The Hustle

When Building a Business, Don’t Measure Your Success on Instagram

The founder of Thumbs Cookies on growing at your own speed.

When Building a Business, Don’t Measure Your Success on Instagram
Robyn Frank and her Thumbs Cookie mobile.

I have been taking my business day by day from the moment I started Thumbs Cookies. I wanted to do something close to my heart, something that meant something to me—like the memories of making tiny cookies with my mom as a little girl. It was only after I was so far in that I realized I had to learn about business in order to keep the dream going, and I have seriously been learning on the fly ever since.

I’ve watched many other brands/friends in my space surpass me. I’ve seen them get partners, get funding, get stores, and make big moves. It’s hard not to get caught up in what everyone around me is doing and how much progress they are making. Right? I mean how else can you measure your success these days other than by going on Instagram to see how everyone else is “killing it.” Well, warning: Instagram is a dirty trap and something no one should look at before 10 a.m.! Also, can we be done with the term “killing it?” (Definition of killing it: someone who is on fire and getting lots of media attention and looks like they are becoming an overnight person of extreme wealth). The truth is, everyone struggles and everyone goes on Instagram to pretend they are killing it.

But then I go back to the basics. I go off Instagram. I take a break from networking. I drown out what everyone around me is doing. I think about how and why I started. Then I think about what is authentic to me. What makes me feel like I’m moving forward and continuing to do what feels right to me. I mean, if you’re not doing that, what’s the point?

I recently heard this well-known chef talk about how she measures the success of her restaurants. She talked about moving her restaurants ahead just by “one inch” each year, and if she could measure that one inch—whether it be in revenue, employees retained, more consistent food or service—then she had succeeded. This story resonated with me. It reminded me that truly the only standards that matter over time are the ones you create for yourself. It’s not the metrics of social media or awards or even the speed in which you expand. It’s sometimes about your mission, your values, and your heart.

I have seen many businesses around me grow fast and burn fast. I have seen many start small and take their time to grow. Either way, when I feel lost, I get quiet. I think about who I admire, and I think about who I am as a person and as a business owner. I set my own pace, I set my own expectations, and I move to my own rhythm—even if I’m judged for it. I’ve made many embarrassing mistakes on this journey. I’ve had my days of self-doubt. I’ve burned my fair share of cookies. But one thing has stayed with me every day since the beginning—that little voice in my head that says, “JUST KEEP GOING.”

So I guess that’s what I’ll do.

Robyn Frank
Founder/Owner
Thumbs Cookies

Robyn started Thumbs Cookies out of her Brooklyn, New York apartment in 2012. Robyn used to bake Thumbs with her mom Barb growing up and realized that the world needed to enjoy these tiny cookies made from scratch. After landing some key accounts in New York, Robyn realized she needed a stronger company home base. She moved Thumbs back to her hometown of Minneapolis in 2015 and started to build her tiny cookie venture. Thumbs Cookies have been found in the VIP Grammy Bags as well as in the hands of many cookie lovers.​

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