In the first several years of starting Inkleaf, I was dealing with a painful illness which sapped my energy physically and did a number on our energy emotionally. Steff and I watched as a good number of new companies far exceeded what we were able to accomplish with the scope of their product range and their overall presentation in terms of videos, site design, social media engagement, photography, etc.
It takes a lot of energy to do these things and we didn't have it. It was depressing. We were struggling financially and we couldn't keep up with what other companies were doing. It felt just awful. But I can say that every time we got distracted by other people's success, it only made our situation feel worse, not better.
It can be tempting to look at the success stories of others and see them as templates to follow. There are certainly commonalities among successful businesses which are helpful to look out for and be aware of, but it's also good to recognize that many success stories are exceptions rather than any kind of normative measure that we should be comparing ourselves or our business against.
When we start to compare ourselves against already successful businesses, it shouldn't be surprising that we may come to see our own business as lacking. This can cause us to pursue a course which either too closely emulates the successful businesses, or it can result in us pursuing unnecessary and unhelpful differentiation.
It's worth remembering that the stories you often hear about pertain to the outliers. You're more likely to read about the 21 year old who started a t-shirt company that blew up overnight than you are to hear about the many slow grind businesses who carved out their niche over a period of years or even decades. For many people a meteoric rise is not only more compelling, but more aspirational as well.
It's also worth recognizing that some people are going to have more gifts (natural or otherwise) that lend themselves to more rapid success. Maybe they have more energy, more time, better health, more charisma or more money. Maybe they were lucky enough or sharp enough to spot a need to be filled and they jumped on it when no one else did. Or maybe they had a great mentor or read the right book at the right time. None of these are requirements to build a successful and most importantly, satisfying business. Even if you had every one of the qualities and benefits listed above, that's still no guarantee of success.
If you're struggling or just starting out, don't be discouraged or disheartened. Certainly don't get distracted by the success stories of others. Just keep moving forward one small step at a time. Develop a vision for what you want your business to be, keep learning, and keep improving. I'm convinced that common intellect, paired with humility and a desire to learn can overcome any number of difficulties.
For more Craft Business Tips, check out the post linked below!