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The 21st century executive

The One-hour Business Roadmap

business roadmap

Do you really need a business roadmap to be successful? While some organizations can begin generating revenue from day one without significant planning, that isn’t the case for most companies. Studies have shown that businesses that invest in planning grow 30% faster than those that don’t.

As the culmination of strategic planning, a business roadmap can be one of the most important documents you’ll ever put together for your organization. Unlike lengthy business plans, your business roadmap is centered on the big picture. While you will include key milestones and financial feasibility, a roadmap provides insight for potential investors and team members into your vision for the business.

The best part is that business roadmaps are not only shorter than a traditional plan, but they may take less time to put together. Here is everything you need to put together your first business roadmap draft in as little as one hour.

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How to build a business roadmap

Most likely, you’ve been thinking about your business for a while. This means you probably have a rough outline of the core details for your startup or organization, at least in your mind. 

To get started building your roadmap, you can use anything for the first draft – from a paper and pen to an online platform. The key is that it should be easy for you to understand and edit later. 

Begin with the end in mind

The first thing to know is what you want to achieve within the next five years. Projecting your business too far into the future is risky – after all, it will be impossible to account for potential market shifts the further out you forecast.

Furthermore, the most important time period for you to think about in regards to your business is what you can do now. 

You may want to consider the following questions when refining your long-term objective:

  • What problem does your business solve?
  • What resources and funding are you starting out with?
  • What are reasonable potential revenue increases?
  • Are you expecting to expand? This includes adding employees, locations, products, or other resources.
  • What are your main strategies for customer acquisition and retention?
  • What social causes do you want to link your brand with?
  • How do you want your business to be perceived by the public?

What you need  to achieve your goal

Next, you’ll want to break down these factors into smaller, short-term goals. These are your milestones and will take up the majority of your roadmap. Make sure to give yourself approximate and reasonable timelines and costs for each goal. As a rule of thumb, it can help to estimate the amount of time and resources for a specific goal and add 20% to adjust for potential delays. 

In this step, you will take the information from the previous questions and create a strategic plan based on your answers. The resulting list will provide investors or stakeholders with your logic about how you see your organization growing and moving forward. 

Who should be involved

Finally, once you have outlined your smaller goals and have a general timeline and the financials prepared, you should begin to account for people. Who will you need to make this happen? Based on this information, you may be able to leverage current team members or prioritize certain roles in the recruiting process. 

Top four business roadmap mistakes

While writing a business roadmap is faster than a traditional business plan, it isn’t necessarily easier. Since the format is much shorter than other business documents, it’s easy to make a mistake

Here are our top four mistakes entrepreneurs and business owners tend to make:

  • Not adding in buffers – We mentioned this earlier, but ideally, you want to include buffers for financials and timelines. This will allow you to better manage expectations and adapt to delays or other unexpected events.
  • Not being flexible  – A business roadmap is supposed to help you stay on task. Failing to adjust your plan to market changes, customer feedback, and other external factors can cause you to lose momentum and stagnate. While you want to be able to achieve key milestones, you should also be flexible when necessary.
  • Not having specific goals – If you aren’t specific enough with your smaller goals, it will be close to impossible to achieve them. Remember, for each goal, you will want to use a quantifiable milestone.
  • Not involving key stakeholders – You will want to include all major stakeholders in reviewing your plan and making adjustments. This will ensure that your timelines are feasible, and prevent you from overlooking other factors or potential risks. 

Next steps

A business roadmap instills trust and provides a measuring stick for you to gauge your success. Taking an hour to draft your initial roadmap will do wonders for your business planning. Not only will it help you conceptualize your business plan in more concrete terms, but a roadmap will help others understand your long-term vision for your organization. 

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About the author
Elena Leralta

Working as Foreworth’s Chief Financial Officer, Elena possesses a wealth of knowledge on business management and finance owing to her over 20 years of experience working in the financial sector.

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