Everywhere you look in our society, there is a comparison. The way we measure progress is by comparing where we are to where someone else is. There are times when this makes sense, but too often it affects our business and mindset negatively.
Getting into the comparison game can stunt your company's growth. Each of us is special and unique, and not designed to be the clone of someone else. We have different businesses and will build them in different ways.
In the online business space -- the space where I make a living and that I love talking about -- the comparison game is rampant. We are constantly looking at and judging the numbers someone else has.
The result is entrepreneurs feeling like an imposter because they don’t have a huge following. It stunts entrepreneurs from growth because of a false sense of accomplishment. Here are three types of numbers entrepreneurs should avoid comparing while building.
1. Social media friends/followers.
I've had more offers than I can count from people who want me to hire them to build my social media presence. They tell me to have “authority,” you must have a massive social media following. Hogwash!
If I wanted a large social media following, I could just buy one. How many times have you seen offers to buy Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or Instagram followers? You can buy a huge following, but it will be worthless because there’s no engagement.
The truth is social media is only one part of what should be a diverse marketing strategy. The organic reach of social media is nothing these days. When you’re building, it’s better to focus on 20% strategies that grow your social media presence anyway.
One of my 20 percent strategies is writing every week for Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post. Since January, I have added 800 likes to my Facebook fan page, 1,600 new Twitter followers and a bunch on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Instagram, not to mention over 20,000 email subscribers, without paying for it or focusing on it. The best part is that these people are engaged because they came from content that they liked.
Don’t lose sleep over your social media presence while you’re building. It will come as your audience grows.
2. Shares/comments on content.
When you’re starting out or growing, there is a danger in focusing on how much people share your content. You're told that you want people to come to your website and see huge numbers. If they don't, however, you feel defeated when your numbers aren't as big as someone else's. This focus will lead to disappointment.
I’m a senior editor at the Good Men Project, a website that gets eight million monthly visitors. One of the benefits I get as an editor is access to GMP’s Google Analytics account. I get to see all the numbers. I can tell you that I’ve seen articles that get shared thousands of times, but don’t have a lot of views. There are articles that don’t get shared at all, but have over 100,000 views.
There is some content that people like and absorb but aren’t comfortable sharing. So while the big shares and comments are nice, they can be deceiving. Your primary goal should be engagement, inspiration and action. You started your business to help people in their lives, not to get shares. Your focus should be on helping.
3. Status and accolades.
One of the sad things about this industry is all the lying that takes place. In podcasting, there is a strategy called, “Twitter bombing.” A podcaster tweets out a direct download link to their show; they use a service to find high-click hashtags. Every time someone clicks on the link, it counts as a download. There are podcasters getting over 100,000 of these “downloads” that only have ten actual listeners.
In the book world, there are authors who sell ten copies of their book and become #1 in a certain category on Amazon. There are even some who make their book free and claim to be a “bestseller” when the book hits #1 in a category, even though no one bought it.
In the blogging world, there are some who share their posts on Reddit and StumbleUpon and drive up huge numbers. The numbers are great, but those people come and go. The blogger brags about having 10,000 weekly “readers.”
I share these examples to demonstrate a point. It’s easy to fudge numbers or elevate your status through loopholes, but in the end it won't help your business grow. Status and accolades are useful if you use them the right way and don’t try to deceive people.
My biggest concern is for those entrepreneurs reading this who feel they can’t do what they want because they don’t have the numbers. The numbers can easily be manipulated, so don’t let that stop you.
Your numbers will grow the right way as you build your business. Just don’t get discouraged before you can get there. Focus on why you're doing this and don't look back.