PlanHQ.com

PlanHQ.com is an online Business Planning and startup development tool.  Doesn’t sound very sexy does it but you’d be wrong. Having been crazy enough to start three different businesses, I can painfully testify that writing and even more challenging…sticking to the thinking within a good Business Plan is extremely tough.  Plan HQ is an innovative web application that helps entrepreneurs and startups not only create a business plan, but allocate tasks and track progress across the key players. If Plan HQ gets the kind of traction it should then Plan HQ will be a great little business with any number of service and product extensions for the entrepreneur.  Move over 37Signals!

Business Model:
Plan HQ has a nice and simple business model…all elements of the application are hosted by Plan HQ. No downloads, no maintenance, no hosting, no contracts – If Plan HQ does work out for you or you stop needing their service, just leave.  Think ‘Salesforce.com’ for business planning.  Plan HQ offers a 30 day free trial (http://www.planhq.com/signup/) and then the fees are based on number of users on a monthly basis.  So membership types and prices:

Mini   = $9 month / 3 users / 5 active goals
Small = $24 month / 5 users / 10 active goals
Professional = $49 month / Unlimited Users / 10 active goals

Some Core Functionality:
The Plan HQ Product is sub-divided into some management categories that are usually ‘key’ for most startups and early stage companies and of course there’s a ‘Dashboard’ so you can manage and track the imperative tasks. Management ‘uber’ categories include:

  • The Dashboard – Covering main tasks, actions, upcoming goals, financials
  • The Market  – Your Markets, the Competition, Customers and basic market and customer analytics
  • Goals – Actual Goals, Add new goals, confidence of achievement and more
  • Financials – Performance, Indicators, graphs 
  • The Business Plan Document itself
  • Team – Who have you got, who do you need

Likes:
I really like the Plan HQ business model and the product itself, it’s especially relevant for those businesses that are focused on moving towards significant growth and the Venture Capital route.

  • The Product seems to cover the key elements of what a young company needs to focus on and allows enough configuration that the users are not ‘locked in’ to Plan HQ’s already good business management methodology
  • I hate to put it like this but for those ‘new’ to building businesses from just a plan, the product can really help ensuring the key team members focus on what’s important to any business but especially the ‘young’ business…Customers, revenues, the team and fund raising.
  • As its a web ap, this product is especially helpful for a distributed or virtual teams and also for bringing angels, other investors and advisors easily into the key decision making process.  It could actually help get Advisors pulling their weight by locking them into real trackable actions. Wow! Could this product really do this?

Dislikes:
Not so much dislikes as potential questions and ‘like to sees’:

  • Paypal as a form of payment.  As a small business owner I don’t like adding my credit card to ongoing online services.
  • The positioning is ‘Create, update, track and collaborate around your business plan’. Business Plans eventually fall by the wayside as the business scales and grows beyond a certain stage or size.  As a ‘virtual’ investor, I’d like to see how all the data captured through initial usage and the service ‘scales’ with the business. i.e. beyond the business plan and becoming an ongoing discipline and tool for managing the business ongoing.
  • I’d like to see a referral program and a ‘Reseller’ model.  For example, a startup I’m involved with ‘Advisor Garage’ (http://www.AdvisorGarage.com)  has 1000+ entrepreneurs, angels and VCs onboard.  This is a service many of our members would probably like to use – can our company ‘subscribe’ and offer the Plan HQ service to our members for a fee?  I hope so! Let me know if any Plan HQ folks read this…

What’s unclear:

  • how the data exports or integrates with other systems – i.e. quickbooks etc
  • Are the ‘Permissions’ configurable? Will all signees be able to access all data? Would a CEO want that?

My Virtual Investment:
With my virtual $1M, I would ask PlanHQ to include me in their ‘Virtual Investment’ plans to the tune of $750K. Once they establish this market, their are so many obvious product extensions that driving great revenues will be easy and hey…they have the tool to manage those new businesses.  Great job Plan HQ!

http://www.planhq.com/

Andrew – Founder
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com/community