Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

3 ways to handle competitors, copycats and rivals

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

3 ways to handle competitors, copycats and rivals.

Copycats and clones, or more sensibly referred to as competitors, are simply a fact of life. Even back in the 3rd Century BC, the book of Ecclesiastes was summing small business up quite succinctly with ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. 

While this reality might feel somewhat defeatist to fledgling entrepreneurs, we believe there’s comfort to be found in the familiar and much to be learned from your imitators. 

Here, are three ways to grow, learn from and even get behind your rivals before they get to you:

two rams butting heads

2. Partner up

We realise this goes against every gut instinct you have and you just want them to go away never to be seen again, that’s probably how (the greatly diminished social network) MySpace once felt about Facebook. 

However, visit The New MySpace and you’ll notice that you can now sign in using, yes, you guessed it, using your Facebook account details. 

It would be small-minded to consider this a defeat. 

After much introspection, MySpace realised their true strength lies in their massive catalogue of independent music. By allowing their users to directly share their own playlists on Facebook not only increases MySpace's reach, but it can also change a user's perception of the brand as open and collaborative.

3. Execute (and we don’t mean the medieval way)

As writer Audre Lorde once and very poetically said, ‘there are no new ideas, only new ways of making them felt’. You might have a similar singular product to your competitor but creating a concept to go along with it is an entirely different thing. 

Are they looking directly at our customers? Then it’s time to expand your customer reach by thinking global. Talk to overseas publications for interview opportunities and get your message even further out there. 

Try talking to your loyal customer base and find out what they love about your product or business and reward them by giving them more of what they want.  

So when you’re next faced with a copycat company remember this quote from popular business strategist Marie Forleo, ‘when it comes to money and creativity, there’s always more from where that came from.’

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Is there a way you and your competitor can work together? 
  2. Can you celebrate the similarities and the differences at the same time? 
  3. Could you even reap the benefits of your individual followings by creating a conglomerate of businesses that still remain separate entities?

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