Years ago, I was invited to speak at an event where I stood proudly amongst a group of other, all-male speakers. This was after I had developed a name for myself in the industry, yet when the VP of a prestigious brokerage firm introduced himself to the group, he shook every hand but mine.
This may seem like a small anecdote when it comes to all the other obstacles I’ve faced on my journey, but it’s this short scene that I’ve replayed in my head a thousand times. It was an inflection point that fueled me to work harder than I ever had before.
We’ve all have had those moments of inflection in our lives—the defining scenes where something shifted inside of us. Most entrepreneurs aren’t driven by merely a lifelong dream of starting a business. There is almost always a singular moment, a defining scene in their story that inspired them to take action and start.
For some, it is years of working a job we hate until one day we finally say, “Enough!” For others, we desperately needed a product or service no one else was offering and we knew we had to fill the void.
Whatever it was that pushed you over the edge and prompted you to start your own business, that moment is unique to you. It’s that inflection point that lit the fuse on what is now your origin story.
And when it comes to setting your business apart and rising above the noise, it’s your story clients and customers need to hear.
The Importance Of Telling Your Story
All through history, people have used storytelling to teach lessons and to learn how to relate to each other. In business, having an amazing product or being the best in our field is a vital step—but it often isn’t enough.
Clients and customers aren’t always able to tell the difference between two different service providers, even if one is, in fact, superior to the other. It’s the human element of brands and businesses that truly captivate and help build a community of loyal customers.
Think about the origin story of Facebook. We can all picture a young Mark Zuckerberg hacking into the Harvard system before going on to change the world.
Steve Jobs was fired from Apple after creating the company, only to return years later and make it the most successful business in history.
Those are true stories that have become legends in the business world. It’s those human elements that spark people’s imagination and inspire them to be a part of a movement. Or, to create a movement of their own.
Finding Your Story
Many entrepreneurs skip the step of telling their story because it can be difficult to put into words. Often times the story goes, “Well, I just had an idea and I went for it.”
When it comes time to tell our story, we need to dig deep. There’s the all too familiar story of “boy meets girl” and then there’s “Romeo & Juliet.”
On the surface, we may not all have what feels like a Shakespearian backstory. Yet, as entrepreneurs, we’ve all had to make sacrifices to get where we are. Think about the struggles you’ve faced, the struggles you’re facing now. If you’re having trouble telling your story, there’s a good chance it’s unfolding right now! Take notice of your days and practice awareness.
Owning Your Story
The famous novelist Neil Gaiman once said, “The moment that you feel, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.”
You may have doubts about sharing your story. It’s common to question ourselves and think, “Who am I to share? What have I done that’s so great other people will care?”
Remember, we each have our own set of experiences and see the world through a different lens. The obstacles you’ve faced, the work you’ve accomplished, and dreams that keep you moving–they are one of a kind.
We all find inspiration from different sources. It often takes hearing old stories told in new ways to connect with new people. You never know who else in the world needs to hear your story in order to find their moment of inspiration.
So dig deep! Own your story and find new ways to tell it. There’s no one who can tell it better than you.