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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Don’t be Another Them, Be a Better You

Written By: Carol Roth | 19 Comments

We live in a world and marketplace filled with unprecedented competition.  When you are floundering or finding your way, you may be inspired by the success (or in some cases, the perceived success) of other individuals or companies.  While it makes all of the sense in the world to take a strong concept and find a way to do it smarter, better, faster or more effectively (assuming you have the skills and experience to do so)- or even tweak it for a different market- the key for success is that you need to put your own spin on it.

I have seen many folks who have preferred to copy instead of being inspired to take ideas, concepts or business models to the next level.  I get people telling others- and sometimes me- that they are just like me.  The reality is usually that they are nothing like me (and thank god for that; the world doesn’t need two me’s running around- oy!).  Typically, these individuals have no idea who they are or what their brand stands for.  So, they get lazy and assume that by attaching themselves to the identity or quality that’s already successful with someone else, it will allow some of that success to rub off on them.

But, guess what? It doesn’t work.  It’s inauthentic and uninspired.

You shouldn’t aspire to be another someone else or another “x” brand, you should aspire to be the first and most successful you.  What someone else brings to the table or what another person or company defines as success may have nothing to do with you at all.  Trying to emulate someone or something else, without putting your own unique spin on it with your own brand and customers isn’t innovating, it’s imitating.

It can, of course, make sense to make comparisons to well-known entities because people understand what they know.  I have been compared to many folks, most recently being called Suze Orman meets Chelsea Handler for entrepreneurs and small business owners, but I don’t want to be the next Suze Orman (or Chelsea, for that matter). The comparison is just for clarity.  Someone may say that their business model is Groupon meets eBay.  Again, it’s logical to draw those comparisons to create an understandable frame of reference when explaining a business model.  However, it defies logic to copy every one of their features and put your own brand name on it.

Remember that you and your brand are different.  Each company’s brand should speak to their own target customers based on brand values.  That means that your strategies and tactics need to have your own spin on them to really be authentic and effective.

Your competition or others that you admire may give you a great idea or move you into action, but think about the intersection of your customers’ needs and what you uniquely bring to the table to be the best you, instead of another “them”.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth