But, I have great news. If you understand this intrapreneurship strategy (a.k.a. the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap), then you can intentionally engineer your business in such a way that you can create successful new ventures predictably and repeatedly, by moving through the stages in this model.
In other words, you’ll no longer wonder if there’s actually a market for your new idea. You won’t have to cross your fingers and hope for customers. When you understand the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap, even pricing strategy and marketing messages will become automatic.
The Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap is the strategic foundation of everything we do here at Intrapreneur Nation. It’s the master template on which every other intrapreneurial and corporate entrepreneurship tactic is built.
It’s so important, we confidently make this bold statement:
The job of intrapreneurs is to steer new ideas systematically and rigorously through each stage of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap, ultimately developing them into new products, services, customers and growth.
In this chapter, we’ll start with a high-level look at the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap. Then we’ll dive into each of the 9 steps, talk about the tactics you’ll need to move your own ideas through the Roadmap, and review case studies so you can see it in action.
So, now that you understand why it’s important… here’s what the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap looks like:
Click the image above (or click here) to download your own copy of The Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap.
Now let’s walk through the 9-step process of crafting your own intrapreneurship strategy:
Before you can create a new product or service, you have to have an idea for your new product or service – right?
Well, maybe not actually.
While it’s true that most people do start with an idea (at least initially), there’s a very big and very important problem with ideas…
You see, even today, with everything we know about innovation and entrepreneurship, most new ventures still fail. Of those that do succeed, two thirds will drastically change their plan along the way. If you start with an idea, the effect is to lock everyone on your team into just one solution… and that makes it exceedingly difficult to change direction along the way to achieve success.
And success is what we’re all aiming for, right?
So instead of focusing on one idea, first take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Describe what you are hoping to achieve with your idea. What will the world look like if you are successful? How will people’s lives be better?
This is your vision. Your reason for doing what you do. Your WHY.
Rallying your intrapreneurial team around a vision rather than an idea is the first and most important step in reducing risk and maximizing potential for return for your corporate startup. And not only that, it allows you to make use of the full range of skills that your team possess to uncover problems and develop innovative solutions.
You now have a team and a vision, but before you can create a new product or service, you have to have a clear understanding of who you’re creating it for.
Well, that’s Step 2 in the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap.
Most people start with an idea, and if you have an idea, then you probably have a target market and a use case in mind. But, as a first-time intrapreneur…
The goal of this second step is to figure out exactly who you first and best customer should be. Try not to let your initial thoughts guide your thinking: be open minded and creative.
Steve Jobs got this right, but many companies still fail in this basic understanding.
Customers first and THEN technology. Not the other way around!
Start by dividing a large market into small groups based on shared characteristics. Your goal is to identify small groups with the highest probability of purchasing your product or buying into your vision.
There are many ways to do this, but one common way is using these four categories:
These four facets are most often used in B2C ventures. For B2B initiatives there’s a myriad of ways you could choose to segment your market. For instance, by company size, location, job role, seniority, years in role, government, non-profit, commercial and so on.
When you have your market segmented, you’ll want to compare the segments against one another to identify the one you’ll target first. We use five ranking factors to select the very best market to start with. Here they are…
Now, when you’ve done this you’ll have a list of the potential markets, you’ll have selected the ONE best market to target first, and you’ll be ready to move onto the step 3.
You now have a clear idea of the market you plan to serve – but how well do you really know the people that make up that market?
If we’re being honest – probably not that well at all.
So the next step is to start developing a truly deep understanding of your prospect.
Step 3, Problems and Opportunities, is where you start conversing with your prospects. You’ll want to get out into the real world and talk to them… and even better spend time observing them doing their jobs or going about their everyday lives. All with the intention of spotting unresolved problems and discovering new opportunities to improve the jobs they do.
Key things you’ll want to capture include your prospects’...
The relationship between pains, challenges, goals and values is an important one to understand and enables the intrapreneur to follow the impact through and understand the prospect in a deep and meaningful way.
The relationship between Pains, Challenges, Goals and Values.
Once you’ve collected this information, you’ll have a crystal-clear picture of your prospect, what motivates them, what concerns them and most importantly, where your opportunities lie.
The final part of Step 3 is to choose the ONE problem you’re going to solve for your prospect. It needs to be a problem you can solve 2-3x better than anyone else. It needs to align with your vision. And it needs to be in a market segment that you can feasibly enter and win.
After taking the time to choose a target market for your corporate startup, and then performing first-party research to get a full understanding of the problem, Step 4 of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap is to focus on solutions.
But you won’t be building anything yet.
Start by getting some inspiration. Review all your existing ideas, then take some time to research comparable problems.
You see, sometimes the best ideas already exist – they simply need to be repurposed, presented in the context of your target market, or combined with other ideas.
To explore comparable problems, you should research industries that are similar to, or related to your ideal customer’s industry. What are the similar business problems? What are the solutions? Try mashing them up with your own ideas and choosing the ones you think are the best.
Then, expand on those ideas in a solution sketch. The goal is to create a fully fleshed out solution that is thought to be the best. Ideally your sketch should include three ‘frames’ or ‘states’ of the concept to help illustrate how it works.
It does NOT need to be a work of art!
Every billion Dollar idea has to start somewhere, and this is exactly where Twitter started with Jack Dorsey’s original sketch.
The final part to this step is to go back to your prospects – the ones you already built a relationship with in Step 2 – and validate your best solution. Conduct structured solution interviews, get their feedback and importantly, ask them if they would buy.
You do need to be careful though, because as humans we naturally want to please. Many people you speak to might say they would buy your product or service – “yeah, I’d probably buy that” – because they don’t want to make you feel bad.
But when you’re truly onto a winner, you’ll instantly spot the difference. The conversation changes – the prospect will start to take the lead and ask YOU the questions. Questions like “How soon can I have it?” and “Can I pre-order now?”.
When that happens, you’ve got problem-solution fit!
At this point your prospect has articulated their problems, seen your solution sketch and enthusiastically and impatiently expressed their desire to buy.
The next step is to zero-in on your value proposition.
What’s a value proposition? It’s a single, clear and compelling statement of why you are different and worth paying attention to.
It’s vital to get right, because the single biggest problem you’ll have with your corporate start-up is getting people to pay attention to you. (And that applies to both customer prospects and internal stakeholder prospects.)
When you get a value proposition right, your solution moves from being desirable in your prospects’ eyes to necessary.
There are lots of ways to frame a value proposition, but one of the best ways to start is with this Value Proposition Formula:
The Value Proposition Formula
The great thing about this formula is that it clearly articulates the benefit, how much effort is required to get the benefit, and it quashes the primary objection people have.
The key to unlocking what’s different about your offering is deriving your value proposition from the number one problem you are solving – and you’ll find that a value proposition is most powerful of all when it’s written in your prospects’ own language.
This is why you should develop the value proposition after you’ve validated your solution sketch with prospects. The prospects from Step 4… the ones who are itching to buy right now… these are the people who will be able to describe your solution in ways you never could, in language that uniquely and instinctively appeals to your prospects.
Failure to build a significant path to customers is among the top reasons that new ventures fail. As an intrapreneur, your initial goal is to learn, so in the early stages it’s OK to rely on any channel that can get you in front of customers.
In Step 6, you’ll use what you’ve learned in the initial customer discovery process to plan a systematic route to market and develop a financial model for your corporate startup.
For most intrapreneurs, there are a multitude of channels available that could provide a route to a potential market. Having done your customer research in steps 1-3, you should already have a good idea of where your target audience spends their time.
Marketing Channels: Too much choice?
As a new venture, aim to pick just one primary marketing channel and focus all your efforts on that. Since the typical intrapreneurial team will tend to be under-resourced and time constrained, make your decision based on the following factors:
The financial model you’ll create is crucial to understanding the viability of your business. There are three parts to this:
By the end of Step 6, you’ll have your straw-man business model in place covering everything from problem to solution, customer to value proposition, revenues to costs.
The next stage is to validate your model… for real… with your first go-to-market launch.
Steps 7-9 of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap are all about validating your business model in the real world, and ultimately discovering the engine of growth that will allow you to scale.
As you start Step 7, MVP and Soft Launch, you’ll have sunk time, money and resources into researching your target market, devising your product or service, developing your marketing messages and crafting your business model.
It’s entirely possible that, up until this stage, you’re yet to make your first sale.
That’s perfectly acceptable… but it’s all about to change as you develop your first Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and take it to market.
An MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early adopters, and to provide feedback for future product development. The most important thing to understand about an MVP is that it must be a viable product. That is, someone should be willing to pay you for it!
An MVP is not the same as a technical prototype.
An MVP is designed to answer a fundamental business hypothesis. Most often that hypothesis is a variant of this question: If I build this will someone pay for it?
You’ll take your MVP to market, promoting it through the channels you defined in Step 6 and collect data about how your target market reacts to that MVP.
You should now have at least one happy customer who has made a purchase from you. The next stage in the Entrepreneurship Roadmap is to track the data around that purchase (and any data from prospects that failed to purchase) to see what you can learn from that.
In Step 8, you’ll look at the key metrics – the leading metrics that are indicators of future growth – and use that data to decide the very next step to take in your corporate entrepreneurship journey.
But the metrics to track may well surprise you.
At this stage you’re not interested in revenue or volume of sales. Both of those are lagging metrics.
Instead, the two most important metrics are:
Why these metrics? Well, these two data points are all about ensuring you have a product that users find useful and return to. When you get these two metrics cracked, revenue will naturally follow.
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool for marketers. When it first launched the founders discovered two leading metrics they could track that were strong indicators of future revenue. For activation, they discovered that people who connected more than one social media account were likely to become paying customers.
For retention, Buffer discovered that people who shared more than 15 pieces of content in their first 7 days were likely to become paying customers.
By tracking these two metrics and working to optimize them over time, they could ensure they were constantly focussing on the right things as a team – the things that would ultimately drive revenue, growth and success.
Launching a new product or service is an iterative journey. At the heart of that journey are Growth Experiments. These are experiments (or tests) that intrapreneurs are constantly running with the aim of shifting the dial on their Innovation Accounting metrics.
You see, most people think of product development as a linear process. But the reality is that it’s a messy path full of missteps and productive failures.
Intrapreneurship is an Iterative Journey
Growth Experiments provide the framework through which businesses can constantly deliver new value to customers and drive growth.
The Silicon Valley startups that pioneered these techniques and achieved explosive growth using them, continue to use them today as established billion dollar companies. Each day, for example, Facebook runs up to 10,000 experiments across its 2 billion users.
Growth Experiments work like this:
After each growth experiment comes a decision point. Do you pivot, persevere or scale?
When you choose to persevere, you make a change to your product – an optimization based on the data gathered and insights gained from your experiments. You overall strategy and vision for your venture remains the same. Optimizations occur frequently.
A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision. When you choose this path, you have concluded that despite all the optimizations you’ve tried the product and business model you have been pursuing is not going to yield the returns you’re looking for. It’s time to take a step back and look for a new strategy to move forward with.
If you choose to scale, then congratulations! You’ve found a target market, a product and a business model that work. The next step is to expand the customer base and bring your new venture out of the internal entrepreneurship function of your company and into one of its established operating divisions where it can benefit from the market reach and existing high-scale operational processes.
Once a business understands the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap, they can get so excited about the prospect of testing an idea early with real customers (and getting meaningful feedback) that they want to jump straight from initial idea to MVP in one step.
This is not possible.
The biggest single mistake intrapreneurs make is to try and solve a problem that is not worth solving...
Maybe the beachhead market is too difficult to enter, or the solution is too complex, or too costly. Or maybe the problem is simply not big enough.
All of these potential problems and more can be identified more cheaply and more effectively.
So instead of jumping straight to an MVP, you need to systematically and rigorously work through each step in the Customer Discovery and Business Model Design phases of the Roadmap. Not only will doing this minimize the risk of you from taking bad ideas to the market, but it will also give you a framework for planning your very next step when you get your initial data back from your MVP experiment.
In other words, only by working methodically through all nine steps of the Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap will you minimize your risk of failure and maximize your revenue opportunities.
The Corporate Entrepreneurship Roadmap is the foundation for all the tactics you’ll learn in this Guide. Whether you’re learning about ideation, business model design, lean startup analytics or any other topic, keep this concept in your mind.
Don’t worry though. We’ll review it several times so it stays fresh in your mind. And by the end of this Guide, it will likely be cemented into your thinking.
Now you understand what intrapreneurship is, and perhaps you think that you too could use some of that Silicon Valley entrepreneurial zeal (and hopefully exponential growth) in your organization. Well the very next step is to get trained and certified as an intrapreneur with the Intrapreneurship Mastery programme.
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