A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How Writing a Story Can Strangle Your Business

writing a storyI was helping a friend out with her business recently…giving her some advice and coaching on pricing. She is setting up a workshop to teach others how to start a business in her niche. I felt her price for the workshop was too low, and told her so.

Her response: “Well, these people are just starting out…they don’t have a whole lot of money, right?”

I replied: “Be careful. Don’t write the story for your potential customers.”

What Does “Writing the Story” Mean?

We all have a story: a compilation of thoughts and beliefs that got us to where we are today. Where we go wrong is that we tend to assume that everyone else’s story is the same as our story. Case in point: my friend started her business from basically nothing, and wouldn’t have had thousands of dollars to throw at a workshop teaching her how to start her type of business.

But there are plenty of people out there who have several thousand extra dollars and want to use that to create a sustainable income doing something they love. Some of those people will become her customers. She can’t write the story that everyone starting her type of business doesn’t have the money to invest in a workshop on how to run a business the right way.

We often “write the story” for others when we are afraid of doing something. Here’s one that happened to me recently. As you know, I’ve been helping review Profit Instruments. I’ve also been guest posting a lot, and as it happened, two guest posts of mine ran this week on two other popular blogs, resulting in a huge influx of new traffic and brand-new subscribers.

As I sent the launch emails yesterday and the day before, I wondered if I should somehow not send the emails to people who had just subscribed to my list. Here was the story I wrote for them: “They just subscribed in order to receive great content, and the first thing I’m going to send them is a pitch. My long-time subscribers know pitching is incredibly rare for me, but new subscribers won’t, and I may alienate them.”

Wow…that’s quite a story! Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, write this story for them. It may be true that I alienated a few subscribers. However, it would probably also be true that I would lose sales by not sending that email to new subscribers. When in doubt, do what’s best for your business. I sent the email even to new subscribers.

Where Are You Writing the Story?

Are you “writing the story” for potential customers of yours? Are you afraid to send out a pitch for something that’s amazing and would help many of them, because you fear you may alienate a few of them? How about writing the story about how they wouldn’t be able to afford increased prices?

Ultimately, all stories have a root in your own fears–rejection and/or not being liked by others are two of the most common ones. It’s true that when you pitch a product (any product!), some people will complain. But others will buy it. Same with raising your prices…there will be some complaints, but most of your customers will stick around, assuming they enjoy doing business with you and you deliver great value to them.

Overcoming the stories we write in our heads is one of the most difficult tasks in any business. We all want to be loved and accepted, and the stories we write are an “easy way out”–a way to tell ourselves it’s okay to not rock the boat. But rocking the boat, making pitches, and raising prices are what you have to do to run a successful business.

Even seasoned entrepreneurs struggle with this, so you’re not alone. I catch myself writing the story constantly. Once you’re aware of the fact that you’re writing the story, however, you can stop the process in its tracks, recognize your inner fear behind it, and boldly do the right thing anyway.

Where has writing the story for your customers held you back in your business? What are you doing to overcome it? Let me know in the comments!

Recommended Reading:
Here are the guest posts I wrote for other blogs recently. Read them all; they’re all worth your time:

My friends Pace and Kyeli wrote a whole book about how we assume everyone else’s story is the same as our story. I own it and it’s a great read. Check it out: The Usual Error.

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