#Realtalk, as a business owner comparison can be killer. We’re constantly bombarded with messaging from those who have made 6-figures in 6 months, are printing money while they sleep and others who have retired their spouses and now have the perfect little lives. Meanwhile, a lot of us are working our booties off wondering why the heck we aren’t living our dream lives yet too.
So we buy the course, we join the membership site, and we read all of the books hoping that it will unveil the silver-bullet strategy we’ve been missing and guess what, most of the time it doesn’t (which I have another blog post just on that topic!). Now don’t get us wrong, you can learn a TON of amazing information from alllll of those things, but here’s something that you need to remember. All of our journeys are different and there’s a whole lot more work that goes into creating a service/product to sell and creating THE service/product to sell. That’s where the hard work comes in. Plus, sometimes the biz trends of courses, ebooks or whatever it is just might not be for you. So today we’re sharing some tips to get past comparison, realizing how your goals actually affect your business model and why biz trends won’t always get you to where you want to go.
You Can’t Compare Your Journey to Others’ Highlight Reel
Comparing ourselves to others whether in biz or life is a common problem for a lot of people already. Add social media and it’s like adding kerosene to a fire. I know this is a cliché phrase but truly, you cannot compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel and this is especially true in business. Now, I don’t fault people for sharing the good stuff at all — it’s a heck of a lot more fun to celebrate — but you have to realize there’s a whole lot that goes behind the scenes into each of those wins! Business is tough. And while there are certainly people who will crush it in their first year or first few years, others will take a lot longer. That doesn’t mean that you’re less of a success than them or that you haven’t worked hard enough. It just means you’re on a different path.
But Anna, I know someone who is in the same industry as I am, started their business at the same time and they’re posting about all the money they’re making and how they have all the time in the world to hang out with their family. Not only that, but they have “the secret” to how I can do the same! We all know the pitch. Someone was unfilled in their terrible corporate job and then they decided to turn their passion into a business and wa-lah with this simple strategy they tripled their old salary in 3 months. Now, I’m all about people being more transparent about their struggles and how they’ve overcame them to live better more fulfilling lives. When you read these stories though, you need to understand that 1.) unfortunately sometimes everything isn’t what it appears… and even when the story is true it has still been edited down to fit the narrative they want to pitch and 2.) it’s part of their marketing strategy! A good strategy at that, because it’s tapping into your emotions. They’ve figured out a way to relate to you, show you where you could be, and offer you the steps to get the life you want. I’m not saying their intentions aren’t pure and that what they’re offering couldn’t help you, but what I am saying is you can’t compare your life to their strategic and edited marketing message. They’ve figured out what is their thing and it’s time you figure out your own!
As an action point, if reading other peoples’ stories is not inspiring you and is having the adverse effect instead, then STOP reading them. Mute, or unfollow them. I know that sounds simple, but if you’re spending more time obsessing or being jealous, then you’re robbing yourself of the time to work on your own success story. Which is a surefire way to have your business fail. On the flip side, you might just need to shift your perspective. If listening to other entrepreneurs’ stories does inspire you, then stop throwing yourself a pity party of why you aren’t them and start paying attention. Pay attention to their content, their strategies and what you can learn from them, then put it into action. Being intentional about your emotions and your actions is a game changer.
Define What Success Means to YOU!
Coming off talking about comparison, you need to hammer down what success really means to you. If you scan through business pitches you’d think you can onlyyy be considered a success when you’re making 6-figures but WHO set that standard?! Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with money and making a whole lot of it. In fact, I hope you can earn a really comfortable living from your true passions! I just think that there’s been this bar set that you have to do x,y and z before you’re considered “successful” and to be frank, I think it’s crap.
I think success can look veryyyy different from person-to-person so it’s important that we take the time to nail down what it looks like to us. Otherwise we’re just chasing these ideals that might not actually get us to the life we want to live. So what does success look like for you? Because the answers to that question are going to really affect your business model. Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, and 10 years down the road? Do you want to be buying islands, Richard Branson style? Do you want to be living out of a Tiny House and touring the country while speaking to others or doing workshops? Do you want to have a career where you can create a few key products and pull back on your schedule in a few years when you’re ready to start a family? What do you want?
Take a good hard look at your answers to that question and think about what you need to do in your business now, to get to where you want to be along those milestones. When you nail down what you want your life to look like, then you can start thinking about the type of business model that will support that lifestyle. Chances are your version of success is going to look a lot different than what the gurus say too — whether that’s monetary, time, or flexibility. We’ve been programmed to always want to do MORE but sometimes that’s not the answer to what we really want. So stop chasing goals you don’t care about.
You Don’t Have to Follow Business Trends
Repeat this one in your head a million times please! There is not one path to success and you don’t have to jump on whatever strategy is trendy at the time to make a living. That’s right, you don’t have to sell courses, you don’t have to offer group trainings, you don’t have to have a Facebook Group and you don’t have to do webinars. If it works for you and your big-picture plan, DO IT! But if you find yourself feeling like you need to jump on something because everyone else is doing it, take a few steps back. As I’ve mentioned a few times already (see I really want to hammer this point in) you can be successful doing a lot of things. The best thing you can do is focus on the things that help your skills shine and align with what will work best with the life you’re trying to live and what your customers and clients want too.
I have a great example of how we were guilty of falling in this trap too. In 2017 we wanted to expand our offerings and decided to launch a membership service. The idea was, people would subscribe to our service and get access to a resource library which would have styled stock photos in a bunch of different categories, customizable quote graphics, collateral designs, — believe me, if we thought it could help fellow biz owners, we included. Helping others is really at the heart of our business and we thought this idea was genius because it allowed us to offer services to a whole lot more people than we could work with on a 1-on-1 basis.
Now don’t get me wrong, we didn’t launch this just because it was a trendy idea at the time, but because passive income streams and membership services were all the rage we built our service around the trend. We worked our BUTTS off on this project. For months. We built up buzz for our launch and did the whole shabang to bring it to market. Unfortunately, the launch of the product won’t make any business publications and after a few months we realized it was a bust. It turned out this “passive” income strategy we had created wasn’t all that passive and we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to keep it up for the amount of income that was coming in. Shortly after we decided to shut it down and guys, we were bummed.
Here’s what we learned though, while all of the conversations told us passive income streams were the key to scaling and being more successful. That we could only go so far by offering services, it turned out the timing and business model just wasn’t right for us at that time. And you know what else we realized? There are a heck of a lot of PR, social and creative agencies that all they do are services and they’re doing just fine. It’s not to say we won’t explore another option in the future, but at that time in our business we got distracted by something flashy instead of slowing down and really focusing on marketing our services which we already had an awesome system for. Moral of the story, just because someone tells you selling courses, membership sites, or whatever it may be is the key to success, it doesn’t mean it will be for you.
Take Advice From Others with a Grain of Salt
Okay, I know I may sound like I’m poo pooing on others trying to help you find success and trust me I’m not. I read more blogs, books and listen to more podcasts than most and that’s because there’s some AWESOME freaking info out there. What I mean by “take advice from others with a grain of salt” is that you need to be an active participant in the media you consume or the conversations you have. Don’t just do something because you heard it somewhere and don’t just take someone’s opinion as the gold standard because they’re further along their journey than you are. Whatever decisions you make in your business or in your life, do them because they feel right! Trial and error is literally your best friend as a business owner and sometimes it’s going to take time to figure out what works best for you.
A different but relevant example… growing up maybe you tried a bunch of different sports and activities. Maybe you played tee-ball, or soccer or maybe you played violin or did ballet — the violin one was me! Whatever you did, did you end up doing alllll of the things your whole life? Probably not. You probably picked the things you were best at and dropped some of the other things… or tried new things to see if you liked those better. The point being, some things stick and some things don’t and it’s up to you to decide which things you’re going to try. You really need to go with your gut on that one and if you think something is a good idea but change your mind because one or two people didn’t like the idea, well then you’ll miss out on a lot!
Instead, I encourage you to go into things with an open mind. Listen to those podcasts, buy those courses and join those masterminds. Just don’t go into them thinking that they’re going to be the silver bullet to your success! Business isn’t so cut and dry. It’s more like an unending series of trials and errors and those failures are the key to actually finding what works for you. Which btw, Mallory has another awesome blog post on that topic too! So pay attention, learn different strategies and then go and try things out yourself! Spend more time driving your car than trying to see where the person next to you is going. There’s enough success to go around and finding your own path is a lot more fun than trying to recreate someone else’s. We all have unique talents, perspectives and dreams and it’s time that you give yours the attention they deserve.