Establishing Your Storytelling Business

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Chapter 7 - Establishing Your Storytelling Business

“Now here's a story I heard tell...”

In this chapter…
• Building a Support Network
• Establishing Your Identity
• Your Trade Name
• Trademarking Your Name
• Types of Businesses
• Small Business Assistance
• Setting Up a Checking Account
• Business License
• Business Plan
• General Liability Insurance
• Insuring Your Equipment and Merchandise
• Keeping Track of Your Income
• Tackling Taxes
• The Business of Storytelling
• Resources

Establishing a storytelling business is like establishing any other business. You will need to create a business name, produce a business plan, set up a bank account, secure the proper licensing, and manage financial matters. Most importantly, you will need to build a nurturing support network.

Building A Support Network
Embarking on the journey of a self-employed artist is challenging. In addition to being “your own boss,” you are also the company’s Director of Marketing, Booking Manager, Public Relations Agent, and Office Administrator. Wearing all of these hats can be overwhelming at times. Build a support network of people who will encourage you to succeed. Your support network will be a group of people – family, friends, and professional colleagues you can turn to when you need a little extra encouragement, feedback, and advice. Even professional sports teams rely on their support network. Basketball and football teams enlist the cheerleaders to cheer the team on and lift their sagging spirits when the team is down. Don’t underestimate the value of a good support network. They are your personal cheerleaders.

Who are You?
Your professional identity will define you for many years to come, so think carefully about creating a “label” for yourself. Your name, or moniker, is your calling card. It’s how presenters find you and how audiences follow your work. In short, it’s who you are.

Many storytellers create catchy monikers for which they become widely known. Jackson Gillman bills himself as “The Stand-Up Chameleon.” It’s memorable and unique. The tandem duo of Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns bill themselves as “The Storycrafters.”

Then there are other storytellers who simply choose to use their own names. We all know Bill Harley, Heather Forest, David Holt, Jay O’Callahan, and Donald Davis. They are examples of tellers who marketed themselves by simply using their own names. We know them because they are good at what they do and they know how to get their names into our collective consciences.

When I first began my career as a professional storyteller, I went by the moniker “Dianne and the Magic Suitcase.” I chose the suitcase theme because I have lived and traveled worldwide. I brought an old red suitcase, full of props, to all my performances. Initially, I received a lot of attention and the name got me noticed. But then the suitcase drew more attention than the storytelling. Kids always wanted to know “what was in the suitcase.” In addition, many people thought I was a magician and would ask when the magic would begin. After struggling with whether or not to make a name change and consulting my support network for advice, I made the decision to drop the suitcase and market myself simply as “Dianne de Las Casas.” I changed my stationery, business cards, and marketing materials, and I notified my clients of my name change. It was a costly transformation, but in the end I am happier and my storytelling business is booming. When you choose a moniker, test the waters and see how it works. Make the commitment only after you feel completely comfortable with the image and how it is perceived. Remember, it should last you for the long haul. You don’t want to have to go through costly re-imaging later on.

Your Trade Name
If you have a unique name for your storytelling business and would like to protect your name, you may want to register your...
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