Setting up your own business isn’t easy. If you’ve done it, or are in the process of doing it, you’ll know that it is an experience full of the unexpected, the challenging and the unpredictable. Indeed, it is likely that your entrepreneurship story has as many intriguing characters and surprising plot twists as the latest Jon Grisham. That is all part of the rich, exhilarating and incredible journey of entrepreneurship. What you may not realise, however, is that this story could be a powerful asset for your business.
Why do humans love stories?
Everyone loves a good story. Moreover, increasingly, research in neuroscience is demonstrating how fundamental to human understanding storytelling is. Neuroscientist Paul J Zak has shown that a chemical called oxytocin is released in the brain when we are trusted or shown kindness. This chemical enhances people’s empathy and willingness to cooperate with others. Fascinatingly, Zak’s lab has also demonstrated that the production of this chemical can be stimulated with great storytelling.
Their research shows that character driven stories actually cause oxytocin synthesis. This leads to subjects being more willing to help others. More than this, the research found that narratives which hold your attention, by creating tension, make it very likely that you will share the emotions of the characters involved. You will also likely have greater recall of the main points of the story.
In summary, stories that follow the classic model of a strong central hero you can identify with, that hero facing adversity and tension, followed by resolution, have an enormous impact on our brain.
So how can you harness the power of great storytelling to help your business?
Zak’s research showed three key effects of storytelling:
- It made people more willing to help others
- It makes them empathize with the characters in the story
- It helps people to recall key points of the narrative
Now imagine you are pitching for investment, trying to recruit some superstar talent, or marketing to your target consumers. Aren’t these three effects exactly what you would be hoping to achieve with your audience?
As an entrepreneur, you are guaranteed to have an amazing story to share. So, if you can tell it effectively, then you stand a much better chance of getting people on board with your business.
How do I create my story?
To start forming your entrepreneurship story into a narrative that will help to persuade people to get on board with you business, follow these simple steps:
- Go back to the beginning. Where did your idea come from? What compelled you to turn that idea into a reality?
- How did it feel leaving your job/career path and starting out on your own? Were you scared? Did everyone advise you against it? Make it personal, make it emotional.
- What sacrifices did you have to make to get your idea off the ground? What risks did you have to take to make it work? What obstacles did you over come on your journey?
- Finally, wrap it up with the successful launch of your business, the great feedback you’ve had, the milestones you’ve accomplished, and where you’re headed next.
If you follow these four steps then you’ll have the foundation of a brilliant, engaging story that you can start using to build your business.
Now over to you
When you talk to people outside your business, be it investors, customers or press, tell them a story. One with plenty of human interest and emotion. One that will get the oxytocin flowing. One that will make the empathize with you, want to cooperate with you and remember all the key information you want to impart.
The idea of using storytelling in communications has been around for a while now. However, to make sure you are really unlocking its full power, use this classic model: tell character driven stories, with conflict and tension, packed with emotion and with a satisfying resolution.