March 3, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You have talent, good ideas and a lot of passion, you are willing to take risks and you know how to handle the extraordinary complexity of the business world. But, you probably don't have a marketing department that is capable of conducting and processing correct market research and developing communication strategies that allow you to differentiate your products or services and reach your target audiences. Perhaps you don't have a mega-award-winning ad agency at the Cannes Film Festival that can propose innovative creative paths and deliver memorable executions, such as TV commercials or digital ads. And, surely, you do not have investors with full pockets who can finance the development of your new products, an aggressive distribution strategy and advertising campaigns in mass media.
However, there is at your fingertips a powerful and unique secret weapon that no one has but you, something that no competitor can take away or copy from you, a tool that costs no money and that you can build in a few days. This secret weapon is a story .
The strength of this secret weapon is that it does its job in silence, in a hidden way, but it produces extraordinary results and gives you great advantages over your competitors or enemies.
But, to become your secret weapon to differentiate your brand and align your collaborators to a common strategy or promote innovation projects, your story must be better than all the others that are told in your category.
A story clearly defines your project, articulates your higher purpose, and becomes the driving force behind extraordinary results. If you do not find the appropriate story, your collaborators, partners, clients, friends and even your family members will make up a story about you and about your venture that most likely does not correspond to the truth and that, in addition, you do not like it.
When building a story, you must be clear that this is not a little story, but that it shapes a strategy: it must define the successes and failures of the past and clearly draw the path that is going to be followed. A story is like a journey through which your business travels a path that connects the past with the future , sets a course and establishes some stages. The more interesting and unique your trip, the more likely your audiences will want to follow you on it.
To define the history of your company or your project, I recommend that you spread out a large sheet of paper on your table and divide it into three columns.
The first column represents, applying biblical terminology, the “Genesis” of your business. In this column, using for example a red marker, you must answer questions such as: When and how did my trip start? Why did I choose a certain path? What were my original dreams? Have those wishes been fulfilled?
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To fill out this column it is important that you remember the entire trip and, with the utmost honesty, recognize if at any time you have strayed from the original path, accept what you have done well and where you have gone wrong. By doing this exercise you will discover what are the values that are at the base of your project and that motivate all your efforts beyond the desire to earn money.
In this territory you must keep in mind that, in some way, the history of your project and your personal history are closely related, but they are not the same thing. Certain aspects of your personal history have an impact on your entrepreneurship and others do not.
In the second column, the one that defines the “Status Quo”, you should reflect on the current situation of your project and thus answer, for example, with a blue marker, questions such as: Is today connected with yesterday? Is the current course the one that was planned at the beginning or have I deviated from the initial intentions? I NEED A CHANGE? Why?
This space is used to analyze if the values and dreams that mobilized you when creating your business have been maintained over time or if, on the contrary, they have been diluted in the daily routine.
And, finally, in the column that we can define as “Promised Land”, you must place your gaze on the future. Answer questions like: Where do I want to go? What are the dreams that I want to fulfill? How do dreams of today connect with dreams that were not fulfilled at the time?
Here you should, perhaps in green, try to visualize the next 2 or 5 years and clearly paint a world in which you want to live and to which you can invite the relevant people for your project. You must remember that your collaborators, partners or clients, as well as your family and friends will follow you only if you know where you are going, if you are clear about the reason for that goal and if you are able to spread your passions to everyone.
When you have the three columns full, let them rest for a couple of days and read them again, rethink them and, if necessary, modify them. When you are satisfied with this work, you will have a first outline of the history of your project.
Once you have identified it and you learn to live it with a lot of discipline, you can use it to create or enhance your brand, to raise the image of your business in your social environment, to give coherence to all your communications and to harmonize your presence in traditional media. and digital.