I had a question this week from a lady saying someone had copied her entire business, from her website to her social media posts – there were just enough differences for it not to be a direct duplication (she had used slightly different images) but to the casual observer, they may as well have been the same business.

This was no coincidence. The copycat had been a ‘fan’ of this lady’s business for a while and clearly loved it so much that she decided she’d do exactly the same thing.

Now, I totally understand what this feels like. I’ve had it done to me several times, even by people who should know better, but here’s the thing. It’s complicated.

It can drive you mad or it can drive you on. It’s your choice.

I’ve had weeks where I’ve been CONSUMED by someone copying me. It’s driven me crazy. I’ve deliberated about what to say to them. I’ve thought about how to respond. I’ve grumped and grouched and grumbled about the CHEEK of them. How bloody dare they?

The trouble is, when I’ve done that I’ve been SO consumed by grouching and anger that I didn’t focus on my business. Blogs went unwritten. Plans weren’t actioned. I was too distracted.

Which is interesting.

Because the actual copycat didn’t NEED to have any effect on my business. I could have ignored them. I could have put them out of my mind and let them stew. I could have chosen not to give them any attention or energy.

But by grouching and grumbling, and looking through their social media and website to see exactly HOW much stuff they had copied I gave them LOADS of energy. I also got myself totally wound up. And MY business suffered because of that.

So I actually LET the copycat harm my business when I didn’t need to let it happen.

Now, I understand that sometimes the copycat is someone you know. Sometimes it’s someone in the same town or social circle. Sometimes they are too close for comfort. Which makes it awkward.

I understand that sometimes trademarks or plagiarism are involved and you have to take them seriously and go legal. I understand that people stealing your photos is definitely NOT ON.

But, here’s the thing.

You are the original. You are the one being copied. And it’s up to YOU to rise above it.

You can choose to bicker and grumble and fight, but your business will suffer.

Or you can raise your game. As Michelle Obama said ‘when they go low, we go high’ (my absolutely new favourite quote ever).

So however angry and annoyed and frustrated you feel, you can choose to direct that energy at them or you can choose to use it to fuel your business.

You can choose to GO HIGH.

What does that look like?

It means you don’t get emotional with them. It means you deal with them like a business owner and keep things professional. You can email them and tell them to cease and desist from using your photos and intellectual property – it’s good to get legal advice on this if you can afford it. RocketLawyer sells templates online for all the main legal letter types in the UK.

It means you don’t lower yourself to their level and have a slanging match.

It means you stop looking at their stuff and stop thinking about them. It’s not easy but it’s your choice to do so. Block them on social media and unfollow their accounts. Choose not to look at their website or Etsy shop or whatever. Choose not to have them in your life. If you need to keep an eye on whether they are stealing your images, ask a friend to do it for you so you don’t get consumed, then go back to point one and deal with them professionally and without emotion.

That way you’re not driving yourself mad.

It means raising your game by coming up with new, better, things that are YOU, through and through. Develop your brand so that people know you for it. Put all your energy into making your business strong and well-known. Put your energy and passion into creating something that nobody else can come close to. Be the original.

There will always be copycats. And the better-known you become, the more copycats you will attract. But they don’t have your passion. They don’t have your ideas. They don’t have your experience and knowledge and imagination.

They are not you.

And because they are just copying and not putting their own ideas and imagination and passion into their business, they are setting themselves up to fail. I see it time and time again.

A business like that can only compete on price, which is a bad business model – they can’t compete on being better or different or unusual because they are copying someone else.

So, it’s a tough one but here are my thoughts.

It will HURT when you find someone blatantly copying you.

It can drive you mad or it can drive you on. It’s your choice.

I would choose to put the energy into MY business.

I would choose not to fight, but to HARNESS my anger and frustration and make my business even better.

I would choose to go HIGH.

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