What is a Business Roadmap? (Explanation + Examples)

By Matt Mazur · Last updated March 3, 2022

Business roadmaps visually reflect where a business is headed by planning out sound strategies complete with goals and tactics to move them in the right direction.

By providing a high-level visualization of the big picture, a business roadmap establishes project deliverables and requirements from a top-down perspective.

A quality and communicative business roadmap includes key business growth initiatives and their deadlines.

Stakeholders often refer to business roadmaps to stay in the loop with company strategic direction and track the progress of department initiatives.

Consider the following when creating a roadmap for your business:

  • What are your business’ long term goals?
  • How quickly do you want to achieve those goals?
  • What is it going to take to get the job done?

Why Do You Need a Business Roadmap?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and another 50% fail in their first five years.

With numbers that high, it’s easy to see why a business roadmap is important.

Without a firm, concrete plan in place – one that thoroughly and properly outlines your company’s vision – failure is almost certain.

Especially when it comes to business, you can’t walk into the situation with your eyes closed. From start to finish, there needs to be a plan in place.

Creating a business roadmap helps not only you and your staff but also your investors and consumers. Business roadmaps make it easy to see where you are now, and where you’re going in the near (and not so near) future.

With a broad view of the project, you can break each section down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Each piece is then broken down into even more specific goals. Further still, each goal has a certain set of actions needed to achieve that goal.

With this approach, you can make sure you’re working towards achieving your vision and growing the company without becoming overwhelmed.

See, that’s where most businesses fall apart. They have big aspirations, but they don’t have a sound plan in place, and they go under.

The 6 Crucial Components of Creating a Great Business Roadmap

Follow these steps before you create a business roadmap, and you'll be in good shape:

Outline Your Vision

Create a clear outline of your overall vision for the business. This is something you and your employees should always keep in mind.

Understand Your Customer

Consider how you’re giving value to your customer base, and make sure your business roadmap aligns with that. Illustrating this will help customers identify with your mission. First focus on how you will satisfy the needs of your customer base while also ensuring the business is profitable.

Define Your Goals

Clearly outlining your goals is of the utmost importance, as this is how you will track your progress and determine your performance along the way.

Keep your vision and customer in mind when defining your goals, as they’re meant to track your progress. If you want to go from A to Z, first you need to complete B, C, D, etc.

Create Your Strategies

Now that you have your goals outlined, it’s time to create strategies that you can implement to accomplish those goals.

Your goals may be broken up into different sections, each handled by a separate team (sales, marketing, R&D, etc.)

In that case, create a different strategy for each piece of the puzzle. This approach will ensure your roadmap is executed smoothly, turning your business into a well-oiled machine.

Develop Your Tactics & Outline Your Milestones

With your strategies in place, now you can create effective tactics to execute them.

This step is important, so take your time here - make sure each action is clearly outlined. It’s also important to develop a method you can use to measure success.

Think of the KPIs you’re going to use to monitor your progress. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell if your strategy is working or not. Business roadmaps will often fail because this part of the process was not done properly (or thoroughly).

Anticipate Hiccups

No matter how well you do with the steps outlined above, everything isn’t going to go according to plan. That’s okay, just make sure you’re prepared to deal with hiccups and setbacks along the way.

Business Roadmap Types (with Examples)

There are two main types of business roadmaps that we’re going to cover in this post:

Development Roadmap

If you want to catapult your business towards success – in other words, ultra-fast growth by the end of the year – a business development roadmap is a must.

In essence, a development roadmap clearly outlines the fundamentals that are necessary for growth in a timely manner.

You can start by mapping out what you want to accomplish, and by when. Next, create specific milestones that need to be met along the way. These milestones will be used to measure progress.

Lastly, create an action plan for you and your team. Each action should have a specific purpose that aligns with your milestone and of course, your end goal.

Your sales, marketing, and product development teams can all benefit from a development roadmap, and we highly suggest you implement one in every aspect of your business.

For instance, the marketing team can use this type of roadmap to better understand how many deals they need to close in order to be on track.

Likewise, the marketing team can get a better sense of how many leads they need in order to set up their sales team for success. You get the picture.

Startup Roadmaps

Business roadmaps are probably best for startups, as they can be used to map out their company’s vision from start to finish.

Having a concrete plan in place is vital if you want to turn a mere business idea into a financially viable plan.

Consider the fact that since your company is new, and the company's realities (budgets, priorities) will shift frequently.

Keep this in mind when planning your roadmap – it will help you keep the big picture in mind, but know that some pieces of your roadmap might change along the way.

Deciding which elements to include in your startup roadmap can be challenging. We recommend focusing on adding short-term strategic plans that align with your overall goal.

Your business is new and needs short term solutions that work towards long term growth.

Keep it simple stupid. Your first business roadmap doesn't have to be fancy. The point is that you're starting the process of growing your organization.

You can outline the initial roadmap for the growth plan on something as simple as a piece of paper.

However, if you want to make a simple startup roadmap that ALSO looks great, you can use Preceden timeline maker. It’s an online tool that will help you create a professional roadmap in minutes.