Enjoy part two of a post that appeared yesterday: “Don’t Fear the Competition… BE the Competition (Part 1)“…
As much as I see the detriments of constant self-comparison among job seekers, I see it equally as rampant among entrepreneurs starting out in their small businesses.
Working for Yourself Is No Exception
When you’re completely self-reliant on your own talents, skills and strategy to create a sustainable living, it’s very easy to break it down and dissect everything you’re doing on an atomic level. When you go into business for yourself, inevitably you start surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs, freelancers and like-minded folks who understand the challenges and advantages of your situation.
You need that energy, you need that environment to thrive. But often the disadvantage to that situation is that it causes you to keep looking around, trying to gauge the level of success that your fellow entrepreneurs are having, and then trying to figure out why you’re not at the same level.
Forget that your business is only slightly identical, or that you cater to a different audience, or that they’ve been doing it a year or two or three longer than you have, and have had a longer time to build up their client base. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to people we admire in some aspect. It’s also disastrous, because we tend to hyper-focus in on what we don’t have that other people do, instead of the individual progress we ourselves are making, and where can make potential improvements.
The Grass Is Not Greener
Just because someone seemingly has more clients than you, or was hired instead of you, doesn’t mean they’re privy to some secret or more receptive to good luck than you are. When I started out building my business, I used to look at one of my old coaching mentors and be in awe of her ability to draw in potential clients, like tweens to Bieber show. She seemed like she was never at a lack for potential, interested clients, just waiting to sign up and write her a check.
And then as I met more people within my business circle, I started to hear from colleagues what a terrible reputation she had for falling way short of her clients’ expectations. See, she was really good at getting them in the door, but her delivery was apparently awful, and ruining her reputation in the process. And here I was holding her up on a pedestal thinking, “Wow, I’ll never be as good a sales and marketing person as Janice. I guess I’m doomed to be second-rate.”
There is nothing wrong with looking at what others like you have done and learning from their process, their successes, and if you’re privy to it, their challenges. Everybody has their own story to tell of how they got where they are, professionally, personally, and in their business. But there’s a fine line between learning, and yearning to be a carbon copy of what we consider on the surface to define “successful”. You don’t know that person’s full story. You don’t know that they have a thriving business, but their partner just left them because they’re a chronic workaholic.
The idea isn’t to replicate someone else’s blueprint and follow their path. It’s to educate ourselves, and then use that information to make our own decisions and shape our own journey as it relates to, and satisfies, our needs as professionals and individuals.
Don’t Be Envious, Be Real
Not only is it okay for you to be unique as a job seeker or an entrepreneur, it’s a necessary part of effectively marketing yourself and achieving successful results. Your path to your dream job or owning your own sustainable business may be longer, shorter, easier or harder than your colleagues, friends or competition, but that is how it is supposed to be. You cannot replicate someone else’s success without also replicating that person’s failures, and probably some new ones, in the process.
Instead, I would encourage you to create complete clarity and understanding around your own individual strengths, your value proposition, and what you bring to the table for your customers, for your organization and for your target audience.
- What do you do well?
- What do you do well that is unique to you?
- What do you not do so well that you would like to do better?
- Now, what resources can you take advantage of to learn the things you need to learn to bring that piece into balance with the rest?
When you can answer these questions, you’ll BE the competition!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Aspyre Solutions!
About the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses, through career transition coaching and business consulting for creative professionals and entrepreneurs.
Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design and other industries execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities, and her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay, CareerBuilder.com, GlassDoor and About.com. Follow Dana on Twitter!