12 Tips to Overcome Expert Envy

Chances are your industry has many experts already established within it- many authentic , others very good at marketing themselves – or both. It’s easy to look at others who are further along in marketing and monetizing their know-how and think, “I’ll never be where they are”; feeling you’ve missed the boat; or dismissing your efforts and results in relation to theirs. Faced with stories of other experts’ remarkable success, it can feel like an overwhelming task to replicate their achievements yourself and many give up (some without even realising) and experience extremely limited success, if any.

Stop comparing yourself to others

  1. Correcting your distorted view of “competition”. Is Jamie Oliver in competition with Gordon Ramsay? Is Ellen Degeneres in competition with Oprah Winfrey? Is Richard Branson in competition with Elon Musk? It would be odd to think they are. Clearly, they are all sufficiently different people working on sufficiently different projects. They’re targeting different demographics; they have widely different goals (even though they may work in similar industries); they’re offering completely different experiences and products. It makes no sense to think that in competition with one another. That would be like thinking a tennis player is in competition with a footballer: tennis fans will gravitate towards the tennis player; football fans will choose the footballer and a sports fan might have an interest in both. It’s the same with you and other experts. You are on a different journey to them. Your offer, your target audience, your style, your personality, your approach – all different. (We continue to use the word “competition” in this post for convenience but invite you to think about it differently).
  2. Unhealthy hero worship. It’s OK to admire others, to like their work and to respect their opinions. It’s quite another thing to hang on their every word waiting for instruction and guidance to the detriment of your own thoughts, actions and free will. That’s what cult members do.By all means, follow others on social media, pay attention to what they’re doing, reach out to them to grow your own network and influence – but don’t sacrifice your own progress and ambitions in the process. Don’t put people on pedestals.
  3. There is no free market that does not have competition. Once you accept that all markets have a lot of good professionals operating in them, you will have a much easier time making progress. It will no longer come as a shock to you, disappointment or a problem to overcome – it’s just a reality of business life. This is a liberating feeling. You are no longer wasting time and effort stressing over what others are doing; and you can now divert your energy to pursue the things that you’re passionate about and thereby help your business grow.
  4. Focus on the positive things about you and your brand. Yes, others do some things better than you but the reverse is also true, you are superior in other areas. You know, have and do things that are unique to you and appeal to certain segments of your chosen market. Instead of obsessing over someone else’s strategies and approaches and trying to mimic them, work on developing the best things about your approach and product. Don’t be a pale imitation of someone else when you can be the best in being you. This is a valuable business asset, your unique selling point – you. Embracing your unique advantages means less “opposition research” and more customer outreach.
  5. Know your market. Studying your market is different from studying your competition. Don’t dwell too much on the latter but do take the time to study your chosen market. The person who delivers the most value and the most useful products to their target audience, wins. Take any time you’re currently expending on analysing the competition and use it to study your target audience instead. What are they struggling with? What do they need to solve their problems? Conduct surveys, ask questions, interact with your audience, build a relationship. Whoever serves their tribe best will succeed in this business.
  6. Focus on business development. This is where you take advantage of all that emotional energy you didn’t waste on worrying and being jealous of your competitors. Pour all that energy into creating the best, most valuable content possible, and into developing your customer service. Be advised that a large portion of your competitors’ success gave from perspiration, not inspiration. Hard work is criminally underrated these days. Consistency in content and customer interaction is also vital – it’s how you build trust and a personal brand. Prospective customers will gravitate towards the person/business that best satisfies and exceeds their expectations on a regular basis.
  7. Foster trust and relationships with current customers. Clients’ trust is one of the most valuable assets in any business. If people like and trust you, it takes a lot for them to spend their money elsewhere. Customers prefer a seller who goes out of their way to help them and listen to their needs. If you can perfect the process of knowing what your customers want and delivering what they need, you’ve cracked this business.
         You don’t need to go overboard with complex marketing strategies, or launch an aggressive campaign to poach your competition’s customers. Instead, simply nurture deeper relationships with your current customers. You might have fewer of them than your competitors, but the important thing is the quality of your relationship with them. Serve them, give them what they want and they’ll come back to you again and again; they’ll tell others about you and that’s how your audience begins to grow. Do this for a couple of years and you will be one of the experts you currently envy.
  8. Stay positive. Most importantly, adopt a “glass half-full” mentality. Dwelling on the mistakes after you’ve fixed them and the gaps in your brand and strategy just drain you physically, mentally and emotionally. It might even make you lose the passion that you have for your industry and product. Remember that your goal is not to “beat” your competitors at something, but to create a business that can help your target audience fix their problems to the best of your ability, and to foster relationships with these clients.
  9. No one is stopping you. There is no conspiracy to keep you from succeeding in this business. However, there is an inner circle of experts who typically only cross promote each other and they make a lot of money doing this. The important thing to realise is no one is stopping you joining this circle but you have to prove you deserve membership. The way to do this is to establish your own value, authority and credibility. For example, it would be hard for you to work with the bestselling authors in your field unless you too were a bestselling author or you have acheived remarkable results in the industry. Once you have demonstrated your credentials in some way, you will be welcomed by other notable experts as an “equal”.
  10. Be Pareto efficient. The Pareto rule states that 80% of any result can be attributed to 20% of the inputs. For example, 80% of your profits (result) come from 20% of your customers (inputs); 80% of a book’s usefulness (result) is found in 20% of the words (input); 80% of your phone’s usefulness (result) is found in 20% of its features (inputs), and so on. This correlation can be seen time and again in all areas of life.
         Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Not all tasks you can perform are valuable or yield the same level of reward. Concentrate on Pareto-effficient tasks, i.e. focus on the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of the benefit you seek. Ask yourself, “When it comes to marketing and monetizing my know-how, what one thing will make the biggest difference to my success?” Then concentrate on achieving that one thing. You may need to break the task into a series of steps. If so, do that and start working on each step immediately.
  11. “Losers focus on winners; winners focus on winning”. We heard this quote from larger-than-life mixed martial artist Conor McGregor and it’s a valuable reminder to focus on the things that bring results. Focus on what is in your sphere of control, not on factors outside your influence. Focus on what you can do, not on what other people are doing. Focus on your own journey, not where other people are, what they’re doing or what they have.
  12. Everyone starts somewhere. Every person you look up to started where you are, i.e. no influence, no followers, no products, no credibility etc. But through daily consistent action they built up their business. It didn’t happen overnight; no one handed them a profitable, ready-made platform; they too thought of giving up. It’s a natural process that everyone trying to create something goes through.
         Bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt recalls how in his first two years of blogging he had about 100 visitors to his blog per month (including his own friends, family and page refreshing); by the end of year four, he had about 200 visitors per month; by the end of year five he had 20,000 visitors per month. His advice:

Don’t get discouraged. This is how all projects begin. What separates the achievers from everyone else is that they hang in there.

Takeaway points

  1. Most people have a distorted viewpoint of competition. Everyone’s uniqueness (in themselves, their products, their personality etc.) is enough to carve out a space of their own and build their own following.
  2. Don’t worry about the competition – it’s always going to be there. Focus on what you can do, what you can change, not on things you have no control over. (This is actually good advice for leading a happier life, too: forget what other people have or what they’re doing).
  3. Focus your energy into developing the best aspects of your business and use those to build a relationship with your followers.
  4. Don’t get discouraged.

Action steps

  1. What is the one thing that will contribute most to your business success? What is that one thing you’ve been putting off that, if you did, would transform your position in your industry. It could be writing a book; launching a podcast; building an online course; becoming a public speaker; launching that website idea – whatever it is, start going for it. Give yourself a 90 day deadline and start taking action to achieve it.
         Take a piece of paper and write down the main steps required to achieve this goal. Identify the resources you need. If you need hire freelance designers, writers or programmers, visit Upwork. Keep breaking down the larger goal until it becomes a series of manageable steps then start working on those immediately.
  2. Write down 5 ideas for epic content. Epic content will form the foundation of your website and many of today’s top influencers started out in this way. They produced highly-valuable long-form content for their site that was widely shared online, bringing them and their work attention from their target audience.
  3. Give some thought as to the personal brand you want to create. What do you want to be known for? What personal values do you want to demonstrate? What image do you want to project to others. Start investing in this vision: spend some money to make your site look professional; get a professionally designed logo; learn the basics of personal branding. (We recommend Reinventing You by Dorie Clark).

Photo credit: Chris & Karen Highland via Flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0

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