How to Kill a Mockingbird! (Dealing with Copycats)
How to Kill a Mockingbird! (Dealing with Copycats)

How to Kill a Mockingbird! (Dealing with Copycats)

How to kill a mockingbird? The best way to kill a mockingbird is to keep your sights set on the goals and dreams that drove you to create your startup. The fact that your company’s mockingbird exists at all is proof that you are onto something.

Mockingbirds are dull-gray colored creatures with no originality. They are best known for mimicking the sounds of others with no regard for timing or environment.

Every successful entrepreneur has wondered how to kill a mockingbird. You are progressing through the early stages of growth in your startup and competitors are beginning to appear. You entered this market because you identified a need in the market. You put in the time, made the sacrifice, and took the risk. And now some mockingbird is copying your blueprints and jumping onto your roadmap.

First of all, congratulations! You are in great company! The fact that you have a mockingbird is proof that you are on the right track. And while there may be room for your mockingbird, you would rather keep the pie for yourself. The emotional temptation is to call foul and start shooting directly at your mockingbird. Unless you have protected IP that is being stolen, this is rarely the best approach. In fact, it can be a detrimental distraction to your goals – no one likes a whiner.

Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to kill a mockingbird.

How to Kill a Mockingbird:

  1. Stay focused – laser like
  2. Protect your IP – if feasible
  3. Build your brand – with urgency
  4. Sell, sell, sell – get out there
  5. Improve your offering – tighter, better
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 – into continuum

Stay Focused

Whether it be mockingbirds, shiny objects or other distractions, many failed entrepreneurs will never know whether their startup truly had legs or not. They will point to a plethora of diverse reasons for their collapse – lack of funding, lack of support, market downturn, laggard partners… While these may be true, they are often the results as opposed to the cause. I am not saying that your startup will be successful if you stay focused; however, I am positive your startup will not be successful without laser like focus. 

Protect Your IP

At its core, entrepreneurship is about the monetization of an idea. This “idea” is the foundation of your Intellectual Property (IP). One of the key considerations for investors is whether a company can protect its unique characteristics or processes that generate revenue, its Intellectual Property. Therefore, an important step in the funding process is to build safeguards for those characteristics.

Build Your Brand

You are whatever people think you are – perception is reality. It takes intentional design to make sure the brand is recognizable and memorable. It matters more what people are saying about you than what you are saying about yourself. This involves great marketing and great sales. Be sure to assess whether or not your team has the skills and experience to make this critical step an ongoing success. Your brand is one of the greatest assets in warding off mockingbirds. In fact, your brand has the potential to define the market. A few examples include:

  • Kleenex – nobody says, “Pass me a thin piece of soft paper.”
  • Jacuzzi – nobody says, “Let’s hang out in the tub of bubbling hot water.”
  • ChapStick – nobody says, “I need some waxy balm for my dry lips.”

Sell, Sell, Sell

It makes no difference how extraordinary your product or service is unless people are willing to buy what you are producing. Never be so naive or prideful as to think you are the only brilliant individual who has recognized a need in the marketplace. Get your product to market and be first. There is a stereotype sometimes associated with selling that must be overcome by entrepreneurs. An arrogant startup believes that their amazing product will sell itself. While that may have some merit in the long-run, it is always preceded by a well-executed sales plan. Don’t miss this. Put in the work to generate initial revenue.

Improve Your Offering

Many startups seek perfection before release. In a perfect world, this would be the perfect approach; however, perfection is often the enemy of excellence. If your goal is to win a Nobel Prize, hold for perfection; if your goal is to create a scalable, sustainable company and make money,  get to market. This means that your initial offering will have room for improvement. The great thing about getting to market early is that you will have customer feedback on where to focus those improvements. Make this a continual part of your business model.

Repeat Steps 3 through 5

Most of the world’s “overnight successes” were nothing close to overnight successes. They worked tirelessly to build their brand, sell and improve before we ever heard about them – often for years. The greatest companies are willing to recognize that overnight success is achieved and maintained by following the steps to kill a mockingbird and then working hard to make sure it stays that way.