Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to engage an audience. Before the internet and YouTube. Before TV, radio and even the written word, storytelling is how we learned from other people. It’s in our DNA.
For most entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s your story that got you to where you are now. It’s your story that gives you the credibility and expertise to do what you do. Learn how to tell that story in the right way and it can be a powerful way to engage your clients.
Let me explain by telling my own story.
The early years
I started my career as a trainee accountant working for the largest subsidiary of Unilever. It was a multinational within a multinational and a great training ground for the financial aspects of business. I subsequently moved into implementing accounting systems before moving into project and programme management implementing change in large companies.
Throughout my corporate career I learned huge amounts about:
- managing people,
- dealing with politics,
- the importance of efficient processes,
- the need to know your numbers
- the importance of systems and data
- selecting and managing suppliers
- dealing with regulators
Yes, the scale was many orders of magnitude larger than most small businesses, but many of the lessons are transferable.
My first business
When I was made redundant for the second time in 2003 I decided to set up my own project management consultancy with a former colleague. I had all that experience, great project management skills so the clients would be queuing up right?
It was the classic Kevin Costner – “Field of Dreams” fallacy. We were good project managers but we had never run a business. We knew nothing about marketing or how to close a sale. So we struggled. We went through the feast and famine roller coaster that many small start-ups face. Many don’t survive, but we did. We even got through the financial crisis of 2008 before the roller coaster became too much for my business partner. He went back into corporate life and we closed the business.
Learning the lessons
With the closure of my first business I was determined to learn from our mistakes. So I signed up for various marketing and coaching programmes and a marketing mastermind group. LinkedIn had developed into a powerful but underused tool for businesses so I started with a revamp of my profile. It immediately resulted in a lead from a connection and my first sub-contracting role in my new company.
The marketing programmes I went on taught me the value of producing and sharing great content. So I produced the guides and books seen here. I blogged weekly on all aspects of project management and built a list of over 3000 interested parties. Through LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging I had a six-figure per annum project management consulting and training business.
Having had a business partner for 7 years and managing staff for many years before that, I had deliberately stayed a one-man band. The problem with that was when I had some health issues and wanted to take my foot off the accelerator, there was nobody else to take up the slack. A lesson in scale, or lack of it, and the challenges that brings.
I needed to build a new business with a model less dependent on me. One that could earn money while I sleep. So I turned back to my use of LinkedIn and related social media and online marketing techniques. I created a series of online programmes that are don’t need my full time engagement. I still run courses and do group and 1:2:1 coaching, but that is out of choice. I take that choice because I enjoy working with people, supporting and coaching them to grow and develop their businesses and careers. That’s why I took the opportunity to take ownership of the Guildford Hub when it unexpectedly became available.
Another lesson I learned was that diversification of income streams can be great for resilience. Starting Motorhome Heaven provided that diversification. It also presented new challenges. It was my first real business to consumer business. Motorhome Heaven provided the opportunity to re-use some of my marketing skills and to hone others, such as Google AdWords where we generate around 70% of our business.
Everything I learn through Motorhome Heaven is building on what I have learned in my other businesses. Knowledge I can then share with my coaching clients and Hub members.
As a business owner you never stop learning. The brand identities for most of my businesses have been home-grown. For Motorhome Heaven we went to a branding professional and the results were much better. They were clearer, repeatable and consistent. So taking that on-board I’m in the process of rebranding Linked Business. Yet more experiences to share.
Opportunities to engage
My story has a number of facets. These provide a number of opportunities to find empathy and engagement with prospective clients. Hub Ambassador Adrian Brown is a master of coaching entrepreneurs to use their story to find that connection with potential clients. I’m delighted he is going to show how in next week’s Guildford hub session.
The Guildford Hub Monday 5th March
Hub Ambassador Adrian Brown returns to Guildford and the theme of storytelling. Adrian explains how to use your own story to identify points of connection and empathy with your target audience creating a compelling sales proposition.
Storytelling is an art and to use it successfully in business you need to understand the relationships between the three stories that matter!
In this lively workshop-style event I will first demonstrate how to use the three stories and then in part two, I will work with three businesses to get their stories ready to tell!
If you want to discover how you can connect your prospects to your products and services then come and join in.
If you’re reading this blog after the date on which this talk was run, or you can’t make the date, don’t despair. All Hub talks are livestreamed in the Business Hubs Members Closed Facebook group and are then stored in the group for you to watch again and again at your convenience. All Hub members have access to our back catalogue of talks since we started livestreaming in the middle of 2016. It’s another huge benefit of being a Hub member.
Go to www.guildfordhub.com to see what’s on and sign up. Your first visit is free.