In business, there’s always someone bigger and better. So how do you stop comparing yourself to others and learn to love little old you?
It started when I was about 13.
Hannah Brandon* had bigger boobs than me.
Now this might not seem relevant to running a solo business, but bear with me. It’s one of those metaphor thingies. (And for any males reading this, I’m sure you can think of a suitable appendage to substitute for ‘boobs’.)
As a blossoming teen it was all about the boobs. Boobs endowed the bearer with greater status, social power and, most importantly, more admiration from boys. Us poor boobless creatures were stricken with envy. How could we compare to these full-bosomed creatures? Why were we so pubescently challenged?
Even now, as an ample-boobed, fully grown businesswoman, the gaping pit of comparison
occasionally sucks me in. I still have a tendency to compare my inadequacies with others’ successes. And I know a lot of other soloists feel this way too.
So here are some tips on how to avoid the comparison trap and learn to love your own business, however flat chested it may be.
Tip 1: Stop hate following
We all have those competitors who lodge themselves in the back of our brain. We subscribe to their newsletters and like their Facebook pages not because we love them, but because we’re jealous of everything they do.
We open their emails with a groan, muttering expletives under our breath as we see the ‘new shiny thing’ they’ve just done/released. Or the new opportunity they’ve been offered.
Unsubscribing from these emails and removing these pages from your newsfeed will make you a happier chipmunk.
Tip 2: Start producing
Instead of reading other people’s content, and checking out their blogs, websites and emails, start creating your own content.
Rather than following others, listen to your own customers and let them guide you towards new products, services and solutions.
You’ll find that once you don your business blinkers your vision will clear, making it easier to come up with your own
Tip 3: Be realistic
If you’re just starting out, there’s little joy to be had in comparing yourself with a well-established business. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, as the saying goes. Oh, and while you’re at it, stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel.
Tip 4: Don’t believe the hype
I’ve met many of my business heroes and peers, and the truth is a lot of them are struggling. Everyone has ups and downs in business, but not everyone reveals them on social media.
Remember that most business folk will be putting a brave, successful face on things. When it comes to business marketing, there’s a certain amount of sock stuffing going on (if you catch my drift).
Tip 5: Eat the elephant
At the risk of mixing metaphors, it’s important to realise you have to eat the business elephant one bite at a time. The problem many solo business owners face is managing their time
It’s easy to let your business eat your entire life. There’s always more marketing to do, processes to improve, new clients to pitch. And if you let it, your business will devour you. So set some boundaries, and take small nibbles at success each day.
Tip 6: Stop and step back
When the fog of business comparison starts to rise, try to remember your successes. Spend some time reading through old client testimonials, and take stock of your achievements so far. I keep a folder of ‘nice things’ (comments, pictures, reviews etc.) on my desktop to trawl through when I’m feeling inadequate. It’s simple but effective.
Running a solo business can be a lonely old game. It’s important to be honest with yourself, and realise that 99% of people are probably feeling the same way you do.
In fact, there’s probably a businessperson out there right now looking at your success and gnashing their teeth with envy. Remember, there are people out there who will love your business (and your boobs, for that matter) regardless of its size or impressiveness. So don’t let them pass you by while you’re busy comparing yourself to others.
* Name changed to avoid embarrassment.