Stop Comparing Your Beginning to Someone Else’s Middle
Why is your startup not like Apple? For one, it’s not 42 years old
The other day, Gary Vee answered the call of an aspiring entrepreneur live on his channel. She was frustrated. She had just recently graduated, was not where she wanted to be, and blamed that on seeing so many people being successful on her social media feeds.
Sounds reasonable, right?
But when questioned to name someone, anyone, whose social media life was so amazing it depressed her, she responded:
“Probably a Kardashian, or a Jenner.”
If that is the standard we, as early-stage founders, are holding ourselves to, then I. Am. Out.
As Gary says in response, “You, looking at the Kardashians, is the most ludicrous horseshit I’ve ever heard in my life.”
And it’s true. They had platforms built for them. Those platforms provided the springboard to their success. They were “right time right place” with the birth of social media and personal branding. It was probably impossible for them to mess it up with their entire teams behind them orchestrating their every move. Their lives are reality TV, played out in reality, but not our reality. If you get my drift.
These two environments, one of somebody figuring out how to start a business from scratch, and somebody literally placed on the top of the pile, are not comparable. In any sense. At all. Ever.
What they have will not be attainable for 99.9% of us, and if you compare your achievements to theirs, be prepared for disappointment.
Why Is My Startup Not Like Apple Yet?
This need to validate ourselves against others goes beyond reality TV stars turned business gurus. It seems we have an obsession with comparing ourselves to every single one of our peers.
What people fail to realise, or even consider, is the majority of the aspirational figures you put on a pedestal are way further down the line than you.
Every company, founder, or business you compare yourself to has been working for years behind the scenes — failures, money issues, graft, and grind. Not to mention the constant work and development since.
What makes even less sense is the fact we don’t even do “like-for-like” comparisons. We sit and wonder why our one-year-old business isn’t like Apple yet. But not the Apple of yesteryear, but the multi-billion-dollar Apple of today.
Well no wonder that makes you depressed.
But Apple had a year one. All the biggest companies and founders had a year one. And their year one was just as difficult, and at times, as ugly as yours.
They all worked shitty hours, in shitty offices, on shitty things that ended up being really shitty — until, eventually, they started building things of value.
Don’t let a company’s social media presence pull the wool over your eyes. Don’t let it convince you that you are taking too long to get it right, and to make progress.
Remember that the platforms are full of wantrepreneur bullshit, and only ever show off the glossy, perfect side to this life. And this doesn’t help anyone.
The time spent on these platforms is time wasted anyways. If you really want to be the next Jenner, you ain’t going to achieve it sitting on your ass all day drooling over Instagram.
You Are A Work In Progress — Be Proud Of This!
We need to change this unhealthy outlook for the sake of anyone who wants to start their own business. Spending time focused on the lives of others is detracting the time spent working on your own. With distracted focus you will achieve nothing, feel even less adequate compared to your peers, and continue in the vicious cycle.
- Stop trying to emulate famous people.
- Stop trying to emulate what other entrepreneurs are doing.
- Stop putting yourself down because you haven’t made it like they have.
- Stop comparing your year one to their year, like, twenty.
Because for the most part, they went through the same shit you’re going through right now in their early years. What you are seeing now is the end product, the result of hard work, kind fortune, or a little of both. It is their best self, and in many cases, it is their finished self — far away from what you are.
They all had to grow something from nothing. The all had to start from zero before they became the hero.
They were all works in progress at the beginning. This is such an important part of the startup journey, and it is vital for your own business and personal development that you do not try to skip this, or avoid embracing it.
As my friend Ashley McGrath said in a LinkedIn video:
We are all works in progress… and the more that we are honest about the progress, or lack of progress, in certain areas, the better the conversation can be amongst all of us.
Change Your Mindset
We should all be proud of the fact we are works in progress.
And we should be proud to share this with the world.
If we want to improve the entrepreneurial experience, if we really want to be there to support each other on our startup journeys, we need to be honest about what we are doing, how we are doing it, and who we are behind it all.
It is important for fellow entrepreneurs to see that they are not alone in their journey. That they are not the only ones who at times feel helpless, lost, inadequate and feel like a failure.
It is important to give them strength, courage, and hope. We can do this by sharing the real journey we are on. We can show our process. We can show how we tackle the many, many problems we face. We can share how we deal with mental health issues. We can show off the communities we are part of who support each other through the bad times.
Being honest about what we go through will improve the conversation around starting a business. It will enable it to become more insightful, more open, and more helpful. Sharing the lessons, experiences, and mistakes we all make allows us to learn from each other, and allows us to improve and reiterate our own processes and plans, and be more adequately prepared for future issues.
Change your mindset. Change where you put your time, efforts, and attention. Always try to focus inward, not outward. Focus on what you are doing and not on what the world is doing.
And always follow your own journey, with honesty and with pride.