Don’t tell your origin story. Do this instead.
A few years ago, I fell into conversation with an off-duty Emergency Room physician. We were both walking our rescue dogs.
“How did you choose ER as a specialty?” I asked.
“I like working with my hands,” he said. “In the ER you get to stitch up people a lot.”
Not the most exciting story in the world. Luckily, he doesn’t need to do marketing.
But the truth is, many — perhaps most — business owners have pretty straightforward origin stories, when they’re telling the truth. Some people call them “Borigin stories.”
Even worse, a lot of well-meaning advice comes in the form of, “You must explain how you got into this business.” I recently heard a podcast guest proclaim, “You need a story of who you are, going back to your childhood.”
It’s a good idea to be prepared for the ‘“How did you start” question. It’s all too easy to revive memories and provide an answer that doesn’t serve you.
Instead, the secret is to be strategic. Prepare a story that will help you stand out and differentiate your services.
Share a story that demonstrates your authority and/or a story that demonstrates your passion for helping clients.
An authority story shows that others respect your knowledge, validating your expertise. For example:
“I was working as a fitness trainer. That’s a very competitive career in my city. My slots were always filled, even on summers and holidays.
“My fellow trainers started asking me for help. I helped some of them fill their calendars with clients in their specialty. When trainers from another club asked for help, I started charging them.
“And now I rarely train myself. I have a business helping fitness trainers build up a solid income. One guy almost cried when he realized he could finally take his family to Fiji on vacation without losing clients while he was away.”