Comparison is like that itchy mohair sweater your grandma gave you (or if you were really lucky, knitted you) all those christmases ago. It’s very difficult to get rid of, impossibly uncomfortable, and sometimes quite damaging to your self-esteem. Everyone compares themselves and their ideas to the things we see around us, yet we often remain too afraid to admit it. Instead, we hide it and let it chip away at our confidence and faith like a sly mutant woodpecker.
Let’s be honest: how many times have you looked at other people’s business ideas, websites, commercial ventures and pitted them up against your own? How many times has someone told you about an idea and you wished you came up with it, or worse, you start to really judge your own business based on how glorious and world changing this idea appears? Well here’s the thing. Regardless of how beautiful, well planned, profitable and downright game changing that business is, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Business owners and entrepreneurs are often critical people. We pay close attention to detail, and are constantly trying to innovate and improve. It’s therefore only natural that when we see other businesses that are-seemingly- more advanced in certain areas, it cuts at our self esteem and we compare it to our own efforts. There hasn’t been a time when I haven’t wished I had invented Facebook, created lettersofnote.com or used Instagram to make a super business based on consumerism like PréeBrulee. Seeing these monumental successes would make even the most confident of people doubt themselves and their business. What am I doing that they aren’t already? What is so special about my idea? Surely there’s already something like this out there?
The truth is, even the most respected, envied and well thought out businesses can be flawed. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors, and what’s more, it doesn’t even matter. What matters is you, your idea, and what you decide to make of it. Sure, it may not be as monumentally successful as Tinder or as weirdly addictive as Pinterest, but it is yours and yours alone. Don’t feel like you and your business have to be anything else, and don’t become obsessed with other businesses that are floating around. The business du jour might look impressive and sophisticated now, but it’s the people and the values at the core of it all that will determine its future.
If you’re still having some trouble, here are some things to remember:
1. If you have already created your idea/business/venture, then you cannot turn back at the first hurdle ( finding an idea or successful business that appears, at least on the surface, to beat yours down to a tee). Don’t start giving up on your idea, because if you do you’d be giving up on yourself at the first sign of trouble.
2. The grass is always greener. Sometimes, the grass is so much greener it makes you want to ditch your lawn altogether and go and live in a condominium where you won’t have to worry about the state of your garden. However, it is important to remember here that there will always be strokes of genius and ‘bigger, better ideas’, and the key is to make yours the best it can be rather than worrying about whether it’s better than everybody else’s.
3. Although it is good to be critical, there is such a thing as being too critical. Sometimes it’s important to push through and get the job done, and although mulling and re-mulling (yes, that’s a thing) can be highly tempting, it’s important to realise when to say no. Don’t look at other people’s ideas and hesitate over yours to the point of no return. Be critical, but move onwards and upwards.
4. From time to time, you may get that sinking feeling (you know, like the cheese overdose or ate too much cake feeling) that you just don’t know what you’re doing with yourself and your business, or what direction to take. You may feel like you’re losing grip or actually have no grip whatsoever on what is happening with what seemed like a perfect idea. In these moments, it’s important to realise that although this could potentially flag up problems within the business and your frame of mind, the best way to move forward is to sit down and think about what you could be doing better. Don’t give up on a whim, and don’t worry that you’ve taken on too much too soon. You’re already out in the water, it’s time to learn how to swim with the sharks.
5. From time to time, you may look at other people’s businesses and see exactly how they can expand and take the world by storm, which in turn can be quite damaging for your business self esteem. Who wouldn’t be dismayed at the thought of so much potential, whilst being unable to locate their own? However, it’s important to realise that although you may not see it yet (negative bias anyone?) all businesses, including your own, have great potential and areas to expand and improve. Consider that other people can often see what you can’t, and if you ever feel like you’re the captain of a water logged, semi-sinking ship, ask around and find out what other people see in it that you (just a guess) probably can’t.