First published on Facebook and Instagram Dec 14th 2020.

It’s gross and it happens.

Someone loves your business, wants exactly what you have, then goes ahead and copies it exactly. This happened to a friend of mine recently – she is killing it in the candle business.

She up-cycles old Champagne bottles and fills them with high quality scented wax. My friend, let’s call her Mary, was thinking “hmmm how else can I make a living creatively and ditch my underpaid 9-5?”

“Eureka”, she cried one evening as we sat around drinking Champagne. Her business started using the empties of our evenings together haha!

Mary is also super friendly, helpful and loves a good chat. Ask her a question and she’ll tell you everything. I love her zest and funny-girl nature.

One day, she gets a large order for her candles. Someone is dropping some cash! This client, who we shall call Carolyn, lives in the same suburb & pops by to pick up her purchases. She asks Mary lots of questions…

You can see where this is going! The purchase and friendly chit-chat were the Trojan horse.

Carolyn starts her own exact business. When I say exact, I mean exact.She uses the same bottle-cutter, brands her business the same, styles her social media photos exactly the same…and recently has started pretending to be Mary’s business, collecting empty bottles from Mary’s hospitality suppliers.

Mary went to a local bar to collect their empty bottles and they said “oh the Champagne lady already came to collect them.

“I am livid on her behalf!

But – hang on, I hear you say: “There’s plenty of business for everyone. There’s no thing as competition. We rise together. And the whole bottles as candles idea is hardly new.”

Agreed. But it’s a grey zone that no authentic and honest business owner wants to play in.

It’s all down to intention. When the intention behind setting the business up is to copy someone and infringe on their turf deliberately, then it’s wrong.

Going in with a Trojan Horse, stealing a business idea, copying content and making the brand so similar people get confused is an unethical, not to mention unimaginative, way to start a business.

How do you prevent this happening to your business?

UPDATE 20th Dec – since writing this post, the story was picked up by News.com.au and has become a hot topic on conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Read the article here.