make the division five years: liabilities that last longer than five years are long term.

About interest rates

The General Assumptions table contains default interest rates for your loans – simply type over the existing number for Current or Long-term Interest rate to change this to your projected interest rate.

You do not have to include the General Assumptions table in the printed document. The financials need these numbers, but your readers might not. Although interest rate and tax rate assumptions are standard, not every reader relates to them in detail. If you want to include this table in your printed plan: 

  1. Open your plan Outline
  2. Click on the Important Assumptions topic (in the Financials section)
  3. Click Table on the Insert menu
  4. Choose the General Assumptions table from the existing tables list
  5. Click OK

You can search your Business Plan Pro Help on “loans” or any other term related to this kind of funding to find much more information.

Business Plan Pro Tip: Getting Updates

Business Plan Pro 11.0 customers are getting a “power boost” to their product today as we release update 11.15. This update offers more value for your planning efforts, including:

  • More flexible and advanced printing options, from WYSIWYG table printing (short for “What-you-see-is-what-you-get”) to customized printing of Actual and Variance tables and charts for plan vs. actual analysis.
  • The e-book of The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan guidebook, written by Tim Berry, the principal author of the software. Available exclusively in the 11.15 update, this e-book can be found in the “Planning Books” section of the Resources.
  • Special offers from LogoWorks by HP, one of the largest logo design firms in the world, are also provided to Business Plan Pro customers in this update. The link for this offer can be found in the “Special Offers” section of the Resources.

How to get your updates

If you selected “Automatic Updates” when you first installed the software, Business Plan Pro will check for an update the next time you’re connected to the Internet with the software running.

If you chose instead to check for updates manually, follow these steps:

  1. Connect to the Internet
  2. Start Business Plan Pro 11.0
  3. On the Tools menu, click Check for Updates…
  4. In the Update dialog, click the Check for Updates button
  5. The “Latest Version” section of the Update dialog will show a new version available
  6. Click the Download and Install button
  7. Close and re-open Business Plan Pro to use the updated software

If you want Business Plan Pro to handle updates automatically in the future, simply check the Automatically Download Updates box in the Update dialog.

Customer Service

1-800-229-7526

customerservice@paloalto.com