4 Things You Need to Do to Protect Your Startup Business From Copycats

4 Things You Need to Do to Protect Your Startup Business From Copycats

By: Corey Philip
Updated: February 6, 2020

Starting a business from scratch is no easy task. It can be difficult to stand out on the playing field where there is an intense level of competition—but this also means you have found a lucrative opportunity with a lot of potential.

In the business world, there are players both big and small who are out there to secure their hold on any potentially profitable opportunity. It is important to keep an eye on both of them. Bigger players are well-established and have a lot of financial backing and legal support. However, they usually take longer to develop and execute new ideas. Smaller players, also known as “startups”, on the other hand, are much more flexible and can easily keep up with the latest trends. It is for this reason that startups actually pose a greater threat. 

When your company is in the process of making a name for itself by bringing fresh ideas into the playing field, others (including the bigger players and fellow startups) will take notice. This brings new challenges that some startups are not prepared to face. Copycats, in particular, pose one such challenge. These are groups of individuals who are always on the lookout for anything new and are eager to claim your brilliance as their own. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to deal with them so you can stay ahead of the competition and protect your intellectual property in the long run. Here are some strategies to keep in mind: 

Customer support takes top priority

If you pay a visit to one of your local food arcades, you notice that it’s a very crowded space with several different businesses, each offering a unique experience. One way to stand out from the rest is through a high level of responsive customer support. Sometimes the best way to beat the established competition and other fellow startups is to understand your customers better by providing services better than anyone else. Focusing on the human element of your business is key. Adding a little personal touch to your brand also goes a long way and it makes your brand more appealing to both prospects and customers alike. 

Customer service is best delivered through channels that your customers frequently use whether it be on live chat, social media, SMS, or phone call – the list goes on. Right now, companies are being rated on how fast they respond to customer inquiries so it is imperative that you have a team that is quick to respond. Sometimes, you don’t have to respond right away but always remember to assure your customers that they are in good hands and that a solution is underway. 

Adopting a large-scale mindset towards customer service is essential to standing out. Thus, you must instill a focus on customer support in your team during the early days of your operation for it to carry on in the long run. As your startup grows, these values will be passed on to newer members of your expanding team, ensuring that they will maintain their focus as a customer-oriented group. 

Build your brand and build it FAST

You have all the great ideas laid out, now it’s all a matter of bringing those ideas to life. There is always a perpetual race on who gets to put their ideas out on the market first because it is a crucial moment in making an impression. You need to carefully plan your approach on how to make a splash into the scene and grab your market share. Use relevant channels like advertisements, press releases, social media, or any platform that your prospects and customers use frequently. Once you establish a foothold in the industry, copycats are less likely to steal your intellectual property. 

Quickly establishing your brand in the market also involves connecting with your customers at an emotional level. They will be the biggest defenders of your brand. And when they are connected, they are most likely to stay in the long term and even recommend your brand to other prospects. These customers do the marketing for you. It’s like killing birds with one stone, so to speak. One way of endearing your brand to your customers is to build a personal brand around your business, one that is relatable to the people who matter – the customers themselves. 

Focus on a specific niche

Many startups often try to diversify as early as they can and then fall flat on their faces. That’s because doing everything all at once is impossible to do. Even bigger players tend to focus on a few related ideas. You can start by finding a niche that you are confident that you will succeed. 

Focusing on one particular niche is crucial during your startup phase because makes it so much easier to find solutions since it plays to your strengths. With this, you can easily describe who you are as a brand, what you do, and what you sell. 

Choosing a niche boils down into a few things, and it doesn’t have to be about the product or the service you are offering. It can be based on a variety of factors: 

  1. 1
    It should be something that is close to your heart and related to your passion. If it is something you can easily relate to, you have no trouble in telling your customers what your brand is all about. 
  2. 2
    Your geographic location and the demographics or interests of your target audience.
  3. 3
    The price point of your products or services. For instance, affordable vs. premium.
  4. 4
    Method of selling your products – subscription, through mail delivery, etc. 

Being a jack of all trades yet master of none is severely discouraged. If you want your brand to stand out, especially against bigger players who have already established a name for themselves, focus on how you can apply your ideas and resources to do things better in a specific niche. 

Protect your intellectual property

On the legal side of things, it is always important to understand that one of the most important assets your startup company has is your ideas. You can explore ways on how to legally protect your intellectual property against potential copycats. This process is notoriously lengthy but it will pay off in the long run. You can also explore other ways to protect your ideas, such as watermarks or certain encryption methods. 

Whichever strategy you choose, it is always important to be proactive instead of reactive.

Corey Philip
February 6, 2020
Corey Philip

Founder of a home service / specialty trade contracting company (think patio's and deck) with a focus on customer experience. Quantitative investor. Data driven marketer. Runner.