How to Write a Business Narrative
You have an idea. Not just any idea, either. You have an idea about a business venture that you think could work to serve your community and prove financially successful. You’ve seen a clear gap in some service, and now you want to move forward and get a plan out to investors. The best way to begin with that is to write down your business narrative.
The business narrative is an extremely powerful way to reach and interact with an audience. After all, people love stories. Books, movies and even video games reach people on a deeper level in part because they handle a narrative well.
Given the right narrative, you can not only create interest in your business project, but you can forge an emotional connection. This emotional connection can, in some instances, be the one thing that sets you apart from your competition.
Another thing that the narrative accomplishes is solidifying your thoughts into a clear message and importantly, a voice. The voice of your company and your brand can evolve, and what you begin with does not have to be what you end with. However, you still need to present your company, and a clear narrative is the best way to do that.
So how do you write a business narrative? Read on to follow an entrepreneur on their journey to write a business narrative.
Computers and cell phones have countless apps and programs that allow you to take notes, storyboard and visualize. You don’t need to buy a fancy project management program to get started. Instead, you can utilize a whiteboard, chalkboard or even old-fashioned pen and paper. Give yourself the space that you need to start brainstorming.
Starting to brainstorm can feel like a daunting process. Our sample entrepreneur doesn’t have access to all of the project management programs that they could use, and using a notepad system online doesn’t seem to work for them. Instead, they cleared off space in their living room and got out Post-It notes to begin writing.
Our sample entrepreneur wrote about the evident lack of purple llamas in their community. They drew a llama on a Post-It note and put it at eye level. Then, any word that came to them for the next hour got written on a Post-It and found a place on the wall.
This included the benefits that purple llamas brought to other similar communities, festivals and, of course, llama appreciation days. After several hours, the entrepreneur looked at all of these Post-Its; they represented the problems that the llama delivery service was meant to solve.
Next, the entrepreneur selected another color of Post-It notes and then began to write down all the words and thoughts about how their llama delivery service could solve the lack of purple llamas in their community. Llama maintenance, rental and pay-to-own llamas were the first things to come to mind. From there, they also started thinking about the logistics of their company.
Finally, they began to write about the big question on the third color of Post-It: the why. They talked about growing up close to llamas, and how the festival brought the community together. They also talked about how much llama access mattered to children; specifically, this gave their company a personality – a life and a reason that they wanted to start their llama business. They left their Post-Its on the wall as a visual aid while they began to write down answers to the basic questions of their business.
NAME: Your Purple Llama
The entrepreneur wants the business name to explain what their business will do (bring you a purple llama), and why (because llamas make people happy and bring communities together). Our entrepreneur knows about this because in the city where they grew up, they had purple llamas and the community interacted more because of them.
WHAT DOES THE BUSINESS DO: This business is about bringing people purple llamas. They will offer rentals, layaway and outright purchases of llamas. The business will service, repair and replace any llamas that are damaged if the customer will buy the warranty plan. They are debating allowing people to sample the warranty service for free during their first year of ownership.
WHY THIS BUSINESS: Our entrepreneur knows that a good business needs to resonate with customers and with backers. Their description of their business has to pop as well. They know that they can dig into their own experiences and that these personal experiences are exactly what people look for to feel good about a particular company.
CORE DEMOGRAPHIC/NEED: Because the entrepreneur feels very strongly that every community needs access to purple llamas, they know the need very well. However, they have to think harder about the actual core demographic of their company.
New graduates are unlikely to be able to purchase their own purple llama; they would be the rental demographic. Established couples, by contrast, would want a llama to own. Then there would be those who could not afford a llama without layaway. Their final customer would be the people that only want to lease llamas to avoid the maintenance expenses.
- New College Graduates: Rental.
- Couples Starting Out: Lease or Rent-to-Own.
- Established Families: Ownership.
- Wealthy Families: Lease with Full-Service Plan.
Pain points for any population are the problems that they encounter in their day-to-day lives that can be solved with a service. In our sample llama business, the pain point is the same for all of their customers: the lack of a purple llama. Once customers are convinced that they need purple llamas, they will reach out to seek this service.
- New College Graduates: This demographic lacks the stable income of families or couples. While they may want to own their own purple llama one day, this demographic won’t have the buying power. Instead, they will rent llamas when they need them.
- Couples Starting Out: While they have more income than a single new grad, new couples have their own set of problems. While many homes are not complete without a purple llama, this group has lived without one because they cannot afford the costs of ownership. However, a lease/rent-to-own options will allow them to have their own purple llama for which they pay by installments.
Established Families: These families can afford to own their own llama. They may not want to get a full-service plan, however. Established families may want to have a service plan eventually but do not currently. They may also have a family member who works as a llama technician and thus, will not need a service plan.
Wealthy Families: Wealthy families will have plenty of money to lease a llama with a full-service plan. This plan will include quarterly maintenance and 24-hour customer support and troubleshooting that includes sending out a technician to repair the llama when needed.
Business goals are not set in stone, but they should be extremely realistic for your industry niche. If you approach backers or investors with unrealistic goals, it will make you seem out of touch and alienate the very people you want to make excited about your business venture.
For goals, our entrepreneur should focus on unit sales, changes in the community and general sustainability. They are not expecting huge profits for the first year, but they can present a clear path and milestones that they expect to hit in the first five years of business.
Their short-term goals are to establish a name in the community and reach sustainability. Your goals do not have to be a 5-year-plan. They can be whatever you want them to be as long as they are reasonable to an outsider.
In the resource allocation section, a business narrative should move to a “how you can help” tone. The entrepreneur needs a truck to transport llamas, a llama storage area and a technician to maintain the llamas. They also need to be able to access all basic office supplies.
This critical step of figuring out what you need to make your business a reality shouldn’t be glossed over. You will need to do research to find out exactly what your operating costs are.
Has someone tried to start a business similar to yours and failed? Can you talk to them to see what advice they could offer? You could also ask people who have made a business like yours a reality.
You should research costs as realistically as possible. No story can erase bad planning, and incomplete or poorly researched presentations could not only kill your company before it gets off the ground, but it can also ruin your reputation with anyone you presented to. While your business probably isn’t going to be selling purple llamas, the same steps should give you the backbone of your narrative.