My story: It was the last thing I wanted to talk about.
I was a college drop-out with a small startup where I rented out my pets to neighbors. Before then, I was on the path prescribed to just about all of us: go to school, get a good job, earn money. It never really felt right for me.
At this fluid stage of my life, I didn't really feel like I had a story to tell.
Then, while going door-to-door selling real estate, I saw the light. I realized that my story is one of my most powerful forces. I spent three years knocking on doors. I had to have something to say that would avoid the cold rejection of a slammed door in my face.
Doing this, I had sold $15 million of real estate by the time I was 21. It taught me two things: I know a lot more about real estate than many so-called experts and that I've got an incredible story I can leverage.
I launched West Realty Advisors when I was 23. Now, that business generates roughly $30 million in revenue each year and operate in more than half of the country.
None of this happens if I'm still too hesitant to tell my story.
Even if you don't think you have anything special to say, develop an elevator pitch for yourself. What problem are you uniquely positioned to solve? Why should clients, investors or customers choose you over the next person they see?
There's great value in storytelling for entrepreneurs. Having a great personal story is the difference between a viral Huffington Post article about how your business is primed to disrupt the industry and having to beg friends with a Kickstarter.
Here are three reasons why it's important for entrepreneurs to develop a story -- and repeat it often!
Differentiate Yourself from Competitors
Especially now, as the Internet has presented people with so many options for services, people want to know your story.
The fundamental aspect of selling anything is to foster a connection. When investors choose to pump money into a product, the backstory is key. Where you've been can say a lot about where you're headed. Even if you think you have the most bland, boring backstory in history, look deeper.
Look to your inspiration and remember the spark that led to you to go down a path of entrepreneurship. You wanted to do something differently. You wanted to disrupt an industry. You wanted to achieve something no one has even thought of.
Start your story there.
It Will Improve Your Sales
I know what you're thinking. How does having a personal story lead to more conversions? Hear me out on this. If you can tell your story passionately, you can tell the story of your product or company passionately.
The first few weeks I went door-to-door, I was terrible. I didn't have a rhythm or anything planned out. I was just trying to survive.
Then I figured out my story. I figured out what people wanted to hear, and what led to them inviting me inside instead of ignoring me. I developed a story I could repeat ad nauseum, literally opening doors. The conversations I had once I was able to tell my story led to me launching West Realty Advisors.
When you have a compelling story, you answer the question, "Why are you worthy of my money?"
You Will Draw Interest
The toughest part of any company is generating sales. Many entrepreneurs waste so much money on advertising to get their name out there.
Having a compelling personal story can actually generate leads, encouraging those inspired by your story to seek you out. The way I see it, one placement or mention of your story on a site like Forbes or the Huffington Post is worth thousands of dollars of brand awareness advertising.
Once people hear your story, you will be top of mind. Other than price point, a powerful story connection is probably the biggest magnet you have. Once you have it so well developed that it's practically an elevator pitch, telling this story will seem natural and effortless.
Soon, you'll have another chapter to add: success.