Your Founder’s Story—Does it rock or does it suck?

by IdeaTransfer on May 22, 2011

Every entrepreneur has a story to tell about how the business started.  And love to tell it.  But not many of them use it effectively, because they haven’t seen its hidden power.

Founder stories are not just personal events on a timeline of challenges and successes.  They reveal the character of the founders.  Their dreams and creative breakthroughs.  Why they accepted all the risks.  How they persevered through the obstacles and around the turning points.

More important, great founder stories are not just personal chronicles.  The business is the main character.  That lets every employee, customer, vendor, distributor, lender, and advisor to the business play a supporting role in that story and feel committed to the company’s success because of it.

From that corporate version comes an appreciation for the unique way the business thinks.  Mission, values, and strategies fit together.   The high standards for quality of products and services and the commitment to customers and clients make perfect sense.

If the story is told right, it should answer any question about the company that starts with the words “Why…?”  and “How…?”

So what is your founder story missing?

  • Does everyone know milestone events by name—Blue Monday, Black Friday, D-Day and V-Day?
  • Do you have photos in the halls so all employees can find their place in the story?
  • Are their posters reminding everyone of the best advice and lessons learned along the way?
  • What about artifacts—the breakthrough ad, bleeding edge prototype, worst customer letter, invoice sent to Elvis?

Call them corny, but these memes will connect your people to your passion.  Of course … you can always rely on your HR handbook.  Get the point?

Common language and shared stories form the basis of every culture and sustain it through generations of change.  They tell people who they are, what ties them together, and what the future holds.

You want the same thing for your business.  So pump all the hidden power you can into your founder story.

Tell us what makes your founder’s story work.  And share your concerns about what it’s missing.

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