Stories sell, and in case you haven’t already noticed, they’re everywhere. From books and movies to TV commercials and print advertisements, stories help the audience imagine another world or what their life will be like with a certain product. A story can even help sell your business to potential investors and business partners.
While a complete business plan can be complicated to write, a business narrative is both easier to write and easier to read, two attributes that can help you sell your business. Writing a narrative report for your business plan is also a good way to make your ideas feel more cohesive. Sometimes ideas – even brilliant ones – can sound messy, but with a narrative, your ideas will sound better when they are thought out and composed.
Writing a narrative report for your business plan can also help you start thinking about how you will pitch your business in the future. Start brainstorming to tell a story about your business, and you’ll be off on the right track. However, like any kind of story, a business narrative has important components that you can’t skip. Find out what they are and how to put them together.
Do You Already Have an Idea for Your Business?
If you already have an idea for your business, that’s great. Start your business narrative by summing up your idea as quickly and succinctly as you can. Make sure you include what industry or sector your business is in, who your target market is and what you’re trying to sell.
If you don’t have an idea, it’s time to brainstorm. Try to think about things that are missing from the world or niches in the market that aren’t filled where you are. Your idea doesn’t have to be 100-percent original, but you do have to put your own spin on the concept, otherwise you might as well just be opening a franchise.
You can also try a free-writing exercise to get the ideas flowing. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and put your cell phone away. Write about possible business ideas for 15 to 20 minutes without stopping or looking anything up on the internet. At the end, read over what you’ve written to see if you can find the kernel of an idea.
Read an Example of a Business Narrative Report
Before you get started writing the narrative report for your business plan, you can prepare yourself to write a good one by reading as many examples as you can find. If you’re in business school, you can ask your professor or your classmates to share a business narrative report sample with you. You might also be able to find an example of a business narrative report at your business school’s library.
The best kind of business narrative report samples you can find are ones that were written to help start successful businesses. Your business school might have such samples from alumni businesses. You can also reach out to alumni to ask them about their business success. They might be more than happy to give you a few pointers.
Read each business narrative report sample carefully, making note of what they describe. Think about your own business concept in the same terms. After you read a great example of a business narrative report, ideas for your own business narrative will start to flow.
What Will You Call Your Business?
What a business does is important, but your business’s name is almost as critical. Having a catchy name for your business can mean the difference between success and failure. Will the name stick in anyone’s head, or is it forgettable?
Naming your business can be hard, but it’s important to stick to names with positive associations. Quirky is good too, but make sure your business name matches what your company will actually do and that it makes sense. Don’t be afraid to make interesting associations. If nothing immediately jumps to mind, read, surf the internet or use a thesaurus until you can make a list of possibilities.
Once you have a few candidates in mind, look each up in a search engine to make sure no one is already using it. You don’t want to have the same name as another business, and you definitely don’t want to infringe on someone else’s copyright. Do your due diligence to prevent problems from occurring down the line.
Business Narrative Report Sample Outline
All business narratives must include these details. First, it should start with your business’s name. Next, your business narrative should describe what your business does and how it sets itself apart from the competition. Your business narrative should answer the following questions:
- What does your business do?
- What makes your business unique?
- Who is your business’s target market?
- What are your customers like?
- What benefits does your business provide to your customers?
- What are your business’s long-term goals?
- What do you need to accomplish those goals?
- How will you succeed? (In other words, what does the rest of the story look like?)
How to Improve Your Business Narrative
You have to do more than complete those questions with straightforward answers. Try to be as specific as possible when describing each aspect of your business. The purpose of a business narrative is to help investors understand what your business is and how it can grow in the future given the right capital. The more precise you can be with your narrative, the easier it will be to convince people to invest in your ideas.
The next step in improving your narrative is to compare it to the stories of similar businesses. If you did your research to find sample business narratives before you wrote your own, those will come in handy now. If your business narrative sounds too similar to the ones you read, you’ll need to figure out a new angle for your business to help it stand out from the competition.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback. Just like with any other piece of writing, asking others to read it will offer different perspectives, and these fresh eyes can tell you how you can improve. Listen to the feedback you receive and use it to sharpen your narrative until it represents the company you would like to form.
Writing Nuts and Bolts
Even though business narratives tell a story, meaning you can get a little more creative with them, writing mechanics are still important. In fact, they are more important than ever because they can make a difference between investors taking your business seriously or not giving you the time of day.
After you’re finished composing your business narrative, read it over again, paying extra attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Don’t be fooled by the tools in your word processor; it’s more than likely that your computer will label some things as mistakes when they aren’t and miss other mistakes entirely.
If you’re unsure about your spelling and grammar skills, ask a friend to read over your work before you turn in your paper. If you’re working on a business narrative for a professional project outside of school, consider hiring a writer. You’re the head of a company now. The most important lesson you can learn at the start is to hire qualified people and not try to do every little thing by yourself.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.