Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories – Fact or Fiction?
A boring business textbook or a crime thriller with the entrepreneur as hero?
As an experienced entrepreneur and business advisor, I often tell stories as an effective means of communicating with other entrepreneurs. Storytelling helps to establish rapport based on shared experience and a good story makes the message more memorable. Sharing stories always makes for a better exchange of ideas, information and inspiration.
I have shared stories with business associates, clients and colleagues for many years and recently published two business books for entrepreneurs that included many real-life stories. I am now writing a series of crime fiction novels with an entrepreneur as hero and the stories have been made more interesting and entertaining for a wider audience. All of the books communicate messages for and about entrepreneurs through storytelling.
So what are the differences between Fact – true-life stories and Fiction – creative writing to add more drama, mystery and suspense?
What is the effect on the message delivered and the lessons learned? What are the perspectives of the entrepreneur and of the storyteller? What works best for different audiences?
The curriculum for entrepreneurs to learn about all stages of their business would include these subjects:
- Initial choices – the concept, market positioning, strategy
- The start-up Business Plan
- Strategic Leadership & Operations Management
- Marketing & Sales Management
- Managing growth, performance & profitability
- Succession plans & Exit strategy
Lessons shared on all of those subjects can be enhanced by storytelling. Let’s assess the difference between real-life stories and creative fiction for two important issues:
- Bank financing
- Business valuation
Some extracts from my two business books and the three novels will allow us to compare the stories and the impact for those two issues.
Fact: Real life stories:
As told in The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans & DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY. Based on personal experience with clients in obtaining bank financing and in selling their business prior to exit.
- “Don’t take that to the bank.” Too much information that dampens the enthusiasm.
- “The answer is still NO!” Even the best business plan may not get the financing you need, because it does not meet the needs of the lender or investor.
- “Your business is worth how much?” The calculated value was three million, he sold it for six million to a strategic buyer.
- “What you want is not what you’ll get.” Don’t include your sweat equity and pride in the price, the buyer doesn’t care.
Fiction: Crime novels:
As told in NO EASY MONEY, SIMPLY THE BEST, MERGER MANIAC Stories of a successful young entrepreneur in the computer business of the 1980s threatened by the Mafia and corruption and working to save his business and his family from disaster.
- “It’s suicide to take on that much debt,” says the banker. “There’s no way we can help finance your growth.”
- “We’ll give you two million, just don’t be late paying us back,” says the Mafia boss.
- “At three million, you’re dreaming in technicolour. Wake up!” says the big corporation. “I’ll wait until you’re in trouble and buy at a better price then.”
- “You’re worth five million to us,” says the gangster, “but you gotta hire my boy, Lenny”.
Message received and lessons learned?
What are the differences for the entrepreneur?
- More facts!
- More details
- More useful to understand and apply the strategies, tactics & techniques
- More fun to read!
- More creative ideas and inspiration
- Easier to remember and apply the guiding principles
What are the differences for the storyteller?
- Need to be an experienced entrepreneur to tell real-life stories
- Need to be an expert in management and entrepreneurship
- Need to be good at communicating by storytelling
- More fun to write!
- Introduces a new and wider audience
- Requires more creativity to be interesting and entertaining
- Able to be more subtle in the cheerleading for entrepreneurs and the promotion of Enlightened Entrepreneurship
I think we still agree, Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories. But the choice of fact or fiction is all yours.
All the books are available online or at your favourite bookstore. You may prefer the business textbooks, but try sharing the novels with your friends, family and critics to get a little more sympathy and understanding for entrepreneurs.
Be better. Do better.
Your Uncle Ralph,
This subject will be be presented Live!
SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION – STAPLES/BUREAU EN GROS
Kirkland, Quebec – July 11th, 6:00PM