Getting Out of the Middle

The middle child, the middle ground, the middle is just that. Someone is above, someone is below. As pretty much the middle child I was always looking for ways to either draw attention or take attention away. My older sister Danielle, is tall, very pretty, the first married, the first with a lucrative career as an oncology nurse, the first to have a child and then another child, my younger sister Nicole, is also very pretty (not as tall), always had the best hair, won best cheerleader, took on a bachelors and then a masters and her first teaching job by the age of 22.

My brother is 8 years younger than Nicole and was the the boy of the family. He was absolutely adorable, funny, and despite being a smelly boy like he went to law school and now is in an AG’s office. So, as you can see, competition was steep and being in the middle was a good and bad place. This is not a post about woe is me as I have achieved success by loving learning so much that I have 2 bachelors degrees and run a business. But being in the middle is always looking up to try and get there all along knowing someone is below.

Identifying the Middle

As a small business owner we never want to identify ourselves as in the middle as the middle is a positive and a negative. When we are able to break away from the bottom that is a step closer to the top but what happens when we are closer to the bottom? Reality is that there is someone always last and the further we can get away from that, the happier we are. While we never should see someone’s (there is always a person behind the business, blog, sales pitch, etc) failing/last place/sadness as our happiness, we have to cannot ignore the fact that we do not want to be there. The middle is one step away from the bottom but also a step away from the top.

Getting Out of the Middle

How do we get out of the middle? Do we want to? As a small business owner we search for ways to build our brand, gain awareness and get noticed. We look for new innovative ways to advertise and market to get ahead. Running an ad, a commercial, creating an online presence, engaging in social media … it is all with the purpose of finding new ways to get to the top and ultimately monetize. Why else are we in business? We want to be successful and being successful in business is the ability to monetize.

1. Identify. The first step is knowing where you are as it relates to where you want to be. Look the competition within your strategy. Are they advertising locally or online? Where are you advertising? Look at their strategy and how it relates to yours and see if you can identify as a strategic measure if you are above or below.

2. Research. Researching the competition is a a great place to start. What happens if their strategy is not aligned with yours? What if you are launching a social media strategy and they do not have an online presence? Are they above or below? Competition matters but when we are looking at developing a marketing strategy and being above and not being at the bottom, there are other factors.

3. Leaders. In any business there are leaders. Finding and keeping a watchful eye on what is making them leaders is powerful. Listening to their audience and how they embrace them and analyzing how you can create your own audience is separating yourself from the middle.

4. Helping. There are those above us and these that are below us but they share one thing in common. They both need our help as the middle person. The middle has the pulse on what is going on as the leader is leading and the bottom is needing to learn. So what is left – the middle. There is incredible opportunity to give advice to the bottom and bounce ideas and grow within leader circle be one step further of being out of the middle.

5. Be There.  Being there first is the cardinal rule and that tend to shy people away. Visiting a blog that has over 30, 50 or even 100 comments is a ticket to not even bother as no-one will even read it or notice.. I am hear to tell you that it is worth leaving the comment – if you have a good point. It is not always necessary to talk to the author, talk to the other people commenting to share a thought on what they said. Many do not and this is a missed opportunity to get out of the middle.

Being in the middle is not necessarily bad as I grew up in the middle and it allows you to try and take chances. If you are on the top, people expect when at the bottom there are not expectations.  In the middle you have the control of making them expect or not.  The focus has to be on learning and even more so listening on how to get a step ahead to the top. Then again the top is not always the glitz and glory we associate with it. Growth is about sacrificing other things and we have to determine what is worth giving  up when we want to get out of the middle. We look at the leaders as people we want to be but do we know what they are giving up and the cult of attention? As we strive to get out of the middle, we exert a certain passion as passion in business is a driver. We know that the guy at the bottom has passion and many times more than they guy/gal who is at the top.  I guess identifying where you are and where you want to be determines our passion which leads to success and happiness.

Where are you and where do you want to be?

photo credit: erin powers

  • Suzanne,

    Fantastic post. I'm an only child, therefore I could only try to sympathize with how I imagine it runs in your family. 🙂

  • I have to disagree on this one (I'm disagreeing with everything, today). I actually view being in the middle, in a business perspective, as a good thing.

    If your business is in the middle, it doesn't get called out for the most simple of mistakes. The camera is not on you for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That's a plus.

    On the other hand, you're not getting completely neglected. If you're at the bottom, you are getting little attention. You don't want that, now do you?

    So, in a way, being in the middle is good. Never-the-less, great post, Suzanne!

  • I can see what you are saying Joe but at the same time why would you not want to be at the top? Yes the top in certain instances is not always the best for some reasons but being in the middle you are clumped with a whole lot of others and there is no differentiation. You have leaders, middlers and bottom feeders. Now, years ago, Avis was not able to really compete with Hertz so they came out with We Try Harder. This took them away from the rest of the middle rental places and put them in more of a league with Hertz. Enterprise then came out with We Pick You Up to separate themselves from the rest of the middlers.

    Being in the middle is not always a bad place so long as you can differentiate yourself as the leader of the middlers.

  • Some good points. As Peter Parker (Spiderman) once said – “With great power comes great responsibility”.

    Being at the top is all good and fine, but you need to be able to handle it well. Don't let the power go straight to your head! 😀