I was at the gas station, when I looked to my right and saw two guys in black and white camouflage hats. They were working a small crowd, and I had an instant burst of curiosity… I wonder what they’re selling.
As I looked at other gas getters, I realized everyone there was also staring. One or two of them wandered over. They kept their distance, presumably to make sure they didn’t get sucked into anything they didn’t want to have to commit to. As others walked over, I could sense how influential this tug of curiosity really was, and it struck me. FOMO – fear of missing out – is crazy powerful.
A recent study defined FOMO like this:
…‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’.
We live in a world with a lot of options. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we live in a culture with an overabundance of choices, and while this may be good from time to time, as entrepreneurs, this can be a huge detriment to growing your business. There are a million and one alternatives that are vying for your attention with the promise of being THE thing that will make your business grow, help you reach 10,000 followers on Instagram, or skyrocket your sales.
Unfortunately, this leads to a massive hustle culture where we’re bouncing from thing to thing, never allowing anything to actually work. We keep telling ourselves that if I just do ______ everything will get better. You spend your money and time trying for a week or two, don’t see results, and then the next promised holy grail appears, and the cycle repeats.
That’s the heart of FOMO for entrepreneurs, and it’s creating more burnout, crazy overwhelm, and little to no results.
I see the same thing with business owners who are trying to promote one thing and then decide to start pursuing something else, claiming that they’re “multi-passionate.” And while I am all about choices and pursuing your heart’s desire, those mixed messages create confusion in the minds of your potential clients, which throws you back into the feast or famine – or famine and famine – cycle that is not conducive to growing a sustainable business.
So, what do you do when there are so many shiny objects, and nothing that you’ve tried seems to be working?
You go back to basics. There are very few new ideas when it goes to building a truly profitable business. In fact, the steps themselves are pretty simple:
- Know who you’re trying to serve and what their biggest challenge or need might be
- Create a clear and compelling offer that fills that gap
- Tell people what you do and how this can help them
- Make the offer – actually invite them to purchase your service (and no, a blast on social media isn’t enough)
- Onboard and serve your clients well
- Keep your brain in check and don’t’ let self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or all the what-ifs to derail you
Rinse and repeat. Now, of course, a bunch of work happens in each of those steps, and it’s not as simple as “build it and they will come.” But when you keep talking to your people, when you build relationships, give value, and you show up over and over again with the same message, people start to hear you… and eventually, if the value proposition is clear and it meets their need, they’ll buy from you.
But we can’t let FOMO keep derailing us. In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Steve Jobs said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”
FOMO can produce real social anxiety and ruthlessly consume your time. Here are few ways to combat it as an entrepreneur:
Get off social media – this may seem obviously, but last year, driven in large part by the pandemic, Americans spent more than an average 1,300 hours on social media, according to a new study from Uswitch. Facebook was the primary platform, where Americans spent an average 58 minutes a day on the app – or 325 hours a year – but other platforms were not too far behind.
I realize you may run your business on social media, but that doesn’t mean you need to get sucked into the scroll of doom. Shut it down and walk away.
Make sure what you’re seeing is really true – The imagery, messaging, and success stories we see are all very carefully curated to paint a narrative. And it’s important not to take everything you see as truth or use it as a point of comparison.
What we see on social media and the internet is not always the full story. Celebrity entrepreneurs and influencers are constantly touting solutions to your business challenges, but you may not be getting the full story, and their product or service may not actually do what’s promised. Be discerning and invest wisely.
Revisit your goals and your plan – When you start to feel adrift or feel the tug of curiosity about a new shiny thing, recognize it for what it is and then go back to your goals and ask yourself, “Is this new thing going to get me there?”
This is also a great time to circle the wagons with your personal board of directors to seek guidance and not make decisions in a vacuum.
Practice gratitude – this may seem a little woo, but I’ve found reflecting on what I’m grateful for in my business and life really helps me take a step back from the edge of the ugly pit of FOMO.
This is also a great opportunity to enjoy the little wins and successes, especially when you think about how far you’ve come in the last one, two, five, ten plus years.
Reconnect with people in your life – The pandemic really did a number on us, and while technology has been a blessing in many ways, there’s no substitute for sitting down, phones put away, and really engaging in conversation.
As I was researching FOMO, I came across this fun fact – regularly seeing and spending time with friends and family is the happiness equivalent of an extra $97,265 a year. Pretty cool right? I guarantee you’re not going to see anything on social media that’s going to net that in your business without a whole lot of work.
It’s time kick FOMO to the curb. Ignore the shining, glittery objects that are flying your way… or in my case, the camo hat men at the gas station. I’ve got a plan that I’m committed to, and no quick solution is going to derail that.
After all, you’ve got a business to run.
P.S. If FOMO is ruthlessly consuming your business and your joy as an entrepreneur, join us inside the Employee to Entrepreneur group on Facebook (Yes, I know I said get off social media). But, this group is full of driven, passionate, and committed women who are doing work that lights them up and they are an amazing support when you’re standing at the edge of the FOMO pit of death. I promise they’ll put you back from the dark side!