Entrepreneurs, What’s Your Business’s Story?

Does your story connect with key stakeholders?Does your story connect with key stakeholders?

For many high growth business leaders, it’s critical to tell a great story to your clients and other stakeholders.  Why is a good story so important to your long term financial success? I have found that good leaders, like good storytellers, understand how stories can help them during all phases of their growing business.

I have known several entrepreneurs who have grown their startup businesses to over $900 million in sales in less than 10 years in several highly competitive markets.  All three knew how to tell a great story. 

When I got to know them, I realized how important their ability to tell the right stories was to both build results driven businesses and how it created a culture that would expand far beyond the original team of founders.

Today, we share the four types of stories they all knew how to tell.  Next week, we share how to create these stories.  It is critical for you to not only know how to tell a good story, but when to tell it.

The first type of story is the origin story. Every one of these entrepreneurs could tell you a story about why they created their business. What things drove them to create it, what opportunities they saw and seized. This story reminds you of how much they changed their industry when they created their businesses.  They could recount their thinking in vivid detail and would share these stories with just about everyone who joined their business.

The second type of story they all told could be categorized as team and culture building stories. They told these stories to future team members and organizational leaders who came to their business after their first several years. They would share the story about how different people helped their business overcome the toughest obstacles to become a leader in their markets. When telling these stories, founders could share their organizations’ values and what they expected from their high performing team members.

These stories were passed on to every new recruit and shared again as people began moving up the ladder within the founders’ organizations.  Many of these success stories created the fabric of the businesses’ culture and they allow newcomers to know they are joining an organization that puts customers first even at the sacrifice of short term profits while building a long term success.  These stories are shared and added to on a regular basis. New team members know that someday they might become part of their organization’s larger mission, vision, and values.  These types of stories become the glue that holds the generations of coworkers together.

The third type of story is the Vision story.  This story is shared with partners, clients, and financial investors. To grow faster, these founders understood that they needed a coalition of partners who were as committed to the company’s future as the entrepreneur was.  When I went to meetings with bankers and investors, I was amazed how these founders transformed their language and stories to captivate even the most experienced financial professional. Their language and their vision captured everyone’s attention in the room. They moved easily over current revenue, projections, and quarterly results with an eye towards future growth opportunities and markets. It was transparent to everyone in the room why these individuals were able to share their story with customers and partners alike. You knew that you wanted to be involved in their organization’s growth and success. Their vision combined with their personal energy would attract the best partners and financial backing required to fund their massive growth.

Now, the final type of story is one most entrepreneurs don’t always like to tell. It’s the succession story and it comes at the end or at the new beginning for the founder. But succession and exit planning are critical for high growth entrepreneurs. They must know when it’s time to turn over their creation to a new leader.   It can be hard enough to invest your life in a growing business, but success comes from knowing when you need more capabilities than you might personally possess. It takes a special leader who paves the way for their successor and allows all stakeholders to share in their decision.  The final story should be looked at as not only an ending, but as an exciting new beginning for both the founder and their organization.

To get the most out of all four types of stories, you must start with the end in mind.  You must be willing to share of yourself, build profitable partnerships with all key stakeholders, increase organizational capabilities and culture, and then prepare to leave your business to the next generation of leaders.  Now, that is what makes for a great story.

If you want to know more about connecting to clients through stories, you might also enjoy How do you connect with your best clients and potential customers?

This article originally appeared at High Growth Business Report

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