14. Don't judge your own work and business by others' successes  


Perhaps what I really mean is don't be intimidated by the apparent success of others around you. Of course, other people's success can be inspirational and encouraging, but it can also make you feel "Why bother to start? I'll never be able to emulate that." Don't fall into that attitude, it can become an excuse for not making even the first small moves in building your business.

For some years now, I've had regular Skype conversations about design, marketing and - well, life in general - with Monicka Clio Sakki. One of the things we tend to do during and in-between those conversations is to swap online finds - "Have you seen what these people are doing?"- accompanied by a barrage of urls.

Michal Negrin is one company we've discussed quite often - not because we particularly like the design (it's a bit too sugary for me and I think way too sugary for Monicka) but because we are both a bit awestruck by the way Michal Negrin has taken her company from a market stall selling jewellery to an international franchise.

I doubt we - as in Baba Studio, I can't speak for Sakki-Sakki - will ever be anywhere close to this kind of international operation - although I would like to build up more and more worldwide distribution and perhaps eventually do some of the things that franchises do. Meantime, there's a danger in looking at others who already done this and telling myself things like:

  • She had amazing financial backing and advice, I don't. So things are possible for her that aren't for me.
  • She was lucky. I may not be.
  • She started at the right time. It's far harder now.
  • Her work is more mainstream. Mine is "edgy" and therefore won't attract a wide audience.
  • She's driven. I want to have a life.
All these points may or may not be true. But what's vital is not to allow yourself to use them as "get outs". Your business is your business. If you constantly compare yourself unfavourably to those who seem to have achieved way more than you (and note, all may not be as it seems - in the dotcom era I well remember seeing companies that appeared far more successful than mine go out of business overnight) it can quickly become an endless source of excuses.

Just get on with what needs to be done. Use others for inspiration and role models by all means - keep swapping those examples with peers and mentors - but focus on growing your own business in your own way. That way, one day soon someone may be sending your URL to a friend and saying, "Wow, have you seen what these people have achieved? I remember when they were tiny."

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