Be Your Own Leader: Cutting Out the Copycat

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 09/03/2020

Many companies feel pressured to adjust their business models, products, services, or pricing structures based on what others in their market are doing. Too often, leaders believe there isn’t a choice, thinking they must do everything their competitors are doing.

But that isn’t the case. In fact, that type of thinking will lead business owners to waste precious time and energy on ineffectual efforts.

Don’t assume they know better

If your competition jumped off a bridge, would you do that, too?

As much as you may have rolled your eyes at this advice, it has never been more on point.

If you run your business thinking you have to do everything your competitors are doing and offer everything they’re offering, you are, in effect, letting your competitors determine your business model. More importantly, you’re giving them the power to shape your company values. And these things could send your organization into a downward freefall.

The question isn’t whether or not you need to follow the pack. The question is, how can you live out your core values and compete effectively in your market, even if you’re doing something different?

Let your values lead the way

Mimicking your competition isn’t a solid business plan. Not only does it have no soul, but it’s also 100% reactive. Someone else has done it, so now you are doing it too. Playing follow-the-leader severely limits creative thinking and stifles any real innovation that could be happening within your company.

Successful businesses are on the leading edge of their industries. Not the following edge.

Playing copycat will continuously keep you on your heels and at the back of the line. By continually looking at your competition, you’re telling your employees that you don’t trust your own power, undermining both your ability to lead your team and their confidence in your brand.

The road to success is never easy

Following the crowd is taking the easy way out. It’s much harder to blaze your own trail, yet so much more rewarding. You’ve heard the saying, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

If your goal is to be the same as every competing company in your industry, that is exactly how potential customers will see you. Because there is nothing that makes you different, there is no reason to choose you over one of the many other providers.

When you’ve modeled your company after another business, you’ll be acting in constant reaction mode, and your story won’t really be your own. And today’s consumers are all about the story.

Start telling your story, not theirs

Back in the day, businesses could just open their doors and people would come. Not anymore. Consumers now have an infinite number of choices. Companies that deviate from traditional models are often the ones seeing the greatest success, especially when they can tell a story that appeals to their customers on many different levels.

If you’ve been looking to your competitors for inspiration, it’s time to step out of that box and create a new narrative. One that’s true to you.

Identify your values, your story, and the core of why you’re doing what you do, and people will be drawn to you.

Getting to the bottom of it

Think about your favorite business. The brand you’d follow anywhere. You know, the one that if they suddenly ceased to exist, you might just shed some real, live tears. What made you fall in love with them, and what makes you continue to stay connected?

Is it because they’re just like the other guys? Is it their “sameness” that inspires you? Heck, no!

It’s time to stop worrying about what your competition is doing and define your organization on your own terms.

  • What drives you to do what you do?
  • What values does your company hold dear?
  • How are you demonstrating those values to your team, your customers, and your community?
  • How are you weaving them into your business model and decision making?

Create an authentic and unique story that appeals to your buyers and gives them a new way of comparing you to the plethora of choices and providers out there.

Now you’re not following the leader. You are the leader.


Want to be a local employer of choice? Need help with performance management, employee turnover, and HR strategy? At Raffa, we work with businesses in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area to implement strategic employee benefits plans designed to position them as coveted employers of choice. Whether you’re looking to build a healthy team, lower employee turnover, or recruit and reward executive talent, we can help.

Photo by sheilaf2002


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