Posted on September 4, 2019 by dragonspitapothecary
Before GPS in cars, planning a trip meant bringing out acordian folded paper maps or sometimes even an atlas book containing several maps. These would be spread across tables and held down with notepads, pens, highlighters and tourist books earmarked with interesting facts about towns and highlights worth stopping to visit. With all the information on the table, the process of plotting a course would begin with discussions about what was the best route, how to avoid known high traffic areas and if you should follow the same route on your return trip home.
The maps would soon be highlighted with the proposed route and marked along the way with bright pens of proposed stops along the way. These marks would represent fun rest stops, beautiful scenic areas, landmarks and historical sites, good food and decent places to lodge. Planning a trip took hours, sometimes days and weeks to come up with the perfect route leading to the ideal trip. It was part of the fun of the trip and as important as what to pack and how to load the car.
Your Business Roadmap
Regardless of size of company, number of employees, number of floors and elevators all companies have a roadmap. These too are maps. They are strategic documents outlining a route a company plans to take and identifies what is on the horizon coming up next as well as what is further out. A roadmap is more than just the company’s goals, it is also a connection between large goals and steps necessary to achieving those goals. It is a planned route and without a roadmap we would be lost with limited vision and no plan to execute from in achieving success.
I have a small business of just my husband and I. At times it is quite a bit of work putting together all the pieces necessary to build and grow this small business but we approach and apply the tasks the same as any business owner or senior leader in a major corporation would do. We have a roadmap. It may not be as elaborate and it is not printed on pretty paper but nonetheless we have one and it is living artifact of this small business that helps keep focus where we need it and identifies where we need help figuring out complex problems. It is something I actually carried in my purse with me everywhere I went and would look at while traveling for my professional career job. I would look at it in airports on a layover or in my hotel after a long hard day. It started as a list of what I didn’t want anymore in my working life and evolved into a roadmap I could act on to change how I worked. Our roadmap for Dragonspit Apothecary & Crafts is our vision, goals and actionable steps to achieving what we desire for this business. It is a representation of where we want it to go and how to get there. It is our planned route.
Your business needs a roadmap too. Unlike planning a trip using GPS or paper maps we have a blank piece of paper. We start by writing. Write what you don’t want anymore like I did or start with what you do want. What is important to you and what that look like. Add in how it feels and even what it tastes like. Do we even know what the sweet taste of success feels like against our tongue? How will we know when we have actually made it to the desired target if we have not vision for how to get there?
Build your roadmap from that point of deep thought and reflection. Get down where to minute details to the point you feel like you are already there. Use labels, adjectives, feelings and smells of what it feels like and looks like when we reach that ultimate end of our curent roadmap. Then take that incredibly beautiful description of this dreamy place full of warmth, happiness and fulfillment and figure out how to get there.
Mark on your roadmap what is along the way as a major milemarker that will tell us how far we have come as well as give us a welcome respite from the dusty road and daily grind of putting in miles of effort, time and money into our business. Locate places of interest, off beaten lesser known places and even beautiful oasis locations that are well known and all worth our time to explore and learn from. Our business roadmap will contain all the best of what we want in our business and a route to help us achieve those things.
A business roadmap is much like a trip map. It is a special document that is referred to often, folded and refolded until the creases become worn and slightly torn. Instead of tourist books we have books like personal development, business strategy and goal writing dog-eared and worn from references and information needed to enhance and enrich our roadmap development. That simple piece of paper or lined notepad soon emerges with the aspirations, goals, dreams, thoughts and pursuits of your business.
I really get irritated when a GPS system starts repeating the word “recalculating” or “make a legal U-turn.” It is usually in situations where I know where I am going and the GPS has not caught up to realizing there is a different route than what is proposed in the technology of the GPS. I push ahead all the while trying to press buttons on the dashboard to stop the incessant repeat warnings that I am going the wrong way.
In business, there will be lots of warning sites to use caution, limit your risk and go a different way. Sometimes these warnings need to be heeded and other times we need to press on. Knowing when to heed and when to press is a critical business skill that sometimes simply instinct and luck.
The beauty of having your own business is getting to make these core decision when you see or hear a warning. Is it the right move to press forward and see what happens? Is it better to backtrack and replan a different route? Is it worth taking a break and seeing if conditions change before trying to move forward? Your ability to assess, evaluate, analyze and make decisions will be one of your biggest assests in your business. The decisions you make will influence your roadmap.
I can’t advise you on what the right decision is in these situations. Each situation is different and each business and business owner is different. It’s good to get advise when you need it but at the end of the day you must be the one to make that ultimate decision. You must execute on that decision and have confidence it was the best choice you could have made based on the information, advise and roadmap details you have available at that time. Sometimes you’ll make the wrong decision. Sometimes you will make the right one. Both are part of the learning process in business and life and both are part of the roapmap experience that will lead you to the success you desire.
Annual Plans are Mini Roadmaps
An annual plan is a yearly outline of what you anticipate to work on, build, create, and what results you want to see for the coming year. These are short term documents spanning a 12 or 6 month period of time. It is what I call a mini-roadmap reflecting a targeted short term plan for your business. These too are important documents to have and spend time drafting. There are a couple reasons this document is important.
First, your annual plan is your interim goal set that plays into the larger roadmap vision of your business. The annual plan can be reaching a milemarker of success that is on your larger roadmap or it can be a series of tasks that will support progressing your business overall. For instance perhaps your annual plan contains work to build a social media presence. The results of that may not be something that directly aligns to your larger roadmap but the ability to use that result influences and impacts your business to be able to expand reach and connect with your desired customers. Without a social media presence you may not reach a milemarker on your roadmap.
Secondly, the annual planning process helps you support, reconfirm and recommit to your roadmap. It helps you revisit your progress on a micro level to see if you have the right tasks defined to achieve reaching the larger milemarkers. An annual plan should not replace or be used instead of a roadmap. Your annual plan is a guidepost and your roadmap is the overall atlast of where you are going.
Interested in more?
Spending the time creating a roadmap is key to having a focus that will lead you to success in your business. Building these maps may seem like it’s not adding value when you are a business of one person but it is more powerful than any vision board. Your roadmap is your vision in action and will be your tool to help you when you feel lost, when things are not going well and helping you realize just how far you really have come.
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