Why you need to be clear on why your work matters

Blake Mycoskie

Have you heard of Blake Mycoskie?

Blake is the founder of TOMS, an American business with a fascinating story. They sell shoes, both online and through traditional retail. What makes them special is that for every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair of shoes to a needy child in South America.

I’ve been listening to Blake’s story recently in his book “Start Something That Matters”. It’s an extraordinary testimonial to the power of a compelling story.

The simple and memorable story behind the TOMS business has spread way faster than any carefully designed marketing campaign might hope. The mechanics of building the business are in catch-up mode, trying to keep pace with the story’s spread.

Every good PR consultant will work to uncover a story within a business. But this is beyond looking for an angle. In an increasingly distracted marketplace, the story behind our business has to be compelling. It has to matter. We must stand for something. 

I can hear the push back already. “But wait, Aodan, not all businesses can be built on amazing-save-the-world stories. Lots of businesses are quite boring. I’m doing a good job, serving my clients. Isn’t that enough?”

It’s true. Every business can’t be a movie-waiting-to-be-made. But I strongly believe as business owners we have two options. We either find and build a business behind an amazing story or we work hard to unleash the real story behind the businesses we have. Most of the businesses that I interact with have significant room for improvement here.

Look at it as a sculptor views a block of stone. The work of art is already in there. He just needs to chip away until it’s revealed. We need to get hacking and chipping to reveal the reasons why our businesses matter.

Blake captures the essential point perfectly here:

“The easier it is for someone to understand who you are and what you stand for, the easier it will be for that person to spread the word to others. Having a clear function, design and purpose means that your story can be spread easily, whether you’re pitching it to investors or chatting to riders in elevators. Someone must understand it before they can adopt it or purchase it. It’s really that simple.”

I said we had two options above. Actually, there’s a third. The third option is to do nothing. It won’t be a problem to find an excuse.

Do you feel like there’s a story within your business that hasn’t been captured and told properly? Can you make it easier for others to understand who you are and what you stand for?

This post has been amended from a recent edition of a fortnightly email written specially for ambitious business owners. You can join the growing list who receive this mail here

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