Enloop allows you to attempt its marketing strategy creation capabilities without spending a dime with a a no-charge model that is good for one marketing strategy utilizing easy textual content and no pictures. For the rest, you will must fork over at the very least $19.95 per thirty days. With a paid model, Enloop helps firm house owners create enterprise plans rapidly and simply. Past its doc creation capabilities, Enloop presents the report’s information utilizing a efficiency rating that Enloop, Inc. describes as akin to a FICO rating for enterprise plans, although how a lot that basically means is as much as you.
As with different options on this marketing strategy software program evaluation roundup, specifically Editors’ Selection winner Palo Alto Software program LivePlan and The Business Plan Shop, the document creation process is simple with Enloop. You just fill in forms (or, more accurately, you copy and paste data into them) describing your business, its goals, and its past history. Enloop then organizes this data into nine sections including sections for the business idea, product and sales, marketing plans, personnel, and financial data. Enloop does have a few “wow-that’s-cool” features but its limitations kept it from winning the Editors’ Choice in this roundup, a title that ultimately went to Palo Alto Software LivePlan and Tarkenton GoSmallBiz.
Setup and Key Features
Enloop’s free version lets a single user create a single business plan with three-year forecasts, PDF file output, and a business report card. Enloop’s three paid levels, which range from $9.95 per month to $39.95 per month, add features such as financial ratio analysis, rich text formatting in report creation, and additional users, plans, and charts. Enloop recognizes that you probably aren’t working by yourself so it lets you invite other people to contribute to the same plan; this lets your colleague work on the numbers while you massage the marketing section.
Two features that set Enloop apart are its Autowrite and TextSync features. With Autowrite, Enloop creates the structure of the business plan text by using the data you painstakingly typed in (such as financial predictions and management history). That’s a win on its own as it sidesteps much of the creative writing some business owners find intimidating. Enloop’s Autowrite feature provides a greater degree of structure for business plans than other solutions reviewed in this roundup.
But what makes Enloop special is its TextSync feature which automatically updates those items, syncing the “data bubbles” (as the software calls the fields) whenever you change the numbers. So, if you decide to project more sales in year three to promise more profits, the business plan reflects the new data. You don’t have to go back to a business plan chapter to manually edit the data (and you also don’t risk forgetting to do so, which can create confusion).
For example, you don’t risk listing a profit number as a different amount in one area of the plan than in another. In addition to the preformatted documents which access those data bubble fields, you can add them in the text yourself (e.g., “Based on projected year three profits of such-and-such, we can have a great party at the end of the conference”).
You can add to the pre-created text as well and probably should. Unless you’re using the free version, the text editor supports rich text such as italics and standardized subheads; that will help to polish your plan’s appearance.
How It Handles Data
The data solicited by Enloop is a mix of high-level summaries and blissfully customizable details. For instance, the Past Performance section has you fill in last year’s numbers for revenue, net profit, cash balance, and company debt, without diving into the underlying data. However, the Products and Services section encourages you to go into as much detail as you like, naming each item (e.g., “attendee registrations,” “fabric sales,” or “X-wing fighters”) and recording three years’ worth of sales data or projections. These details don’t show up in the Autowrite text—just “Sales Year1” or “Gross Profit Year1” do—though you could always write about them on your own.
But you still need a spreadsheet. If your projections rely on other data—say, you need to plan $10 for linen rental for each trade show booth sold and you diddle with the number of booths you expect to sell— Enloop won’t directly adjust the expenses for you.
At the end of all your data entry, you get a report card testing three critical areas: the company’s cash balance, financial ratios, and the Enloop performance score. If your plan passes each test, you receive a Performance Certificate, which might make your business look more attractive to investors.
A Few Problems
Enloop has a few things that are irritating, though. For example, one page requires you to enter the company owner’s background (so far so good) but it insists you include his or her credit score (used in calculating the company’s performance scores). If you don’t fill it in (say, because you simply need to look up the number), the software won’t let you save the page. As a consequence, this means if you type in something random just for now, you might forget to update it with the correct number later. I’d prefer some way to annotate “Come back to this later” (and that’s assuming you agree to provide the credit score in the first place).
The reason you use software to help you construct a business plan is because you want a (virtual) mentor to ensure you address each important topic. Enloop stumbles a little bit here (or you could say it treats you like a grownup instead of doing everything for you). For example, its Marketing section prompts you to list marketing expenses from which it constructs a nifty narrative, picking up the dollar amounts from the expense list. It also offers a handy Manufacturing section in case this applies to your business, which is a section that EquityNet and StratPad do not offer.
But not everything gets the “Prompt for info” treatment. An Optional Topics section lets you add chapters that you consider relevant such as the company’s Mission, Competition, and Operations sections plus custom sections you dream up on your own. All of these require you to write the text without digital encouragement, though they do let you access the Enloop fields (such as OwnerName or NetCashFlowYear1). I’d prefer that some of these sections (such as Competition) be a bit less optional but you may see things differently.
The report generated at the end of the data collection exercise is a clearly-presented PDF file with basic-looking charts and graphs. You can control the order of report sections and tell Enloop to leave things out. It’s simple on the graphical beauty scale but who cares? Nobody ever paid my invoices faster when they were printed in a pretty font instead of in, say, Courier.
My conclusion: If you know what you have to say and merely want a good and affordable business plan software tool to help you put together the data you generated elsewhere, then Enloop is a good choice for you.