The Ramblings
of a Serial

Copy, Paste, Problem: Don’t Imitate Other Businesses

Imitation, in business, isn’t always flattery. Sometimes it’s deadly.

It’s natural to get inspiration from other businesses. We see a company or a product that gives us a spark – or we think “hey, I can do that.”

But that’s the easy part – the idea.

We aren’t seeing the thousands of small decisions that went into that business that make it work.

So we run off to imitate it and get punched in the face.

I did this with my marketing agency.

I saw an agency making a killing working with dental offices. I started out working with law firms.

I even had interviews and webinars the founder had done, telling how he’d done it.

Both professional practices, both had clients with local footprints, I should copy what’s working, right?


I burned a year pushing a rock up a hill. That doesn’t mean he had a bad business, it meant I didn’t have the full picture.

After a (very) painful year, I changed the formula based on my assessment of what would work better.

His model worked pretty well for me – at 3x the price he was charging. I’d assumed too much. He had thought about his price for his market. I’d just copied.

I then went on a tear testing everything.

When I sold the business, the biggest client was paying 41x what I was charging a few years before.

Of course, they were getting a lot more, and the team was far upgraded to deliver higher end work product. But the margins were healthy – and they weren’t before.

Don’t imitate.

Know how to test what works.

For you.

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