At 65 years of age, Colonel Sanders received his first social security cheque of $99. He was broke, owned a small house and a beat up car. He made a decision that things had to change. His friends used to like his chicken recipe very much. The fact that this was the only novel idea he had, he decided to act upon it.
He left Kentucky and started his travels to different US states to sell his idea. He would tell restaurant owners that he had a chicken recipe which people liked and he was ready to give it to them for free, in return for a small percentage on the items sold. He got rejections after rejections, but did not give up. In fact, he got over 1000 rejections.
He got 1009 NO’s before he got his first Yes. With that one success Colonel Hartland Sanders changed the eating habits of the whole world with Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC.
(This story comes care of yourstory.com)
It is National Storytelling Week. So my question to you is: what is your business story? By business story, I mean the reason your business exists, how you got started or why you got started. It's the storyline that underpins your brand and your mission.
Everyone has a reason why they started up their business. Some admittedly are more exciting than others. But even if you don't have a very exciting business back story, there are things you can do to transform it into something more memorable.
Before we get into how to come up with a good business story, let's look at why you even need one:
So how do you come up with a good business story? Answer these questions:
Why did you start your business?
Think beyond simply needing to make a living.
What was your background?
Imagine being at a dinner party and someone asks about your life.
Have you had to overcome something significant, experienced a tragedy or hit a major milestone?
Everyone loves a story about people who've hit rock bottom and had to climb there way back up. But you don't have to have hit rock bottom, you may just have had something happen that affected your status quo that led to you starting a business.
For example, an previous client of mine got the idea for her baby and toddler friendly travel company after her 2 year old fell into an unenclosed pool while they were on holiday.
Have you had a light bulb moment or chance opportunity?
Some of our best ideas happen when we're busy making other plans. For example, when I was weaning my baby, I decided to make baby food for a living. While researching the market, I came across a baby food company I'd not heard of. I got hold of them and suggested they could do a better job marketing to mums. They hired me. I went on to set up a PR business helping companies in the parenting sector. That became my business story.
Have you got a terrific customer story you can tell?
Perhaps your business started up because you had a client that you helped and off the back of that awesome work, you set up an entire business. Like I did, with the baby food company.
There are plenty of ways you can tell your story if you think creatively. But what if you just don't have a story?
Sometimes we start up businesses for two very simple reasons: it's what we can do and we need to earn a living. You don't have a brainwave. You don't overcome some tragedy. You don't have to overcome any insurmountable obstacles. In fact, let's make up a story based on the truth behind many small businesses:
Penny - in her 30s - had a nice, normal childhood growing up in the midlands. She had no major family issues and no health scares. She went to college and got a book keeping diploma. She began working at a local business in her home town. In her spare time, she cycled and enjoyed a glass of wine and a chat with her friends. She's just a friendly, bubbly person who is happy to help others. She met a nice bloke, got married and had kids. They're all fine too. Her husband earned a good salary as a manager at a local IT company. They realised that someone needed to be at home with the kids while they were little, and as her husband earned more, Penny decided to stay at home. She volunteered at the pre-school by acting as treasurer and did a little bit of book keeping work now and then for extra cash. She still cycled when she got the chance.
Once her kids go to school, she decides to set herself up as a freelance book keeper so that she can still be there for the kids when they get home but she can actually start to earn some money. She has a think about who might need her services and decides to target the small to mid-size businesses near her. Now she's stuck. She doesn't have a big vision. She doesn't really want to set fire to the world and create a bookkeeping empire. She doesn't have a burning desire to transform the bookkeeping world. She just wants a steady stream of paying customers. How does she market herself? How can she create compelling marketing based on her story? She has nothing to say that makes a good story. Right?
Here's what Penny might do:
How to craft the story
Once you have the nub of your story figured out, it's a case of sitting down and writing it.
No matter who you are, you can craft a story and a brand that reflects the true you and will attract your ideal clients. If you want help telling your story, get in touch. I offer a clarity and / or copywriting packages that will help you get to the heart of your story.
I'd love to hear your story. Share it in the comments below or over on the Campfire Club on Facebook.
If you have a Facebook page, you may be getting increasingly frustrated by the low engagement or eyeballs you're getting on your posts. A recent change to Facebook's algorithm means that the posts from family, friends and groups will be given priority.
That doesn't mean you should get rid of your Facebook business page. But you do need to ensure that the content you share on your page is going to generate conversations between users, and not in a spammy way. Ways to boost the visibility of your page posts include using live videos, not sharing links that send people off Facebook, paying for advertising and creating content that gets people talking.
But what about groups. Should you create a Facebook group for your business? After all, the new algorithm specifically says that groups will be given priority. But is running a Facebook group just another job to add to your to do list? Will it actually do anything for your business?
I run two Facebook groups. One supports my business, the other is the business. Here's my experience of running groups and tips on how to do it.
The Campfire Club
This is a free Facebook group I set up as an extension of my Campfire brand. I set it up because I know how hard it can be running a business. It can feel lonely, overwhelming and demoralising when everyone else seems to be nailing it, yet you're battling to make any money. Sometimes you just want to ask a quick question or get advice, without having to pay a fortune for an expert's help. So I set the group up as a way to have a virtual campfire with a warm, supportive and friendly vibe. It's my way of giving to people who may not be able to afford my services.
How I run it:
I have three set days to drive discussion:
What does it do for my business?
I set this group up a year ago. At the time I didn't have a Facebook page and I had a basic website. I didn't have a business. All I had was an idea - to get more women out walking and to help them connect. I set the group up as a way of doing that. It has grown to over 900 members and is largely the business. For now (I am working on other ideas behind the scenes). It acts as a way for women to find other women to walk with, share ideas, pictures and walks.
How I run it?
What does it do for my business?
Facebook groups have given me a completely new way of connecting and communicating with my ideal target audience. Yes it has added to my workload, but the insights the groups have given me have been invaluable. So would I recommend having one? Yes - if you have a community that you want to learn from and a business you want to grow. Be sure you know who your audience is before setting it up. Keep it targeted and you're more likely to be successful.
How to set up a group
Got any tips on how to manage a Facebook group? Share them in the comments. And if you want to join either of my groups, feel free.
Click here for the Campfire Club
Click here for Glamoraks (women only)
I often hear small business owners say: 'I spend so much time marketing my business but it doesn't seem to do anything. I still don't have enough business.'
That could be because they're marketing in the wrong place, to the wrong people, or using the wrong messages and attention grabbing stories. Or they could be too tactical. They see an opportunity and think,' Heck I need to do something for that!' and they cobble something half-heartedly together at the last minute. Funnily enough, it doesn't work. I speak from experience here. I have often seen last minute opportunities (which I could have planned for) and pulled something together at the last minute and lo and behold, tumbleweeds.
For other small business owners, they know that they need to put out regular content but they are stumped as to what they should say. They are all out of creative ideas.
What they need is a strategic plan. And that's not as scary as it sounds. It simply means thinking more carefully about where you want your business to go, who you're trying to reach and how you can help them - and then making sure that whatever marketing you are doing, supports that.
Which is why I will be running an hour-long workshop on Wednesday 17 January at 10am to help you get strategic and focused in your marketing to help your business grow. It will cover:
You will also get (if you haven't already got it) my free content calendar that plots out all the major events, initiatives, awareness days, anniversaries and more throughout 2018. It comes in a pretty to look at version and an easy to print one. PLUS you get my free plan template, which we will use as the workbook for this workshop.
You will leave with a clear sense of where you should be heading. More than that, you will be able to confidently cut out a bunch of stuff you're currently doing if it isn't moving your business forward. Less work with better results. And did I mention that you'll be buzzing with ideas that you hadn't thought of before?
I'd love to have you join me. The cost is just $35 (£25 approximately) which is nothing for an hour of training, advice and super useful documents that go along with it.