“Imitation is the highest form of flattery”
Who hasn’t heard that? Or even said it? I know I have! But when you are faced with someone taking your unique and creative idea- putting it out there for the world to see- and taking credit- it is anything but flattering.
When you are successful, you will always have people that are jealous, so sure, I had people buy my items, then try to start their own business and sell the same things. I always looked at it like a joke. They thought making hair bows and tutus (my only company at the time) was a “get rich quick” fix. And sure, they sold some- even found some of my customers and sold to them. They completely underestimated the work and time it takes to start a business and crashed and burned. Many came back as customers-begging for me to create my one-of-a-kind designs, because their tutus and bows just didn’t cut it.
Those people are not threats- yeah, it sucks to have friends betray you. Yes, it sucks when people message you for tips, tricks advice to use against you. But you know what is absolutely rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp on it?
When you come up with a completely unique design, idea, creation, your competition sees it, makes it and then BAM it goes absolutely viral.
That happened to me. I kid you not. And on top of it, I got hate messages saying that I was an imposter- that I didn’t deserve to run a business if I couldn’t come up with my own ideas. There was a “cult” against me. I felt like my soul was ripped from me. I didn’t know where to turn, how to bounce back or what the next step would be. Heartbroken, defeated, and on the verge of closing my virtual doors, I dove into reinventing myself and my company. Looking back, it was one of the best things that could have happened.
It let me realize that I needed more in my business than just creative ideas- I needed to push myself and my brand beyond the gates of what others could. These are just a few ways that I started that push and whenever I get down, I re-implement them into my life. It doesn’t matter how far along you are in in your creative business, getting back to basics is always a great starting point when you aren’t sure what the next step is.
First things First:
Build you company on YOU. People don’t buy things- they buy experiences. Make sure each one of your sessions, products and posts literally screams your brand. Before anyone sees your logo, they should know who it belongs to (think Caralee Case, Kimmy Howard, Meg Bitton.) No one can be you 100% – they can have all the fancy bells and whistles, but without you- it lacks the personality and flair your customers will come to look for.
I can just about guarantee- that while you are SO proud of your newest idea, you will get bored with it. Maybe not within the next week- or even the next few months but it is going to happen. We get bored easily and don’t handle repetition very well- hence why we are entrepreneurs of creative businesses! As a creative thinker, we thirst for the creativity rush. The drive, the passion, the excitement of forging something so close to your heart. Sadly for the copy-cats, they aren’t creative, they don’t know the passion that comes from creating something from your blood, sweat, tears and the adrenalin rush that comes from putting every ounce of your soul into something. They don’t get it – and never will- which is why you will push on and create bolder new.
Get back to creating new ideas, do creative exercises and take time for yourself. A very simple exercise that you can do (and that I do weekly) is journaling. I write out thoughts, feelings, inspirations and most important- my top 10 list. It is a random list of 10 ideas that are just about launch worthy. Any time I get frustrated with business, I go back to my top 10 lists, pick one and perfect it. All-in-all this process takes about 7 days. BAM (lol) 7 days from being hopeless and flustered, to launch day of a brand new idea!
Create connections! Connect with your customers and other’s in your community (including other “competition.”) Getting feedback from your customers is crucial to your creativity. You will learn the tweaks and tips that will bring your creativity to the next level. Your “competition” can help build your community. I am constantly working with other prop vendors, photographers and suppliers- bouncing off ideas, creating collaborations and referring customers. When one of my customers are looking for something I don’t create, I want to refer them to someone who specializes in what they need. I always want to have an answer for them and trust that they will be taken care of, even if I am not the person to do it.
Just remember that it is YOU that makes your business- not the people imitating your skills. Take the pain/rage/hurt and put it into your next great idea. Don’t let it stop you- if you can come up with just ONE amazing idea, you know you can come up with another, better idea. Make your business a reflection of what you want your life to be. Creative. Unique. Fun. Exciting. Whatever you see in your company- hold true to it and show others.