Enloop site offers feedback on small-biz business plans

By entering financials and strategy assumptions, managers can get pointers about whether they are taking their company in the right (investor-ready) direction.

Most small-business owners aren’t born chief financial officers. Or chief marketing officers. Or chief technology officers, for that matter. But Web start-up Enloop is hoping to help them become better chief operating officers.

The site, founded by small-business start-up advisor Cynthia McCahon (also the founder of SamplePlan.com), helps entrepreneurs and small-business owners create more formal business plans, and then provides feedback on how to manage to that plan more effectively.

“In my years of trying to help SMBs get founded, what I saw repeatedly was the fact that families that tried to launch a business would not have the academic training to understand the forecasts and [they would] not understand the risks that an underwriter would look at,” McCahon said. “People would plunge ahead.”

Enloop, in essence, aims to help people make more educated plunges. In order to create a plan, the small business is asked to enter information through a series of templates. The information can be used to create pro forma financial reports. Enloop has also come up with a scoring system called the Enloop Performance Score, that will provide feedback about a business’ chances for success or failure – based on an analysis of the information that has been entered. Change some variable, and the Enloop Performance Score likewise changes.

Elliot Tomaeno, Enloop’s director of communications, said that the site has attracted more than 7,000 members since its beta launch in May. The service has attracted many restaurants and personal services businesses with 1 to 10 employees, although a broad range of businesses is supported, he said. One note of caution: The site technically doesn't offer advice for businesses outside the United States, because it hasn't programmed for all the various tax laws and regulatory policies. Still, about 15 percent of the site's visitors come from outside U.S. borders.

There are three subscription levels offered by Enloop. The basic service is free, offering feedback and metrics related to one plan. An Advanced plan costs $9.95 per month, allowing a business owner to manage up to three plans. The Professional option, at $39.95 per month, lets someone manage an unlimited number of plans. That level would be used, typically, by an accountant or business consultant advising more than one business client on strategy.