It’s SO easy to scroll through Instagram checking out someone else’s badass business with a salty voice that silently curses the screen.
“Maybe they have a trust fund.”
“Their parents definitely helped them out.”
“I bet they have connections, that’s why they’re successful.”
That little voice inside you is so judgy.
As a business owner, it’s natural to compare yourself to your competition. While this can be healthy, I’ve struggled—along with many of you, I’m sure—with self-doubt and insecurity because of these comparisons.
I’ve been in business for almost six years, working in the highly visual field of floral design. I’ve tried to be funnier, wittier, and prettier than the next flower shop online. I’ve unfollowed so-and-so and refollowed so-and-so, and it’s taken me five years in business to finally Let. It. Go.
Here are five tactics I’ve used to beat down the salty voice inside my head and channel that comparison rage into creative energy.
1. Delete the damn app.
There you go, I said it. Don’t watch everyone else out there killing it—you go kill it. And deleting social media apps is the first step to take.
You can start slow by turning off notifications for the specific apps that trigger your comparison spiral.
On an iPhone, go to Settings >> Notifications and click into the specific apps to change the notification settings. Then swipe that green thing to the left.
But what about the followers who expect you to post? Hate to break it to you, but there’s so much other content that floods their feeds they probably won’t even notice. Give it a day, or a week, or dare I say A MONTH? Hold yourself accountable by making social media really hard to access.
If you rely on social media to market your business, ask someone else on your team to own it during your detox. You can also tell your followers directly that you’re taking a break. Just make sure they have another way to contact you during that time. That way, you won’t compromise sales while giving yourself a healthy break.
When you’ve cleared your mind and spent a few days alone with your thoughts (terrifying I know), come back and see if you’re able to get through your feed without being a jerk to yourself.
2. Repeat this mantra whenever you feel like sh!t.
|I don’t know the full story. And it’s not my story to know.|
The assumption that fancy websites + likes + followers + curated photos + whatever else you’re jealous about = money is JUST PLAIN WRONG. How people present themselves and their companies online isn’t the full story.
I have friends who have 100,000 followers and still don’t have thriving businesses. I have friends who have less than 1,000 followers and DO have thriving businesses. Know that you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, and peeking inside will only slow you down.
Whenever you’re feeling the comparison urge creep up, repeat my mantra. Write it on a sticky note, your POS system, or on your hand—wherever you need to see it when that jealous feeling says hello.
I met with a vendor recently who told me that the farmers we were sourcing from assumed I had come from money. UM, WHAT. I started my business all by myself. But see? That’s what happens when we make assumptions about other people’s situations. And it doesn’t even matter what other people’s situations are, they’re not yours.
3. Do this cheesy exercise (because it works).
Your job as a business owner is to do the best you can with what you have, point blank. And the best way to do that is by appreciating what you have.
People who write down what they’re grateful for feel better about their lives than those who don’t. This is because the exercise helps you remember good experiences which leads you to relive the positive emotions that come from the act of remembering.
As a business owner, things get so hectic that it can be hard to celebrate those positive parts, which is why this exercise is so useful.
Here’s how to do it:
- Buy yourself a journal (it doesn’t need to be a fancy Moleskin) or one of these journals that come preloaded with prompts.
- Write down three things you’re thankful for every day and what led to them.
- Start with simple moments, like “I got to eat a frickin’ delicious breakfast.” Build up to the bigger things once you get used to the exercise.
- If you’re having trouble starting, finish this sentence: “What would my life be like without ____?” It would probably suck. That’s when you realize you’re actually grateful for the things you always expect to be there.
- Create a Google Cal invite to remind yourself to fill out the journal. Experts say doing the exercise one to three times a week is best.
- Place your journal in a place where you usually experience stress. Behind the store counter, in your bag, in the car—or keep a digital version in the notes app on your phone, whatever works. Reach for it when you start feeling meh.
Remember how I said your job as a business owner is to do the best with what you have? This exercise will flex those muscles.
4. Make sure your goals have a business purpose.
Goals are essential, but each one should point to your bottom line.
I had a goal to get to 10,000 followers on Instagram because you get that cool “swipe up” feature. Why did I work toward it? Because I believed that function could actually help my bottom line, not just because the 10,000 number would look good on my profile.
So ask yourself this:
|Do your goals have to do with your ego or helping your business?|
For example, if you really want a new logo, is it because you think it will make your business look more legit and lead to more customers or is it because you like working on design projects?
When creating your goals, write down the business reason behind each one. That reason should help you decide whether you should work toward it or move on to something that will have a bigger impact on your biz.
5. Meet the people who intimidate you.
My dad once told me that people who are successful LOVE to tell you how they did it. So instead of sitting there being jealous of your competitors, connect with them.
Or in other words, reach out to the business owners you admire—and can’t stop stalking.
|Here’s a sample email you can steal:
I’ve been following your business for quite some time and admire the heck out of what you’re doing! [Always compliment if you mean it.]
I have a business that does [add your industry, location, and years of experience]. Learning from experts like you is a passion of mine. I’ll be in the area [insert time frame] and would be stoked to meet up for a chat to talk shop. Let me know if you’re open to meeting up.
Keep up the inspired work!
I’ve taken time to meet inspirational flower shop owners around the country to connect and share ideas. Every time I’ve done this, I’ve made a new friend and learned something new.
One of the most influential moments in my career was getting a cold email from a new competitor in town asking if I wanted to get coffee. I jumped for JOY. I was thrilled to talk about the industry with someone who knew about staffing, design, the flower market, and demanding brides—things you can only talk about with another business owner.
It’s impossible NOT to learn from successful people. By reaching out to the competition, you’ll make new friends in the industry and have people to call when you need advice and support. Plus when you meet people IRL, it’s a lot harder to demonize them online.
Business owners are competitive. Hey, that’s probably why you started your biz in the first place—you knew you could do it way better than anyone else. But jealousy is only going to zap the creative energy that got you to where you are.
Instead, use that fire to fuel your success—all while crushing the judgy voice that’s holding you back.