The thing about sayings and cliches, is that they exist for a reason. People have made the same observations, time after time, in the hope that finally someone else will listen and not have to suffer in the same way they did!
The saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ is a brilliant example of this. And it really is an important lesson to learn, and hold on to, in a world of social media.
Comparison is a toughy. From our youngest years, we are actively compared to one another. Babies are described in ‘percentiles’ compared to their peers. Children are graded, compared to their classmates. And all of our exams and qualifications are marked with grades which compare ourselves directly with our fellow students.
But the thing about running your own business is that sometimes you have to put the blinkers on, and just focus on what you’re doing. Firstly, because no one else will be doing the exact same thing you are, and only you really know your own business. Something both Caroline and I learned early on was that not everyone we told about our business ideas was as excited as we were about our plans. They didn’t share our enthusiasm, or our understanding. And in the early stages, those responses can really put you off, and make you think you’re on the wrong course. Take a step back, as if that person is your target audience, and if their criticisms are valid, or if they simply don’t understand what you’re doing.
Secondly, there is no point comparing yourself to others … because in the world we live in there is SO much smoke and mirrors! We all have online avatars on social media – versions of ourselves which are the most smiley, filtered and dazzling versions of our lives. The same goes for business. Very few people share the true ups and downs of their business for all to see, especially in their early stages. So don’t take heart if your competitor seems to be doing incredibly and you just don’t understand how you can keep up. Focus on what you are doing, and take one small step at a time. Yes, it’s important to have an awareness of your competition, and sometimes they can actually help you with market research if they are a few steps ahead of you … but you shouldn’t be so obsessed with their every move that it has a negative effect on your own business.
As they say – do you, for you.