We’ve all had to deal with a copycat or two at some point in our business life. Maybe they “borrowed” a few of your pictures, or copied your designs. They might have even used a few or your ideas. Or maybe, they took a step further and they copied your entire identity or business model.
Whatever the extent, discovering you have a copycat is extremely stressful and upsetting for any small business owner. I know well enough, many people tried to copy my afternoon tea business. They copied my ideas and my business model. They even screenshot my images from Google and used them to advertise their own business – the idiots didn’t even bother to remove my logo from the picture!
So, what do you do?
Well, the first step is to find out whether the copycats have infringed on your rights. If they have used your intellectual property (your artwork, photography, procedures, creative content, logo, name or a trademarked design) then you might be able to stop them. Many Intellectual Property lawyers offer a free consultation. So, if this has happened to you, get yourself booked onto a call with one asap, and find out what your options are.
Business models and ideas are not usually protected by law. If someone is copying your ideas then, frustrating as it is, there may not be much you can do. But, read on, there is hope, because there is one thing copycats can’t do…
They Can’t Copy You
They aren’t you!
It sounds obvious, but no one can copy your experiences, your passion, and your values. This is a such an important part of your businesses charm, and is what sets you apart from all the others. There is a reason why you do what you do, and unless your copycat has the same beliefs and values, they will only be able to copy your end product.
Your experience is what separates you from others. Some people will try to copy what you do, but they don’t have your passion, so their business will be profit focused. Profit focused business don’t care about quality, or value, or service, they just care about the bottom line. That type of business never does well in terms of customer loyalty, and small, local businesses need that more than any.
They also won’t be able to copy how you do business. Your work ethic is your own. They certainly won’t be answering enquiries at 9pm at night and they won’t be working late on a Sunday because something isn’t quite right. People want to do business with you because your business is authentic. You know why you are in business, you have a story, and you care about solving a problem and offering value to your customers.
Copycats only sell stuff. They don’t share your ethics or values, and therefore, are only in it for the money. They will not succeed long, they’ll just make a bit of cash and move on when the next thing comes along!
People copy other people because they are the best at what they do. No one ever tried to copy the loser – there’s no sense in that! So, pat yourself on the back, being copied is proof you are inspiring others. It’s quite the compliment when you think about it!
Now you are a market leader, it’s time to give them all a bit of a headache! It’s time to level up and start doing things that they will find harder to copy. Use your social media to talk about why you do things the way you do. If you had an experience that inspired you, then talk about it. Whatever your values and back story are, be sure to tell everyone, this is what people connect with in business, and it’ll keep you elevated. And in terms of your product or service, why not take that to the next level too. How could you improve what you do? More luxurious packaging, a new recipe, better quality ingredients or components, maybe? If you aren’t sure, go back to your values, why do you do what you do? Then ask, how could I do that even better?
Take a moment and think about your reason for being in your business, and why you do things the way you do. Now put yourself in the shoes of your copycat and consider why they’re in business and what they hope to achieve.
So, are they really competing with you? Your customers are a discerning bunch, would they really choose your copycat over you?
Would you go through all the effort you go through just for a quick buck? I doubt it!
Your copycat is only in it for the money, they’ll soon move on when they realise how much work is involved, and they won’t have your passion to keep them going when the going gets tough. People quickly lose patience with businesses they don’t care about, don’t worry!
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