Need a strategic business roadmap to get your startup off the ground? Here's a 6-step process to help you get started!
You've launched your startup, and you're excited to hit the ground running. Now what? Research shows that approximately 17 percent of startups fail because they have no written formal business plan. Without an informed strategy to market and sell, your startup faces an uphill battle — regardless of service or product quality.
- You can growth-hack when you're in the concept stage.
- As you start to achieve initial product-market fit, you need to have a strategic roadmap for your business.
- A business plan gives you a metric to gauge and adapt to changing circumstances.
Why You Need a Strategic Roadmap for Your Business Plan
Your business roadmap is a living set of documents that maps out every detail of your business and its strategy:
- Targeted market
- Marketing strategy
- How much funding you need and how to get it
- What you need (leases, permits, etc.) to run your business and sell your services/products
Outlining a strategic business roadmap is crucial. It addresses all the nitty-gritty details before launching. It also helps you to avoid common pitfalls that cause many startups to fail within their first year.
6 Steps to Building a Strategic Business Roadmap for Your Startup
When building your strategic business roadmap, "nimble and lean" are terms that don't apply.
The more time and detail your team puts into your business roadmap, the better off you'll be in the long run.
Your roadmap guides your team through every step of building and maintaining your business. It will also identify what is working and what isn't — allowing you to make changes as needed.
Growth hacking may be an appealing choice for startups looking for massive growth with little investment. However, it will never replace a quality strategic business roadmap when it comes to seeing real long-term success.
Not sure how to start building your business roadmap? Here are a few easy steps to get you started.
1. Define Your Business
You might have already addressed this step when you were putting together your initial brand concept. Now, it's time to take it to the next level. In this step, you'll want to:
- Identify who your brand is
- What your brand's mission is and its core values
- Detail your brand's individual business goals and how you'll reach each one of them.
2. Carefully Define Your Target Market
The #1 cause of new startup failures is the lack of market need.
To avoid this pitfall, take adequate time to outline:
- Who your ideal prospect is
- What they're looking for (what they may be struggling with or in need of)
- How you can deliver that solution
When pitching a new business relationship, you need to make sure you are in front of the right individual — the "decision maker." With your prospect persona at the ready, it will be easy to identify who the "decision maker" is within a company.
3. Detail Your Product or Service
Once you know who you're marketing to and what they are looking for, it's time to address their needs. To do this, you must create a product/services section of your business roadmap, and it needs to answer several questions, including:
- Does this product/service exist?
- If it does, how is yours different from competitors?
- What is the timeline of bringing these products/services to the market?
- How will you obtain your product/services?
- How will you supply your product/services to the market?
- Will these products/services bring opportunities for future products/services?
These questions need answers before you pitch to investors or your B2B prospects.
4. Assemble Your Team
The most successful sales roadmap includes the input from many functional roles and stakeholders, not just your sales team.
You want to outline each touchpoint required to create a stellar product or service and market it successfully to the right prospects.
Consider including your:
- Sales team
- Marketing team
- IT team
- Customer service team
Once you have assembled your team, assign each member a task so they know what they are responsible for once the product or service launches.
5. Detail the B2B Customer Journey
You need to map out your B2B customer journey. This ensures that your marketing and sales teams are on the same page. A B2B customer journey needs to include every step of the buyer's journey:
- Problem identification – The prospect admits to having a "problem" and decides to find a solution.
- Solution exploration – The prospect starts researching different solutions to their problem.
- Requirements building – As the prospect starts identifying potential businesses with solutions to their problem, they begin to list their "requirements." You need to meet these requirements for them to buy your product/solution.
- Supplier selection – If you answer all the prospect's questions and concerns to their liking, they'll make their final purchasing decision.
Keep in mind that the B2B customer journey isn't linear. It crisscrosses across stages as prospects conduct their research and start reaching out to vendors.
6. Detail Your Financial Plan
Finally, you need to lay out your financial plan. Outline your funding plan, business costs, and your revenue projections. Items that belong in your financial plan include:
- Initial startup cost
- Cost of developing your product or service
- Allocated spending for each department
- Funding requests necessary if/when you pitch to prospective investors
- Financial projections — including predicted profits and losses
Take Your Idea from Concept to a Strategic Execution Roadmap
The goal of any startup is to see their brilliant concept become a reality. To do so, you need to have a detailed strategic roadmap ready to go. An alternative to the six steps outlined above is creating a strategic execution roadmap using The Goal Pyramid.