Episode #002 - Comparisonitis: How to Stop Comparing and Start Succeeding as a Business Owner

Mar 30, 2021

Secure sales success in your next launch...without just trying to copy what you see on social media.

Katy Prince, Sales & Business Coach, runs through why comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs not only doesn't feel good, but also DOESN'T WORK, when trying to create a successful business strategy. Katy provides both handy tips to shift your mindset around comparison AND an in-depth breakdown of what you can do when planning your next launch to secure sales and success (without just trying to reverse-engineer what someone else appears to be doing social media!).

Remember to tag us @squirmfreeschoolofbusiness as you're listening so we can give you a virtual high five 🎉

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Episode Transcript: 

Katy Prince:

I am willing to bet, I'm willing to put money, that you have compared yourself to at least one other person, maybe even recently, maybe even this week. And I'm also willing to bet that it did not feel good.

In this episode, we are talking about the terrible affliction that is comparisonitis. Why it does not work, why it is not working for you. And offering both new ways of thinking, as well as real action that you can take during your next launch, your next promotion period, to keep you focused on your own success, as opposed to those around you.

Welcome to the Study Notes Podcast, the podcast about all things sales, service, and strategy for ethical entrepreneurs, brought to you by the Squirm-Free School of Business. I'm your host Katy Prince, and I am obsessed with helping creative business owners, experts, and freelancers make money and reach their goals, without the outdated business tactics that make us squirm. On this show we're all about inclusion, confidence building, honesty and fun. So if you want to level up your business, but maybe don't quite see yourself fitting within the traditional entrepreneurial mold, then pull up a seat, you're in the right place.

So comparison, huh, rarely serves a purpose and almost always feels horrible. And yet we continue to do it. It is a curse that plagues online business owners, and it's got to stop. Don't get me wrong, I am far from immune to it. And I too have compared myself many, many times to people who appear to be doing, quote unquote, better than me, whatever that means, whatever that means.

And I remember within the first six months of my business, I remember watching a video on IGTV of someone reporting that they had hit seven figures after 14 months inside their business. And it completely deflated me. I had barely made my first $1,000 and it just felt so out of reach. And what I've learned is that achievements like that, they don't necessarily mean that their customers are happy, as was the case but I will leave that because this isn't a shady podcast. But my point is, I know which accolade I would prefer as a business owner. And yeah, I would choose customer success over a seven-figure revenue any day of the week.

And it doesn't just go for monetary achievements either. I will admit only recently I was scrolling on the gram and the thought popped in, "If only I had a firmer peach like that, I'd be able to take better photos and look just as carefree whilst I'm doing so, as opposed to the usual fear-stricken and uncomfortable poses this gangly body tends to produce." And weirdly, this wasn't just a comparison of bodies but of business, because somehow now we look and see how someone looks physically, and whether that's in a bikini on an amazing tropical holiday. And it is so often used as an indicator of credibility in this online service and coaching and expert industry.

And I'm saying that out loud because I'm realizing how bonkers it really is. Just because someone has like a Kardashian ass and an amazing feed, it doesn't mean that they or their busy business getting people results. And yet, that correlation is so often sold to us. So the way I am looking at this problem, we can break down how comparisonitis is not serving us into two parts. The first, we definitely all know, and I'm sure I don't need to explain it, but it doesn't feel good, the sinking in your stomach, that immediate dip in your moods. That loss of energy and motivation, the vision of yourself and everything you've achieve suddenly being warped into a failure, just because you saw someone else had a win today.

And my friend, it is no coincidence that it's mostly those who were raised as girls who are sucked into this trap. We are conditioned from an early age to have self-doubt as our default. Plus, we are actively encouraged to see other women and fans around us as competition and to ... Yeah, in fight, rather than to grow and prosper together. And I want you to ask yourself those feelings, those thoughts, the sinking feeling in your stomach, the self-loathing, the regret, how are those thoughts actually serving you or serving you inside your business, and how are they even relevant to your business? I didn't think so.

So that brings us to issue number two with comparison. How do I put this? It doesn't bloody work. Yeah, I get it. You're watching so-and-so, someone you admire crush a launch, crush a flash sale on their social media account. And you think, "Okay, sweet. What I'm going to do is I'm going to watch them really, really carefully, and I'm going replicate their strategy." But even when you do that, okay, even when you compare your online activity to someone else's.

So even if you're not comparing yourself physically, you're comparing your activity, your marketing to someone else's, this is a trap. Because even if you do all the posting, you do all the going live, you replicate all the showing up that you see, without a picture of what's going on underneath the surface, you may well still get crickets. And there's this false belief that we can just observe what others are doing and then simply reverse engineer what's worked for them into our own business.

One of my coaches, Mariah Coz, she really nailed it when she explained that it's like an iceberg. You can see 10% above the water, and the vast majority of what's really happening inside someone else's business is happening below the surface. You cannot see it. And so trying to compare your way to success by observing what someone else is doing and just trying to replicate, it is a recipe for discouragement. So what do we do about it? How do we solve this issue of comparisonitis?

Well, let's start by first up forgiving ourselves for not being someone else. Shall we, let's do that. That's relieve yourself of the absurd expectation that you can morph into and replicate other people's results. But I think what we also need to recognize is that where there is such an emphasis on personal brand in our industries, it is easy to get yourself and your business muddled up when comparing. Like my peach on the beach example, having an ass has nothing to do with how well I deliver my coaching program. It has nothing to do with the results that my clients get. It has nothing to do with my expertise. And it all seems rather silly when we shine a light on it, to think that we ever thought it did.

So let me run you through what I think is a good example of when comparison fails us, and what you can do instead to ensure your own success. So let's have a little look, let's shine a revealing light and see what happens when we compare and then try to reverse engineer a launch strategy. So right now, currently lots of business owners are trying to copy successful launches that they've seen on social media. But they aren't getting the results and a lot of self-doubt is ensuing. And that self-doubt is leading to all kinds of things like people churning out offers because no one bought the last thing, by putting their prices down, by hiding from their business at all.

So the reason that you aren't getting results by doing this is not because you aren't showing up enough, it's because you cannot see what is beneath the surface, as I hinted that with the iceberg analogy. So on the surface, you can see that someone has ... They're posting funny reels, they have pretty templates on their stories. They have new feed posts every day, they are creating viral TikToks. And then you see the screenshots of their sales success and their bank balance.

And I have my own feelings about those sorts of screenshots anyway, but let me just run you through all of the work that they'll probably be doing that are below the waterline that you can't see, and that I want you to try in your next launch instead. So if you have been posting all the things, churning out all the content, you've been feeling frustrated, then I want you to really listen in because this is for you.

So I've got, I've got seven, seven bits for you to implement that are going on beneath the surface, here we go. So number one, segmentation. Before each launch, you're going to go through your email lists and you're going to filter. So who is already enrolled, who don't you want to work with, who are your competitors, who are people who've just subscribed? And we're going to make sure that you're only putting your energy into people who are qualified leads. That is the first thing.

Second, email campaigns, quality of the email campaigns. It is not just about being super active on social media. Plus, you can always repurpose quality emails to produce other content. It can be repurposed into lives, into video content, you can add it to an onboarding sequence later. You can rewrite it into a blog. Work smart, not hard. And email campaigns is something that we can't really see on the surface just by checking out someone's social media feed, by looking on their website, but they are such a powerful part of the magic of those results that you're seeking.

Number three, following up. People who are reporting these really successful launches, they are putting more effort into private conversations than they are on public posts. So I'm talking DMs, I'm talking sales calls, I'm talking texting. When you think about what's happening during a successful launch, the answer isn't a post more, post more, post more, it is to send more messages, have more conversations. So asking questions, helping people make their decision, answering their questions, overcoming objections, that stuff is all happening in private, not on someone's stories.

Number four, sales conversations. So continuing from this following up, actually bringing those followups into a one-on-one sales conversation. So booking calls, we cannot see this from someone's feed and that is where the real magic happens. And what actually happens in that sales call container is just as important as the container itself. So one of the things we do inside of my sales program, Squirm-Free Sales Masters, is we actually show you exactly how to run your sales conversation so that you know exactly how that half an hour free session is going to go. And ideally, so it ends in a sale for you.

Number five, intention behind the content. We want to focus on shifting beliefs and overcoming objections with your content. Yes, it's very generous for you to give away free value and share your expertise. And belief shifting content is really, really vital during a promotion period. So addressing objections like, "Oh, but I don't have enough time," or, "I'm scared to invest the money," or, "I'm not sure that now is the right time for me," or, "What have I not committed enough?" Or, "What if I don't follow through?" Or, "What if it doesn't work for me?" These are all ... Objections is where you want to focus your content.

Number six is a rock solid onboarding process on the other side. So is your email automation set up? Do you have your integrations, your Zap set up? Are you sending out your contracts in a timely manner? Here's the thing, if you have a scrappy onboarding process and you're feeling burnt out after a launch, you might start self-sabotaging. Because, "Oh God, if I enroll in other one, then I'm going to ..." The admin pile is stacking up. "If another person signs up, I'm going to have to send that email to ..." Whoever, make sure you're taking care of your own energy by setting up your onboarding process with automations in advance. 

And lastly, number seven, mindset and energy. I know it sounds woo-woo, but the reality is we have to have that belief in what we're selling. And when you have the belief that someone is making an amazing and life-changing decision when buying from you, people will feel it. Something that I've done is I actually have a hype wall of testimonials behind behind my screen, just to remind myself that I'm brilliant at what I do. And that little belief, it makes all the difference when I'm having sales conversations with people.

So, we've run through, these are just some areas for you to go off and explore. The purpose of this podcast is to get you thinking and is to give you some starting points so that you can jump off and put this into action. And so far we've run through how you can help to secure success within your next launch, without just trying to copy and reverse engineer what others appear to be doing on the surface, so like on Instagram or on Facebook or whatever. But how else can we tackle the temptation to compare ourselves in our day-to-day lives, outside of luanch periods, outside of promotion periods?

If only there was an easy answer. I think the first thing is definitely to spend more time creating than you do consuming. Or if you do want to consume, because I'm not going to lie, I love a good meme page, I love reading the content and watching the reels and the TikToks that my clients make, that my friends make, let's make sure that you're creating first and consuming later. So whether that looks like popping 30 minutes in your calendar at the beginning of each day to create something, or whether that is a deal that you make with yourself, that you are going to limit your time consuming, do whatever feels good.

Secondly, if you know that you are an empathetic person, it is okay to use the Unfollow button, the Block button and the Mute button. And I highly recommend that you do. You can mute your competitors, but this is also a permission slip to even meet people you admire, your mentors. This might seem like strange advice, but they won't always be inspiring you. Sometimes it can be difficult to have the gap highlighted of, "Oh, there's where I want to be. That reminds me of I'm not quite yet there yet."

So do you check in with yourself and notice when the people you admire might actually be pulling your self-belief off track. And then when you do go to their profile to check how they're doing, what they've shared recently, it will be an intentional action when you're in a good place, rather than it catching you off-guard and thinking, "Damnit, I should be there right now. I should be doing that right now."

And actually, just a quick word on competitors because I know I just mentioned that. I want to just tag in on something here because yes, competition in a sense will always be inevitable in business. Your service is situated within a market of other services. However, personally, I've worked really hard to reframe the notion of competitors in my mind. And I do recommend that you have a look at how you feel about your competitors and decide whether that feeling is something you want to hold on to.

What is your value in your niche? Because focusing on that, developing that, knowing that, and being accepting of the fact that no one can do what you do quite like you do or has your ideas, it helps the threat of comparison and competition slip away, and removes that burden of feeling animosity towards others. Anyway, so the last point I wanted to mention was when that voice saying, "I should be doing that right now," inevitably does show up, it's okay. It happens.

Have something ready to go that challenges the internal voice. Have a go-to affirmation in your locker to whip out, whether it might be, "I'm exactly where I need to be," or, "I can be a work in progress and still help others." Or, "I know exactly what I'm doing and I fully trust myself." Sometimes you might even find it helpful to name the internal voice and tell it to piss off. Or other people find that gently acknowledging it and thanking them for their opinion is better. So, "Thank you for the thought. I know that came from a place of trying to help and encourage me, but I actually, that's not what I need right now. I'm okay. Thank you for your concern."

So as we're wrapping up this episode about all things comparison, we've talked through not only what are the practicals, so how can we make sure that we're addressing what actually needs to be addressed, rather than just comparing results all the time, but we've also looked at how to tackle the temptation to compare ourselves in day-to-day lives as well. And one last thing I think, as a copywriting nerd, as you will probably know, my background is as a freelance copywriter, I feel like messaging is really key to all of this.

So if right now you're noticing comparison is still pulling you in, maybe this is an opportunity to go back to your messaging and add in some more specificity, so that your ideal client knows that you are the one to help them. And be okay with those people who aren't going to be the best fit for you or who might be a better fit to go and work with someone else, to let them go. We discuss the importance of specificity in messaging a little bit in the next episode, but also inside of Squirm-Free Sales Masters, which is my signature sales program. So definitely be sure to check that out and give our upcoming episode and listen as well, because it's going to help you with messaging.

So, with this new framing of competitors and with comparison in mind, I'll admit, sometimes it can be useful and needed. Ask yourself, would it be useful for you and your, quote unquote, competitor to get together and have an honest discussion? What value might be there for you? Perhaps you could set up a trusted group of other people in your niche and get together and discuss your pricing structure or your sales metrics. And rather than it always being you sitting alone and comparing Instagram likes, but what about inviting a conversation where you can compare your hidden metrics, or your conversions, your sales, what have you? And that in my view is when comparison can really lead to an expansive and useful form of communication, and when competitors can become community. Now that is magic to me.

So that is a wrap for today's episode of Study Notes. Thank you so much for listening, folks. And if you are ready to throw away the vanity metrics and start only comparing the stuff that matters with other business owners, and you're ready to be in community with people you admire, or maybe you don't even know where to start yet when it comes to what numbers to compare, then we would love to invite you to apply, to join Squirm-Free Sales Masters. Squirm-Free Sales Masters is my signature sales program that helps entrepreneurs get the sales they deserve in an ethical way without feeling icky. You're going to learn how to crunch your numbers, communicate great ideas for your sales process, nice and confidently, build connections with other amazing business owners. So head over to squirmfreesales.com/apply to find out more and to submit your application today.

As always, all the links are going to be in the show notes. Before we wrap up though, before we bid farewell, I want you to come and tag us on Instagram. Tag us on Instagram at Squirm-Free school of Business with your biggest takeaway from the episode today. And also, if you are enjoying this podcast, why not share with an ethical entrepreneurial pal who is also trying to get clear on their sales, their service and strategy. If you fancy it, do leave us a review to let me know your thoughts on the show. My heart does a little happy dive every time I see a new one. That's all from me, have a fab rest of your day and I'll see you in the next episode.


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