Review of the
Internal Business Plan Manual in the April 2002 issue of Women's
Enterprise magazine -
Reproduced courtesy of WE-Women's Enterprise
Best Laid Plans
- A British Consultant and Author Demystifies the Internal Business
by Pat Kriska
know their companies are not realizing their full potential, but
they are so busy with the day-to-day business that they never
stop to create a plan for the future. Today every entrepreneur
creates a business plan at the start of a business, if for no
other reason that the banker or investor requires it. Once the
funding is secured the business plan often goes onto a bookshelf
or into the desk drawer, never to be seen again.
In case after
case, however, it has been clearly demonstrated that a company
benefits tremendously from an internal business plan used to map
and measure direction and growth. The biggest challenge
for the entrepreneur seems to be taking the time to create that
and author Francis Miller has devised a process for writing an
internal business plan that makes the procedures virtually painless.
He has demystified the development of the internal planning document
with a well-written, easy-to-follow online manual. "I
decided to focus the manual on internal business plans because
it's such a neglected area," Miller says. "Most of the
business plan resources focus on start-ups or on raising external
finance, whereas most businesses need a plan to help them develop
of Miller's approach lies in his ability to break the project
into a series of exercises delineated with easy-to-follow graphics
In his book, The
Internal Business Plan Manual: 7 Steps to Success, Miller contends
that, in most cases, a full "standard" business plan
is not necessary for the ongoing enterprise. "Many people
think of a business plan as the 20- to 30-page document that you
would show to an external investor and that puts them off. However,
an ongoing business plan could be as short as two to four pages.
I think it's vital to help people realize that planning isn't
as difficult as they might imagine."
out that the entrepreneur may choose to focus on areas of the
company that need development and omit the non-essential, thereby
creating a plan that is a truly useful tool and doesn't consume
too much time or too many resources to produce. "Internal
business plans cost less", Miller notes. "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."
his ability to take ideas that might seem complex to the uninitiated,
or too time-consuming to ponder for the harried CEO with little
time to think, much less write a business plan, and divide it
into seven manageable steps. Miller further breaks those seven
steps down into tables and graphics making it easy to see
and understand quickly just what is needed to complete a particular
portion of the plan.
business plan are action-orientated", states Miller. "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
The first of his
seven steps is "Develop Your Business Identity". In
this section, the book addresses company vision, mission, values
and standards. Step 2, "Analyzing Your External Environment",
deals with a thorough analysis of the market, the competition,
suppliers and other external factors such as political or economic
issues that may impact the business. In this section, Miller includes
a number of useful tables that help the entrepreneur visualize
what is needed for thorough external analysis. Here he also
includes a visual that is, in itself, worth the price of the book
because it so clearly sums up the external factors.
Step 3 covers the
"internal environment". This chapter helps the entrepreneur
integrate the vision, mission, values and standards with the present
business opportunity and analyze how the business is performing
in all areas. In this step strategic objectives, key success
factors and key performance indicators are identified.
Once these analyses
are complete, the business is ready for Step 4, developing an
"action plan" to realize the key success factors. In
Step 5 the entrepreneur implements the business plan, followed
by Steps 6 and 7, assessing progress and making adjustments, and
finally, reviewing the plan.
can be found at www.miller-consulting.co.uk. Here you will find
links to information on both internal and external business plans
and a wealth of useful resources. You will also be given an
opportunity to subscribe to Miller's informative e-mail newsletter.
Check it out. No matter where your business is located, you can
benefit from this British consultant's insight and approach.
Pat Kriska is
Associate Director of the BBA program and teaches entrepreneurship
in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University
The Manual costs £19.95.
For more information about it, go
to the Manual page.