All the good ideas are taken.
There are already so many other people doing what I want to do.
So-and-so and so-and-so are so amazing at this …
How can I catch up? How can I stand out? How can I compete? Why should I bother?
Maybe I should just call the whole thing off and become a tollbooth operator.*
If you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, you’ve had this conversation with yourself. You may have even talked yourself out of launching your idea into the world. I’m not judging. I’m right there with you. As grateful as I am for the business I’ve built with Suddenly Marketing, it’s not the business of my dreams. (Yet) I’ve been holding back because the good little marketer in me has been doing way too much market research and I’ve let the competition intimidate me and confuse my internal compass.
But I’ve decided to get over it and get on with it, and I want you to do the same.
Caving in to the its-all-been-done-before argument is about giving in to your doubts and fears, but what – exactly – are those doubts and fears? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d guess that the voice in your head has carried on something like this …
Fear of anonymity
What if no one notices me? The Internet is a big pond with a lot of fish. The minute I put myself out there, I’m vulnerable. My dream will be out there. Everyone will know what I want to be, but maybe no one will “get” me. Maybe no one will “Like” my Facebook page or comment on my blog. I’ll probably end up living life as a digital outcast, watching the movers and shakers make waves and spark movements. Maybe I’d be better off to spare myself the pain of invisibility.
Fear of competition
There are so many people already doing such a good job at this thing I want to do. They’ve been at it longer. They have big audiences. They have testimonials. How the hell can I expect to compete with these people? I don’t like confrontation anyway. What if someone asks me why I’m better than so-and-so? I don’t have an answer for that. I remember what it felt like being the last one picked for kickball. I did not dig that. If I don’t compete, I won’t have to lose. I won’t have to look stupid or admit that I don’t measure up. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.
Fear that there’s not enough to go around
Speaking of competition, it’s tough out there. There isn’t an endless supply of customers. I’m sure the people who are already rock stars have cornered the market. There’s no way I’m going to be able to hone in on their turf. They have home field advantage. They are the incumbents. They also have these amazing A-lister networks that are constantly churning up and referring new business. Everyone who might become a customer of mine probably already buys from these other guys. I’m too late to the game.
Whether you’re an artist, a software developer, a butcher, a baker, or a wing-ding maker these fears can plague you. They can slowly and subtly sap your courage, conviction, and confidence until the only “logical” thing to do is give up.
There is always room for one more. There is a way to compete. People will notice you.
What if Steve Jobs had thought the smartphone market was too crowded? What if the people behind Starbucks had decided the world already had too many coffee shops? What if JK Rowling had believed there were enough fantasy series on the bookshelves?
You have an idea or a product or a service or a story to share. There might be hundreds or thousands of other people offering a similar thing, but it’s not exactly your thing. There’s something that sets you apart. You are the only one who can deliver “The Thing” exactly the way you do. And, guess what? There are people out there who want The Thing exactly the way you do it.
Your job is to connect with those people. You do that by weaving together your philosophy, values, personality, story, approach, and process to create a unique “brand experience” that sets you apart from the competition, elevates you above typical comparisons, and gives you the confidence to pole vault right past your doubts and fears and into the business of your dreams.
… and I’ll tell you more about exactly how to do that in my next post.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you. Have you experienced these fears? Have they held you back? What do you do to push past them? Do you have other fears that keep you up at night?
* Nothing personal against tollbooth operators.
Image Credit: Ian Barbour