Resist the urge to compare.
We all have an acquaintance who loves to name-drop. He's constantly updating social media with mentions of important publications he has been quoted in, journals he expects to be published in and people he rubs elbows with.
As a small-business owner, especially one in the beginning stages of development, it's hard not to be envious of that guy. But don't fall victim to the trap of side-by-side comparison.
Sure, your friend may deserve all the accolades he has coming to him. If he has done the work and made a name for himself, than by all means, kudos to him. But that doesn't mean your pursuits are less praiseworthy.
Right now, you might be under the radar. You might have just received approval on a small business loan or forked over some hard-earned money for branding and design. You might have just reached the point where you can hire your first employee or invest back into your business in some other meaningful way. You might have just received your first contract. The important thing to remember is, things are moving along.
Owning a small business isn't for the faint of heart. It takes forever to get off the ground and in the beginning, there is little external praise. Instead of focusing on what your contemporaries are doing, take stock of how far you've come. Are you making more now than you were last year? Have you gained new clients, or shifted your client base to one that offers projects that are more rewarding and fulfilling? How happy are you personally and professionally? How many expressed or written business goals have you achieved to-date?
There are lots of ways to measure success. Clout is just one.
For more on alternative ways to gauge career progress, check out "The Third Metric," the Huffington Post's ongoing exploration of true work/life success.
And of course, you can always read up on the life of Warren Buffett, arguably America's favorite under-the-radar success story.