When Your Strategic Narrative Fails

by Apr 13, 2021Approach, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been helping a new entrepreneur to craft his strategic narrative. I typically focus on business leaders with a bit more experience than him, but I will add a young startup to my clients’ portfolio once in a while. His business idea is very early stage, and he is looking for pre-seed money.

He presented his idea last week, and it failed. That was his first big rejection.

He put a lot of work into it, and I feel sorry for him. But I also know from experience that this rejection is just part of the process.

His situation made me want to share a few words about the reality of crafting a strategic narrative for a new company.

Firstly, true innovation is about changing the way your potential customers think and do something. Changing established habits is hard. It takes time and effort, and success never comes overnight.

Finding how to explain why your idea matters now, that’s like a research project. You start with hypotheses, and you test them in meetings, presentations, pitches, competitions, and a hundred other types of moments. At first, they reveal holes in your story, and things don’t work. But quickly, you figure it out, and it gets better.

Crafting a good strategic narrative can take weeks and sometimes months. It is long, arduous, and requires many fast iterations. The more opportunities you have to test your narrative, the better.

Don’t forget that you are on a long journey. You’re not running a sprint. Along the way, there will be hurdles. It’s important to learn to take a punch and continue to learn fast. It’s part of the work.

At first, you will make many assumptions, come up with complex wording, and fall into the trap of mostly using your own biased knowledge because you know too much about the solution you’re creating. But with feedback, it’s going to get better.

You will hit a point where you feel like you’re really stuck. That moment is necessary, so you can rebound and generate a new perspective.

Later, your narrative will for sure evolve, so get ready to update it constantly. It’s a never-ending process that lasts as long as you’re going from one S-curve to the other.

That’s the reality, and it’s OK if your strategic narrative fails at the beginning.

I will leave you with this quote from Vidal Sassoon:

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary”.

Let’s carry on.

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