You’ve likely heard the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
It is the thief of joy. It’s also the thief of success.
Comparison often leads to a list of excuses that can prevent us from reaching our goals.
Have you ever looked at a competitor or similar business and said, “she’s more successful because she has x, y and z and I don’t have that. That’s why she’s successful and I’m not”? She has an education, no kids, an investor, a celebrity connection, artistic talents, an engaging personality, money to hire a professional photographer or whatever it may be.
Her set of circumstances and talents is different than yours, but she’s not successful because her set is better or more profitable.
She’s successful because she’s figured out how to use what she has. She’s been able to take her unique set circumstances and turn them into advantages.
We can sit around complaining about the advantages we don’t have or we can turn our circumstances into advantages. Often a circumstance that can be seen as a disadvantage can be turned into an advantage.
Reframing Your Disadvantages
In 2002 I was a freshman in college. At eighteen my circumstances weren’t all that favorable for starting a handbag company. A teenager approaching vendors and shop owners isn’t exactly taken seriously. I didn’t have a college education and I didn’t have much money to work with. I had no knowledge of how to manufacture a product, source materials or create a technical drawing. I certainly didn’t have a connection to someone with all the answers.
It would have been really easy to give up before I started.
Instead, I turned those circumstances into advantages.
The naivete of an eighteen-year-old can drive a girl to do a lot. I didn’t have fears and self-doubts to hold me back. I wasn’t aware of the high percentage of businesses that close within the first five years. I had energy, drive, determination and persistence. When I finally had a product to sell, I used my age to my advantage to pitch my story to newspapers and magazines.
What are your disadvantages?
Make a list of your disadvantages and excuses in detail. Do you not have enough time, money, knowledge or experience?
Read through the list. Can you change your perspective? How can you flip the disadvantages around to work in your favor?
Using What You Have
Although I didn’t have much money to work with when I started my handbag business, I did have parents who were paying my college tuition, room and board while I was in school. I knew what a blessing this support was and I was determined to make the most of it.
I set the goal that my business would fully support me by the time I graduated. I used my goal to drive me and keep me focused. By the time I graduated I had consistent wholesale and online sales and was able to support myself independently.
I couldn’t afford to hire a professional photographer, a graphic designer, a web designer or a bookkeeper. I did have a digital point and shoot camera I received as a high school graduation gift, an eye for design and a willingness to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator, a dad who taught me HTML and a mom who taught me how to use Quickbooks. I couldn’t afford to hire a model, but my sister was willing. She soon became the recognizable face of the brand, a strategy I never planned, but that worked in my favor.
For every disadvantage that is working against you, you have something else that can be used in your favor to build your business.
What do you have?
Make another list of everything you do have, all your skills, talents and things you enjoy doing.
Before you jump to, “I have no skills or talents,” stop. Every person has skills and talents. God has created everything and everyone with a purpose and for a purpose. He gave us each the exact set of skills and talents we need to be able to achieve that purpose. It’s our job to find those skills, develop them and use them for a purpose.
Often talents aren’t recognized because they come so naturally. They can be things you do well every day without giving them a second thought. Ask friends and family what they think your skills and talents are. People who are close to us can see our skills and talents easier than us.
Include on this list all the resources and connections you have that can help your business, even resources that may seem insignificant–a telephone, computer, a well-lit room for taking photos, a love of writing, an extensive knowledge of pop culture, a family member that has offered to care for your child once a week or a group of friends that want to test your product.
Are you using your skills, talents and resources to their fullest potential? Next to each item write down how you can better use what you have to grow your business.
If you enjoy taking photos more than writing, put your energy into Instagram instead of writing blog posts. If you like to make connections through face to face interactions, fill up your social calendar. If you don’t have time for those social events, reframe that excuse. Get creative. Turn your everyday interactions into social events to talk with other people about your business–grocery shopping, volunteering at your child’s school or chatting with your neighbor.
It’s time to stop making excuses based on what you don’t have, don’t know or can’t do. Get focused on the skills, talents and resources you do have and leverage them to the advantage of your business.
Share in the comments
What’s one disadvantage you discovered you can flip to work in your favor? What’s one resource, skill or talent you can squeeze more juice from?