“The two of them continued to work, eyes heavy with the weight of sleepless nights. A newborn called from the next room. Clients awaited word of their pending projects. Work, children, and the deadline to launch their new company collided in this pivotal moment, their only option being to press on; what choice did they have?”
Sound familiar? It's the story of our Dubsado co-founders, but I’d be willing to bet a lot of you thought I had taken a page out of your book. Thousands of people have latched on to the story of Dubsado, and that story has followed us through every stage of growth. The story is something that most of our users can recall because it is a critical part of our brand identity.
When was the last time you considered yourself a protagonist? When was the last time you believed you had a story worth telling? It's time to remind yourself that your personal "legend" matters.
According to Rachel Gillett, something important happens when we read a good story:
“When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well.” - Rachel Gillett
Again, does that story sound familiar to you? Does it read like the early days of launching your business? A critical crossroad in your life? If so, why aren’t you sharing it? What is keeping you from recognizing yourself as the protagonist in a story worth telling?
Just as important as the story, is how you tell it. So let’s dig into how we clarify and convey our own personal legends.
1. A good story starts with structure
Before telling your story, you need to ask why you’re telling it.
What does your story mean to you? For the people you who work for you? For the people you will be serving?
Story structure begins with identifying the heart and then building flawlessly up to how it is going to matter to everyone else. Having a good idea of your storytelling structure or framework will help you to arrive at the heart more effectively.
Our co-founder Jake listed the key components of any story as:
It's a really simple, but effective structure. One that I use all the time when writing the intro segments of our podcast.
You can hear that in the introduction of our last podcast guest, Joey Vitale. It helps me make sure that even when I'm crafting simple messages, I'm hitting important benchmarks that will make my message more effective.
You don’t have to stick to this though! Depending on if you’re writing a mission statement, a blog post, an about me page or anything else, your needs may change. Depending on the complexity of what I'm writing, I like to take a page out of some of my favorite writer’s books.
One my go-to guides for storytelling is Donald Miller. Miller is the bestselling author of “Blue Like Jazz” and “A Million Miles in a Thousand Steps” and founder of “Building a Story Brand.” Besides being an incredible story writer, Miller is an excellent teacher of story structure. So much so, that he pivoted his focus from being a best selling author, to helping businesses and entrepreneurs identify and craft their unique business stories.
While Miller has built a successful business and podcast by helping businesses tell better stories, he also offers some incredible free advice. In that advice, you'll learn that Miller utilizes the hero's journey structure:
This structure looks pretty well if you’re writing a story like Star Wars or The Hunger Games or anything else really - like your business story:
Or what about in your client's story?
You get the idea.
There is so much potential for crafting deep and developed stories that draw prospective clients in deeper. It starts by clearly communicating our heart, is helped by good structure, and most importantly, needs more of you.
2. You are the best protagonist
In our Dubsado "Huddles" , we've heard a similar idea shared many times:
"I followed (business owner) on social media first before I ever hired/bought from them!"
Make no mistake, you are the star of your own business story. Even if you do something completely charitable and focus on raising awareness, it will be you who is the primary vehicle for telling the story that needs to be told.
This isn’t an ego thing. You don’t need to worry about being cocky. You need to worry about what will best accomplish the mission you need to accomplish.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Seth Maxwell, founder, and CEO of charity water. This is a guy who was named to Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneur list, has met with multiple U.S. Presidents and world leaders and has created a company that is literally saving tens of thousands of lives.
Even with all of that, Seth is phenomenally humble and kind. This doesn't change the fact that the Thirst Project story has been undeniably driven by him:
No one was going to communicate just how much the global water crisis meant to Seth, better than Seth. So while humility and grace are good things, you need to be ok with stepping into the spotlight to some degree.
If you story is limited to a short bio you drop at the end of blog posts; or if the most people know about you is that you’re addicted to coffee, a parent of 2 and enneagram type 5 because it’s in your Instagram bio, you have some story developing to do.
Your best story involves not just the fun, but the falls. You can love coffee sure (it's the greatest thing on earth, of course) but why do you need that coffee so desperately? How many sleepless nights, approaching deadlines and crying children make consuming 6 cups a day necessary? Trust that your story, in its ups and downs, is worth getting behind.
3. Write to your ideal client
We've talked about this before, but it's worth revisiting. Identifying your ideal client will help you develop your story.
As important as it is to tell your story your way, your objective a business owner is to attract clients. Knowing how they speak and what they read, will help give your story a better chance to resonate with them even deeper. Here are a few areas to focus on when crafting your story to meet your clients:
Whether you're a fan of keeping your paragraphs really short.
Or, you like...to keep people on the edge of their - seats.
Or, you're a BIG fan of co.lor.ful emphasis.
Power to you. It might be worth considering however, that reaching your ideal client might mean balancing your writing flair with a more strategic approach. It's a tricky balance: so much of the best parts of creative entrepreneurship come from our freedom. You can do you, and deal with whether or not people love that! That's exciting!
It's important to be intentional about language. Just know the pros and cons of doing it either way.
You reach your ideal client by envisioning the scenarios they're facing and appealing to that. The good part is, you might not need to look very far. This is where pulling from your own story can be so valuable.
If you pull from your story, even if you think that story is too specific or unique, you'll connect deeper.
When hosting a podcast that focuses on people with incredible journeys, I often worry I'll would run out of ways to relate to our guests. My experiences seem pretty mellow compared to what they are sharing. However, the more I've allowed myself to share how my own story relates to theirs, the more I've had people actually responding to positively to what I was saying.
You never know the power of your story until you share it.
4. Involve your customers
As you share more of your story and find that more people connect with it, you'll start to identify the many ways your story brings in your community.
That's important because a huge component of telling your story well, is how it brings in those around you.
Eventually, the story of Dubsado had to expand beyond Jake and Becca. As special as their journey is, it gains depth and dimension as people are brought along. That doesn't necessarily mean exclusively from within the company.
People started to believe in their journey and invest themselves into it. Whether that meant they signed up for the service or shouted about it from a mountain; how you take that, and tie it back into your own narrative is important.
How do you further involve your community?
One of the most special parts of a business story is when it starts to look like a tapestry; a collection, rather than a singular, controlled narrative.
Dubsado had a user design our second logo! We chose that person because of her engagement with our story (and because she's amazing at what she does). That might be a little too much control for your taste, but get creative with it! If you do choose to let your community in a bit, it becomes a really special part of your story.
Don't be afraid to let the people you're inspiring, be a part of the story.
Last but not least: practice.
You're not going to be able to put all these elements into place right away. You're going to need to practice a little. Create structures, jot down formats, story board and just write.
Your story is a collection of perfections and imperfections. Don't worry if your writing reflects the same.
To practice, you should find a forum that is actually accessible. Consider:
Start writing. Don't worry about how good it is or what it's about. That way, when it comes time to craft the stories that really matter, you won't be figuring it out for the first time.
Jake and Becca's story involves a bunch more faces than when they launched Dubsado two years ago. From when we started with just 2 faces, to the madness of having 17+, the Dubsado community has been getting the inside scoop every step of the way.
Your story matters. No one else has a story exactly like yours, no matter how many other people share your profession. That is your biggest advantage.