Improve Your Business Like a Storyteller
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
There are a group of principles that creative writers and storytellers use to create innovative work. They swear by these “rules” as they’re the fundamental tools that help produce the films and books that we love so much. Interestingly, there’s a parallel between what it takes to write a good story and what it takes to blossom as a company. Here are a few storytelling principles that work great when they’re applied to a business:
1) Show, don’t tell.
This is the most basic storytelling principle. It might sound logical and straightforward, though this might be the toughest one to grasp. How do we show and not tell in a business?
It’s important to educate your employees and help them grow within the company. A problem can occur when we try too hard to explain things without actually showing how to do them. It’s like the old saying goes: “A boss will tell you what to do, a leader will show you how to do it.” The same thing applies to working with potential clients. We are visual beings and want to engage in your work rather than listen to facts. This is why power points are such great tools to engage your “audience’s mind”. Show them what you have done, show them how you did it, and show them what you can do for them.
Great stories are simple and focused. They know what they are, what they want to say and what they want to achieve with this. A business should do the same thing, really. Know what you represent, know your mission statement, and know what you want to achieve with this. A business will bloom if you make sure to stay focused in what you do. Once you grow as a company, you can obviously start to expand, adapt and develop new ideas. Though, you should always remember: “A tree has to grow its trunk before it can start developing branches.”
3) Root for the underdog
More times than not, we love to follow characters that develop and grow within a narrative. Even if they don’t necessarily succeed, we can appreciate the journey that they’ve been through. Perhaps this character achieves a new goal that they didn’t even know existed in the first place. The same applies to a business. Whether you’re a new innovative start-up or an established company. Give people a reason to root for you. What are you trying to achieve? Why is that different from other companies? What are the obstacles? Be open and transparent. People like to be reminded that everyone is struggling in their pursuit of success and happiness. It makes a business relatable and people will want to root for you. The same principle applies to an internal business environment. Every employee is an underdog in some sort of way and they each have an individual story to tell. Listen to their stories and see how you can help them achieve their personal goals. Who knows, it might inspire you.
4) Embrace conflict
Conflict doesn’t necessarily mean “having an argument”. It’s the word used to explain a character’s internal or external struggles. An opposing force that urges the protagonist to act and (literally or figuratively) fight. It’s the narrative thread that keeps a story going. You can’t have a story without conflict. The same applies to managing a business. You will inevitably encounter a bunch of no-sayers, and this constant rejection can cause a major drop in motivation. Though it’s important to realise that these “conflicts” are a great way to learn and grow. Imagine if every project was a piece of cake, one would quickly get bored… right? Develop new tools, try out a different strategy, use different problem solving technique. And if all else fails, take a step back, go for a walk, breath and focus on something else. The greater the effort, the sweeter the victory!
Storytelling is a skill like any other, which you can improve overtime. And we all love stories, so learning how to use them can positively improve your business.