Do you know the three stories crucial to successfully growing your business?

There are three stories that drive my whole business. Every part of it, from website content, to the classes I offer, all the way to organizing my computer and even remembering to do my accounting (seriously!) hinges on these three stories.

Over my 20 years of doing this, I’ve noticed that the people who’ve taken time to articulate these stories—even just in their journals—tend to steadily grow, stay on track, and suffer less frustration in their working lives. Below are these three stories, and I’ll put the most important one first.

Can you relate? (Want to practice? Email me your stories, or lack of them, because I am a story nerd and love to talk about it 🙂

The first:
Knowing the story of the person out there we’ve shown up to help…and who we’re uniquely ABLE to help.

The person who most needs what you offer has a story. S/he’s on a particular quest—whether it’s articulated like that or not—and knowing what it IS is the first step toward being able to establish a warm relationship with her.

I’ll tell you how I feel about my own, as an example to jump off from.

She’s always with me.

She’s had the guts to decide to work for herself rather than work for others. She’s not just after the benefits of self-employment: Creative expression, self-determination, autonomy, flexibility, income etc. She also craves the chance to shape her business to the needs of a higher purpose, bigger than just boosting the bottom line of a big organization with her skills and gifts.

Of course, she’s bumped up against all the obstacles we’ve faced too: It’s hard work to get started. It’s not easy getting a steady stream of clients. Marketing can be a mystery. Everyone wants to sell you some expensive miracle cure for whatever ails your business. Suddenly, 24 hours is too few to pull off the productive day you imagined you’d have. And those are just a few of the dozens of little stumbling blocks including…doing your books.

But she keeps on going.  One foot in front of the other. One helpful friend’s advice at a time. One new client at a time. One life-lesson at a time.

Her courage just blows me away, even when she can’t see it herself.
She’s my hero, and I believe in her.

Who is yours?  And what’s her story?

The second:
Knowing the story of our own work, and WHY we do what we do

This story, when written down, can be big, or it can be small, but either way it should resonate through your entire being when you consider it.

Big might include:

  • how you came to this work, and why you chose to do it
  • whose lives you hope to improve with it
  • the pains or problems or challenges you help release
  • how people are utilizing what you’ve done together to create more joy
  • the ways your work is bringing more good to a person, a community, or the world – the “more of this or less of that” hope that I talk about so often

Small might simply be revisiting an exercise like this:

I help {___description of your ideal people____}
     to  { ____do, be, change, create, etc____}
          using my {____your specific loving offerings ____}
               so they can {__how is their life better?___}.

And the third:
Knowing the good story we hope people will tell others about us

To paraphrase a recent book I read on this, you and I have never gushed to a friend or perfect stranger: “Let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience I had recently!”

That’s obviously not going to happen, right? But what’s the opposite? What IS the story we want them to tell?

Because we all do different things, it’s hard for me to give you an example, but clues might be found by considering some of these statements (variants of thing I’ve read/heard said about my own beloved clients)  Hint: People are becoming a bit immune to “s/he (or it) ‘changed my whole life’ or similar general claims, so you’ll notice these are more specific:

  • I finally feel like I found someone who “gets” me…and doesn’t try to squeeze me into a one-size-fits-all sales funnel.
  • I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to contact her and get started—I’d like all the time back I spent spinning my wheels.
  • Future me is going to look back on this (session/project/class) and realize that a huge shift in my life started right here.
  • Do you know he sends chocolate out to everyone he works with? It’s so cool!
  • She meets with me (for a walking session, over tacos, by video from under her oak tree, any time I need her). I’ve never met anyone else who did it that way.
  • It’s funny – it feels like she’s a friend who just also happens to be my (coach, teacher, consultant, mentor, etc.) How perfect is that?
  • I never thought someone could make me actually like (your topic, action, class, etc.) But I loved it.
  • I had a lot of resistance to change. But we just sort of magically dissolved that together by (what did you do?)

This isn’t just standard testimonial fodder (though it might be nice for that purpose).  Rather, this is capturing something you do, say, or offer that’s memorable, different, and very specific. Those are the kinds of experiences and transformations that grow wings and are shared from person to person easily and swiftly.

Knowing and internalizing these three stories for your work and your business can help knit together all of those dangling parts of your work that often don’t play nice together.