Confident Leader

Being copied is a part of being a leader

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It can stun you… that shocked feeling when you see someone copy your idea — sometimes even copying your mission statement or wording. You think to yourself: “What the …? Why are they stealing my idea/design/statements/strategy?

It’s probably happened to you more than once. It has happened to me so many times I have lost count.

It’s disheartening and frustrating. Especially in cases when you are genuinely trying to help another woman succeed — only to have them turn around and copy you, sometimes using the same exact wording, service offering or product.

If you speak up, you can come across as bitchy or insecure about your business. But if you don’t speak up, you feel like they are getting away with it. That always feels like a lose-lose situation… damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

However, rest assured that business is actually a small world. Very small. Much smaller than some people imagine. Others will see what has happened — maybe not immediately, but they will. And their opinion of the copycat will drop.

But until then, let’s get back to you finding out you’ve just been copied. Firstly you need to understand that you are unique in your ability to be a trailblazer and create something that has not been created before.

It may help you a little to understand that some other people have no imagination or original thought, and therefore no choice other than to copy people their whole life to operate or be noticed.

You need to know that being copied is part and parcel of being a natural born leader. An ideas person. A creator. A doer.

So… let’s talk about how to deal with it

It really depends on what was copied. If it is serious breach, then lawyers may need to be involved. This is a legitimate action, but one that may cost you more than you could potentially have lost. So ask your trusted advisors what they think before you leap into court.

If it is something that looks like a blatant copy, but you know they don’t have the skill or resources to deliver it like you would, then let it go. Keep away from them in the future, move on and let them sink under the weight of their inabilities.

Tip: don’t spend your time telling everyone you know you’ve been copied.  Unfortunately, you will look like a whinger and it will suck the energy and happiness from you. I have seen many people become very bitter by holding onto something they can’t change.

Now… moving forward, how do you prevent it from happening again?

You may need to register trademarks, IP or apply for a patent before going public. It will give you some (but not guaranteed) protection.

Don’t tell people what you are up to. They may sound supportive and interested but be wary that some are possibly pumping you for information to scuttle off and create an identical or similar version for themselves.

Have people sign confidentiality agreements. Again, it won’t guarantee protection but will deter a lot of people from messing with you.

I remember the time a business associate wanted to discuss something with me that would have required me to divulge some of my IP. I said there was no problem in doing so but I would require them to sign a confidentiality agreement first. They said — and I quote — “If you give me one of them, I won’t talk with you again.” Needless to say, we haven’t spoken since.

And if you haven’t been copied yet, one day you will be. Just be smart, strategic and savvy in how you respond.

About Amanda Rose

Founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit www.amandaroseofficial.com.

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