Yesterday, Sarah Cooley of Simply Curated instagrammed a quote that said "Ditch perfection for progress." What perfect timing. Here I've been spending the week perusing the works of more established stationery companies and struggling to complete my first catalog because it didn't compare to theirs. I've been telling myself that it doesn't look good enough, that I don't have enough product, and that my catalog/graphic design skills aren't up to par. In truth, it's because my skills lie elsewhere. I'm more comfortable and work better when I can get my hands dirty with actual materials rather than pushing pixels around a computer screen. So how can I compare my own way of doing things against someone whose strengths are entirely different? Trust me, you find ways.
I've talked with others who've also fallen into the comparison trap from time to time. Now that we can share our work and thoughts with ease over blogs, websites, and social media, it's easy to let the little doubt monsters creep in. If you're in the beginning stages of your venture, you have to remember that your idols also had to work their way to where they are now. You don't how long they've been at it, who's been helping them along the way, where their skills lie, what their budgets have been. All these factors differ from one company to the next so comparing yours to another can be a bit defeatist.
Rather, use competitors to study their marketing strategies, price points, and buyers and see what would make sense for your business. Discover where the holes lie and grab opportunities to make your mark. Reach out to those you admire, engage, ask questions, seek advice, and nurture these contacts into genuine relationships with fellow creatives that could evolve into fun collaborations down the line.
So if you find yourself snowballing, for the sake of progress just slowly back away from the triggers and focus on the little bits you can do. Remind yourself that you can only improve and expand from here on and that you've probably already made so much progress from when you began. Compare current products against your earlier works and use that - not what so-and-so just created - to push you to be even better than before.