Starting / Business startup

Six reasons to stop comparing yourself to others

I’d just launched a brilliant offering and sales and rave reviews were rolling in. Yet none of it mattered because all I could think about was how my new service could compare to Competitor X’s.

24 October 2015 by

In this game of solo business it’s easy to feel like a contestant in the Amazing Race: always rushing towards the prize and constantly worrying that your competitors will go sprinting past you.

When we focus on those competitors we always seem to lose out don’t we? Their website is prettier. Their ideas are better. Their social media images are more awe-inspiring. And they have more/better/richer clients than we do.

No matter how well we are doing or how great business is, the moment we shift our focus to what our competitors are up to, we start to burn with envy. And that comparison, that envy, steals away any joy we might have felt about our business.

Of course, the answer is to stop looking. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.  And in the words of my fourth-grade teacher, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.”

But in case you’re not convinced, here are six powerful reasons why it’s time to stop comparing yourself to others:

"No matter how well we are doing or how great business is, the moment we shift our focus from the goal to what our competitors are up to, we start to burn with envy."

1. You’re allowing others to define ‘success’ for you

Just like you wouldn’t let a stranger – or your competitor – choose your wardrobe for you, it’s unwise to allow others to define your idea of success. Trust me, there is nothing worse than winning a race only to find that you just don’t enjoy the prize. Remember, even if your competitors are in the same field and heading in the same direction as you are, your ultimate goals could be very different

So ask yourself, what is your goal? Because it’s always more than just money or the perception of success. There‘s a feeling and a way of life associated with it, isn’t there? You know when you’re on track because you feel a certain way. Identify what success looks and feels like to you and it’ll be easier to keep your eyes on your own work.

2. You’re allowing yourself to be distracted

We love ideas and inspiration. We can’t help it. We’re entrepreneurs. But one of our biggest weaknesses is that we can be easily distracted by new ideas and leave a litter of half-finished projects behind us.

And while your competitor’s idea might look exciting – and maybe you wish you’d had it first – I invite you to ask yourself whether you love it because it’s new or because it’s going to get you to your ultimate goal?

Sometimes that’s a tough question to answer but if you focus on your goal, you will soon know if the idea will move you forward or deflect you onto a different, distracted path.

But don’t worry; I know what you’re thinking. I hate to let good ideas go too. So keep it. Tuck it away in your Official Book of Genius Ideas and use it later. That will keep the idea-lover part of you happy and clear your mind so you can stay on track.

3. It makes you CRAZY

Listen to the voice of experience here. Watching what everyone else does will drive you crazy. She had a good idea, then he had a better one, then that competitor did something really fabulous …

There’s a whole crowd of competitors out there. Trying to keep up with them all will tip you over the edge. You just can’t do it. No one person can. Besides, just because they look like great ideas, that doesn’t mean they will work for your business.

Do yourself a favour and stop driving yourself cray cray by looking at others and start driving yourself forward by looking at your own business.

4. You don’t know your competitor’s clients.

Let’s be real with each other, there’s a whole range of needs hidden away even within the one market. So, sure, you and Competitor X might be targeting the same people. But the chances are high that you’re solving different problems.

And keep in mind that you don’t really know what your competitor’s plans are. All you know is what you can see and that’s open to misinterpretation.

Look to your own clients and meet their needs. That’s where your real success is going to come from. And #protip, if you are meeting their needs, they aren’t going to want – or need – anyone else.

5. You’ll miss out on an opportunity to be a successful entrepreneur.

Boys and girls compete with each other. Entrepreneurs empower each other. 

You hear what I’m saying?

There are an abundance of business owners out there trying to take everything for themselves, but successful entrepreneurs have realised that by helping each other they can offer a better service to their clients. They know that there are plenty of clients to go around so they don’t need to capture the entire market – and even if they did, they couldn’t service it. They have also discovered that in supporting others, they are making their own business even stronger.

And personally, I’d rather have allies than competitors, wouldn’t you?

6. You’re only seeing your competitor’s highlight reel.

Take a look at your own social media posts. If you were merely an onlooker, what would you think when you read them? Likely, something along the lines of: “Wow, everything’s going so well for them!”

Now think about what you don’t post; all the hard days and knockbacks, all the struggles and not quite rights. No one knows about them, do they? Social media posts only ever hit the highlights. That’s what people want to read. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all there is for everyone else too.

Everyone’s journey is unique, with equal parts high and low. And as much as you look enviously at the others in your Amazing Race, they will be looking back at you wishing they’d had your brilliant ideas. If you are finding joy in your world that’s all you need.

What methods have you used to stop yourself playing the comparison game with your competitors?

Anna Dower

is a designer, mentor and Chief Boss-Lady at Design With Style. She's also the co-founder and art director of digital magazine, ROOOAR.

Comments

  • Hi Anna. Great article and it’s something I used to be very guilty of. We’re never going to live up to our own false impression of someone else’s brilliance. Now I just try and focus on doing the best job I can do for my clients and if I’m being my best me, I will attract the right clients who love what I do and how I do it!

97,369 people use Flying Solo to help them create a business with life. Do you?

Connect with Flying Solo

Explore the benefits of membership