“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Well, one thing is certain: whoever said this clearly didn’t own a business. And they have definitely never experienced the pain of seeing their own unique ideas being copied by other businesses in the industry.
The corporate world can be quite amusing (and confusing) at times. On one hand, there are profitable industries marked with an intense level of competition. On the other hand, there are relatively new and unpopulated niches with the potential to yield high returns.
The problem is whether you come up with innovative ideas, rise above the competition, and make your business stand out from the crowd; or think of a one-of-its-kind startup idea that’s sure to make you a big shot, other players can be quick to follow suit.
How can you protect your startup from copycat competitors? Or make sure that your unique business plans don’t get copied by already well-established firms who can easily implement them under their own name?
Read on to find out.
Beware of ‘Trusted’ Partners Who Stab You in the Back
This isn’t saying that you become suspicious of your team members, but be careful of who you let in on your startup idea when there’s still a long way to go until its launch.
Share your ideas and plans only with the most trusted friends and family members. As for other entities like marketers who you will inevitably have to involve at some point or the other, it’s best to share only what they absolutely need to know in order to accomplish a particular task.
A freshly recruited team member disclosing plans to rival firms is one of the most common problems that many businesses encounter. Therefore, take care that you don’t give away too much unnecessarily.
If someone else is able to execute your plan faster than you, it goes without saying that your startup might never see the light of day.
Focus on Building Your Brand… Fast
Remember the old saying early bird gets the worm?
It pretty much applies to startups as well. The race to bring new products to the market is continuously ongoing. So, while you think of ways to create a company and manufacture the required products, you must pay equal, if not more attention to ensuring that it reaches the customer in the shortest time possible.
Use social media, paid advertisements, or whatever it takes to build and implement a killing marketing strategy. Create a hype amongst the target audience so they know who came up with the idea first. This way, even if your idea gets copied, it will affect no one but your competitor’s own brand image.
The more memorable your entry into the market is, the higher are your chances of staying there successfully for years to come.
Offer Unmatched Customer Support
Customers are, quite literally, the heart and soul of your business. So, it’s obvious why they should be held in high regard.
Make customer support your utmost priority. From product description to product delivery, different customers might have different types of questions about what you have to offer. Be there to help them out.
Outstanding customer support will not only help you build a large and loyal customer base, but also make your brand more preferable over any alternatives available in the market.
Form Strategic Partnerships
If possible, try to form strategic partnerships with the key companies and renowned personnel in your industry. This is because connecting your startup with well-established businesses, and building relationships with important entities in your line of work will boost awareness about your brand. Moreover, it is also a surefire way to prevent copycats from harming your business in any way.
This also has the added advantage of letting big businesses benefit from your brand. Since they won’t feel threatened by your inventiveness, they won’t feel the need to copy the ideas and market them under their brand name.
Protect Valuable Information and Intellectual Property
The damage from copycat competitors is highest when you aren’t legally protected. So, take all the necessary measures that will keep your idea/ product under lock and key even when it’s out in the public eye.
The first and foremost step you should take to properly protect your startup is to register with a trademark.
You can also protect your web content by adding scanning software, or take more advanced steps such as writing special code for detecting suspicious use of your goods and services.
Moreover, if your idea or product is really, really unique and you don’t want anyone to duplicate it without your permission, don’t be hesitant to file a patent. Filing a patent can cost you a considerable amount of time and money, but it is definitely well worth it as it gives you the exclusive rights to the product in question.
Accept the Fact That There Will Be Some Sort of Imitation
In the end, it is important to remember that no matter what you do, there will be some sort of imitation of your startup and the goods or services that you offer.
Patented or not, there’s no stopping determined copycats from replicating what they set their eyes on.
The bottom line is that these things should not stop you from doing your level best. You must have started with a vision, right? Focus on that whole-heartedly, and do whatever you can to achieve the goals that motivated you to start in the first place.
Keep your spark for creativity alive, and rest assured that you can outsmart copycats competitors at every level.
Hopefully, this article would have given you a detailed answer on how to protect your startup idea and other business plans from being copied by others in the industry. Follow the tips discussed above to make sure that you and your business stay safe from copycat competitors at all stages of growth.