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Small Business Comparisons Suck

Don't Compare Quote

I don’t know who said that quote originally. The internet credits four different people as saying it first. So you know, we’ll just leave it as Anonymous. But man, Anonymous nailed it with this quote. It’s a quote I need to read every day. Every hour, even. Because this game of the small business comparisons is one I’m losing at.

As moms, it’s easy to get sucked into the comparison trick. Our house isn’t big enough, clean enough, Pottery-Barn-looking enough. Our kids aren’t in enough extra-curriculars, don’t speak enough languages, and don’t have a shelf full of trophies from math club and soccer. But somehow I’ve managed to drop out of this game. Perhaps it’s because I got burnt out trying to do it all. Perhaps I just realized that this house will not be clean when there are two kids in it every.single.moment.of.my.life. Perhaps I just refuse to give up another hour of my life watching my uncoordinated kid attempt to do the perfect cartwheel for only $65 per-freaking-week when he whines about going every time. Perhaps I have accepted the path of the lazy mom. Don’t know. Don’t particularly care. Because it’s a heck of a lot easier living my life being proud that my kid fixed his own lunch so now I’m never fixing another sandwich ever!, than it is to be upset that he’s not fluent in Spanish. He knows how to say chocolate in Spanish. I’ll just teach him cerveza later on and he’ll be set.

But as a business owner, a creative business owner….now that’s a different ball game altogether. I can’t seem to get out of the comparison game to save my life. In my head, I know that this quote stands true. I’m in my beginning. My business is less than a year old. And it’s doing good. Not great – I can’t take my dream vacation to Belize off my profits next month, but it’s good. It’s paying for itself, it’s making some extra, I’m booking consistently. I’ve made it almost a year in business in a field that sees most businesses fail within 18 months. After 3 years, most creative businesses in any field have shut their doors. That’s a sad, sad statement.

And I would venture to say that small business comparisons are what cause so many people to give up. The beautiful photos that come across my Facebook feed, the perfectly styled Instagram snaps, the family films posted by the videographer that I long to be as good as. While, yeah, seeing these give me inspiration and a kick in the pants to get that much better, they have a tendency to put me in a slump.

How does she have time to make enough videos to post one every single day? How did he find the perfect model with the perfect outfit in the perfect home to have a session with? Who has enough cool stuff to say to post on their blog every day? How do I post on Facebook the recommended three times a day to get my interaction up? How do I book more and charge more and make passive income? When do I find the time to do a personal project that I can get published? When do I find the time, the talent, the equipment, the inspiration….. The list goes on and on.

I have no answer for how to get rid of these comparisons. They seem to be stuck to me much more strongly than the motherhood ones were. Maybe it’s because I’ve been at the mom game for so much longer? Maybe it’s because I’ve seen behind the curtain of my perfect-on-the-outside-but-barely-hanging-on-on-the-inside mom friends. I know that what social media presents is only what someone wants you to see. The same goes for businesses…

I have to remember this quote. All of us who own a creative business, or any business, have to remember this quote.  We can’t forget it. Everytime I get discouraged or feel untalented or want to give up. Every single successful person sucked at one time. Every single successful company had moments of doubt and insecurities.

Every single person starts at the beginning. We just have to keep going. And we need to start sharing our stories of insecurities and doubts and failures. And sharing our stories of overcoming and succeeding.

But most of all, we need to stop comparing our beginnings to someone else’s middle.