Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Doug Keeley, CEO of Stories Rule!, located in Niagara on the Lake, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I help clients use stories to power sales, leadership, and culture. My clients are C-suite leaders of organizations from SMBs to Fortune 100.

Tell us about yourself

I started my first communications company fresh out of college. I had a degree in Jazz and only then realized I would starve as a musician. For decades my company served large corporate clients globally, creating big events, videos, multimedia and graphics, and the very first websites. Today I am focused on helping clients integrate "story" into their communication and culture. I am motivated whenever I hear someone present with slides full of words, general statements, opinions, and a few facts and no stories. It usually means nothing has cut through, nothing has connected with the audience emotionally, and nothing has stuck.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I built my original business for several hundred people plus scores of freelancers. The company is no longer in business, but many, many small businesses have started as offshoots of the original. We created a culture where young people could grow and learn while being themselves.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Managing people is difficult - as someone said, "the soft stuff is the hard stuff." Also, managing the unpredictability of business, as I have always been in the project business. So you are never guaranteed the next quarter's revenue.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Be prepared to work 24/7.
  3. Hire people smarter than you.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I encourage everyone to use short stories (2 minutes!) in all their communication. Stories about themselves, their customers, their values, or stories that have inspired them. Stories Rule!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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