Storytelling

While filming and interviewing 500 of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, I learned that your story is the single most powerful asset you have as a founder when you are launching and growing a business.

For me, the key to creating a great story is finding an experience that has a powerful and meaningful relationship to your business. Diving into that experience and uncovering the what, why, how, who of it and then sharing it in such a way that it resonates with audiences either because it matters to them, to someone they care about or simply because they can see why it is so important to you.

It is both strategic and tactical, but the key to your story’s success and effectiveness is your authenticity.

Authenticity is about being true to yourself — and speaking from what you believe. It’s where your story begins. It centers on being and showing who you really are and knowing precisely what you stand for. This is the secret to building trust, which is a cornerstone for everything you do. Authenticity is how you land customers, it’s how your brand resonates.

For startups and entrepreneurs, it’s important to take the time to explore your history and discover the most important experiences in your life either inspired you to launch your business or put you on the path to doing what is you are now doing. In that self-discovery process, you will find the special moments and gems that not only are the catalyst for your story, but that helps you articulate why you are doing what you are doing. Your story is unique sets you apart from every other startup.

Over the years of interviewing startups, I’ve learned there are three main mistakes startups  make:

  1. The story is too long. Keep it clear and concise and articulate it in three sentences or less.
  2. Failure to get the attention of audiences. This is easily fixed –Know thy audience!
  3. Overconfidence that people will care about their story. Make sure your audience’s pain points are included in your story.

Finding your voice will help you tell your story. Voice in storytelling is similar to voice in writing. Often it requires writing to find your writing voice. You have to go thru the exercise to discover what and how you want to sound without necessarily thinking about it. In storytelling, it’s just as much about how you tell your story as what you say. You have to know your story before you can tell it because that is how you discover your voice and what you stand for and what you want people to know about you. If you don’t quite know your story, it’s about being transparent about the discovery process of finding out what it is. Therein lies your true voice because it speaks to your being and what you want to become.

As a founder, creating a compelling story is your way to control the narrative about your business. You are giving information needed to formulate what your brand stands for and what makes you distinct so your tribe and community of customers want to connect with you and, hopefully, tell others about you. People love hearing and sharing good stories so you want audiences remembering and passing along yours in the way you want them told. Tell a bad story and they’ll either forget about it or form one they want to tell which is rarely in your best interest.

Know your story. It will become a part of your brand.

About the author: Lyn Graft has filmed 500 entrepreneurs including the founders of Starbucks, Whole Foods and LinkedIn. He co-created and produced CNBC’s first primetime TV series ‘American Made’ and has produced 800 videos. is the author of the best selling book, “Start with Story.” Find it here: