April 24, 2007 in 4 out of 5 stars, Business Planning, Hosted software, Project management

What is it?

PlanHQ: Online business planning software.


Who makes it?

PlanHQ Limited

Why is it the killerest?

Remember when you were in third grade and you had that math workbook? You may be reluctant to admit it, but it was kinda fun and you even accidentally learned stuff as you hurried to fill it all out. PlanHQ is like your favorite business plan workbook from MBA school.

It's greatest benefit is how it challenges you to think through and answer for the whole business picture of your venture. As you're working through your strategy, goals, competitive analysis, market analysis, sales forecasts, etc. it's like having a very detail-oriented MBA coaching you. If you're like most entrepreneurs (one big part passion, and one small part business training) this is an excellent tool to help you get your act together.

There are also collaboration features to help investors, partners, and others monitor and participate in the evolution of your venture. Nifty features like the ability to export it all into a Word Doc or PDF, and a report to tell you how complete your plan is are a nice touch.

As you use the system, it evolves organically to provide you richer information and business intelligence for making decisions. If you have the discipline to use this software and challenge yourself to account for all the extraneous details we often overlook, you'll be better equipped for success.

It's a brilliant bit of software. Intuitive, very well designed, and comprehensive without being overwhelming.

What could be improved?

I would love to see a "lite" version for free. Something with 1/5th the stuff, just the basics, to get you sold on the value of having the discipline to think everything through.

It does shoehorn you a bit into their business philosophy. It's a sound philosophy and not heavy-handed, but you can feel the constraints of their approach keeping you between the lines.

How much does it cost?

From $9 to $49/mo

All plans start with a free 30-day trial and you can export it all before you leave.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

Get free blog updates and tips by email

"Just yesterday I was visiting the folks at PlanHQ here in Wellington, to discuss about a design renewal for Geekzone. By coincidence only I read a review of PlanHQ services at WorkHappy.Net, a blog with resources for entrepreneurs."

Posted by: M Freitas | Apr 24, 2007 3:23:22 PM

Awesome Carson,

I like the perspective you've taken here, where PlanHQ helps you build a picture of your business and is an MBA helping you with the journey.

Really appreciate the what to improve, heres 2 improvements we're working on now:

1. Making PlanHQ more flexible for adding information to and managing your plan, so you can work beyond the current hierarchy which is required for the document export.

2. Quick Start which will include a 1-2 page plan, this is possibly something that we're thinking we might be able to offer as a lite version.

Hopefully we're headed in the right direction, we're going to keep tuning this to get it right, maybe get to a 5 out 5 someday ; )

Posted by: Tim Norton | Apr 24, 2007 5:59:11 PM

I'm sold on the usefulness of PlanHQ, but in order to sell my partners, we would need a lite version to kick around, or perhaps a longer trial version.

Posted by: Hashim | Apr 27, 2007 7:16:59 AM

I have to ask if a lite version is really the goer. If you're running a business that is attempting to make it (which I am) then $9.95 a month is pea-nuts in comparison to the visibility I get in return.

Business Planning in my mind, is all or nothing. So PlanHQ - don't bring out a lite version, or you will dilute the purpose of planning! Perhaps extending the trial period might be the better alternative.

Posted by: L Malcolm | May 6, 2007 11:01:55 PM

Thanks Hashim, Luke.

Hashim, really glad you're sold on it, We've got a major new release coming shortly which will make it much more part of your day so you'll find you get a lot more use out of it, making it easier to jump on a paid plan, as I'm with Luke here, if you are trying to build or grow your business $9/month really is peanuts compared to the value you should get from your business, some people have been blown away that we have a plan this low, but I want this to be accessible, I want a lot of people building successful small medium businesses.

As Luke said, Visibility and focus are key to building a successful business, and I've tried to make the investment required to get this lower than anything you could ever get in the market.



Posted by: Tim Norton | May 9, 2007 2:02:05 PM

We are huge advocates for PlanHq, it has really brought us together as a team on tasks and goals important our business. We are comfortable with the price and everyone on our team loves it. Many say they get a great deal of satisfaction as they hit the complete button. I am excited to see the new release, as we feel there are just a few tiny improvements that can make it almost perfect. We've considered creating a ConceptShare workspace with the GUI suggestions we had and invite the founders that could massively improve how we use it, we are that passionate about planHQ!
Good job it is one of our most important tools at the moment with our recent expansion.


Posted by: Bernie Aho | Oct 5, 2007 6:32:34 PM