As the famous book by Jonathan Gottschall says, humans are storytelling animals.

Our lives are often best understood in a series of stories. From the story of how we came home from the hospital, to our first day of school, to graduation, and so on. Everyone has a story.

As an entrepreneur, or as anyone trying to sell something, you are a storyteller. I can’t remember the point at which I realized it, but it was probably in the middle of my 5th sales call of the day. I noticed a pattern in how each conversation would unfold. I was unknowingly refining “the story” of our service based on feedback from my listeners. Eventually, I had the story down pat that ensured the highest likelihood that I’d close the sale.

My background is in journalism. It was my first career, long before I tried my hand at business. But as you can imagine, I’m not stranger to the technique behind writing (or telling) a story. It’s important to understand the academic view of storytelling when you’re training to become a professional. In my view, we are all natural storytellers. Don’t worry if you didn’t major in creative writing, or get nervous speaking in front of a group. That’s not the point. It doesn’t doom you to failure as an entrepreneur.

“If you have created a business, you have a story. The story lies in how you came up with the idea and why you are the perfect person to have started your business. Before the nuances of product features or the cost of a service weigh on the mind of a potential customer, it’s beneficial to have that very story front and center,” says Danny DeMichele, CEO of

Many businesses are born when an individual with years of accumulated experience or know how stumbles on to a pressing need from a customer. Of course, the customer isn’t a customer just yet. There isn’t a business.

But there is an “aha” moment when unknowing preparation meets a common pain point. Right? You started your consulting business because after 10 years working at the big firm, someone at a cocktail party asked if you’d lend a hand on their business. You built your software tool to manage dental practices after 7 years as a software developer, when your neighbor complained about tracking his insurance billings at his dental office.

The point is, that’s your story. That’s where you begin every conversation. It doesn’t begin with product features. “My software is called DentalStar and you can manage your customer reminders in the admin dashboard.” That is 20 minutes in to the conversation. You begin with, “for years, I was a trained software developer building an internal CRM for a hospital. It was a great learning experience. One day, my neighbor was complaining about keeping track of his insurance billings – he’s a dentist. He was doing it by hand. It kept him in his office late, too late he said. He hadn’t purchased software because the only solution he knew about cost $20K up front. So I said, ‘I bet I could build something for you that does the same thing as that pricey system for less than $2K. And DentalStar was born.”

This is why every successful entrepreneur must be a storyteller. The example I threw out above is a classic one. It’s a healthy, relatable way for another person to understand how and why your company came into being. It also subtly hints at why the product itself is a good option – it’s cheaper than the established competition. The background story sets the tone for when you later reiterate why they should buy from you. That’s key to know.

The “entrepreneur storyteller” extends far beyond the setting of a sales call. As a business owner, you have to be able to tell your story effectively to your bank, your employees, your investors (if you have them), and anyone else you meet while networking to grow the business. It’s the starting point for every coffee conversation for all the years you own the business and are trying to grow it. It’s the rubric for each employee that joins the team. In fact, your story is the baseline for the company’s values and culture as well.

I only say the “most successful” entrepreneurs are storytellers because it is immutable that if you are an entrepreneur, you must be a storyteller. The two go hand in hand. Without plausible, presentable, relatable stories around your company and product and who you are, there is no business. Thusly, you won’t be an entrepreneur for long. You are best hitching a ride to another business or career, and adopting their story to tell.

Robert McAfee Brown said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

He’s right. Even if my argument about story’s role in business or any business sale falls flat for you, maybe the pervasiveness of story in every other aspect of our lives can reassure you that it must be present in business as well. Political campaigns are built around a story. Sports seasons, and sporting heroes, are stories. Every advertisement and new-school “content marketing” campaign attempts to build a story. Characters, a plot, a twist, a finding of resolve, an ending.

Where there are people, there are stories. Take a look at your business and ensure you’re telling the best one.