The Odeon, Barnsley. 1978.
The whole audience is on its feet, clapping and cheering as our heroes collect their reward.
Probably the first, and last time, I’ve seen such a unanimous, strong reaction to a film.
It was all so new and thrilling and unexpected.
And yet the story arc is similar to many others, before and after it. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Finding Nemo, Odysseus…when you start to look, you can see the elements in stories from Ancient Greece all the way through to the Matrix and beyond.
It’s also a format that can be related to telling the story of your business. Imagine getting an Odeon Barnsley reaction from your customers. So, whether you are Luke, Leia or even C-3P0 in your story, here’s the elements to think about.
Who’s the hero?
Okay, you might not use the word hero about yourself, but if the business was your idea, then the story starts with you. Remember, people buy into people, and people love stories. What’s the beginning of your story?
Before the business got started, what did your world look like? Nine to five, or 45 hour weeks. City dweller. Country dweller. Farmer on a distant planet. It’s all about the beginning.
What was your call to adventure?
It might not be finding a wandering droid with a hidden message. There will have been that moment when your business idea burned so hard and bright that you had to do it. People love these stories, to understand the catalyst that set you off on this adventure.
Who was your wise mentor?
Is there a Dumbledore or an Obi-Wan in your business life? Someone who helped convince you that the adventure was the right one for you? Or that provided the training or support you needed to get you on your way?
Maybe they just gave you a good kick in the pants to take the leap. Think about what it was that they did that made sure you were up and off.
The road of trials
Every good story needs some tension, that moment where it might all go wrong. Will Luke, Leia, Han and the Wookie get crushed in the garbage compactor? Will Marvin and Dory make it through the jellyfish? Will you survive your first VAT inspection?
Ok, maybe not the last one.
But the story of you and your business, unless you are exceptionally lucky, must have had its share of trials. If you’re a really new business, you might even still be in them.
It might have been one trial, or just as you got past the jellyfish, you got swallowed by a whale. But everyone loves a trier, especially when they finally get a break.
Sounds dreadful. It might well have been. But in storytelling terms, the abyss is also the point of revelation and rebirth. Things are transformed after that point.
Think about what the turning point was for your business. Did you recognise it immediately, or did everything just become different after a particular event? I hesitate to say easier as running a small business is rarely easy, but there’s definitely points where it feels less like the proverbial swimming in treacle.
Can you pinpoint it? Worth doing, as it’s part of the legend of your business.
The return of the hero
So, that’s it; the Death Star’s destroyed so Luke can go back to farming. Except the transformation of the journey means that’s never going to happen.
Likewise with you. It’s unlikely after the road of trials and the abyss you’re ever going to go back to where you were. You start a new journey. You add to your business, you develop your business, you amend the direction. And so the cycle starts again.
Tell the story of the end of the beginning.
Make your version of Star Wars
Okay, so you’re probably not going to make even a low budget remake of Star Wars. But how many dull “About Us” pages have you read? Not many follow the hero’s story arc. And they so easily could.
It doesn’t have to be a written story. You could tell it in pictures, moving or otherwise. Your story is unique, even if the structure you bring to it is as old as time.
Remember, the best tales are passed on through the generations. It’s the ancient equivalent of customer recommendations. Ultimately, people telling other people your story is the best kind of recommendation. It’s also how legends grow; it’s why we always talk about word of mouth being so important.
So, a day early, May the Fourth be with you, tomorrow and in all your business storytelling. Make your business story legendary.
If you’re interested in reading the book that inspired George Lucas, then you need a copy of The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. For a business story perspective then I also recommend reading either Why You Need a Business Story by David Sloly or The Storytelling Edge by Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas.
And if you want to make my day as a freelance writer, then please commission me to write your Star Wars business story. I can’t help think that would be the best brief ever.