Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

3 Stories Your Business Strategy Depends On 10

Stories are not just stories; they’re experience repackaged. They can tell a lot more than just a story. If you own a business, or ever want to, you should be able to tell each of these stories well. If you can, you’ve already nailed the essence of long-term strategy. If you can’t, then here’s a good way to rethink your business.

You want to be able to tell these stories because they’ll help you understand, focus, and manage your business better.

1.  The Story of The Buying Event

Tell the story of an imagined best-possible customer wanting or needing something, finding your business, and buying from you. Try to describe that person (or company) in detail. Be able to describe the process in glorious detail. What did she want? What did he need? What led her to your business? What was he looking for? What problem did she have? How did he find your business, and what made him decide to buy? What were the important decision factors?

2.  The Story of Why We Exist

Be able to tell a simple story about how your business makes some people better off. Guy Kawasaki talks about making meaning, making the world better. And that’s not just the social enterprises or non-profits, that’s the shoe repair business on the corner, the marketing consultant, graphic artist, and the hot dog stand that appears before noon. Every successful business does something for somebody, or it doesn’t last. And that’s a story you should tell yourself. What difference does your business make to the world?

3.  The Story of Our Future

We used to call this the vision statement in the old-fashioned formal business plan. I don’t care whether it’s part of a document or not, but it’s a good concept to keep. Imagine your business three to five years from now. What does it look like then? What is it doing differently, then,  that it doesn’t do now? How has it changed? Is it in a different location? What new things is it selling, and to whom? How has its meaning changed?

If you can tell these three stories, you’ve got a business strategy.

(Image: istockphoto.com)

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  • http://www.piccess.com Mike Goncalves

    Tim – Good stuff! I especially like the story of why we exist. This is what makes a business personal, which is what our customers relate to the most.

    Well done!
    MikeG

  • http://www.meratvforum.org T.v Serials

    Stories are not just stories; they’re experienced repackaged. They can tell a lot more than just a story. If you own a business, or ever want to, you should be able to tell each of these stories well. If you can, you’ve already nailed the essence of long-term strategy. If you can’t, then here’s a good way to rethink your business.

    You want to be able to tell these stories because they’ll help you understand, focus, and manage your business better.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/3-stories-your-business-strategy-depends-on-2011-6#ixzz1OYysyjlc

  • Leo Smith

    Why is there not a print this article button. I am a old fart who reads better from paper and can increase the font size.

    • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

      Leo, sorry, I’ll do what I can to get a “print this article” button installed. I appreciate the suggestion.

  • http://jerrymacnamara.com Jerry Macnamara

    Hey Tim -

    This is a nice article on “what we need to do” – how about “how to tell stories” in each of the three cases with examples. That would really add value!

    Thanks!
    -jmac

    • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

      Jerry (jmac) thanks, that’s a great suggestion, and I’m going to add it to my list of pending posts.

  • http://www.quintessencecatering.com Doris

    The third one always gets me….where will you be in 5 years, what will it look like, what are you doing differently? Every year is different than predicated.

  • http://www.dermerconsulting.com Lori Dermer

    Thank you, Tim – this is terrific!
    Short, simple to understand and without a doubt, a great exercise for all business and potential future business owners.
    I agree, the stories are key. If, as a business owner, you don’t really know or cannot tell your own story, then how can you sell to others?

  • http://www.horwitzandco.com Barry Horwitz

    I would say that these three stories provide a great start to a strategy – and help guide the team – but don’t really address why the organization is better than competitors, or how it offers a unique delivery of a value proposition to assure sustainable competitive advantage. Perhaps enhancing the first story to factor in how your company was selected over all other options?

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  • http://boomerama.org Annie

    You share some great ideas on what we need to do in order to develop a business strategy. These are simple processes yet you can see how helpful they would be. Thanks for the guidance.