15 August 2016

Guard your business against copycats

By James Abola

When you offer a good product or service, it will attract copy cats.
When a person copies your business product or service, it is natural to feel offended after all you could have spent a lot in research and development and market penetration only for the opportunity to be interfered with or stolen by another person. But you need to understand that imitation is part and parcel of business.

A couple were the first to establish two different business lines in Uganda. It took time for the market to accept either of the businesses. Then, in came an imitator who took up both ideas and is now running with them. The first smartphone was introduced by IBM in 1994 but competitors such as Samsung and Apple have adopted the idea and made products that are more dominant in the market than smart products from IBM. .

What can an entrepreneur do to protect a business idea from copycats?

You could register a patent or copyright and work within the protection and limitations offered by the patent or copy right. For example, patents and copyrights have expiry periods and open channels of earning royalty for the holder.

Entrepreneurs can also restrain competition by keeping a tight lid on industrial secrets. For example, at the Gulu – Masindi junction at Kafu, there is a roadside market which sells cassava roasted in a manner that is not found anywhere else in Uganda. Somehow, the community in the area has managed to keep a tight lid on this secret.

In my view, the most protector of business success is the “spirit” of the business. The spirit of Apple Inc. is innovation and product excellence. When you visit a Java Café in Uganda, you can feel the spirit of excellent customer service. Woe to you if your business has a negative spirit.

James Abola is a speaker, author and business and money coach.

Email: james.abola@akamaiglobal.co.uk



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