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  • How can I use my own experiences to help my business?
  • What’s the personal approach to storytelling?
  • What’s the higher purpose approach?

Storytelling isn’t just for gatherings around the campfire. It’s also a way to make people care about your business.

What if you don’t have a story all loaded up and ready to tell? Here’s the good news: No business is boring. You just need to figure out what makes yours so special.

Imagine that there’s a business owner named Michael who makes hats for cats, donating part of his proceeds to animal rescues.

Choose a better starting point:

  • Cats for Hats sells fashion accessories for cats online. Our hats come in 6 different styles.
  • I started Cats for Hats to help local shelters. Each hat sold saves the life of a cat in need.

It shares what inspires Michael (beyond money) to do what he does, instead of just talking about what he sells.

There are two ways you can approach your business story: personal or higher purpose.

A personal approach centres on the moment or moments in your life that sparked your business idea.

A higher purpose approach hinges on a greater, shared goal that your business already has.

We’ll look at the personal approach first and see how tech company FiLIP uses it.

Founded in 2009, FiLIP makes smartphone watches that keep young children in touch with their parents. But that’s not the personal story behind the business.

FiLIP is actually named after the son of the founder, Sten Kirkbak. When Filip (the son) was three, Sten briefly lost him in a crowded mall – which inspired Sten to create FiLIP the company.

“I believe that many of the world’s best products are born when people create something that they want or need for themselves”.

Sten tells this story to customers, starting with his mission statement.

He also appeals to moms and dads with photos of him and Filip. This helps people relate personally to FiLIP, instead of seeing it as just technology.

Now let’s look at how KIND Healthy Snacks uses the higher purpose approach.

KIND Healthy Snacks’ higher purpose is to make the world a little kinder, one act at a time.

Partnering with their community, the company inspires people to do the KIND thing. They call this the KIND Movement.

One part of that movement is KIND Causes. It helps people and organizations bring socially-impactful ideas to life through monthly grants.

They also created STRONG & KIND, an initiative that breaks down cultural stereotypes and proves it’s strong to be kind.

FiLIP started with a personal story and KIND started with a higher purpose…but both are engaging and stand out. When you create your story, keep this in mind: The best stories are specific, they take people on a journey, and they aren’t just about buzzwords and trends.

Business stories can be a mix of personal and higher purpose, but it’s easier to use one direction to begin creating your story. Let’s figure out which direction might be easier for you.

I’m ok with being the (literal) face of my business:

  • Yes, I am ready for my close up
  • Whoa, I like my privacy

I want my business to start a movement:

  • Ummm, I’m busy enough as the owner
  • Yes. Let’s rally the people

An event in my life sparked my business idea:

  • Absolutely
  • Not really

I feel like people can relate to my personal life and my challenges:

  • Yes, you could use me as a case study.
  • Maybe… but my situation is unique.

I want my employees to be “believers” – actively living by my business’ core values:

  • Yes, we should stand together.
  • Hmm, not so important

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer