I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who's been in business for several years, but struggling to find her place on social media. More specifically, struggling to find her place on Instagram and keep up with all the popular pages on social media. As we've both been running our business for years now, we know that although Instagram is a great promotional tool for a small business, it can also kill a small business before it even starts.
Does this sound like you? You spend your days unconsciously scrolling through edited pics of popular brands in your niche, making mental notes of what your pictures don't look like, what your pictures are missing, what your business needs to do to get as many likes and followers as they have, and the list goes on. By the time you're caught up on your feed, there's a long list of "what you need to do to look like the next brand".
Then the overwhelm sets in as you try to piece together how to pull it off, but you lack the resources, money, models, photographer, etc. So you think you can do it on your own, but for some reason, it just doesn't look quite right. Now you're frustrated and you stop. Not only do you just stop working on the photos you were supposed to be taking, you actually stop your whole business. Since your main marketing channel is Instagram and you're no longer posting, now you're no longer getting any sales.
I've seen this happen to so many new businesses, time and time again. As soon as you launch your business, you start to compare it with a business that been in business for years and you give up when you're unable to go from 0-100 in 1 day. The reality is - You're not supposed to be where they are. You haven't put in the time, effort, or money to be able to sit at the same table that they worked so hard to sit at. You also lack the knowledge, experience, and skills they have. But that's ok! Because they were once like you and all they did was not give up. Your goal shouldn't be to be just like them, it should be to take at least 1 action to make your business better than it was the day before.
Here are 3 ways that comparison kills your business and 3 ways to not let it through you off your shit!
1. Comparison kills your business because you're trying to keep up with a false reality. About 99% of the pictures from your favorite brands have been edited in some way. They've either been cropped, had a filter added, maybe a little photoshop, etc. Expecting your authentic picture to look like something that's been edited in unrealistic and will surely disappoint you every time.
2. Comparison kills your business because you're trying to compare your photos with the photos of a trained photographer. Just because you have an iPhone or an expensive photography camera does not make you a photographer. These lovely lifestyle photos you see on Instagram have been taken by professional photographers, even though the photo looks like it was just taken on a whim. These are trained photographers who either went to school for photography or invested in photography lessons and have been skilled to take amazing photos that look effortless.
3. Comparison kills your business because it fosters negative emotions and you take it out on your business. After all this comparison, now you feel inadequate, frustrated, lost, pitiful, discouraged, etc. You start to feel like your business isn't good enough and you don't treat it with respect. You don't invest in it, promote it, or carry out with the plan you started with. You get mad at your business for not being where other businesses are and you give up on it.
After going through all of that, let's talk about how to avoid the comparison curse and what you can do to keep yourself and your business on track for success.
1. Once you're done scrolling on Instagram, GET BACK TO REALITY! Yes, pictures are nice and pretty but a pretty picture does not guarantee sales. Set a real marketing plan into action that requires more than posting on Instagram. If you're serious about your business, you will need a real strategy. You can research strategies online or book a consult with me here.
2. Don't let the popular brands intimidate you but use them as inspiration and as a preview of what you're future can look like. They all started with 1 follower and 1 sale. I know Instagram makes everyone seem like they just popped up with thousands of followers and sales, but they didn't and you won't either. The key is to remember that if you invest in your business, your brand can be just a big, if not bigger. But that will require work from you!
3. You should still post every day. Even when the picture isn't just right or the lighting is off, you have to keep posting. Now, if your pictures suck (and you know if they do) you need to hire a photographer. It's just that simple. And yes, it may require money if the photographer does not work for free. This is your business and running a business is not cheap or easy. If you want your brand to look like something and make a statement online, invest in the areas that can elevate your business.
I hope this post inspires you to stay motivated within your business and to remember not to compare your business with others. Stay true to your brand and continue to execute your plan.