3 Story Fails and Why Smart Entrepreneurs Continue to Make Them

I’ve intensively coached over 50 entrepreneurs in the last couple of years, one-on-one, to masterfully tell the origin story of their business or their current endeavor. I start every coaching session with the same line: “Okay, so tell me your story.”

Without fail, after hearing each person’s story, my reply is almost always the same…

“Okay thank you… now, let’s fix that.”

Although there are a ton of mistakes that can crash a good story — and I’ve made them all — there are three that stand out as the most common among entrepreneurs:

  1. Telling your story like you’re trying to walk people through your resume
  2. Telling your story like you’re trying to tell your life story
  3. Telling your story like you want people to understand everything that’s important about you and your business

These 3 mistakes could also be called

  1. Way too boring.
  2. Way too long.
  3. Way too much.

The the first mistake…

…telling your story like a resume reading, way too boring!

One of my clients, Martin, made this mistake just last month. When he came to see me, Martin thought the best way to tell someone about his business was to tell the story that included each career step he’d taken to get to where he was. He hoped this would give his listeners a clear sense of where he’d been, what he could do and what he was all about.

But even Martin knew that his story was boring to listen to. And it’d take him a good 6-8 minutes and I can assure you, he was inadvertently boring people. Are you boring people by trying to basically communicate your resume or job highlights?

Next, let’s take a closer look at the mistake of telling your story as if people need to understand your entire life…

…or at least the last three to 10 really life-defining years.

I’m yawning already just at the thought of this story fail.

This inevitably has you telling a story that is waaaay toooo looooooooooong. I’ve had at least a dozen, really smart entrepreneurs make this story mistake when they come to see me. And they’ve got great life stories.

But your origin story is NOT your life story, and never should the two be mistaken!

The last person who came to me for coaching and made this mistake was an eight-figure entrepreneur, and his story was basically as long as the string of zeros in his bank account. It took him a whopping 24 minutes to tell me his story. If he hadn’t been paying me to help him fix it, I could never have listened to a 22-minute story without him losing my attention.

Are you telling your story for way too long? Are you trying to tell about years of your life?

Chances Are You’re Boring People

And finally, there is…

The mistake of wanting your story to convey everything that’s important about you and your business.

I get it.

There is a fundamental desire to have your audience know everything you think they need to know.

Melinda, who runs an epic for-benefit business, was the most recent one of my clients to make this mistake. She talked for 25 minutes while conveying the important things I needed to understand about her business plus the important things I needed to understand about her “why” and her past.

Everything she said was indeed important. But the mistake was thinking it all belonged in her origin story. Ninety percent of it didn’t.

Are you trying to include way too much in your story?

Those are the three mistakes and why smart entrepreneurs usually make them.

So what now and how to fix it.

So now that you know what the three most common mistakes are, the most important thing for you to do is to ask yourself if you’re making them. Most people know when their story is boring, and if you’re bored while telling it, you can be sure your audience is bored while hearing it.

If you’re boring people with a resume-like account of your life, change to telling about a key, life-defining moment instead. Look for a moment that speaks volumes about why you started your latest endeavor and who you are as a person.

Also, if you wonder if you’re trying to tell too much, here’s a tip: if you’re trying to tell a story that is fitting everything important in, you’re telling way too much. Instead of trying to tell everything important, edit your story down to only what is essential to know.

It’s essential people know your “why,” what you or your business do really well, and perhaps something that makes you memorable and unique. Outside of that, everything else that is important can be left for later.

And if you wonder if your story is too long, it’s easy to find out.

If your story is longer than 5 minutes, your origin story is too long.

I’m always able to get my clients’ stories down to 2-4 minutes. The irony is, my clients tell me a story that’s 20 minutes long, we fix it and get it to 3 minutes, and yet the 3-minute version says so much more than the 20-minute version!

That’s what I call story magic.

Masterfully told stories say so much more than longer, poorly told ones.

Tell Your Story Right and Get Paid

Story has a huge return on investment when you tell your story right. It’s worth the effort you’ll put into it because masterfully told stories are shared and they’re powerful.

Take the time to make your story something you’re proud to tell, a story that is interesting, punchy and precisely focused, not on everything that’s important, but on exactly what is essential.

Special Opportunity for Evolved Entrepreneurs:
Evolved Enterprise is offering a few entrepreneurs the chance to work directly with Patrick.It’s an opportunity to go deep to develop your own powerful creation story, sales story, talent story, and more…This program is not cheap, but the investment will be returned back 10X to 100X with the way a well-crafted and engaging story works across the board.

Your compelling story works everywhere – on your product packaging, your marketing material, and the content you share and anytime you are on a stage, teaching a webinar, doing a presentation, recruiting top talent on your team, raising capital, or developing partnerships and new joint ventures.

We are only able to accommodate a few story coaching students here as Patrick’s schedule is very limited.

We are looking for impactful entrepreneurs who can make a big difference in their industries, in their communities, and for their customers and team members. That way the “ripple” of Patrick’s work and the Evolved Enterprise concept keeps growing.

Make sure to watch this quick video for details...


About The Author

Patrick Combs

Patrick's learned story secrets from 23 years of professional speaking, 12 years of comedic performance, and millions of dollars earned just for talking. His story coaching clients include entrepreneurs looking to speak more effectively, NY Time’s Bestselling Authors, TED Talk speakers, CEO’s and executives, Presidents of major institutions, Corporate and college market speakers, YouTube personalities, Personal development coaches.. You can check him out at PatrickCombs.com