I've been in business for nearly thirteen years, and I still find myself on occasion comparing myself to other concierge businesses. It's also a conversation I've had with other concierge business owners in our forums and over emails. They see a new concierge with a flash new website and lots of social media posts, and they start questioning why their competitors are doing so much better than themselves.
Let me tell you, the reality is very often very different.
No doubt I've shared this before, but one of my favourite quotes comes from Australian radio and television presenter Chrissie Swan.
The mistake we all make is comparing our behind-the-scenes with other people's highlight reel." - Chrissie Swan
This quote is relevant to so many aspects in our lives. I often share in with my clients, friends and families, when they are struggling with their business or life at home. It is especially relevant when you find yourself comparing your business to those of your concierge competitors. In my role as founder of The Concierge Society, I am privileged to have concierge business owners share their fears and worries with me, which means I get to see behind the curtain of what really goes on. Can I share something with you, everyone is as stressed and disorganised and unsure as you. Perhaps not all the time, but if I have learnt one thing, it is that everyone has their struggles, even if they are doing a great job at hiding it in public.
One of my absolute favourite photo campaigns is by Chomp Baritone
If you ever needed proof that there’s more to Instagram photos than meets the eye, this is it. Photographer Champoo Baritone, from Bangkok, posted a series of photographs on her Facebook page that show exactly what’s been cropped out of Instagram pics. From messy bedrooms to not-so-beautiful views, Baritone captures life outside of the Instagram square to create incredibly thought-provoking photos." - Huffington Post
I think we can all relate to this photo - can't we! Well, it's the same in business. What people are posting on Facebook or Instagram, what they're talking about in networking events, is simply the best possible version of themselves. There's nothing wrong with trying to portray a positive side to you and your business (without out outright lying of course!). Yet you need to know when to apply a filter to what you are seeing and hearing.
How To Stop The Comparison
If I'm honest with you all (and this isn't easy for me) I appear to be a lot bigger and better than I really am. Yes, I've been in business for nearly 13 years (and believe me, I know what an achievement that is). Yes I have lots of loyal clients who love what we do and who have been with us for years and years. But it is still a struggle. We aren't earning a fortune, we don't have a huge house, flash cars, or overseas holidays. Sometimes I wonder what I've done wrong and why I haven't 'taken over the world' yet. I doubt myself, especially when I compare myself to other businesses, and when I remember where I thought I would be at this stage. I regularly doubt how much I have to offer you all, and whether there is a limit to what I can do in The Concierge Society and Lifestyle Elements. Yet, I remind myself to focus on the good stuff. The wonderful feedback I get from clients in both businesses. The differences I am making in the lives of people from all over the world. The fact that I have a happy, loving family who I get to see a lot of. We have a lovely home in a lovely community, and either Tim or myself are able to do school drop off and pick up nearly ever day. We know how lucky we are.
What I try to remind others when they start comparing and questioning, is to turn away from their competitors and focus on what a great life means to them. What makes you happy? What does success really mean to you? And most of all, don't forget to regularly reflect on how far you have come. I started my business at the age of 23 with no clients, Tim and I were renting a little flat, we weren't married, we had no children, and we struggled week-to-week simply to pay the rent. Now Tim and I are both able to work in the business, we own our own house, we have two beautiful daughters, and we are living in the area we dreamed of moving to all those years ago. Plus we've gone from one business, to technically three businesses, and let me tell you, we are busy!
Everyone Has Their Own Crap!
I also learnt a huge amount after my 18 year old brother took his own life. It was a sad and tragic time in our lives. However, one thing I took from it was that everyone has 'crap' going on in their own life. Our family were very open in talking about my brother's suicide, and this meant lots of people started talking to me about what was going on in their lives. You have no idea the things I discovered about people who I thought had it all together. So many people suffering anxiety and depression themselves, including a very successful CEO. Others who've had tragedy in their lives and were keeping on keeping on, even though it was really hard.
So now, when I find myself comparing my business and myself to others, I remind myself of the Chrissie Swan quote, and try to start focusing on myself.
Even 'Successful' People Fail
This week we had a prime example of having no idea what is really going on in a business. The gorgeous Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal has been in Australia touring with Business Chicks. She has been sharing her amazing story, but at the same time, it has been announced in the media that Nasty Gal has just filed for bankruptcy. Now, I don't think this is the major tragedy it could appear (I'm not a bankruptcy expect but I think sometimes decisions just have to be made). Yet, it has made me realise that no matter how good things seem on the outside, you never really know what is going on behind closed doors. Sophia is still an amazingly inspirational business woman who has faced her fears and spoken of the struggles she and the business has had. Failure is a reality of life after all.
Things that I would have freaked out about two years ago I can handle now. Hopefully that is how I feel two years from now about this. It was my first business. I got really far." - Sophia Amoruso
We've got to give ourselves a break. We've got to focus on what we want and stop trying to keep up with the Jonses. Business and success looks different to every single person. Yes, look to others for inspiration and ideas. Yes seek to improve and do better. But please, stop comparing yourself