Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Can Your Business Be Easily Duplicated?

Running a business that can be easily duplicated is dangerous. A competitor with more resources can come along, copy what you're doing, and then put you out of business. It happens all the time, and it's perfectly legal.

So what's the solution?

Well, unfortunately you can't just patent everything to protect yourself. The real solution is to lock it down. For instance, Wal-Mart does nothing more than buy items in bulk and sell them to customers at a discount rate. This is very simple, and should be able to be duplicated - but they have locked it down, making it extremely difficult for anyone to compete with them.

Here are 5 ways to lock down your industry and prevent your business from being easily duplicated:

1) Intellectual Property
Buy every domain name and register every trademark that's affiliated with your industry. Try to imagine what your competition might do, and get do it before they get to it. For instance, if you own a car dealership in Greenfield, Colorado - you will want to get GreenfieldCars.com, GreenfieldTrucks.com, GreenfieldCarDealership.com, etc. You will also want to own the trademark for "Greenfield Cars", "Greenfield Car Deals", "Greenfield Car Discounts", etc.

2) Branding
One reason why other companies can't compete with Wal-Mart, is because they're brand is too powerful. Wal-Mart is always running an extensive advertising and PR campaign. You should do the same. If your clients see your brand enough, they will respect it - and will not easily shift directions when a new competitor comes to town.

3) Relationships
You must create and maintain close and professional relationships with your clients. This can be done directly and indirectly. Your clients should be more than colleagues; They should be friends and family. They have to know that you care about their success. If they feel this way at all times, it'll be hard for a duplicator to come along and recruit them.

4) Customer Service
Your customer service must be excellent and unique. Be different and creative, and offer your clients something they can't get elsewhere. Don't be greedy; Cut your prices if you have to. This alone can make it nearly impossible for a duplicator to compete with you.

5) Research
Always be in the habit of researching and brainstorming. Attend industry conferences, and read industry publications. You should always know about the latest developments in your industry, and should never hesitate to make the necessary adaptations so as not to fall behind. If a duplicator comes along with a more modernized approach, this could be very threatening to your company.

1 comment:

  1. You spoke directly to my concern of several years. I have prototyped a product for the decorating industry and I m very concerned about the issue you blogged about today. I don't know where to turn to get these products off the ground without exposing myself to pouchers. Your suggestions are very helpful as far as "locking down". I seek to have my products featured in Decorating magazines, targeting the middle to upper class first, then mass production.

    I even called Mexico for manufacturer information and was told I must have an order of 10,000 items right out the gate, that's fine with me , it's finding the resources to pay for patents, web domains, materials etc. I know these products will sell and will then help fund another product I have prototyped several years ago that I have been sitting on.

    Thanks for being a sounding board for me!