Should entrepreneurs share their personal story?

The debate in question is whether it’s best to market and brand yourself with a personal story or as a professional business. 
November 3, 2021
Should entrepreneurs share their personal story?

Should we tell our story? 

Every entrepreneur has a story about why they want to start a business, or why they already have. Could be a sob story, an inspirational story, or an irrelevant one. 

Do we really need to share it? Will it make a difference?  

The idea when starting anything, really, is to make sure that there’s a reason behind what you’re trying to do. At least, when our clients come in because they need our communication and marketing services, the main question we start with is not “why do you need advertising?” it is “why did you start your company?”. The reason can be personal: maybe it’s something that you think would have helped you ten years prior, so you’re creating it now in order to help others. Or, it can be a great idea that you’re passionate about and decided to invest in. 

The logistics aren’t super significant. The root of why you are where you are today is.

Making it personal.

So many entrepreneurs unknowingly started businesses out of something that was once a passion project. Take Instagram for example, the creator was trying to teach himself how to code, and began creating random apps, one of which is now the third most popular app in the world. 

Making it personal can make a transaction more relatable, thereby making you seem more personable among the clients. If you’re kind, share compassion and empathy, people tend to gravitate toward you. It’s not necessarily about words, either. It’s about your outward connection with people. 

Relatability does not explicitly mean you have to identify with every single one of your clients. It means that there has to be one thing in you or something you represent, no matter how big or small, that they can also identify with. A client is more inclined to trust you if they see something in you that they also see in themselves. 

There is a vast importance in body language when it comes to trust. If your business is one that interacts with clientele face to face, it is key to adjust every move to ensure you are emitting the correct language. We don’t recommend calculating or thinking about your next physical move every second of the day.  But think of it this way: you’re sitting across from someone who you are about to invest in, and they’re sitting with their arms crossed, looking at the floor with furrowed brows. Does this insinuate trustworthy companionship? Don’t think so. 

Now, envision the same scenario with the person leaning forward, super engaged in the interaction and maintaining eye contact throughout. This is someone who cares what you have to say. Humans are able to pick up much more than they anticipate. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize malicious intent, especially when it’s evident in their body language. 

According to an article written by Piercarlo Valdesolo for Scientific American, there was a study that concluded “...personality traits such as honesty and fairness are linked to specific kinds of nonverbal cues, and humans can pick up on these signals during interactions” (2013). Therefore, it’s not just about what you say, and not quite what you do, either. It’s about how you act. When you make it personal for yourself, you make it personal for the customers, too. It makes them inclined to stay loyal

And remember that your story is unique to you, so it will make you stand out. 

Keeping it professional. 

Sometimes all the client wants is a professional transaction to fix a problem or complete a task that they aren’t able to on their own. They might not want all of the relatability. It’s important to be able to read the situation and adapt to what the customer wants. 

People who work hard don’t have time to be anyone or anything but exactly who they are. However, keeping things personal can only stay authentic for so long. Eventually the story can get old. That’s when the relationships you make and networking you do can start to feel spurious. Keeping it professional can make the business more sustainable. You have a lesser chance of getting tired of telling your story and burning out.

In her articles for Fast Company, Beatriz Ramoz explains the importance of keeping the entrepreneurial world professional. She explains that in this generation, it’s quite trendy for entrepreneurs to get extremely personal: writing autobiographies, blog about their journey, and, in her words, “...sell themselves to death”, when all they really set out to do was sell a product or service (Bellis, 2016). Is she right? Not sure, we’re just trying to share both sides of the argument. But does she have a point? Definitely. If you set out to start a business for something and then somehow it turns into selling yourself, is that really the goal?

Many times, people might just want to buy your product because they need it. We keep telling you that finding your ‘why’ is crucial in order to maintain consistency in your communication and marketing, but for the most part, people don’t really care. Do you really believe that because you were starving when you were a child will make your product better than your competitors’? Sure, it could explain why you fight harder than everyone else, but it doesn’t mean your offering will be more interesting. 

So, what’s the right answer? 

The manner in which you choose to tell your story is your own jurisdiction. 

If you start with your personal story as your branding and visual identity, it will help your company to connect with your early adopters more easily. If you start professionally, chances are you’ll appear exactly the same as all the rest.

Beatriz Ramos also mentions that while selling yourself doesn’t necessarily coincide with success, passion does. You can remain professional, but be passionate about what you’re creating. It’s the happy medium between professional and personal. 

Bottom line, your decision has to be the best one for you and it has to be authentic. And remember, the things people create reflect who they are.