With business and marketing moving online, showing the person (you) behind your business is vital. People connect with your work/portfolio/samples but engage and build relationships with you. The human element matters immensely in all business communications. How do you humanize your freelance or consulting business? By paying attention to your founding story, purpose, mission and voice.
Your founding story
A founding story is a business story that tells people about the thing(s) that motivated you to pursue consulting or freelancing. It is linked to your ability, experience and desire to provide value in some way.
Elements of a good founding story:
- Brand origin: The basic yet important details about your business that prospective customers should know.
- Why did you start your business?
- When did you start it?
- How did you start it?
- Where did you start it (optional)
Have a look at a detailed explanation of origin story here.
- Journey: Usually conveyed in the form of milestones to show how far the business has come. You may not have much to write here if you've only just started your business. But you can add a few lines on your experience and what you anticipate in the future.
- What you offer: An account of the service(s) you provide. Be specific and link each service to a need. If you're a graphic design artist, you could say "I offer enticing visuals that leave a lasting impression on your customers."
- Differentiators: Your founding story is an opportunity to explain what makes you unique or why you're worth a try. Check out these examples of brand differentiators.
Some of the biggest brands in the world have inspirational founder stories that reinforce the power of resilience and believing in your product. As a freelancer or consulting business, you too can evoke the spirit of helping your customers achieve their goals.
Your purpose is the reason you exist. It is a brief account (usually 1 line to 1 paragraph) reinforcing your motivation to start your consulting or freelancing business.
Your mission is an encapsulation of where you see yourself in the future and how you will get there. Admittedly, freelancers and consultants may not have as ambitious a mission as a start-up aiming for fast growth or a mid-sized company targeting international expansion. But your mission statement carries weight as it indicates that you're in it for the long haul.
Your voice, also known as tone of voice, communicates your way of thinking and offers insights into your personality. It helps future customers build an emotional connection with you. Some examples of tone of voice are:
- Casual and cheerful
- Professional and ambitious
- Thoughtful and conservative
Your tone of voice is also significant because in your line of work, people will be interacting directly with you. Doesn't matter if they get you on the phone or mainly communicate via email. Your spoken and written words impact how your customers relate to you. And it is especially important in the initial stages of relationship-building when prospects and new customers are still cautious about your work or what you will deliver. With this in mind, aim for a consistent tone of voice, adjusting your tone only when a situation demands it.
When determining an apt tone of voice, prioritize authenticity and be the real you. At the same time, ensure that you don't inadvertently put off prospects and customers by appearing as if you're taking them for granted.
Put it all into action
A strong founding story, purpose, and vision, and a consistent tone of voice will:
- Make you memorable in a sea of competitors.
- Help your audience connect with you.
- Help them make decisions on whether they should work with you.
- Encourage them to get in touch with you.