Planning for your Internal Business Plan by Francis Miller

I can hear the groans already. Not only are you being told to write a internal business plan but here is someone suggesting that you need to plan for your plan as well. Isn't that taking things too far?

There is a conundrum in business planning. Most people know that a business plan is very important for their business's success but far fewer actually get on and write one.

One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that people aren't given enough help with the process of writing one.

All the business plan books and websites will give you lots of information (and sometimes far too much of it) on what needs to go in the plan. However few can help with the business of writing your plan.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with some help on how to complete your business plan.

7 Step Project Plan

1. What is your motivation? Firstly you need to decide why you want an internal business plan. Of course all your advisers will tell you about the need for one but most people don't do things because other people tell them to.

So ask yourself: how are I going to gain from having a business plan? Do you want to make your start-up a success? Do you want to make your existing business more profitable? Do you just want your work life to run more smoothly?

If you understand the clear and tangible benefits that an internal business plan will bring you, then you are going to be motivated to write it.

2. What are your priorities? Even though you are now motivated to do your business plan, there are going to be other demands on your time that will also give you benefits.

Therefore you need to rank your priorities and decide which of your potential activities will give you the most benefits. However, if you decide that an internal business plan is not an immediate priority, it is important not to forget about it entirely.

3. Committing your time. There's a saying that goes "things don't get done if people don't do them". It's a simple truth but it's also one that is very easy to forget.

We've all had goals that we have never achieved because we haven't spent the necessary time on them. Therefore, if writing an internal business plan is really one of your priorities, you need to make the necessary time commitment to it.

One way to do this is to treat the project like a series of meetings with your most important client. Block out the time you need to work on your plan in your diary or personal organizer or on Outlook.

And if you need to cancel one of your sessions, then re-arrange it as soon as possible just as you would with your most important client.

4. Developing your project plan. Decide on the progression of your project by asking these questions:

- what is it that you want to end up with? Is it a simple one page plan that will lay out your key strategies and activities for the next year or a more detailed document that you can show to your managers and staff?

- when do you need to finish the project? Do you need your plan finished, for example, so that you can get on with the annual budgeting process. Even if you are doing it for yourself, I would recommend setting a deadline. Otherwise it's too easy to keep on postponing it ad infinitum

- what are the actions you need to take to complete your plan? Do you need to research new information, to liaise with colleagues or to have some quiet time to develop your vision?

- are there any potential obstacles that might stop the project? It's always best to identify these at the beginning so that you can take avoiding action in advance.

5. Outline your plan. Once you are clear on what needs to done and by when, you need to develop a timetable. It's important here to be very practical about how long different activities are going to take and how you can fit these in with other demands on your time.

6. Get on and do it.

7. Check on progress. It's easy to start off with good intentions and then to find that the timetable's slipped because other activities have required your attention.

This is particularly the case if you're trying to write a business plan on your own. I find that it can be useful to make a commitment about what you want to achieve and when to a friend or colleague, even if they are not directly involved in the project.

Making such a commitment to someone else makes it less easy to forget or ignore than if you make it just to yourself.

Also helpful is to e-mail this other person weekly with what you have achieved in the past week and what you want to achieve in the following week.

In conclusion, it's important to emphasize that, if you treat your business plan as a project that needs to be planned properly, then you are much more likely to complete it.



© Francis Miller 2001-2008