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  • Writer's pictureWoody Harrison

What is Story?

I'm bombarded with references to story every single day. Marketing blogs, "thought leaders," social posts, content writers. You name it. It feels like a new magical buzzword.

So what do these people mean when they say:

Tell your story.

Share your story in your marketing.

To me, if mostly feels like mush. Because there's a fundamental explanation missing.

What is Story?

Let's cut to it.

Story is structure. That's all. The diagram below spells it out pretty clearly.

What does this mean to you, the lowly business owner, or person who feels this constant pressure to TELL YOUR STORY!!!!!

Isn't it nice to have a road map (or Google) to get you to your destination? I think it is. That's exactly what this is. A road map to help tell your story.

Now, here's how you use it.

Let's say you have a new business. You sell organic and healthy pet foods and pet products. Good for you, we all love our pets and want the best for them.

Well, chances are, you weren't born into this job. In fact, you might have had a whole other career before this.

1. Start/establish routine. Let's say you worked at a large insurance company doing...something. And you hated it. Every day.

But it was safe.

Steady paychecks, benefits, mostly nice people. But you felt like there was something else out there for you. A higher calling. A need to find yourself, or just do something YOU want to do for a living. But, a steady paycheck is a powerful anchor. So, you stayed put.

2. Inciting incident. Until one day, something happened at the office. It was a powerful combination of life events and your boss being a dickhead one too many times.

You've had it. Life is too short to live like this. You have dreams to follow and you're gonna follow them, come hell or high water!

You quit. Right there on the spot!!!!

You walk out of the office feeling on top of the world. Until 6pm that night. Then it hits you.

3. Obstacles. Shit. I don't have a paycheck anymore. What the hell did I just do??? That was really stupid.

You share this with your friends. All of them are thrilled for you. They wish they had your courage. You tell your parents. They think you're crazy.

Until you tell them about why you quit and your plans.

Open an organic pet food and pet supply store. Sure, they're happy, but how are you going to do that exactly? How much thought have you put into HOW that's going to happen?

Damn, they got me there. Better get moving!

More obstacles. So, you start counting your money in savings. It's pretty good, but not enough. You ask friends, family, the bank, strangers on the street, anyone for money to fund your dream.

Then, a friend gives the best idea yet. Do a Kickstarter video! You've seen them before and have heard that they actually can work. One of your friends pulls out the iPhone and the two of you end up making a nice little video. You get it up on Kickstarter and kick back and wait for the cash to pour in.

But it doesn't work immediately. You sit there for a while.

Uh oh. This may be it. I'm done for. I have to come crawling back to the insurance company.

NO! This won't be it.

4. Midpoint. You make some calls to local papers. The TV stations. Anyone that will listen. Your video gets plays. Gets donations.

Soon, you have the money you need to get your first location!

But you still need products!

5. More obstacles. So, you find some other stores that are getting rid of merchandise. They've gotten out of the pet food world and are selling only beef jerky to hunters now. They'll sell you the whole lot for pennies. What luck!

6. Tension rises. As you approach your grand opening, you feel sick. Sick with excitement, nervousness, the unknown. What if no one comes? What happens if my dreams fail? What happens if it's a roaring success?

7. Climax. Your grand opening happens 3 months later. As you look out of the windows from inside your new dream, you see a line of dogs...and people. Turns out, they really want what your have. Your dreams have been realized. Even your dickhead boss is in line. He tells you, "Good job." Turns out he's a pretty nice guy outside of the office.

After a long day, the last customer leaves. Exhausted, you turn the sign in the window to "closed." You shut the door behind you, lock up and stumble to your car where you have an emotional outburst similar in energy output to the big bang. Screaming, smiles, crying.

You did it. Sleep well.

So there you go. Here's a basic "founders"story. It's taking the events that lead to the creating of your business and structuring it in a way that the brain can more easily understand.

Basically, story is just a structure for a retelling of events to make it more interesting. I hope this has taken the idea of story from a mush to a solid form you can use.

And by the way, you really should tell your story. I'm sure it's pretty good.


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