Go To Market Strategy
How do you plan to bring your business to market?
Sales & Market Potential
Management Team & Operating Plan
The Go-to-Market Strategy matches immediate opportunities with current capabilities, and sets goals based on the two. Your long-term vision likely has your business expanding into a number of products, services, markets or regions. The question to be answered by the Go-to-Market section of your business plan is, “Which immediate opportunities will your business be in a position to go after first so that your business can get some customers, generate revenue, become profitable, and position itself to stay in business for the long run?” The guidelines and examples in this section will serve as a template to show you how.
The Operating Plan, which is covered in the next section, will demonstrate that your business plan has taken into account everything that will be required to execute the go-to-market strategy.
Business Plan Outline for Go-To-Market Strategy Should Include:
- Priority Opportunities
- Current Capabilities
- How the Two (above) are Matched
It can be painful for entrepreneurs who have a vision for the long-term total solution, to focus instead on the near term. Even Microsoft didn’t do it all at once. First there was DOS, then Windows, then Word, Excel and eventually Office. Why did Microsoft start with the operating system? Because a customer (IBM) had a problem they were willing to pay someone to solve.
Priority Opportunities and Current Capabilities. Following the format of this Reference Guide, previous sections have called for each subtopic to be addressed separately. When writing your Go-to-Market Strategy, it is best to discuss priority opportunities and current capabilities. The key is to demonstrate that these two areas are well matched.
Priority opportunities are those needs or pains of customers that they would be willing to pay you to solve right now, and which your current capabilities would allow you to address, quickly or immediately. “Current” can also take into account the capabilities that are immediately within your grasp, once funded. For example, if having two more delivery vehicles would allow your business to open up a new market, and your funding would provide for those vehicles, then serving this market would be considered to be within your current capabilities.
Winning Go-to-Market Strategies are best explained by giving some examples. In Section 2: Products or Services, we used an example of a bakery that would provide pastries, ready-made sandwiches, and breads & dinner rolls. The unique selling proposition was that the bakery was located near several office complexes, and its location saved its customers time by enabling them to buy fresh baked goods for dinner or the next morning’s breakfast, while they were taking their lunch break at work. As it turns out, there were two types of equipment required for baking breads and making donuts. The equipment, in addition to all the other startup costs, was very expensive. Even more challenging, the retail site that was key to the convenient for customers factor was not large enough to support all of the equipment.
Here is a summary of our bakery owner’s go-to-market strategy:
When we open, we will offer fresh made sandwiches of the highest quality. We will buy our bread daily from a commercial baker that is not in the retail business. Our customers will gladly pay us today to provide fast, convenient, quality lunches. While our revenue won’t be as high, neither will our expenses. Our business plan shows that we can be profitable in year one as a sandwich shop.
Our landlord has a tenant in the same shopping center, whose lease expires in 15 months. We have negotiated an option on the space if we rent the currently available location. We will be building up our customer base during this time and letting our customers know about our expansion as the time draws closer. After twelve months of operation, we will have established a loyal clientele and be ready to secure additional funding, take on the new space, and expand our product offerings. We expect with this plan, the new equipment will be funded partially from current operations. This go-to-market strategy lets us make money today by solving an immediate customer need, while positioning us for future growth.
This is a banker’s dream come true. The borrower has an immediate strategy for starting a small profitable business, with a small loan. Then, the business will demonstrate whether or not it can execute as planned. If the business proves to be a winner, it will still want to borrow more money to expand the business. This time, however, the business will have customers, a track record, and a favorable credit history with the bank. Perfect!
Another example: A software services startup company wanted to offer companies end-to-end ecommerce solutions. As a small company with limited staff and no real client references, it was going to have difficulty landing new clients who would trust the firm to handle their complete ecommerce requirements. The sales cycles were long and the bids usually went to larger, more established firms. In looking carefully at their current capabilities and immediate opportunities, the founders noted that they had developed a superior “shopping cart” solution, which was an important component of a total ecommerce offering. Because their shopping cart integrated so seamlessly with numerous other ecommerce technologies, they identified this as an immediate opportunity. Over the next year, their shopping cart component was sold to over 100 businesses. By using this go-to-market strategy, the company became profitable, established a solid reputation in the marketplace, and created a platform for expanding into a broader ecommerce offering.
Identify the immediate opportunities for your business that will allow you to gain a profitable foothold in the market. Describe how these opportunities are immediate and why customers will buy from you today. Further, show how you will go after this slice of the market and use it to establish and then expand your business.
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