Planning is Stories

There can be great truth in stories. People have communicated in stories from the very beginning. We use stories to tell about God, family, each other, and business. Stories can be true or false by the message they carry, not just what happens in the story. Fables, parables, short stories … think about how much you learn, and teach, with stories.

Can a story tell truth without being technically factual? I think we all know it can. Is the lesson of sour grapes less true because there was no original fox? Or is the story of the gingerbread man not true?

Marketing is all about stories. (Aside — great book in this area, All Marketers are Liars, by Seth Godin). There’s the story of how it started, the invention of whatever it is you’re selling, or the invention of your business itself, the story of the brand, the packaging, the formula, or whatever. There’s the story of how the customer finds the solution. There’s the story of how the customer problem is solved.

A good business plan is a collection of stories. Your vision is a story about the future. Even financial projections are stories, told in numbers. If we sell this many units at that price, we have this much in sales; but we also have to spend this much in rent, and so on.

As a frequent reader of business plans, I look for the stories. The most important is the story of the customer, the solution to a problem, the path to find it, and the decision to buy. I also look for the story of the startup, and the story of the growth in the future. I want them to be convincing.

(Photo credit: Pixelbliss/Shutterstock)

2 thoughts on “Planning is Stories

  1. Thanks, Tim. This is one insightful post.

    I would just like to add a personal thought: “It is easy to make or break a business: depending on how you treat your customer, or how much quality you have integrated with your brand, product or service, ‘stories’ can either boost your company to the big league or shuffle it the other way around.”

    Well, we all know how a vicious remark can turn off any potential business relationships with customers, while a positive comment can bring your company’s prominence up the roof.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *