Do you ever feel like a "small fry" compared to the "big names" that are established in your area? Ever wonder if you are missing out on business because you don't have the same accolades on your website? Rather than let that get you down, why not embrace being the underdog, after all it has a lot of advantages!
While the top dogs have the advantages of better resources at their fingers, sponsors, access to new gear, and even a social media audience to give them thousands of likes and comments on their posts, don't squander away the opportunity of being on the bottom. Think for a minute about the NCAA basketball tournament. How often do you find yourself rooting for the underdog during March Madness? Why is this? "Some researchers believe this might have something to do with deeply held beliefs of justice and fairness. Fairness is one of the most frequently endorsed character strengths around the world. There are seeds of fairness in every person. By definition, the underdog does not fare as well as the top dog thus it is easy for a fan’s fairness buttons to be pushed where they root for the underdog to have a chance to make it to the limelight." (Psychcentral - The Psychology of the Underdog) In other words, it would be more fair to throw our support behind the underdog than the Goliath.
Another reason people love to support the underdog is because we have all been there before during some scope of our life. Whether that be the role of little brother, last picked on the basketball team, starting a new job, whatever it is many of us have been in a role in our life where we felt like the underdog. Because of that we can easily empathize with them and want to help them achieve success. By helping we can vicariously live through them and feel like their win is also our win.
A second advantage to being the underdog is that some people perceive them as putting forth more effort on a job. Turn this into reality by working your tail off for your clients. They want to see you persevere in the face of obstacles and come out on top. If you do that, they will return the favor by referring your name to all their friends and family. If you are an underdog your clients believe you have an empty calendar and want to help you fill it. On the otherhand if you are someone popular in your area and highly sought after than the clients just assume that your calendar is already full and don't put forth the same effort to send their friends to you even if they loved working with you.
The story of the underdog is one that a lot of brands like to use to position themselves. Take for instance the commercials you see that start out talking about how the beer company was built out of the owners garage. These visuals are powerful and make us want to throw our support behind them. After awhile these companies get large, their brands change and suddenly we start looking for the next small company we can throw our support behind. How many of you go eat at a "hole-in-the-wall" food joint? My wife and I actually owned one a number of years ago. In short time it became quite successful but we retained the "hole-in-the-wall" feel because that was in large part what brought people to us and kept them coming back.
If you find yourself in a position of being the underdog don't let that get you down. Embrace it and take advantage of the position. Know that people want to see you succeed and find clients that will rally behind you to help you in the journey. Don't use the excuse that you are the "little guy" and therefore no one will hire you. It's just an excuse. Toss it out. It's okay to unpuff that chest and reach out to your supporters. Let them know where you are at in your business and build a support system of people who believe in you. There will come a time when you are the Rolls Royce of the industry and won't be able to benefit from the underdog story. But until then, welcome it.
There is this great clip from an interview with Kevin Spacey that is worth watching. My favorite part is where he says, "To want and to be ambitious and to want to be successful is not enough. That's just desire. To know what you want, to understand why you're doing it, to dedicate every breath in your body, to achieve . . . If you feel that you have something to give, if you feel that your particular talent is worth developing, is worth caring for, then there's nothing you can't achieve."
If you are a reader of this blog it is probably because you care about being successful. You want to be a better photographer and dedicate time to learning technique and how to run a better business. Don't let excuses slow you down. Find ways to make your weakness a strength. Work hard.
It’s just something we made up.
Somehow we’ve come to believe greatness is a gift, reserved for a chosen few.
For prodigies. For superstars,
And the rest of us can only standby watching.
You can forget that.
Greatness is not some rare DNA strand.
Its not some precious thing.
Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.
We’re all capable of it.
All of us.” - Nike Commercial
In conclusion, where ever you are in your business find the strengths and opportunities of being there and use those to propel you to the next level. Once you move up don't make the mistake of looking down on the underdogs below you because chances are they will be biting at your ankles before you know it.