My family and I sat down to watch Edge of Tomorrow the other evening.
Okay, I’m a little late to the game, seeing as this cinematic gem came out in 2014.
But I have three kids and an online business. So there you have it; 3 years late to the game (one year for each kid…)
When it comes to business and end-of-the-world movies, there are few truly original ideas.
It’s natural to want to model your venture on successful businesses in your niche.
But there’s a big difference between pivoting based on someone else’s original idea and copying it directly.
Pivoting involves taking one idea or concept and CHANGING it. You can apply a proven model to a new niche, or you can adapt the idea to your particular secret sauce or core audience.
Example: Online webinars were nothing particularly innovative, even five years ago. But no one had brought them to the scrapbooking niche. Our industry had video classes galore, but nothing that provided a live, interactive experience. So I saw a market gap and launched True Scrap Events. I combined a proven strategy and an untapped market to come up with my unique idea, and quickly grew a six-figure business. (BTW I’ve since closed this business to pursue other opportunities, but it was a good run!)
Another example: Time shares have been around for decades. The idea of sharing a car wasn’t new (“Dude, can I borrow your ride?”). But combining the two? That is the awesomeness that is Zipcar.
But wait — didn’t Zipcar copy NetJets?
And Lain, didn’t you copy webinar kingpins like Lewis Howes?
Nope. Both Zipcar and I were innovators in our combination of various business elements. It’s the difference between imitating and being “inspired by.”
Think of it as a recipe. There aren’t really any “new” ingredients, but by combining things in a unique way (cauliflower pizza crust, anyone?) you can come up with something that’s unique. It’s not enough to offer it in a different color, change the name, or make it one week instead of two. It needs to be substantially different to keep you from being a “Me Too” business.
So how do you know if you are copying or pivoting?
- Add something unique that only you could provide (“…workout tips from a former Navy SEAL.”)
- Borrow from another industry and apply it to yours (“dogshare”)
- Layer different ideas together in a unique combination (goats + yoga)
- Serve a different niche (Nerd Fitness)
- Take it up or down the luxury/price scale (Joe’s Jeans compared to Lee Jeans)
If you could take what you’re doing and slap the originator’s label/name on it, and no one would be able to tell the difference, YOU ARE COPYING. This is bad.
The originator will not like it. (Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery.)
Your customers will not like it. (Why are they getting it from you when they could go to the source?)
You probably don’t really like it when you look yourself in the mirror. (No one really wants to be a wannabe.)
If you cannot think of an original spin on an idea, you have a couple of choices:
2. Keep working until you CAN come up with something original.
Life is too short for imitations, whether it be fake sugar or fake businesses.
Lain Ehmann of #FastLain knows that Simplicity Sells. As a communication conversion strategist, she works with high-level entrepreneurs to create crystal-clear messaging and content that reaches their audience at the right time, in the right way. Find out more at http://fastlain.com.