Business Plan Pro

ECP Maintenance: Monday August 15th 2016, 10:00pm Pacific (Tuesday 5am UTC)

A few selected accounts will be put into Maintenance Mode tonight at 10 PM Pacific for some needed database upgrades. The owners of these accounts have been notified via email. Downtime should be around 1 hour total and all incoming email messages will be queued during the downtime and delivered as soon as the accounts come back online.

Thank you,
Team Email Center Pro

ECP Maintenance, Friday March 4th

We will be updating the databases for ECP throughout the day and early evening on Friday March 4th, 2016. There should be no downtime for these updates to improve the database capacity for the servers.

Email Center Pro – Planned Maintenance on April 29

We will be making a quick update to our Email Center Pro service on Thursday, April 29, at 5 pm Pacific Time. This change may cause the service to be unavailable for a moment, and users may be required to log in again. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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:


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.

Playing the Numbers

Sometimes, you just want to play around with different ideas. What if I switched suppliers, and could arrange payment terms for net 45 instead of net 30? Or what would happen if we finished off the attic space so we could store more inventory up there?

The Premier Edition of Business Plan Pro has a neat little feature called the Cash Pilot for testing out these scenarios with all of your plan financials taken into account:

  • On the plan toolbar, click Cash Pilot.
  • The bottom section is your Control Panel: click in the boxes and type (or adjust numbers up and down with the arrow keys) to change your assumptions for:
    • Months of Inventory On-hand
    • Minimum Inventory Purchase
    • Collection Period
    • Sales on Credit %
    • Payment Delay

The left side shows your Planned Cash (your plan’s current numbers). The right side shows Adjusted Cash (what happens to your Cash Balance and Net Cash Flow with the new assumptions):

Go ahead, test out your ideas, and see what happens to your plan. If you like what you see, just close the Cash Pilot to apply the new numbers to your plan. If your tests show these changes would put you in the red, click Reset All (in the lower right corner) to go back to your original projections.

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.

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.

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