What is business storytelling? Just another buzzword? Or an essential way to connect with your audience and build your authority?

We’ve been telling and listening to stories ever since we were wandering hunters, gathering around the campfire each night to tell of the day’s finds and kills. The desire to tell and listen to stories is a natural one, but trying to apply it to a business context can be tricky. 

Stories are tales of adventure, romance and triumph. The story of how you started out in your parents’ garage or worked 18 hour days for 6 months is kind of interesting, but not particularly unusual or compelling in itself. 

Where’s the adventure and romance in ‘kind of interesting’? 

You’re not your story

Business storytelling works when it’s not about you. 

Your business story is about your clients. They’re the stars of the show. You’re the helpful guide who comes along to rescue them when they think all is lost. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about what you’ve done and where you’ve come from (you probably should). It does mean that when you talk about that stuff, you do it in a way that your clients can see themselves in you. 

When I was a kid, if I read a story, I would  imagine myself in the world of that book. I’d feel almost as if I was the main character, or maybe one of their friends (actually, I kind of still do this). And the stories I did this with most deeply? Those in which I felt like I had something in common with the protagonist. They were me, in a parallel life. 

That’s exactly what you want to do with your business story. You want people to identify with it and feel like they could be you. That you share values and aspirations. That you get the adversity they face and that you’ve overcome it. 

When you tell your business story, start with your clients’ story

The story arc

Take a look at the classic story arc here

Almost every story worthy of the name has a narrative arc that takes you on a journey of conflict, change and resolution. 

Sounds formulaic? It is, and it works. Bestselling novels will usually stick very closely to a classic story arc (even if they’re ‘literary’ in their prose). The vast majority of films will too. There are of course experimental exceptions, but in general, the stories that people are drawn to follow the same basic structure. 

At the beginning of the story, the bottom of the arc, the story begins with the status quo. What is happening right now? 

Then, the action begins to happen as the arc rises. What challenges must be overcome?

At the climax of the story, the top of the arc, comes the most danger, and the greatest opportunity. This is where you, as a guide, can step in and help your clients avert danger. 

As the arc falls, the story begins to resolve, the danger has passed and, in the end, happiness is restored and all is well. 

Telling your clients’ story through your own

Once you’ve sketched out your clients’ story using the story arc, you’ll begin to see ways in which you can tell your own story in a way that relates directly to your clients’ experience. 

If you want to tell the story of how you started and grew your business, look for the common ground you have with your clients. 

If you started off working all hours around your full-time job and family, how can you find ways to talk about it that you clients will relate to and see themselves in?

If you faced a significant challenge to do something that was unexpected or new in your industry, what parallels are there with the challenges your clients have faced?

If you were helped by someone or something, how can you share that in a way that demonstrates your own processes and the ways in which you help your clients. 

Connect your story with your clients’ stories

For any story to be meaningful and memorable, it must create a connection. Your clients don’t have to have done exactly the same things as you, or faced the same challenges. 

But if they’re going to care about your story, they must see something of themselves in it. For this to work, you want to have an ideal client profile in mind when you write your story.

The importance of the ideal client

It’s going to be pretty tough, if not impossible, to try and see the common ground between your story and multiple different types of clients. That means when you write your story, you should have a detailed ideal client profile already written. 

When you have that, you know your ideal client’s struggles, desires and challenges. You know exactly how you can help them. And, therefore, you know exactly what your own role in their story is. 

How to use your business story

The most obvious way to tell your business story is on your About page. But there are many other places you can tell it. 

You could:

  • Talk about it in your social posts (social media is ideal for helping people get to know you and understand the more personal aspects of your story). 
  • Write a blog outlining how you help your clients when the stakes are at their highest, referencing your own story and how you’ve overcome similar challenges.
  • Write a blog that demonstrates your expertise, not referencing your story directly, but keeping it in mind as you write. Being clear on your own story will make it easier for you to show that you are the right person to help. 

Problems and solutions

All stories present a problem and a solution (whether the solution works or not defines whether the story has a happy ending or not). 

As a business owner, you offer a solution to a problem. 

So you already have a story. Your clients already have a story. It’s there, ready for you to write it.


If you need a bit of help to go deeper into storytelling, join me for a Content Kickstart.