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”.