The Simple Question Every Founder Must Answer: What's My Story?

Our stories -- layered with meaning and inflection points that have brought us to what we are compelled to do today -- have great power. In our social interactions, stories create opportunities to relate to one another, loyalty, and memorability. The same is true in business, and knowing one's story is vital when setting off on building a startup. These stories will inspire others to join our teams, invest in our companies, and support our businesses. It's time to take a break from the hustle,  and dive a little deeper into the power of your story and what it means for your business.

Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a dynamic storytelling workshop at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco with Michael Margolis from Get Storied. I loved syncing up with my creative side again while asking myself some tough questions to unveil the awesome story that lies within.

As you start your journey to uncovering your story, here are some questions to ask yourself in the process:

Do I Know my Story?

Your first instinct may be, “of course I do!” Great -- then write it down, share it with a friend or colleague, and get feedback. What does it mean to them, and how do they see it affecting where you are now?

If you don’t have your story down, then take some time to think it through and start crafting it. What key events in your life have brought you to where you are, and where do you see yourself and your work going next? Go through the same process of sharing it, getting feedback and fine tuning.

Am I Sharing my Story with Others?

As Michael says, people tend to hold their stories too tightly. There is likely pure magic in what you have to share, and it just might be the key ingredient that gets others excited and engaged in what you are doing. People need to feel it to believe it! Whether that means speaking publicly, writing online or in print, or simply sharing with friends, taking the opportunities to speak more about your path makes other perceive you as more authentic and credible -- and in effect, more trustworthy.

How has my Story Shaped my Business?

As a founder, you are the foundation for your company, products, and team. You are likely the person driving your company values and culture. It is important to understand how your story reflects across all of these aspects. What values are important to you? What kind of people do you find yourself doing best around, and vice versa? How do you want to be remembered?

Does my Company have a Story?

Customers connect with stories and people, meaning you have to make your story feel real for them. Strong connection points are what drive customer engagement and loyalty, after all. Determining what your company stands for and whether your story comes from a possibility perspective versus a problem perspective will be key in growing more meaningful connections and relationships for your business.

If your company lacks a story, consider the questions above, for the sake of both you and your business.

Reconnecting with your story is a powerful exercise that I would encourage every founder to do. I loved Michael’s perspective that as entrepreneurs, the biggest obstacle we often face is ourselves. This resonated with me as I often say, “We set our own limits and sometimes the only thing between us and our dreams is ourselves.” Let you story propel you and your business forward, not hold you back.