Throughout our lives, we’re told that in order to be successful, we have to be the best. In order to make something of ourselves we have to stand above all the rest. We measure success on how we stack up to the competition – the same goes with failure. Failure is defined by our lack to meet said expectations. Falling short of a desired goal.
I’m here to tell you that it’s all a myth. Success isn’t simply measured by being better than the competition. You may never be able to compete with the Google’s, McDonalds, and Microsoft’s of the world, you may never sell as many books as J.K. Rowling, but you can ALWAYS offer the masses something unique, something special, something that may not mean something to everyone, but can mean everything to some.
This is easier said than done. Coming up with a truly unique entrepreneurial idea is no easy task. It takes preparation – it takes research and evaluation – and above all – it takes time. No one, or at least very few, became overnight celebrities in the business world. But with time, anything can and will be accomplished, even if 99 out of 100 attempts are failures, that one success makes all the difference in the world.
Enhance your perceived value
My blog is still a relatively small fish in a large pond – but I’ve been able to make a name for it by doing something that is somewhat rare within the community. I focus on the people – I engage my readers across platforms (blog, twitter, email) and make them feel valued and appreciated as a part of my online community. This practice can be seen across platforms. Why are independent coffee shops able to survive (and thrive) when there is a Starbucks at every corner? Because they have enhanced the perceived value of their product through outstanding customer service. If you make people fall in love with you and your brand, they’ll come back again and again.
Do your research and ask questions
When giving advice, one of the first things I tell someone is to ask me questions. It seems simple but it is often forgotten. The startup life goes hand in hand with wanting to do everything for yourself – which means asking questions, at times, can be seen as a sign of weakness. My take: Asking a question is a sign of great strength and humility – it shows that yes, you may not know the answer, but that you’re hungry enough for the knowledge to reach out and ask someone else. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re not a know-it-all. Because, well, you’re not.
I’m still in the embryonic stages of my life as an entrepreneur. It’s yet to be determined where I’ll be a year from now or even a month from now. While I may not be a Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Chris Brogan, I make a name for myself because I’m confident in my abilities. I know what I can do, and more importantly, I know what limitations are in front of me. If you can sell yourself, and sell yourself well, the rest will fall into place. Exude confidence (not cockiness) in who you are and above all, what results you can and will provide to your clients.
Use doubt and confusion as motivations
Through it all, whatever your situation may be, as you take a step away from the corporate world and take that leap of faith into the startup life, you are going to have doubters, haters, and naysayers. The best advice I can give? Don’t ignore them, use the doubt, worry, confusion, and frustration to motivate, push, and drive your success. A month ago I never thought that I would be pulling in enough money (as a freelancer/entrepreneur) to pay the bills – but here I am, busting my ass, and making that a reality. Will I have food on the table next month? That’s yet to be determined, and it’s that unknown that keeps me hungry and keeps me moving.
Keep persevering, don’t slow down, never settle – you are better than you think you are. If you want others to believe in you, you first have to believe in yourself.