Crabs in a Bucket
"When you're a crab trying to get out of the bucket, never ask a crab in the bucket with you how to do it."
Jimmy Diresta said that on the most recent episode of the Making It podcast, and it struck a chord with me because it's something you always deal with as you ramp up your side hustle and try to make it into a business. You'll face down people who call themselves your friend trying to tell you why your idea is stupid, why you should stick with the security of the 9-5, why you work too hard, and why you need to calm down.
I faced it a lot when I started Handmade by Vincent Ferrari. Sure I'm not a huge company with thousands and thousands of clients, but a nice productive side hustle has been very good for me, but had I listened to the nay-sayers, I would have believed I didn't have the skills and I should stay in my lane. Then something happened: those same people started ordering stuff from me. Next thing I knew, people were coming to me to make things for them.
I never asked the other crabs in the bucket how to be successful or how to get started. I took in input from people who have made it and I tried to internalize everything I could because, really, what would the other crabs in the bucket tell me?
Don't mistake this as arrogance. It's not. But when I want to learn how to price my items, grow my following on social media, or find markets for my products, I don't need that advice from my mom (no offense mom). You can ask your friends and family for feedback on your products. In fact you should; they're your focus group and most of them are more than happy to share their opinion (although you do have to be careful; friends and family often feel an obligation to be encouraging rather than honest), but understand that unless that family member did or is doing what you're doing they're not the person you need to consult about your business.
This is where the second part of this comes in: who you should connect with and how you know you're connecting with the right people. Jason Stapleton, whom I consider my mentor in a profound way, has a saying, which I'm paraphrasing here, that goes as follows: "If you're the most successful person in the room, you're in the wrong room."
Jason uses that line a lot, but it's accurate. In the context of seeking growth and becoming better at something, being in a room with people who aren't more successful than you will not be an experience you grow from. Growth comes from learning from those who have accomplished more, and the most growth you'll achieve comes from learning from people who have done that in your space.
The takeaway from this shouldn't be to walk around with blinders on. You can't get started in a vacuum, and you shouldn't try. The point of this post is that if you're going to seek out people to emulate and get advice from, make sure you're doing it from the right people. If you want to be successful, hang around successful people. If you want to start a business, hang around people who have done it, particularly in your area of business. If you want advice on how to get out of the bucket, don't ask the other crabs who are comfortable being in it.
Now get out there and get out of the bucket!