You’re a Human, Not Just a Business

True story: Until I was in my 30s, I couldn’t phone in a pizza order without feeling paralyzed by anxiety.

And even though I’ve been name dropped in Forbes, interviewed for a dozen podcasts and summits, taught in some super A-Player groups, and been onstage with some pretty high falutin’ Clubhouse hosts, I’m still very much an introvert.

While I tend to prefer the company of my plants to large crowds of people, I also know that people love to hear about small businesses. Their stories are the stuff that blockbusters are made of: an unassuming origin story of a dream and figuring it out; setbacks and roadblocks that are eventually overcome; growing into the role and the first victories; and reaping the rewards of hard work and perseverance.

Even if you’re like me, just trying to help others and make your business work one day at a time, you have a story that people want to hear.

People do business with other people, not businesses.

I am a firm believer in the Blue Ocean strategy, where instead of undercutting and slashing competition, you grow your business by focusing on what makes your business different. And no matter what your business, it always has one unique factor: you!

In an ever-crowded world that makes money from people’s attention, more and more people are looking for a deeper connection. Instead of sticking with big names and recognizable brands, we want to know who makes our products, how they make them, and how they treat their employees, customers, and the environment. We want to support businesses that align with our values and that were started by people who care.

That’s why your story is an asset: it gives people a reason to connect with your business through your personal experience. Your story is how you attract DREAM clients, the ones who will stick with you and become advocates for your business.

As the owner of a business serving other businesses that often start out as a side hustle, I’m dealing with an ambitious and hardworking client base. I know because that’s how I started out, too.

There are a lot of soul-centered entrepreneurs who started their business for the same reason I started mine: to create more possibilities for themselves and/or their family. Maybe, like me, their child asked for an experience that could expand their worldview or develop their natural talents. Many times, like me, they need to juggle their side gig with a full-time job to make ends meet. 

That’s why telling my story is such an asset: the people I serve are committed to a vision of what’s possible, and they’re not under the illusion that they need to do it alone. 

They’re not looking for a magic pill or a get rich quick scheme; they’re growing a sustainable business that has an impact beyond their bank balance. When they realize that I started my business to help my highly introverted kid take a school trip to Iceland, they love it.

And none of this is to say that a great story is a substitute for the important pieces of an online business – like knowing your ideal client, having a stable lead generation strategy, delivering your best work, and epic customer service – but it is a powerful way to keep your clients coming back again and again.

What’s Your Story?

Think your story isn’t interesting enough? The key is in focusing down on the parts that your dream clients can relate to. Clear out the mundane details and you’ll have a meaningful story to tell.

The Origin Story

You’re an entrepreneur, so that’s already meaningful. Small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in the US, employ 47.3% of the private workforce in the US (69.7% in Canada), and account for 60-65% of net new jobs each year. That’s genuinely impressive!

So start there. Why did you start your business? What inspired you?

Example: Like a lot of online business owners, I wanted to make some extra cash so started a side hustle. My existing skills were surprisingly useful and it grew from there into a multiple 6-figure business within 4 years.

Next, pick the right details that help people put themselves in your shoes. 

  • What was life like when you got the idea for your business? 
  • What made you actually start doing the work? 
  • When did you decide to go full time in your business? 

Share the Valleys as Well as the Peaks

Don’t forget to share the bad parts of your journey, too. A lot of entrepreneurship is about trial and error, so hearing about your missteps can inspire your clients to accept their process, too.

We’re conditioned to hide the bad things in our lives (and post the good things on Instagram). Fight that tendency. Stories without obstacles or challenges are boring. Stories where the protagonist struggles are compelling. People start rooting for the hero, and people who are rooting for you are also rooting for your business.

Talk about struggles that people can relate to, whether or not they’re entrepreneurs:

  • When was a time you failed or almost failed?
  • Have you ever just broken down and cried from all the stress?
  • What did it feel like to be rejected over and over?
  • Did uncertainty ever put a strain on your relationships?

If you like to include teachable moments, share how you overcame these obstacles while keeping it relatable.

Where to use your story

Public Relations (PR)

Pitching your story can be incredibly intimidating because it feels like you’re trying to get them to do something that benefits you. Remember, online publications get paid to tell stories, so if you bring them a relevant one, they also benefit.

Your Website and Social Media

People who want to know more about your business also want to know more about you. Our About page covers the basics, but I tend to sprinkle our full story in blog posts like this one. I also reference our origin story in podcast interviews and social media to highlight the human element of our company.

Email Marketing

Welcome sequences are a great place to tell your story. It’s also a great way to tailor your story for your subscriber based on what they’ve opted in to. For example, you can share how the content in your freebie helped you solve a problem in your own business. If your freebie is a checklist, you could share the story of how to-do lists and post-it’s saved you.

Your story is interesting, even if it doesn’t seem that way to you. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. Hundreds, if not thousands of them, are ready to cheer you on and they don’t even know it yet.

Share below: how will you take your story and share it with the world? You’ll help grow your business and you may inspire someone else to go start something of their own.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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