What Entrepreneurship Stories Make It, And Why?
No time to read the full blog? Click Here to Get A Summary PDF of the key points of the key points
Every entrepreneur has a story to tell. But not every story is worth learning about.
The stories that are worth something are valuable because they come with important lessons about what it means to be an entrepreneur. But they also get to the heart of the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with following an entrepreneurial journey. It’s that human interest that’s likely to raise a story from being discarded in a pile of press releases to making the front cover of the business section or getting discussed on social media.
Entrepreneurial stories of success, failure, breakthroughs and passion provide insight into the lives of the men and women behind the world’s most successful companies. Budding entrepreneurs can leverage the information gleaned from these stories to help them improve their outlook on their own company, and lead them to their individual path to success.
NB Before you read this article we would recommend checking out the 5 point acronym that explains what stories make it into the media in general and then come back to this page to see some specific examples of entrepreneurship
STORIES OF SUCCESS
Why We Love Them
The attraction to the success story is the most obvious to explain.
Which story would you rather read: One about a person who took a risk, succeeded, and suddenly had everything he ever wanted, or one about a person who fell short of his goal and ended up working a menial job for the rest of his life?
It’s human nature to be drawn to success stories. We love hearing about how people who grew up in less-than-ideal circumstances and went on to beat the odds and become rich and famous. We love knowing we have something in common – whether our backgrounds, interests, or abilities – with the people who have made something of themselves. It gives us hope that we, ourselves, are not doomed to a life of mediocrity as long as we continue to work toward the goals we have set.
In the world of entrepreneurship stories of success can give us a blueprint to follow, so people will be drawn to them for practical and emotional reasons (a winning combination!)
A Famous Example, and Why It Matters:
Oprah’s rags-to-riches success story is not just incredibly inspiring; It’s also a truly empowering tale of overcoming past tragedies.
Oprah grew up in rural poverty, the daughter of an unwed teenage mother. However, growing up poor was not the only issue Oprah had to face in her life.
She was also molested at a young age by multiple family members. She ran away from home at age 13 and became pregnant at age 14; her baby died in infancy.
Oprah never let the horrors she experienced as a child affect her drive to succeed, earning media-related jobs as early as her senior year in high school. She went on to become a millionaire by age 32, and is now worth over $3 billion – the richest self-made woman in America.
Oprah’s story goes beyond your “typical” rags-to-riches story. The reason her story is so valuable is because it reaches out to millions of disenfranchised young people across the world and lets them know that they can always do something to improve their circumstances. Despite being so unusually successful, Oprah is an expert at communicating that she’s just a regular person. So despite being in completely different circumstances to 99.9% of her audience, she stays relevant to all of them.
Think about the successes you have had so far on your entrepreneurial journey. Did you overcome adversity (the more unusual the better) to achieve success? If so you could have a winning story and a powerful way to promote your business.
STORIES OF FAILIURE
Why We Love Them
On the other side of the coin are stories of failure. The more extreme the failure, the more likely an audience is likely to be interested.
When we think of the typical successful entrepreneur, we tend to believe they simply won the genetic lottery and were destined for greatness from birth.
The reason for this is because these people’s successes are all we know about them.
Stories of successful entrepreneurs’ past failure make them appear as they are: human. These stories give us a behind-the-scenes look at how these rich and famous businessmen came to be where they are today. This emotional angle on a story can really help an entrepreneur connect with an audience and give a great story arc to segue from failure to success.
For an audience interested in entrepreneurship, stories of failure are full of useful tips on ‘what-not-to-do’.
Most importantly, stories of failure show us that it’s never as easy as we think it is to get to the top of an industry. Success is born out of struggle. It’s those who persevere and learn from their failings who ultimately end up getting ahead in life.
A Famous Example, and Why It Matters
Bill Gates and Traf-O-Data
You’re probably Googling “Traf-O-Data” right now, aren’t you?
Without diving too deep into what it was, let’s just say it was a way to collect and analyze road traffic data in a much more efficient manner.
It was incredibly ahead of its time – Gates came up with the idea around the age of 16. It was also an incredibly ambitious undertaking.
The problem was: The actual program didn’t work.
Well, it did work, but not well enough to supplant the existing technology already being used to collect traffic data.
Gates and his partner, Paul Allen, both believe their failings with Traf-O-Data helped shape how they built Microsoft: “It was seminal in preparing us to make Microsoft’s first product a couple of years later,” Allen recalls.
Hearing that Bill Gates isn’t a total success-filled automaton gives us an insight into his thinking, personality and motivations, that constant success stories could not. In the media world, human interest stories are king, and usual stories are even better. So as Bill Gates doesn’t fail very often, this ticks both boxes.
Don’t be scared to share your failures with the media! Think about the failures you have had so far on your entrepreneurial journey. What lessons did you learn and what emotions did you go through when you experienced your failure? If you have an unusual story with lessons that others can learn from, that’s something the media will be interested in.
Why We Love Them
Speaking of “A-ha!” moments, we all love stories detailing entrepreneurs’ innovative breakthroughs.
Well, sometimes we love them, and other times we think “Why didn’t I think of that?”
In either case, these stories act as inspiration to expand the way we see the world, to think outside the box, and to not be afraid to break the mold.
A story that discusses the ingenious idea an entrepreneur had that allowed him to thrive also shows how valuable a single idea can be. Though a single idea may have helped someone strike it rich, it more importantly opens more doors for them, leading to even bigger and better things in the future.
Famous Examples, and Why They Matter
Brian Chesky, Airbnb Founder
You own a house. Travelers need a place to stay. You offer it to them. They pay you. How much simpler can it get?
Brian Chesky didn’t reinvent the wheel when he came up with Airbnb. He simply took something people have been doing forever and leveraged it in a way that made him a millionaire.
Before the rise of the Internet, classified ads were the place to go if you needed a place to stay. The Digital Age brought about services like Craigslist, which made it even easier to advertise or find rooms for rent.
With Airbnb, Chesky streamlined the process even further, making finding a place to stay in a foreign town even easier.
Stories like Chesky’s are so popular because they show you don’t need to come up with something completely new and exciting to be successful; you just have to use the tools and knowledge that’s readily available to you in a way that no one else ever has before. In other words the Airbnb story is relevant to a wide audience because anyone had the resources to do what Brian Chesky did.
Sara Blakely, Creator of Spanx
Sara Blakely is a billionaire whose life changed forever one day when she decided to cut the bottoms off of a pair of pantyhose.
You know thousands of women across the country were just kicking themselves when they saw Spanx being sold in stores.
While Blakeley probably wasn’t the first woman to “invent” Spanx, she was the first to patent them. She was the first to pitch the idea to investors. And she was the first to put in the enormous amount of effort it took to build a billion-dollar company from the ground up.
In hindsight, what seems like an incredibly simple idea isn’t all that obvious. If Blakely would have played by the rules of “normal” society and not taken a pair of scissors to a perfectly good pair of pantyhose, she’d probably still be stuck in a run-of-the-mill day job with the rest of us. Again with this example, anyone could have done what Sara Blakely did, so it’s relevant to a large audience.
People are endlessly intrigued by the process of creativity, particularly when it leads to a winning idea. So, properly told, the story of how your business first broke-through is a great human interest story that budding entrepreneurs and a wider audience will be fascinated by.
STORIES OF PASSION
Why We Love Them
When we read stories of successful entrepreneurs who believe so deeply in their cause that they we willing to risk their entire livelihood to make it happen, we become inspired.
Our belief that we’ll get where we want to be if we keep working toward it with passion becomes reinvigorated by these stories.
We feel noble and humbled by the idea that we’re pursuing a cause that’s much greater than ourselves.
And we enjoy associating ourselves to the people that, in the grand scheme of things, believe the money we make is secondary to the difference we make in the world.
Famous Examples, and Why They Matter
Blake Mycoskie Provides Shoes to the Poor
Blake Mycoskie was simply a contestant on the reality game show The Amazing Race when he became disheartened at the sight of children running barefoot through the streets of Buenos Aires.
He kept this unsettling vision in mind when founding TOMS shoes, a company famous for its “One for one” business model.
For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, it promises to donate a pair to impoverished children around the world.
Mycoskie’s business would likely do well without such a philanthropic outlook, and certainly would have a lot less overhead if it didn’t donate half of its stock to charity.
But Mycoskie would rather know his efforts are improving the lives of children in the poorest countries in the world than make a few extra million dollars selling shoes.
His story inspires everyone who hears it to focus on doing what is right rather than relentlessly following money. So it’s an unusual human interest story that grabs us on an emotional level – absolutely perfect for the media.
Elon Musk And Alternative Energy
The founder of Tesla has a hugely compelling vision for the future of the planet and how his companies can help move us all to a Carbon neutral future. In this interview with the BBC, he enthusiastically and knowledgeably demonstrates his passion for the subject and his mastery of his brief.
Enthusiasm is perhaps the biggest asset you can have when dealing with the media, particularly when it comes to audio and visual media. Passion and enthusiasm is utterly infectious, and will show you off as a leader of society as well as an entrepreneur. That is invaluable when it comes to the trust people put in you and ultimately the amount of success you continue to have. It will also naturally attract the media and a wider audience to you.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Click Here to Get A Summary Checklist PDF To Print And Use Again And AgainTo Print And Use Again And Again that will act as a reminder of all the key points for this blog that you need to know.