How to share your story in a way that boosts your business

 
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When I first launched my business in August 2016, I was reluctant to tell my story. I was a single mum with twins under a year old. If I’m honest, I was afraid that people would think I couldn’t do it. That they wouldn’t trust me with their work because they’d assume I’d miss deadlines or do a bad job due to childcare emergencies.

Now with the twins’ third birthday well behind us and the business growing beyond anything I could have hoped for, I’ve begun to start sharing the journey I’ve been on. Why? Well firstly because I want to encourage other mums - actually anyone wanting to launch a business under challenging circumstances - that anything is possible.

But there is a more business focused reason too. Because storytelling is a powerful tool for marketers and business owners alike. Storytelling creates connection. It evokes emotion. It can remove that barrier between brand and consumer and say, “Hey, we’re real people too.”

So far this year my story has helped me get press coverage for Rin Hamburgh & Co, an invitation to the House of Lords and a spot on the list of Top 100 Most Inspirational Women in the West.

In each case I - or my nominee - put forward an outline of my personal journey as well as the details of our business achievements. Here’s how we did it.

Setting the scene

I was working as a freelance copywriter and business was good - too good. I was writing late into the evening and most weekends, and I was exhausted. There had to be a better way to do things. I decided to test out the idea of using a junior writer to help me increase my capacity. In April 2015 I took on my first freelancer. That same week, I found out I was pregnant.

My story starts with a challenge and quickly adds in an extra push driving me towards change. If this were a TV series, the episode would probably end with me holding that positive pregnancy test and looking slightly overwhelmed!

You story doesn’t need to include your entire history but we do want to start with an idea of the ‘before’ so that later we can contrast the ‘after’. Positive transformation is central to many a good story, whether it’s a clear lifestyle makeover a la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or a more subtle emotional journey like the one John McClane takes in Die Hard (fans, you know what I’m talking about).

Drawing out the drama

In November 2015 my twin girls were born. Two months later I was a single mum and seven months after that I launched Rin Hamburgh & Co.

There’s a lot more to my story than this, of course. But drawing out these headline facts and creating a swift timeline leading from babies to personal drama to a triumphant moment packs a real punch.

I appreciate that my journey is a bit of an extreme one and yours might not be as naturally dramatic. But every story has its own type of drama. Think about yours. What were the key events? What were the turning points? Strip it down to just the important bits and you’ll give your story the pace it needs to be gripping for your audience.

Celebrating the big wins

Today Rin Hamburgh & Co is a team of six and the business is flourishing. We’ve grown our client base and our pool of freelance writers, won our first five figure contract and doubled our turnover in the last year.

There have also been setbacks, of course. We’ve lost clients, worked with writers who just weren’t suitable, wasted time on events that led to nothing and money on marketing materials we didn’t really need. Personally it took me a long time to figure out how to manage a team after years of being a sole trader, something I wrote about in this blog post on leadership lessons.

There will be times when expanding on these setbacks is helpful. For example I was recently interviewed by Bristol 24-7 for their regular If I knew then column, which gave me the opportunity to be more reflective.

However in an awards entry I’d be more likely to skip straight to the facts that show how the business has succeeded. It can feel a bit icky at first - without wanting to stereotype, I do think that we Brits can struggle to shout about our successes because it feels like showing off. Many women face the same challenge. If that’s you, just imagine you’re writing about someone else. And remember it does get easier.

Give it a purpose

As a working mother flexible working is essential for and is something I believe everyone should have access to. That’s why the Rin Hamburgh & Co team all work flexible hours, schedules and locations. I am passionate about supporting my team to have a work life balance that allows them and their families to thrive.

As Simon Sinek says, you have to know your why. I didn’t launch my business to champion the flexible working cause but it has emerged naturally over time and is a genuine passion. Which makes it a part of my story.

Knowing that your business has a purpose beyond simply making a profit is vital to your story. Are you committed to protecting wildlife like The Little Black & White Book Project? Are you helping women embrace their bodies no matter what like Mermaid in England? Are you championing the feminist cause like Kraken Kreations? Tell people!

If you have been on a journey, known success on any level and are making a difference - even just a small one - in the world, then you have a story. Then it’s just a case of sharing it. Enter awards, contact journalists, write a blog post. How will people know unless you tell them?

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Want to read more? Try this - 5 important business lessons I learned at Entrepreneurial Spark

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