We've all read the classic founder stories about companies started in a garage/dorm room/remote town by a visionary/college dropout/iconoclast with a crazy idea and a few friends. The founders overcame adversity/relentlessly pursued their vision/had an amazing stroke of luck, and now the company is a global brand/worth zillions/the owner of our most private thoughts.

Most companies, however, don't grow up with that kind of drama. Fortunately, you don't need drama to tell a compelling company story. What you do need are five essential ingredients:

1. Inspiration

What sparked the founding of the business? Who was involved and what motivated them? What problem were they trying to solve? What was their vision and mission?

2. Challenges

What challenges did the founders and their growing team face in building the business? (Those could be internal, external, micro, or macro.) What did they do to overcome them?

3. Claims to fame

What makes your company stand out? What's your company's most remarkable asset? It could be pioneering thinking, a new way of doing business, a new technology, a new product or service, a commitment to achieving specific social or environmental benefits—whatever defines your company's core value.

4. Accomplishments

Where is your company now? What has it achieved? What work is your company actively engaged in? What has your company's impact been? To what extent has it addressed the inspirational problem?

5. Vision

What's next? What's the really big thing your company is shooting for? What keeps people involved in the business?

See how all five essential elements work together in an example outlined in Thinkshift Communications' infographic:

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The Five Essential Elements of a Great Company Story [Infographic]

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image of Sandra Stewart

Sandra Stewart is a principal at Thinkshift Communications, which provides content marketing, messaging, and other strategic marketing services to cleantech and sustainable businesses.

LinkedIn: Sandra Stewart