Comparisonitus and other diseases of the New online Entrepreneur.
I think it is true to say that deciding to pursue a career online is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done….sorry rewarding — I’m sure I meant REWARDING. I suppose I was a little naive, and a little unprepared for the the amount of learning that is involved, learning on things that I had no idea I would be able to learn, needed to know and frankly had a desire to add to the memory bank, which at my age is beginning to empty out faster than I can refill it — well not really I do like to exaggerate for effect! Also with all this learning and marketing and networking there is hellish little time to deal with these bloody clients — which is surely the whole point of getting set up in the first place. What is worse is I sometimes find myself slightly resenting my clients because they are getting in the way of my learning networking and marketing.
So what I wish I had known before I got going.
Firstly that setting up your own business is like being attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. You are constantly finding yet another long held beliefs about yourself, the system, the universe, the internet that is simply does not serve you. Some of them are easy enough to brush off but others really get their teeth in and draw blood, at first you don’t notice, it is nothing more than an innocuous lump, then it starts to itch and then finally all you can think about it that bloody bite, you scratch at, you try not think about but the more you try the itchier it gets. You know I’m talking about limiting beliefs right — this is actually an article about mosquitoes. So I began the journey believing I had dealt with pretty much most of my shit and was hot to get moving in the online world, WRONG — money beliefs, tech beliefs, comparisonisitis, interloperistus to name but a few — very quickly showed their faces and had to be dealt with and swiftly.
Secondly, if you want to run a business online you WILL spend a lot of time on your chosen social media sites and that will stretch to all you time if you are not completely clear about why you are there. Decide your scope for each day. Be clear and set a time for each, not forgetting of course to allow some time to catch up with old friends who were there for you, long before you got this crazy idea in your head. I like to keep off social media until I have a clear idea of what I want to put out there today, otherwise I find my thoughts begin to get diluted — actually I’m more like Dory for the Nemo movie.
Take time to write a list of where you want to be seen and what each group offers on a particular day and remember you can recycle your posts,and keep track of what your are posting and where.
Thirdly you are now using social media for work, so the rules of engagement are different. Remain focused and remember you are there to network and connect with people, it is great to spend an hour bantering back and forward with your NBF (new best friend), but probably wasn’t the purpose of opening the site in the first place. If you are networking through groups what is you scope in each group; for instance is is to market your wares? To pick up inspiration or to learn from the experts. Probably best to keep these groups separate. Set aside some time each day to trawl the groups you like and comment, do this mindfully though. Set a time and a time limit or your will find yourself “time sucked” a bloody painful condition that causes real life to take a back seat.
Compare and Despair syndrome, it is so much easier to get caught up in this syndrome on the internet, the scope is enormous. Remember you are just starting out, feeling you way, don’t be drawn in by anyone else and their shiny stories of success. Stay strong and if the compulsion to compare is too strong compare with YOU. Write a list, what can you do now that you couldn’t a month ago, six months ago (I’ll let you into a secret when I started coaching on Skype, I couldn’t even add a third person to the call — I felt like such a technophobe. Now I Skype, I Zoom, I Blab, I Scope with ease). Keep moving forward and know you will learn what you need to know when you need to know it.
We were not created to work alone and that is even more true when we are internet based. We need to make time to connect with people, hear their stories look them in the eye — even if that is a virtual coffee. So stop the banter invite people to meet you in person (virtually). Most people will be delighted, I know I am.
Don’t be scared to ask when you don’t know — this has various advantages, gets you kicking that comfort zone blanket off, it starts connection with others and it allows other people to be useful. We all like to help and share our knowledge — so think of it as your good deed for the day and more importantly you will learn what you need to know.
There is no such thing as a freebie. I know when I worked in the city we always said there is no such thing as free lunch, but i thought online it may be different — it isn’t! The aim is to get your email address, yep that is it plain and simple they want your number, then they tell their friends how big their “tribe” is, a sort of mine is bigger than yours. Another area of compare and despair for me! Call me, I can help you — same deal. It’s not wrong — and mostly you will get some good free advice, but be prepared for a sales pitch at the end. Though I did recently have a “clarity call” with someone and she didn’t sell me anything — I had to ask. It was so refreshing and I signed up.
Finally and probably the most important lesson be patient, the tendency is to think that social media is so fast moving that so will your business take off, at the same pace but it is really no different to real life, people must first get to know you, trust you, respect you and then they will consider working with you.
PS. Don’t take yourself so damned seriously!