Friday, July 1, 2011

Constructing a Narrative for Your Business

When you are looking at your business plan, or just running a business in general, sometimes the ideas in our head are very difficult to elaborate to others. The ideas make sense in our own minds, but to the consumer or an employee, it comes across as a jumbled mess. So what can we do in the entrepreneurial world to better flesh out our ideas? As a screenwriter and a storyteller, I know the connection an audience can make with a character, an actual human being. It allows us to put ourselves in their shoes and think, what would I do? Here’s a new idea I'm suggesting, do the same thing for your business.
Now there's no need to write a whole screenplay about  ‘a day in the life’, I am simply suggesting that when thinking about items of a business plan or when describing a new product, using a narrative can be an advantageous way to connect with others. For example, when thinking about a target market, I’ve heard numerous times, “my target market is everyone”. Well, okay, let’s put you in the shoes of your eighty-five year old customer. What does he or she do when he comes in your store? What do they buy?
An OLDER GENTLEMAN (85) wipes his boots off on the front door mat. He looks left and right, rows of bicycles line the aisles. The BIKE SHOP owner comes over to assist the older gentleman, who seems to be a bit overwhelmed by the selection.
                                                                                OLDER GENTLEMAN
                                                                Could you help me find a bike?
Now, how about your fifteen year old customer? What are they looking to buy when he comes in the store? What questions do they ask you? Imagining a character of your market through role play, and allowing the scenario to play out in a narrative can help a business define markets, among other things.
The same strategy can be applied towards the pre-venture business person. Say you want to run a sandwich shop as a sole owner, running all the aspects of the business. Create a narrative for yourself. What do you do in you twelve hour day? When do you take breaks? How do you handle the lunch rush? Asking yourself questions and then playing out the answers through scenarios is a new way of thinking about business problem solving and idea comprehension. Simply put, we as humans connect with characters more than we do with words. Consider using a ‘script scenario’ to play out future problems, ventures, business plans may be the storyline for success.