When we think of traditional business plans, we typically imagine a lengthy, carefully crafted document that will eventually collect dust on a shelf. LivePlan, a unique online measurement and benchmarking tool, transforms traditional business plans into dynamic, living documents to help businesses measure growth and track success. Whether you are an emerging business just starting your plan or a well-established company looking to better track your efforts, LivePlan has tools to support businesses at every stage of their venture. 

Tisa J.D. Clark, president and CEO of J.D. Professional Services, is a longtime FSC First participant, a LivePlan user, a well-rounded businesswoman, and a consultant who has seen the tool benefit her clients. Clark offers her insights into the tool and the actual progress her clients have seen as a result of this resource.  

What is LivePlan?

“LivePlan takes the traditional business plan and amplifies it,” says Clark.

“It is a subscription-based tool that you can use to create the actual plan itself—your executive summary, the problems your business is solving, your offerings, management structure, marketing strategy, etc.—and allows you to integrate real-time information into the platform to help track your efforts. It can become a tool that transforms this business plan from a document that you create once and never revisit into something that you can use to manage your business.” 

Getting Started  

For those just beginning their business plan, LivePlan offers over 500 templates for users to access. Those who have never created a business plan can use the templates as a guide and get an idea of the information necessary to create their documents adequately. 

“It can be overwhelming to think about all that goes into a business plan. Many new business owners are taking a shot in the dark on a lot of information, especially on their forecast. LivePlan makes it easier for newcomers to get started, ease the load, and help them base their plan on real data,” shares Clark. 

In LivePlan, new businesses can access industry data using NAICS codes, regional information, and company size to generate a routine forecast for their business type. “It gives business owners something to compare against,” she adds. It can show you what a typical percentage to pay toward rent or what others’ gross revenue looks like. And then, you can compare that against your forecast, which will help you determine if your projections are realistic.”

Your Real Data, In Real Time

Businesses can integrate their accounting software, such as QuickBooks or Xero, into LivePlan and use the tool as a real-time goal-tracking system. Combining industry data, business forecasts, and real data gives business owners a unique 360-degree view of their financials and growth. They can compare how their business is performing against its own goals and the standard growth of similar businesses and adjust their benchmarks if necessary. 

By incorporating this data into LivePlan, business owners can take a firmer grip on their financial future. “That’s what makes LivePlan really special. It becomes a tool you can use in real-time to manage your business, particularly for those business owners who are not as financially savvy. You do not need an accounting background to make informed decisions around what their business is doing.” 

“It gives you insight that you can then take to your bookkeeper or your tax person and have those conversations with questions that you might not have known to ask just by looking at standard financials,” adds Clark. 

Invest, Pitch, and Grow BETTER

If you’re trying to get funding, LivePlan has a pitch function that can condense your business plan into a summary of critical information. “Instead of handing someone a 50-page business plan that they may not read, you can give them a quick snapshot of your business pulled from the data that you’ve been managing and storing within LivePlan. From Revenues to expenses and profitability—it can give them a clear picture of whether or not you’re a viable investment candidate.” 

The information can also be exported to provide lenders with the necessary information to approve your business for financial programs. “When pursuing capital, businesses are required to share their financial history, financial statements, debt schedules, etc. Every lender wants to know your plan because they want to know how you will pay the money back. With LivePlan, you can share your key information with lenders and get the money to help your business grow.” 

As a coach, LivePlan gives Clark an effective tool to assess her client’s efforts fully and become a more effective advisor. 

In business ownership, having the right tools makes all the difference. Alongside supportive institutions like FSC First and coaches like Tisa Clark, LivePlan stands out as a versatile tool, offering business owners valuable resources for every stage of their business.  

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