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FAQ's

What are the differences between an internal and an external business plan?

How long does an internal business plan have to be?

What does an internal business plan consultant do and how can they help me?

I run a department. Would an internal business plan be appropriate for me?

I have bought a book on external business plans. Will it be any use in writing an internal business plan?

 

 

What are the differences between an internal and an external business plan?


These are some of the differences between the two sorts of business plans:

  • internal business plans can be shorter. As your audience is yourself, fellow managers or your employees, you don't need to put in so much detail as you would for outsiders who don't know your business

  • internal business plans can be more dispassionate. You don't need to disguise unhelpful facts that may put off investors. You need to see reality as it is so you can deal with any problems the business is facing

  • internal business plans are more practical and detailed. You will look at some of your day-to-day operational issues that can have a serious impact on the bottom line. Often these wouldn't be relevant for an external business plan

  • internal business plans focus more on problem-solving. An internal business plan should investigate what problems are facing the business and then develop solutions to them

  • internal business plans are more action-orientated. Often external business plans get left in a drawer or a filing cabinet once the finance has been raised. The whole point of an internal business plan is to identify what action needs to be taken.

    A good internal business plan will identify who needs to do what by when and what resources they require. It should also be written in a format that makes it easy to implement strategies

  • internal business plans cost less. Because they are shorter, an internal business plan will take up less of your time and, if you are involving a consultant, you will use less of their time

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How long does an internal business plan have to be?


The length of an internal business plan firstly depends on how much time you have. I would say that any plan is better than no plan because it will start you on the planning process. So if you only have an hour to jot down your key issues and what needs to be done about them, that is better than nothing.

However I believe that you will see more benefits if you can spend more time on your plan and, just as importantly, return to it regularly to update it and assess progress.

The length will also be determined by who it is for. If it is just for yourself or you want a simple summary to show to your staff, then a one page plan might be fine. If it's going to be prepared or seen by managers, then a longer one might be more appropriate.

Of course the length of the plan will also depend on the size and the complexity of your business and how much information you have to put in the plan.

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What does an internal business plan consultant do and how can they help me?


An internal business plan consultant will help you to systematically look at all the aspects of your business by providing a framework to analyse and investigate what is going on.

This will be done through face-to-face and telephone conversations with you and your staff and getting key personnel to write replies to questions about important aspects of the business.

Among other things an internal business plan consultant will help you to:

  • become clear about what is getting in the way of your business's progress so that you can work out how to eliminate or surmount those blocks
     

  • understand how all the different areas of a business's activities are contributing (or not) to its ultimate goals
     
  • help you to assess the strategies you are using and whether or not they are effective
     
  • develop an implementation plan so that you can get going on all the things necessary to make your business more successful

  • develop a clear idea of the strategic direction of the business that can be easily explained to staff, suppliers and investors

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I run a department. Would an internal business plan be appropriate for me?


Yes, developing an internal business plan can be just as valuable for a department or a team as for a whole business. Obviously however there will be differences and it is important to be flexible to get the best results.

For example, the customers of a department may not be external to the company but instead be other departments. Similarly a key part of your marketing plan may be on how to communicate the value the department is providing so that your budget is increased in the next budgeting round.

For more information, click here.

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I have bought a book on external business plans. Will it be any use in writing an internal business plan?

The answer is both yes and no! All business plans have much in common, whether they are for external or internal use and so you should be able to learn a great deal from your book.

However there are significant differences between the two sorts of plan as I have outlined above and your book may not focus on them.

There is a great shortage of resources on internal business plans at the moment but it is something Miller Consulting hopes to remedy.

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© Francis Miller 2001-2008