Invoice Bazaar Blog

An entrepreneur should learn from competitors but never copy them

By Invoice Bazaar | November 27, 2021

It was Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba.com, who said that entrepreneurs should learn from competitors but never copy them because, as a business owner, you are supposed to be an innovator and not an imitator. Furthermore, if you just copy what your competitors are doing, you are setting yourself up for failure. Copying or imitating may sometimes make you successful in the short run, but obsessive copying kills the entrepreneurial spirit while smothering the desire to innovate and crippling the urge to take risks. 

Entrepreneurs can study competitors to learn their strategies to penetrate the market. Competitive intelligence is used to know what works and what doesn’t. You understand what others are doing so that you can do it better. You learn what they are doing worse than you so that you can boost your self-confidence and reinforce your strengths. And in case you discover they are copying or imitating what you are doing, you can resort to modifications and improvements so that you have the edge over them.

Always remember that indiscriminate copying can strip entrepreneurs of their individuality and brand differentiation. When you transpose strategies, tactics, and processes used by others with proper contextual adaptation, you will learn and evolve, which is helpful and normal in entrepreneurship. But copying happens when you imitate someone or something in toto, which may compel you to change your business strategies to suit your rivals’ processes and product features. 

As an entrepreneur, you should decide on strategies, products, promotion, and pricing so that they bestow you an advantage over your rivals and enable you to align better with your target audience. As today’s consumers are intelligent and well-informed, they can easily detect a duplicate or a copy of anything, discard it immediately, and prefer to go for the original. So, unless your product or service is better in some respects or has entirely new and welcome features, it may not find consumer acceptance. Hence, copying is unlikely to fetch you the kind of success you aspire for as a business owner.