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5 Stories Every Entrepreneur Should Be Able To Tell

August 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Nothing has the power to engage people like a great story. From a carefully crafted elevator pitch to the perfect customer testimonial, a great narrative can propel your brand and business like nothing else. Stories that resonate attract incredible teams, devoted customers, investors, and press. Identifying the authentic, compelling stories of your company is something every entrepreneur should take the time to do. Here are five stories you should be able to tell at the drop of a hat:

1. Your origin story.

TaskRabbit was born on a cold Boston evening in 2008. My husband and I were about to leave for dinner when we realized that we were out of food for our giant yellow lab, Kobe. I thought about how great it would be to have the heavy bag of dog food delivered right to my home. Then I thought about how one of my neighbors was probably at the store at that exact moment — and they’d probably be willing to pick up Kobe’s dinner if only they had some way of knowing that I needed it.

From this idea I built TaskRabbit, a platform for delegating tasks and errands to friendly, background checked neighbors. The company has grown tremendously since then — we’re now live in nine U.S. cities with dedicated experiences for deliveries and businesses — and I tell our origin story almost every day. Our customers and the community here in San Francisco came to love Kobe so much that, when he passed away last summer, theChronicle ran a full-page obituary in tribute to him.

2. Your desired future.

What does the world look like when your company scales? Have you thought about this? Is it wonderful? Is it inspiring enough to attract a dynamite team, fantastic advisors, and potential investors? Telling the story of the future you want to help create will get the right people excited about your company.

At TaskRabbit, we’re on a mission to revolutionize the way people work. That future is like rocket fuel to me. I see talented people taking charge of their own schedules and making a great living that’s integrated with their lives. I see people increasing their productivity and happiness by leaning on one another to get things done. I see entrepreneurs getting qualified help as they grow their companies. I see this happening all around the country and all around the world. It’s a future I can already see unfolding — and a story I love to tell.

3. A learning moment.

Failure is awesome. Failure means you tried something, you tested it, and you learned some things. Failure gives you the tools to move forward. Telling people about the times when you fell short and learned something substantial is very effective. It shows that you’re working hard to do better.

At TaskRabbit, we’re very iterative about everything we do, so we pay careful attention to our failures (they’re pretty much our inspiration). Here’s a story of how a recent one helped us build something great: We’ve known for awhile that business customers make up a large percentage of our users, we’ve heard stories from these customers about how TaskRabbits are helping out as office managers, customer service representatives, even on-demand delivery engines. These customers told us how they hacked together solutions on our platform because we didn’t provide the features they needed. We learned that we were failing them. Identifying that failure was an “a-ha” moment for our team.

We reached out to these customers, heard more of their stories, and learned that we could offer them something truly revolutionary to help their businesses thrive. From this learning moment, TaskRabbit for Business emerged. This new platform is tailor-made for our business users, and it’s one of the best products we’ve ever released.

4. A truly meaningful anecdote.

Since TaskRabbits become part of the rhythm of people’s lives, our community is full of meaningful stories. Some are funny — like the one about the guy who had a pallet of 365 boxes of ramen noodles delivered to a coworker to settle a bet. Some are touching — like the one about the romantic who hired a TaskRabbit to take a photograph of him proposing to his girlfriend or the one about the grandmother who used her TaskRabbit earnings to take her grandson to Disneyland. And some are positively life changing — like the one about the mother who hired a TaskRabbit to sit with her son during his chemotherapy sessions, more than 3,000 miles away.

These stories illustrate, in a way slogans or taglines or ad copy never could, the impact we make in the lives of our customers. Meaningful stories like these can be worked into press interviews and keynote speeches, brighten up email marketing and social content, and give every single person on your team an arsenal of pithy, powerful tools to evangelize your brand.

5. Your inner monologue.

From your team to your board to the customers that keep your business alive, everyone who’s made a commitment to your company deserves to know what motivates you. Sharing the story of why you’ve dedicated your life to this thing that you’re doing is a powerful and authentic way to make an impression. My story’s simple: I love TaskRabbit.

I live it, I breathe it. It makes me smile, and cry, and laugh, and yes, sometimes it even makes me scream. I love it. Knowing that TaskRabbit — a company born from an idea I had one night and nurtured by a brilliant team, dedicated board, and incredible customers — is poised to revolutionize work as we know is what motivates me.

I wake up every single morning with a singular goal: To do everything possible to move my company forward in the next 24 hours.

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