News & Perspectives

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Perspective// Posted by: Joanna Harrison / 19 May 2013

You perhaps have standard answers to “What are you up to these days?” “What does your company do again?” And you absolutely have a well thought out pitch for the more delicate question of “Why do you need my investment?” By answering these questions, you are of course, telling your corporate story, explaining what you do, why you do it and what you hope to achieve. As you’d know better than anyone, there’s a lot riding on the way you tell this story, whatever stage you’re at in business. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips on why you should think about improving your story and how to improve it.

By improving your story you can:

Clarify your strategy. “A company without a story is usually a company without a strategy” says entrepreneur and investor, Ben Horowitz. In the process of rethinking and crafting your story, you’ll throw a spotlight onto your corporate strategy. A fresh approach to your story can help clarify this strategy, making it more meaningful and memorable. Align your workforce. If, as you should, you collaborate with partners and employees to rework your story, you may find that not everybody has been operating with the same strategic goals. Agreeing on single story can help realign the team.

Build a corporate culture. Just as our wider culture is defined by the stories we tell, in the same way a company’s culture is defined by its stories. So if you want to change your corporate culture or even build one from scratch, change your story. Spread the word A powerful story can be re-told. If people can relate to your story and remember it, they can spread the word to others.

Tips on how to improve your story:

Know the big picture. Don’t tell your story in a vacuum. Be interested in the world around you and know how your story fits into this context. Once people understand the big picture, the details of what you do will make more sense.

Be inclusive. Talk to employees, customers, partners and stakeholders. What’s their experience of your company? They may have anecdotes or testimonials to share that will add depth and personality to your story. Be real and be honest.

Authenticity is crucial. That means being yourself but also telling the true story of your company. Developing a strategic story is not the same as coming up with slick spin. If you only talk about what’s working well, people won’t believe your story. What would your critics add to your story if they were asked? Make sure you address those concerns. Add drama In order to come across as credible problem solvers, you need to have problems to solve. So mention a few. Use them to add a bit of tension to your story. Pose questions from the beginning, raise seemingly intractable problems and then a little later, serve up the answers.

Keep it simple. Tell a story that’s easy to remember. That way, the story can be pictured, retained and retold. It shouldn’t be a story that you learn word for word but it will help to write it down in language that you’d use to speak in. Avoid jargon Speak in terms that everybody will understand. No need to dumb down but don’t use jargon. People who understand your sector’s jargon aren’t impressed by it and people who don’t understand your jargon are confused by it.

Finally, here’s an extract from a blog written by Angel Investor Chris Yeh. He thinks story telling is the way to go too. “One of my fellow alums reminded us of the following formula for an instant story: Once upon a time…. And every day …. Until one day …. And because of that …. Until Finally …. Ever since that day …. And the moral is…. It struck me that this story template is extremely useful for entrepreneurs. It helps structure the narrative of why your company matters. Once upon a time….Your market And every day….The environment Until one day….The problem And because of that….Your solution Until Finally….Your impact Ever since that day….Your customers And the moral is….Your secret sauce This deep narrative structure helps turn a dry recitation of facts into a compelling story, one which can help you sell to customers and investors.’ We can help you tell your story.

Joanna Harrison
Joanna has a knack for storytelling, immersing herself into the world of her clients and quickly identifying their core narrative.