character study: how understanding you-as-business-owner helps you to weave a story of success

When I read about business, I rarely read business books.

Nope, I’m more into psychology, cultural criticism, or philosophy. It’s a heckuva lot easier to be innovative when you’re not presented with tactics to copy.

This summer, I have been tackling creative writing. I am not a creative writer. I do not have novel manuscript waiting in my desk drawer for the right person to come along. I don’t even have an novel idea dancing around in the back of my head.

But – I suspect – much like you, I have deep & true attraction to fiction and it’s creation.

What has struck me most in reading about creative writing is just how much it mirrors the way I construct my business. I wrote previously about how I felt the book Bird by Bird was a killer biz study. And I’ve mentioned I’m working on a group coaching program around these concepts for the Fall.

Before we can dive into your business-as-novel strategy, we’ve got to set the stage. So today, we’re doing a character study.

And YOU, my friend, are the character.

As I see it, the business owner is the narrator of the story. She functions in a capacity that provides direction and perspective to an otherwise secret set of events. In some businesses, the entrepreneur may be a bit of an omniscient narrator – chronicling the story without being a part of it. But, more likely, you find yourself as an integral part of the story.

You are influencing the action, calling the shots, and managing the dialogue. You’re providing perspective, structure, and meaning to the story.

Understanding who you are and how you relate to your business – and the work at hand – helps you to maintain consistency & momentum over the course of this epic tale.

Take a minute to consider who you truly want to be as a business owner: confident? graceful? flexible? outgoing? caring? tenacious? unyielding? fierce? intelligent? What do you-as-business-owner look like in 5 years? 10 years?

Start to create that mental picture of who you are as a business owner, the role you’re growing to fill, and the entrepreneur that you are striving to be in the not-so-distant future.

Got it?

Let’s take that picture and make it move. Ya know, like in Harry Potter. Or those new trippy animated gifs

Get down with your dialogue. When you interact with prospects, what language do you use? When you talk with loyal customers, how do you present yourself? When you’re in a peer group, how do you act? When you’re talking to your team, how do you provide direction?

Of course, dialogue is just one – albeit, important – way to define your business owner narrator. Another way to define this character is with the setting she finds herself in.

Do you work out of your home? In an office? Do you take virtual meetings or do you prefer a high class coffee shop? Do you “get dressed” for work or are yoga clothes your preferred uniform? Do you make time for colleagues or work in solitude?

There are no right answers to these questions but knowing your ideal answer to each of these questions helps you makes decisions, communicate priorities, and focus on what’s important to you.

The image of you-as-business-owner and story narrator also doesn’t have to be 100% true to you-as-mom/wife/brother/boyfriend/BFF. In fact, I like to think of my business owner self as more like the amplified and stylized but true-to-vision version of me. More like 120% of the person I know I am on the inside.

Once you’ve played around with the quirks, language, and environment of your own character, it’s time to develop your own business mythos. Right now you – yes, you – are operating under a set of beliefs and ethics. This goes beyond “show up on time” or “say thank you & mean it” to core concepts that define the work that you do and the vision you have for the world.

A few of my core business beliefs:

  • Making money & making art go hand in hand.
  • Honest & earnest enthusiasm sells.
  • Getting started is fast. Building a thriving business takes time.
  • Questions are better teachers than statements.
  • Challenge all assumptions.

When you understand those core beliefs you know better how to handle the situations that arise in the course of business, make decisions that affect the way your brand is perceived, or evaluate strategic partnerships.
You’re prepared for best case and worst case scenarios alike. You have a sense of the end game and you know what you’re trying to achieve.

That’s huge.

So – language, environment, idiosyncrasies, and core beliefs – what else helps you to understand who you are as a business owner? How else do you communicate who you are through your business?

And, perhaps more importantly, how would your business be different if you allowed your character to call the shots? Leave your response in the comments below.

Want more like this?

There’s more where this came from, baby, a lot more. Think intimate, high-touch, high-concept group coaching. Think business as novel. Think the power of other brains plugged in to your brain (and biz). Want to learn more? Sign up here for backstage access.