When You're Not Sure If Your Business Can Stand out From The Competition
I've been having some deep thoughts lately about this topic. The kind of inside-your-head conversations you probably have with yourself from time to time. I think it's natural as a business owner and as someone trying to carve out your own brand in the world. Does any of this sound familiar?
How do I know if my stuff is good enough?
What makes me any better than the next person?
Maybe my ideas are stupid!
How am I going to get anyone to care about my product?
Wow, they're doing it so much better than I am.
What am I doing?!?
Yeah, fun times, right? For me, this has recently come to the vulnerable spots in my brain as it pertains to my paper goods company, Ok Silly Ink. If you follow me in my Facebook group, The Ok Workshop, you know that I encourage you to keep an idea on what's going on in your industry/category. That means you should be scouring the competition—on Etsy, Google, Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook, etc. You should be diving into other people's profiles and seeing who's following them and what they post and you get the whole down-the-rabbit-hole picture I'm painting. Research.
That's what it's all about. It's how you see opportunities that others may be missing. It's how you keep on top of trends and the pulse of what's happening in commerce. It's how you plan your business' next steps. So one way I try to stay on top of what's going on in the greeting cards industry is by staying on top of Instagram accounts of those who are killing it and those who are emerging artists about to break through and are getting recognition. I found them by seeing them like my posts, by researching hashtags, by looking at the people who like posts of those I currently follow and so on. Remember the game, Dig Dug, that's me....digging away in all directions.
Well the NSS was this week (National Stationery Show). THE place to be as a paper goods person wanting to get eyes on your brand and wholesalers buying your stock. I really wanted to attend this year, but certain obligations kept me from making that happen. The goal is to hopefully have my own booth next year!
So I've been watching the accounts and the hashtags like a hawk. Like a hungry, ravenous, nosy little hawk. By doing this, I was able to see what everyone is showing. Amazing and innovative booth displays. Sea of well-illustrated, fun-filled, cleverly written greeting cards. I mean like a big ginormous sea, folks. So all those questions I wrote up there, that's what was going through my mind as I looked at all these gifted card makers. And I was feeling super defeated. Sad huh? I just see so much stuff like mine, better than mine, lightyears ahead of mine. I saw illustrators who illustrate WAY better. I saw lines written funnier than my lines. I saw booths that were meticulously planned and perfectly assembled to wow. It really got me feeling vulnerable. Who was I? How do I fit in? Rather, how do I stand out? Can I?
The fact is, yes, I can. It's ok to have these thoughts. It's ok to question. It's ok to sometimes think this is hard and impossible. It really is ok. What matters is what you do after those thoughts. I think one reason a lot of businesses fail is because they halt everything when these thoughts creep up. If you don't use this vulnerable time to propel you and inspire you and teach you and challenge you and encourage you, then you are doomed to remain where you are. Nobody wants that.
So you're wondering what's next? How am I getting past these thoughts? Well first I had a pity party and let me tell you, there were a ton of balloons, and confetti, and a sad clown to make me feel even worse. I just let the feelings out. Then it was followed by... ACTION!
Here’s what that looks like:
- Searching how to prepare for NSS
- Compiling all screenshots of people’s work into one pdf to see what’s being done, what’s not being done, and what stands out
- Looking to see what the big sellers were at the NSS
- Having fun brainstorming new ideas—finding places that make me happy to do some sketching, writing, and concepting
- Mapping out new categories to explore
- Finding new artists to inspire me
- Reaching out to people and asking about their experience there
That’s just the start of it. But my advice to you when you get those question monsters clouding your beautiful brand vision, is to recognize and then move. Move into action. Actually write out what you’re going to do. Let what scares you, inspire you!
Thanks for joining this Mind Share with me. Now it's your turn....what's been on YOUR mind lately? How are you facing it? Comment below. Here’s to happy thoughts!