It happens to every business owner at one time or another: they see massive success all around them and wonder why they haven’t yet realized their dreams of success. The problem with trying to learn from the big businesses in this world is that we often forget that their “overnight success” took 20 years to establish.
We do the same thing with celebrities: they have one hit movie and we wonder why we can’t be discovered in a mall parking lot. Anyone who has anything in their life, especially business, usually has had to bust their butt to get it and they’ve only realized the fruits of their labor years after slugging away at it night after night in their basement, garage, or small-town store.
Here’s how you can stop comparing yourself to the big guys in the business world and focus on what you can bring to the table.
Take Stock of What You Have and Where You’ve Been
It’s easy to look to the future and dream big dreams, but one way to bring yourself back to earth and pay gratitude to what you have is to focus on where you’ve come from. Rather than worry about what is to come, celebrate all you have done and what you’ve built. Whether your business is just starting out or has been on the map for some time, there’s no need to get caught up in the comparison game because every business is different and there is room for everyone at the table.
This is especially true of small business owners to other small business owners: it’s all too easy to compare notes about what’s working and what’s not working, but rather than spend too much time thinking about the competition, think about how you bring your unique style and skills and products to the world in your own way.
Focus on Learning
Don’t think for one second that the world’s biggest companies woke up knowing the answers to all their questions. Many successful businesses have been built on trial and error, which we now call pivoting – which sounds fancier. But it really is just about trying something, learning from what you’ve created, and trying again in a new way.
There’s no need to quit when things aren’t going your way, just go a different way. So many business owners, especially small business owners that are worried about growing faster than they need to, focus on the negative aspects of their business when all they really need to focus on is learning from the things that didn’t go quite as planned.
If you want to learn from the big box stores and giant industries of the world, scale it down enough so that it actually applies to your business model. You are not Walmart and you never will be – because the world doesn’t need another Walmart. It needs you.
Talk to Other Business Owners
All too often, business owners bury their head in the sand and try to build a business all on their own. And while it is admirable, it is not realistic or sustainable. If you feel like you are way out in left field trying to build your business, it might be time to come into the infield and talk to some others who are at the same level you are at.
Rather than look to the big companies that have found their success and are one hundred steps ahead of you, talk to people who play at your level and are struggling with the same things you are struggling with. You can’t market the way Amazon markets – nobody can.
But you can pick up a few affordable tricks from a local business owner who works in a non-competing market with you. If you are a baker and they are a butcher, imagine the beautiful sandwiches you could make together. Don’t get lost in the details of what the bigger guys are doing: if you ever get there, great, but if you don’t, you can still be perfectly happy, successful, and yes, even rich, doing what you are doing now.
There’s no need to overextend yourself to play ball in an industry where there is already so much competition. If you are trying to negotiate your industry and aren’t sure where to make your mark, learning, being open to change, and talking to other small business owners will help you get much further than trying to go it alone.