What’s the birth story of your business?

What’s the birth story of your business? Don’t worry, I’m not referring to anything involving placenta, epidurals or umbilical cords. I’m talking about how and why your business got started. In many cases, the birth story of a business speaks volumes about your passion and commitment to your customers. It explains the driving force behind why you do what you do.

What started you on this journey?
If that’s the case with your business, then your birth story is one that should certainly be told – on your website, to your customers and even in keynote speeches. Take the case of crime scene cleaner Joan Dougherty from Fort Lauderdale in Miami. She’s the one you call to clean up the blood and the associated mess after a tragic situation such as a murder or suicide. She literally cleans up crime scenes. It’s a specialised skill that involves getting blood out of carpets, sofas, curtains and furniture. It’s not pretty.

But how does someone even think about getting into this field? Well, Joan’s stepson was killed by shotgun in 1982. After the police left the scene, Joan was left to clean up the mess, a situation she found horrifying. She told Edit International: “I asked the police who would clean it up and they told me ‘You will. There’s nobody else that does such a job.’”

While having to deal with the grief of losing her stepson, she then had the emotional trauma associated with the cleanup. She says that she knew one day she would be involved in helping other people in the same situation – so they would not face the same awful circumstances.

An implicit message
This story not only explains why she started her business, it implicitly tells you that she truly cares for the people who are about to walk back into the crime scene – families who need to go on after a terrible tragedy.

Your story does not have to be this dramatic. It just needs to be authentic. Think about the factors that drove you to start your business. Identify a story that will convey your passion and then… write it down. The act of writing it down helps you give it structure and meaning

For example, one of the reasons I created my business, the Sydney Writers’ Centre, was because I know what it’s like to be in a completely different profession (I began life as an accountant) but yearn for a career as a writer. I took a circuitous route to get here but I’m now a full-time writer, blogger and author. And I love every minute of it. I’m so glad that I changed my career.

I wanted to create the kind of dynamic centre that I wish had existed when I was looking to transition my career – because I know that there are tens of thousands of people out there who are in a similar situation I was in.

What if you didn’t start you business?
Perhaps you didn’t actually start your business. Maybe you bought into it because it was a great opportunity. That’s fine. You may not be involved in the birth of your business but there are two stories you can tell.

1. Find out what the birth story of your business is. You may discover that there is romance and intrigue associated with how your business started. Even if Joan the crime scene cleaner sells her company, the story of how she started it will live on.

2. Identify why you are passionate about your business. This is just as powerful. Why did you buy into your company? Go beyond the fact that it’s a good business opportunity. Figure out what gets you excited about it. Connect with your passion – because then your customers will connect with it as well. Your commitment to your business will be more credible as a result.

What’s the birth story of your business? Why did you start it?

This article first appeared on Nett.com.au.

About Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre, the country's leading centre for writing courses. She is a journalist, blogger and author. Her latest book is "Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business" (Wiley). Valerie is co-founder of SocialCallout.com and is an investor and mentor to startups and businesses in Australia.
  • http://www.kellyexeter.com.au/ Kelly Exeter

    Love this Valerie – I think I might have to get my own business birth story down on paper soon!

    • http://www.facebook.com/valeriekhoo Valerie Khoo

      Can’t wait to read it Kelly!

  • http://allconsuming.com.au/ allconsuming

    I REMEMBER when you were starting Sydney Writers’ Centre and the frustration you were feeling that noone was offering the services, the courses, the space to help you be what you wanted to be. That fire in your belly is intoxicating Val but seeing you at that stage in your life? Pretty darn inspiring.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valeriekhoo Valerie Khoo

      Geez, that was almost seven years ago. Those seven years flew by in what feels like an instant!

  • http://twitter.com/Itsinthestars Elizabeth Ball

    Terrific article, Valerie! Thanks to your tips, I’ve just updated my business “birth” story in my About Us section, detailing why I discovered people wouldn’t consider giving astrology reports as personalised gifts after receiving a cheap, plastic one that I would have been too embarrassed to show anyone. This drove me to create beautiful BabyStars and LoveStars reports that people would be delighted to receive!

    • http://www.facebook.com/valeriekhoo Valerie Khoo

      Thanks Elizabeth. Sometimes, we hide our passions behind what we think that our websites or business brochures should say. But in fact, our “passion story” (the reason why we do what we do) can be the most powerful of all.