Your math story is the driving narrative of your business, defining whatyou are attempting to build and how, with numbers attached. A goodmath story cuts through the window dressing attached to most busi-ness plans and homes in on issues and variables that should be keptfront-of-mind. It connects your story line with your bottom line, setting your intended trajectory and identifying the factors most likelyto impact it. Your math story is also a mechanism for bringing the bestof your passion, what you care most deeply about, together with plan-ning and logic in the right measure.
During D1’s explosive growth years, J.C. Faulkner often referredto his math story, which brought together the key elements of his vi-sion, strategy, and business plan in a simple, coherent narrative. Itserved as a focusing mechanism and an anchor for every significantdecision and action. “Even before launching, I spent a year fine-tuningmy math story of what the new business would look like,” he said. “It’slike I did dress rehearsals for this new marriage for twelve months.”
As an added benefit, J.C.’s math story helped him skillfully recruitkey team members, investors, and other partners. “The one thing thatcreated trust,” he said, “was that people could see that I had a tremen-dous amount of confidence in what I was talking about. I had figuredout the math story so well, and could explain it in such a logical fash-ion, people clearly understood why this business would be successful.The more they understood it, the more they wanted to be a part ofit.”
Like many entrepreneurs, J.C. is naturally optimistic, but his deepconfidence in D1 came from rigorous preparation and immersion inthe right numbers, an area in which he thinks many fellow foundersfall short. “Everybody wants their idea to work,” he said. “And a lot ofpeople try to sell their idea in vague terms, but they don’t take thetime to ground it, to operationalize it. The more you can make it gran-ular to the point where it’s irrefutable, or at least grounded in logic,the more people will get excited about it, both intellectually and emo-tionally.”
Constructing a useful math story involves bringing together in-terlocking puzzle pieces from two sides of a single coin. The first sideis your core concept, the organizing logic and rough shape of the busi-ness you want to create. Tim Berry, whose 2008 book The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan I highly recommend, likens this conceptual coreto the heart of an artichoke. It is the centerpiece around which all ofyour key decisions and week-to-week tactics are attached.3On theother side of the coin are financial keys that represent critical ratios orvariables that will drive the early viability and health of your venture.