The Power of Storytelling: key to running a successful business

Mehra Lester

Posted on September 14, 2023

The power of storytelling

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Storytelling is a crucial element of being an entrepreneur and is key to running a successful business. As Richard Branson famously says, “If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a good storyteller”. You need to convince people that what you are offering serves a purpose and/or meets a need. Storytelling is an art and skill, an underrated but fundamental part of entrepreneurship and business. This article explores the importance of storytelling, the different types of storytellers and how you can tell your story effectively. 

Storytelling: an art and a skill

In entrepreneurship, the ability to tell a compelling story is invaluable. It goes beyond merely sharing information or presenting data; it is about capturing the hearts and minds of your audience. Compelling storytelling can create connections, inspire action, and ultimately drive the success of your business.

Even researchers are finding that, scientifically, our brains love stories. Stories trigger a release of chemicals in our brains, including oxytocin (emotional bonding), dopamine (pleasurable feelings) and cortisol (attention).

At its core, storytelling is about creating a narrative that resonates with your audience. It is about painting a vivid picture, engaging emotions, and conveying the essence of your brand or vision.

Why does storytelling matter?

  • Storytelling breeds creativity and ideas,
  • Creates connections with others,
  • And helps people resonate with your purpose.

By harnessing the power of storytelling, entrepreneurs can captivate potential customers, investors, and stakeholders, making a lasting impression that sets them apart from the competition. People tend to buy from those they connect with; storytelling allows entrepreneurs to establish that connection.

Different types of storytellers

There are five main types of storytellers. Which one are you?

1. Storytellers who ignite fire. These storytellers excel at narrating stories that evoke strong emotions, passion, and enthusiasm in their audience. They often share rags-to-riches stories or tales of individuals who have overcome adversity and succeeded against all odds. The goal is to ignite a fire within the listeners, motivating them to persevere and take action despite their challenges. Think Richard Branson.

2. Storytellers who educate. This category of storytellers focuses on disseminating knowledge and information to the audience. They have a desire to bring about change and use storytelling as a means to educate and enlighten people about various subjects. These storytellers aim to make complex topics understandable and accessible to the general public.

3. Storytellers who inspire. Like “igniting fire,” these storytellers aim to uplift and motivate their audience, but they often use more personal and relatable stories. They share inspiring tales of individuals who have achieved greatness, who have triumphed over adversity, or who have made a positive impact on others. Our Founder, Gemma Manning, is an inspirational storyteller, and wrote a memoir, About This Girl, with the view to inspire the next generation of female founders.

4. Storytellers who launch movements. These storytellers are instrumental in creating and promoting movements or social impact ventures. They use storytelling to rally people around a shared cause or mission, encouraging them to act and support the movement’s goals. Sheryl Sandberg is a great example with her Lean In movement.

5. Storytellers who simplify. This type of storyteller is skilled at breaking down complex or technical concepts into easily understandable narratives. They cater to audiences who may not understand the subject matter deeply, making it accessible to a broader range of people. Like Brene Brown, these storytellers find ways to make intricate ideas relatable to most people. Brene Brown does this exceptionally well by unpacking concepts like empathy and breaking this down with simple examples that explain what otherwise is tricky to grasp fully.

How storytelling has helped entrepreneurs succeed

Many entrepreneurs will agree with Richard Branson on how critical storytelling has been for their own successful business journey.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is a successful entrepreneur who has used storytelling to connect with her audience and build a successful brand. She often shares personal stories about her own life and experiences, which helps her audience connect with her personally.

And Steve Jobs was a master storyteller who used his stories to inspire and motivate his employees and customers. He often told stories about his journey, as well as stories about the history of Apple and its products. These stories helped to create a sense of excitement and anticipation around Apple products, which helped to drive sales.

Then there is Tony Robbins a motivational speaker who has used storytelling to help people achieve their goals. He often tells stories about his own experiences, as well as stories about the experiences of his clients. These stories help to inspire people to believe in themselves and to take action toward their goals.

In summary, storytelling is a powerful tool that can transform your business. By embracing your role as a professional storyteller and understanding what kind of storyteller you are and outlining your story, you can create connections, inspire others, and build a purpose-driven business. Remember, your story has the potential to captivate and engage, so don’t underestimate the impact of weaving it into every aspect of your entrepreneurial journey. To learn more about effectively telling your story as an entrepreneur, check out the YoungGems® Real World Masterclass on storytelling.

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