How to Ruin Your Business Story

Many folks are still afraid to tell their story. They’re worried they’ll say/write something wrong or something that will be offensive. Maybe. That’s always possible but that’s probably not how you’re going to ruin your story. now entering storyville

Most people will not ruin their story through:

  • taking a stand
  • bad writing (Come on. There’s more of that than there is good.)
  •  telling the wrong story
  • having a story that’s similar to another’s

Nope. It’s much simpler than that.


Most Businesses Ruin Their Story By…


being bland. They think they’re telling a story but the things they include in their story are what I refer to as blah details. Blah details are details no one has any emotional attachment to. I wrote a post on how they’ll ruin your storytelling.

Many moons ago when I was in school, my high school history teacher talked about the “rally around the flag” effect. These are the concepts that cause people to come together. They are the “mom” and “apple pie” type ideals that most of the population shares an affinity for. (Please don’t tell me you hate pie. It’s merely figurative.)


These concepts apply to storytelling. There are several stories that resonate with Americans.

  • The underdog achieving greatness such as a poor child graduating at the top of her class or an unemployed steelworker winning the lottery
  • A happy ending (particularly in romance) where someone’s struggles are rewarded
  • A good heart (or bad one) getting what it deserves like a hardworking waitress receiving a monstrous tip from an unknown benefactor


How can you use the truths in your business?

Think about the obstacles you’ve overcome. Think about the details that make you different from everyone else. Now think about what you have in common with everyone else.


Wait, what?


The ideal story will unite you with your audience, having them rooting for you or siding with you, but be unique enough that people will repeat it. It will stick with them.

Things that unite people are struggles. Everyone has them. When you’re giving voice to your struggles and what you’ve overcome make sure you give enough details that your story, while it resonates with your audience, does not sound like every other small business.

You don’t have to only highlight struggles. You can also highlight what you believe strongly in.


Example: Summer reminds me of the joy of half-melted Italian ice dripping down my chin. My grandmother bought this special treat from the corner grocery store; the tiny kind of shop you’re careful not to turn around in too fast in fear that you’ll knock down a pyramid of tomato sauce jars. I don’t know if that kindly grocer sold it to us for a quarter because that was what it cost or because he just loved to watch us enjoy it. His gentle smile and laugh made us feel like his best customers. He was my first experience with a local, small business owner and thirty years later his generosity and appreciation for his customers inspires my business.


You probably won’t ruin your business story by being controversial. You’ll ruin it by speaking of things that have no identifiable meaning. I like the outdoors is not a story. In fact, it’s not even interesting. It’s not interesting because it’s lacking meaningful details. What exactly is the outdoors? Do you like the snow? The sun? The surf? Add that. Now go deeper. Why? When did you notice this?


Paint a picture. Cast a line. Invite your customer in.


Need some help telling your story?


photo credit: BCPL photo


Your turn...