photo credit: breanna corum via flickr

Today, I came across a post by Carol Roth, on her blog Unsolicited Business Advice, “The Difference Between Inspiration and Copying.” I agree with Carol’s position that abandoning creativity and individuality by imitating someone else’s business concept, doesn’t help anyone. It hurts the copycat’s business and credibility; it hurts his or industry as well.

But it happens all of the time.

Reality check. Some people lack fundamental ethics.

Some will watch and mimic your every move.

They will steal your ideas.

But, those people will always exist. You can’t do a thing about it (unless, of course it rises to the level of copyright or trademark infringement).

Many thanks to social media these crooks disguised as potential business partners, clients or customers can now eyeball you day and night.

You can’t control them.

You can’t direct their motives.

But, you can prevent them from distracting your greater purpose — building a grand business.

Here are three reasons why you should leave these peeps alone (unless you have a legitimate legal issue) and mind your own business. Literally.

#1. Pay attention to what matters.

Waste your precious time worrying about them, and congrats, you’ve given the crooks just what they wanted…

To distract you from the big picture.

I think that people steal ideas from others because:

  • They lack the confidence to develop their own.
  • They view you as a strong competitor, a threat.
  • They want to get you on the defense. The more time you spend in defense mode, the less you are developing new business ideas and execution strategies, partnerships and the like.

Think about it. 

#2. You have a solid reputation. Don’t ruin it.

One reason that you have become so successful is because people respect you.

They trust you.

They value your business ethics.

Trust and reputation separate two equally talented people from one another.

Naturally, you want to address someone who wrongs you, either publicly or privately. Either approach can damage your reputation if its not handled correctly.

First, I’d first take a moment to step away from the situation. Evaluate whether it’s worth addressing or not.

Second, you’ll want to decide whether to bring an attorney in or not (if it’s involving copyright or trademark infringement I recommend letting an attorney handle it).

Third, if you choose to contact the copycat, make sure that your email is purely professional and void of all emotion.

Lastly, don’t vent about it in Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media network, while it’s in motion. You never know how it may pan out legally, and if your goal is to share it as a lesson for others — wait until it’s resolved to do so. This way, it won’t be perceived as just a rant.

#3. Don’t stress over what you cannot control.

People are who they are. They will do what they want. And you, cannot do a doggone thing about it (again, this excludes copycatting that rises to the level of being actual copyright or trademark infringement).

Sure, you can oust them or set them straight, but the chips will continue to fall as they may.

Owning a business can be stressful.

Working in a demanding profession can be stressful.

Managing a household can be stressful.

Dealing with less than honest business folks can be stressful.

In these situations, we choose to stress or we can choose to not stress. Stress is counter-productive. It is draining. It is stifling. It is just plain unnecessary. Don’t you have enough to do? God gave us unique talents, and a distinct way to share those talents with the world.

In other words. No one can do what you do how you do it.

Not even those “secret admirers.”

What are your thoughts on copycats and secret admirers?

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