One of the key skills required of us as entrepreneurs is storytelling. It’s an opportunity to fastrack connection between us and our future clients.
Your messages, motivation, lived experience and reason to believe can all be delivered in story form, which resonate and create “stickiness”.
Your story is how you found yourself here. You, the agent of change, fired up with desire to serve and see lives transformed.
Story resonates and connects. It is how your lighthouse crossed your bridge to meet your people.
Why? Storytelling is woven into the fabric of transformational work, because all stories capture the rhythm of change. We make sense of things with story, we can explain things with story, we teach with story. In fact many believe story is the best (and maybe the only) way to get people to change their minds about anything.
Stories, particularly those told with vulnerability or humour, will rapidly build empathy. Sharing the truth of your experience may strike a universal chord. Stories are your chance to simultaneously engage, inspire and weave in your message.
AND: They are remembered more readily than any copy – they “stick”
Every entrepreneur has stories waiting, so mine your experience. This is an area you stand alone because no one shares your precise story, but they will use their imagination to put themselves in your shoes.
How to structure a story in it’s simplest form:
- Introduce the character (you) in the before state (generally things are OK or even excellent but you are always safe).
- Introduce tension, conflict or challenge, even disaster. Something that makes things suddenly worse (often a lot worse)
- Fix the problem, leading to a (better) changed state. (redemption)
- Link the story to something you want them to remember (a business teaching)
The first way I learned this? Put a man up a tree, throw stones at him, get him down.
(Now this is what we call a sticky concept)
STORY ONE: Your entrepreneurial “origin story”. This term comes from comic book parlance – virtually all superheroes have a bedrock account of the transformative events that set them apart from the rest of humanity. The origin story explains how the superhero got their powers and how they found their cause – so it is directly relatable to entrepreneurship.
Keywords here for you to think about: Transformative events, set you apart, got your powers, found your cause.
Here are some example “start up” tropes:
- I struggled for years and now you don’t have to
- I saw people I care about struggling with problems that I can solve
- I experienced great adversity and this is how I found my way out
- I discovered this with difficulty and now I want to share it
- I was alone and found it painful, now others don’t need to do this alone
- I couldn’t find it so I built it
- I was in a great position but I wasn’t fulfilled so I took a leap of faith
- I lost everything, learned how to adapt and eventually thrive (this is my story, I’ll come to that later)
- Do any of these resonate with you? Use that little structure above and write it, baby.
NOW, PUT MORE STORIES IN YOUR POCKET
It is brilliant to have stories ready for when you meet people, speak on podcasts (or the stage) and at any other opportunity you have to connect and you want to be remembered.
STORY TWO: Turnaround / redemptive stories from your business are great. Particularly if a challenge led you to create something tangible in your business that now serves your client. Identify at least one pivot point and write it up.
STORIES THREE AND FOUR: 2 character building experiences that shaped the person you are today. Can be the hard lessons you had to learn, but you know they’ve made you a stronger and more resilient person. Say how you are better today as a result of these personal hardships.
STORY FIVE: A lightbulb moment, things you’ve learned that caused you to look at everything in a new way (could be personal or business).
Aside: I recently had one of these after listening to this podcast and it stopped me being a “fixer” forever.
STORY SIX: Where did you have some U turns and catastrophes? (Show some vulnerability, people love hearing about hardships, it makes you more real).
STORY SEVEN: When you had an accidental or unexpected success (and the converse)
STORY EIGHT: A white knight story of who helped you the most (even better if that is a person known to your audience)
STORY NINE AND TEN: 2 engaging clients stories that talk to their transformation as a result of applying something they learned from you. Humility warning! Beware of sounding self referential, this story must be about their efforts, not yours.
OTHER STORY IDEAS – USE FOR YOUR ABOUT PAGE, YOUR BIO.
- Stories of childhood entrepreneurship (often quite a universal experience for entrepreneurs).
- What triggered you onto this path? Was it a “catapult” or a “slow realization
- What challenges were squarely in your way? What have you overcome?
- Describe the visceral feeling of abject failure, losing it all or hitting rock bottom
- An incident that told you were an entrepreneur and couldn’t turn back
- When you nearly quit and why you didn’t (or why you did).
- When you were tempted (for eg by a high paying job)
- Conflicting values between personal and business and how you resolved it
- Business you turn away because it’s not right (any story about how you apply filters in your business will be of interest)
- A story about your life now compared to your life then with an example). For example: I talk about living on the beach and struggling to get my dogs to come home each day at the end of their walk.
WOULD YOU LIKE AN EXAMPLE?
My own story is a personal and familiar entrepreneurial journey. I wrote about it here, but here are the “highlights”
- Successful, though unfulfilling corporate career where I never felt at home
- A craving to create something from scratch
- An idea that found me and wouldn’t leave me alone
- Going “all in” on my first business
- Utter financial devastation (losing every dollar and then some)
- The slow climb back
- Second and even more difficult financial devastation
- The slow climb back
- A (successful) business that I have little passion for
- A desire to help others avoid pitfalls
- A second idea that niggled and niggled until it was born
- A Brand built from my truest place, to serve others who are doing great things in the world
TIP: Start a story folder, sometimes a couple of key points will be all you need to trigger a story (even just naming a document might be enough). For example, in my story folder I have a word doc that simply says “do everything better” – just those words triggers a story about how I finally beat perfectionism. (Note to self: Write that Story).