Take a Page From TOMS Shoes: Lead With Your Story of Why You Do What You Do in Business

Explaining why you do what you do can help you connect at a deeper level with clients and employees.

Why does your business do what it does?

So often we get away from the main reason we go into business and it can show up in how we communicate to customers and the public. Every business has a personal story of how it began and it's often based on a personal philosophy or experience. Those stories are what makes each business unique and what creates loyalty with your customer base.

Do you know your story, and more importantly, do you spend enough time sharing it?  

As Simon Sinek has said, "People are not interested in what you do--but why you do it." Your story can paint a picture of your business model, highlight your values, and make a stronger emotional connection with clients, employees, and the world. The result is that you can promote your brand better than any sales and marketing pitch.

My business story evolved over time. When I opened my yoga studio, I was asked many times throughout the year to give to local causes. At one point, we gave to any charity that came through the door. There was no rhyme or reason to who we selected.

While contributing to causes is crucial to my studio's mission, we didn't have an explanation of why the charities we supported were aligned with what we stood for. In essence, we didn't have a story to share with our community on how and why we gave back as a business.

So, we asked ourselves, "What do we stand for? What do we want our giving to represent?"

The studio offered kids classes as part of its weekly schedule, and one of the offerings was specifically geared toward teenagers. At first, we thought they would want more intensive "power" yoga classes--after all they were energetic kids, and we wanted to break the stigma that yoga was "boring."

However, we soon found that they instead wanted restorative and relaxing classes. For many, this was this only time when they could enjoy some quiet time and find some peace during their stressful lives.

From this observation, my team and I reflected on our own youth, and how we wished we had learned yoga at an early age and brought it with us into adulthood. We shared stories with each other on how yoga could have helped us and the positive impact it could have made at that time in our lives.

So, we decided to focus our mission behind helping children find yoga at an early age.  We structured our fund-raising drives in which teachers, customers, and the community donated to a fund to offer more classes to kids of all ages. And, because this has been a group effort, everyone feels a part of the mission and the outcome to help these children in our local area. This provides my yoga studio with a personal story that reflects more than the classes we offer, and involves everyone in the business, so they feel inspired by the result of what we all do together.

Peel back the layers of almost every successful company, and you will find a story. One of the best examples I know is TOMS shoes. When founder Blake Mycoskie traveled in Argentina in 2006, he witnessed firsthand how so many children lived without shoes. That experience shaped his company's philosophy where TOMS matches every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes donated to children in need.

TOMS' personal story is what helped make it so successful. When the company first began, AT&T featured it in a national television campaign. Mycoskie has said that it was the company's compelling storytelling through its website, interactions with customers, and other outlets that made TOMS so appealing to AT&T and helped spread their story to a wider audience.

Remember, when you craft your business' story, don't lead with what you sell. Begin by sharing who you are, what you stand for, and how this led to who your business is today. Like with TOMS, it's not only about selling a great shoe--but the story behind that great shoe and the positive feelings that come with each purchase because you know your money also supports a good cause.

What's your business's story? What is the spark or experience that made you choose your current path? Once you know your story, you can create a compelling narrative that tells everyone why you do what you do, and best of all, why people should care and want to be a part of your business.


Amy VetterComment