How one story can change the world: The Power of Your Founders Story

You've probably heard how today's audiences have an attention span of a goldfish or how it can take over 11 separate interactions with a customer before they take action. One of the simplest ways to cut through those interactions and connect with your audience is to tell a story.

Storytelling just works:

There are many kinds of communication, but there’s nothing as compelling as a good story. A story has the ability to transport its reader or listener into the story. They no longer just read or hear the story - they become part of it which makes it so powerful.

A founder's story is particularly impactful since it tells your audience how your business came to be. It builds your credibility and is incredibly strong at sharing your values and mission. Whereas with most strategic stories, your customer is the hero, in this case, you are the relatable hero going through a transformation. Your business model can be replicated but your story is what makes you unique - it can be personal as well as vulnerable which is why most businesses fail to tell it well.

Patagonia's founder's story - the textbook Founders Story.

It was in 1953, when Yvon Chouinard, as a 14-year-old had a lesson to rappel down the cliffs to a falcon aeries that sparked his lifelong love of rock climbing.

But ever environmentally conscious, Yvon noticed the damage his climbing equipment was having on the rock faces. And to try and prevent further damage he began making his own equipment. This effort to look after the environment would later become the driving force behind the ethos of the business.

Whilst on a climbing trip in Scotland Yvon bought a rugby shirt. The collar prevented hardware slings from cutting into Yvon’s neck and the top withstood the climb so much so that other rock climbers began to ask to buy similar clothing. This impulse purchase would later change his life and business. The Chouinard team saw clothing as a way to support their equipment business and in 1973 Patagonia was born. A name they described as one that brings to mind “romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos, and condors”.

Patagonia has spent decades perfecting products they are proud of promoting a safer environment. Their mission statement: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis" is at the heart of everything they do. Their customers know Patagonia is passionate about what they believe in and they value the same purpose.

Today Patagonia is one of the worlds leading environmentally friendly clothing brands. The company reaches far beyond clothing and is committed to finding a solution to the ongoing environmental crisis.

Creating a founders story that becomes your north star in your business goes far beyond writing your history in chronological order. Using a story arc will help you keep focused on your main key points as well as ensure what you're saying stays relevant to your audience.

In the beginning: People want to know the genesis of your brand. What problems were you struggling with? What goals were you trying to achieve? Give your audience a starting point and a frame of reference. A memorable story needs conflict.

  • The Obstacle: What was the problem/opportunity that triggered you to start your brand?

  • An Internal Struggle: How we feel inside because of the obstacle. For some founders, this is a tough step to write about: they're afraid to talk about such personal conflicts and struggles. But this is what makes a story great.

  • The External Struggle: You don't have to go into too much detail but you can describe some of the problems you faced such as unemployment, going back to study

  • The Event Changer - Your Purpose: Don't leave this important step out. This is the magic moment - your a-ha moment. This can be extremely engaging for your audience because it will resonate with them. You can also introduce a Guide or Mentor who changed your perspective or the event that taught you a lesson and describe that critical event that made y