Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Marissa Bracke.
There is a tipping point between being just another struggling entrepreneur and becoming a Big Shot. Those who do well in the transition tend to keep some grounding in the finite (and often fleeting) nature of being the Big Shot. But we’ve all seen the cautionary tales who forget–or just disregard–the reality of being a Big Shot: namely, that it’s a tenuous and limited distinction.
When handled poorly, the leap to Big Shotdom comes with arrogance, a general apathy for the audience that supported the escalation to Big Shotdom, and a tendency to neglect those viewed as “beneath” the new level of Big Shotdom. But when handled well, the leap into Big Shotdom comes with a readiness to experience a bigger reach without attachment to the notoriety, a gratitude toward the supporters, and a wide enough perspective to negate what at first blush seems like a set hierarchy of the people encountered.
Whether you are a Big Shot or one day hope to be a Big Shot, the following four realities apply.
You Weren’t Always A Big Shot
There was a time when you a very small fish in a very big pond. There was a day when you published a blog post and got really excited when you got 15 unique page views. You once aspired to hit double digits on your subscription count. At some point, you Tweeted to a circle of tens of people.
We all start somewhere.
Big Shot Advice: Keep some compassion for those that aren’t Big Shots yet. Don’t forget that segment of your audience, or the challenges they face, just because you’re no longer in the same place with them. And by all means, don’t mock them or ridicule their position. What you might now call naivete was once your own perspective. Keeping your eyes on your growth and goal doesn’t require that you turn a cold shoulder to the place from whence you came–so don’t.
Big Shot To-Be Advice: Don’t give up. Don’t lament your lack of readers or small Twitter circle or disappointing product launch. Or lament it, but realize that it’s nothing that your favorite Big Shot hasn’t also experienced. It’s not a reason to label yourself a loser or to wave your white flag of surrender. It’s a starting point, not a failure. We all start somewhere, including the Big Shots.
You Aren’t the Big(gest) Shot.
No matter how many followers you amass, no matter how many blog readers you’ve got, no matter how many products you sold during your last launch… someone’s always got more followers, a bigger blog readership and product sales that dwarf yours.
And if you double your followers, your blog readership and your product numbers next year, the same thing will still be true.
There is no such thing as the “top of the heap.” There’s always someone who’s a Bigger Shot than you.
Big Shot Advice: Never assume you’ve learned / read / mastered it all. You haven’t. Also, never assume that your success excludes others from succeeding. There is plenty of room for more Big Shots–including those bigger than you.
Big Shot To-Be Advice: Learn from the Big Shots, but remain open to the ideas and lessons that come from other non-Big-Shots. The Big Shots do not have a monopoly on knowledge, wit or brilliance. Also, never assume that someone else being a Big Shot means that you can’t (or shouldn’t) be. There’s plenty of room for more Big Shots.
You Aren’t a Big Shot To Everyone
You know what Charles Dickens, Gandhi, Donald Trump and the vuvuzela have in common? They are fanatically adored by a certain group of people. They are also fanatically despised by another group of people. And by another group of people, they are completely unknown.
You may have a group of readers or customers who turn to you as their guru, and to whom you are the best of the best. But you also have a group of people who will find you dull, or irrelevant, or dislikeable. And you’ll have a huge group of people who won’t even know your (or your business’s) name.
Even when you get to be a Big Shot, your Big Shot-ness is limited to a specific crowd. Outside of that crowd, you may be a really Little Shot. Or you may be a total unknown. If you approach everyone with the attitude of, “Don’t you know who I am?” you have to be equally prepared to hear “Yes, and I LOVE you!” as you are to hear, “No… and why the heck would I want to?” or “Yes, and I can’t stand you.”
Big Shot Advice: Maintain (or get) perspective. All of the reactions mentioned above are simultaneously valid. You don’t have to cater to the people who dislike you or to whom you are irrelevant (and doing so is probably not a great use of your marketing efforts), but remembering they exist helps you keep perspective on just how much of a “Big Shot” you really are. It also helps you remain open to critiques that might prove useful in your continued growth and success.
Big Shot To-Be Advice: Don’t let those who aren’t hearing you or don’t care for you distract you from those that do. Focus on the people who form your core supporters and fans, and spend more time nurturing those connections and conversations than worrying about the people who don’t dig what you do. You’ll never get 100% of the people out there to sing your praises, buy your products or agree with you, and the detractors tend to become more vocal the closer to Big Shotdom you get. Make peace with that.
You Won’t Always Be a Big Shot
Just as there was a day when no one knew your name or Twitter handle, there will be a day when you teeter much closer to the edge of obscurity than to the brink of world renown. You may be in the heyday of your fame and notoriety, but that doesn’t mean you’ll still be there in a decade. Or a year. Or a month.
Big Shotdom is as fleeting as it is elusive. Perhaps moreso: in the era of easy buzz and internet flashmobs, it’s often easier to achieve momentary Big Shotdom than it is to sustain Moderate Shotdom. Traffic will spike and wane, product sales will flourish and trickle, public opinion will flow in your favor and ebb back away again. Today’s trending topic on Twitter is tomorrow’s old news.
Big Shot Advice: Be cavalier only with great caution. Remember that the leeway your Big Shot status buys you is fragile and finite. There will be a day when a cavalier attitude of apathy toward your audience or customers will no longer be excused because of your Big Shotdom. There will eventually be a day when you’re no longer a big enough name to sell products based solely on reputation rather than quality. Be wary of giving yourself too much leeway, even if your audience seems ready to give it.
Big Shot To-Be Advice: Practice maintaining an eagle view of your success path. Don’t get so wrapped up in your daily traffic numbers that you neglect overall traffic trends. Don’t assume that the wild success (or dismal disappointment) of one launch is the sole defining characteristic of your business. There is a long-range view of your goals and definitions of success to consider, and you may realize that being a Big Shot is only a small piece or small timeframe of that bigger vision. If being a Big Shot is your endgame, what will you do when your Big Shotdom has passed?
What’s Your Reality?
If you’ve achieved a certain level of Big Shotdom, what lessons have you learned on the way? And if you’re a Big Shot To-Be, what realities do you want to remember when you reach the “Big Time”?
About the Author: Marissa is a Can-Do-Ologist who gives creative entrepreneurs – some of whom are themselves Big Shots – an extra brain-on-the-team and pair of hands so they can focus on their great work. If you’d like to find out more about her, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.