Dealing with Copycats in Business

In this week's episode of Chill & Prosper, we’re going to do a deep dive into a really juicy and sometimes very emotional topic for people in business.  We’re talking all about copycats and all the ‘stuff’ that brings up for you.

If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.  However it happens, it can really deflate you, derail your confidence and bring up a lot of ‘stuff’.  I know that it really worries a lot of entrepreneurs more than it should and in fact, you could be so worried about copycats in the future that you’re actually resisting putting stuff out there in the first place which is no good at all.

So let’s deal with this fear and come up with some strategies together, and I want to share some stories about it happening to me as well.


I talk about ...

  • Hoarding ideas out of fear of being copied
  • My experiences being copycatted
  • Making it harder for copycatters by not being generic
  • Standing up for yourself and what you believe in
  • Sending a cease and desist letter
  • What stuff comes up for you?
  • Escalating to a lawyer
  • Tightening up your terms and conditions and refund policy


So today we're going to do a deep dive into a really juicy and sometimes very emotional topic for people in business, and it is all about copycats. Copycats, people who copy you, subtly, blatantly, and all the stuff it brings up for you. If it hasn't happened yet, it will. It will. However it happens, it can really deflate you. It can derail your confidence. It can bring up a lot of stuff. And I know that it actually worries a lot of entrepreneurs more than it should. And in fact, you actually could be so worried about it happening in the future that you're actually resisting putting stuff out there in the first place, which is no good at all. So let's deal with this fear. Let's come up with some strategies together, and I want to share some yucky stuff where it's happened to me as well.

                                                Okay. So as I said, this might not have even happened to you yet, but you might be using the fear of it, of someone copying you, to stay stuck and hiding in the shadows of your business. So this might mean that you haven't released your course yet. You haven't released your new website. You haven't released your book yet because you're worried that somebody is going to copy you. Now, a lot of entrepreneurs become almost like idea hoarders. You're hoarding ideas because you're worried that someone is going to steal your stuff. And you know what? I'm going to say, it is going to happen. So you can't hide forever and just keep yourself small and stuck and not have a business to keep yourself safe from copycats. It just means that you're not going to be able to share your ideas with the world. You won't get any recognition. You won't be able to make money from your ideas. Fear is really the worst reason to not do it, and you can't let this be you.

                                                So, first of all, I just want to share this has happened to me heaps of times. Absolutely, heaps of times. So one time that it happened that was so blatant, someone in my Money Bootcamp reached out and she said, "I think this girl is copying you." And I went to her sales page and it was just almost word for word of my sales page, but just with a few points shifted around or she'd just stuck in a few different words. Instead of money, she'd use abundance, for example, and just shifted it all around. And then her course pretty much was the same price point. It was the same. So I reached out to her and, first of all, I was really scared, because it was the first time it would really happened and so I felt like a real bitch reaching out. I was like, "Hey, just to let know, your course is really similar to mine."

                                                And she wrote back and she said, "No, actually, I was going to reach out to you, because people have been telling me that you've copied me." Oh my God, worst nightmare. Because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I also think it's sometimes my personality to take on more responsibility than I need to. So immediately I just thought, "Oh my God, I must have copied her." It was so strange because I actually then had to look at the evidence and I went, "Hm." So she bought and refunded my course on the same day. So she bought and refunded Money Boot Camp on the same day, so obviously she joined and downloaded all the content and then asked for a refund. So she copied me and then didn't even let me have the money for it. I love it. She had been on my list for years. I had never been on her list. And I knew that I had paid a copywriter to write that copy for me, someone who is really high integrity, she would never have just copied it off someone else.

                                                But she got me, because when you reach out to a copycat person, most of the time they will deny it and they will put it back on you. And it's called "the Davo". It's deny, oh God, what is it? Attack or something, but they reverse the order of a victim and so they make themselves sound like the victim. And that's what happened. So I felt so sick about it. And I basically was just going to go and screenshot all the things, but I ended up just sending her a cease and desist. So that happened the first time and it was horrible. And then now that it happens, I literally just go, "Hey, yeah, you've copied me." Here's a couple of things that will happen. People will also write back and say, "Oh, I didn't know. Someone else created this. My copywriter must have copied you." I had someone say, "I was in hospital because my dad died," they always just come up with that excuse. It's not true most of the time. "My assistant created a whole program without me knowing it. Oh, she created everything."

                                                And I said this to someone recently, she goes, "Oh wow. You should ask for that VA's details. I want an assistant who will create a whole program for me, including the sales page, shopping cart, everything, the graphics. That'd be amazing." So that's what will happen. And I say this not to scare you, but because this is just a rite of passage. This is what will happen when you put yourself out there, somebody will copy you. And that's okay. So first thing I want you to do is just to stop in and just check in with yourself, see how it feels. And if you have a girlfriend or an entrepreneurial friend, you can reach out just to dump it so they can say, "Aw, this sucks." Now, the other thing is I have also seen people get upset about very generic-y things. They haven't copycatted, it's just some people have the idea at the same time. And I've seen this myself where this actually happened to me the other day.

                                                One of my friends had an article and it was like, "Oh, what do you do if you're feeling jealous of someone in business?" And I was like, "Oh crap, she's going to think I copied her because I've got a batched scheduled post coming out today about that exact topic." So I'm like, "I know she didn't copy me and I know I didn't copy her." Sometimes people are talking about the same stuff, and that's okay as well. Nobody has copied anyone. So I think it's really important for us all to check in when we're creating stuff that we're not being generic, that you're putting yourself into your business, because nobody can steal you and your story and you can put your heart and your details into your business. It makes it harder and way more obvious when someone tries to steal your stuff. And so be vulnerable, share those little things that maybe you find are a bit embarrassing or people might judge you for it. That's the stuff that's going to stick in people's mind. And don't be afraid just to be you.

                                                Now, the other thing you can do, if someone, you just know that they have copied you and it just is what it is, it's okay to push back on that and it's okay to say no, and it's okay to stand up for yourself and your business and what you believe in. And if that's the case, gather your evidence for sure, screenshot their website, screenshot their posts, save any emails you've exchanged. Check to see if they're on your list, check to see if they've been a customer. The other thing you can do is you can go to the Google Way Back Machine. You can literally just Google "Google Way Back" and it has a copy of everything on the internet. And so you can go and see if they've changed stuff. Now, the other thing that, gosh, every time I've spoken to other people about this it turns out that we often have the same copycats. I've spoken to two friends at conferences and they've said, "Ah, this person's copycat me," or, "they've ripped me off," or whatever and it turns out the same people do it again and again. And that sucks, it really does.

                                                The thing to remember though is it's unlikely that they will be able to sustain that success. So I don't want you to stress too much or take it too personally. Sometimes these people do it to everyone, because they can't come up with their own ideas and they can't sustain it. It sucks, I know. I know it absolutely does. All right, so I'm going to take a quick break and I'm going to come back with a few more tips on how to deal with this mentally, energetically, and practically too. All right. See you in a sec.

Almira Bardi:                      Hi there. My name is Almira Bardi. I'm in Vancouver, Canada. My biggest aha moment actually came to me in your email newsletter. I've done your Money Boot Camp, so I'm on the newsletter list, and the breakthrough was all about passive income. Money is not hard to make. You don't have to work harder. Money can just come to me and flow to me and I really had to get rid of all of my money blocks and mind blocks about deserving passive income. Thank you, [inaudible]. It was awesome.

Amber:                                 Hi, Denise. My name is Amber and I'm a writer and podcast host from Columbus, Georgia. I read your book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!, last year in the Bookaholics Book Club that I'm a part of. One thing that stood out to me in your book was to have an abundance mindset and to stop giving away my services or skillsets for free. It taught me to have a positive mindset and to know that I'm worth it, and that was a money block that I was having, and I'm speaking more abundance into my life. Thank you. Have a great day. Bye.

Denise Duffield...:            Okay, welcome back. So today's topic, obviously, we're talking about copycats and how it can just feel so yucky and gross. Now, you might have noticed in the last couple of years there's been a whole bunch of sites that come up that are dodgy, scammy sites that are selling a whole bunch of courses. So they might be selling all the top name courses, and you might at some point find yourself there as well. So, what do you do when that happens? Because the truth is, once you see it once, you're going to see it come up again and again. They're literally like cockroaches and you notice one, then you go, "Oh, crap, they're everywhere." So I'll tell you what I did recently when I saw that. You can find open source scripts about how to send a cease and desist letter, and so you can find that anywhere. There's lots of places you can do it. But I got really clever about how I sent it, actually.

                                                So I looked on the website of these copycat course places to find all the email addresses I could find. So it was their info at, their marketing ones, their customer service ones, their sales ones, all that kind of stuff. So I sent it to them and it was just a cease and desist letter. As I said, I found it on the internet, but it was like, "Here's where you're copying me. Here's the link. This is what you're copying. This is the value of my course." And I think I put something on there like, "I request $10,000 in damages as this is a breach of copyright law, blah, blah, blah." But here's the little tricky thing that really helps. I see CC'd as many companies as I could come up with. So you can look up who is their domain person? Who is their payment provider? What software and systems are they using? And there's a few tricky ways that you can find out as you look around their site. But then you can CC Facebook, because you can say, "Hey, they've got a Facebook presence," or, "a Twitter account."

                                                All of their social media links, if they've got an Instagram thing at the bottom of their page, CC support or phishing@Instagram. CC everyone that you can imagine because that usually makes them take notice, these copycats. They're probably going to ignore just a normal cease and desist from you, but if you're CC-ing everyone who hosts their business, they might actually take a little bit of notice from that. So that is one practical thing you can do if you see people doing that. Now, what comes up for you when that comes up? So, one, you might think, "Oh, they're going to think I'm a bitch." Or it might be that you feel okay doing it with some of those scammy sites, but you feel bad doing it to someone who is a customer or a peer or someone that you consider a friend, because that can bring up a lot of stuff too, that it might not feel safe for you to be in business. And just to circle around to the first point of, it's not safe for me to share my ideas. It's not safe.

                                                So it could bring up old feelings about when someone has done it to you at school, copied your homework. There could be a lot of stuff that comes up around it. And even just, like I did, really starting to second guess yourself and feel like what you offer is not good enough. And I've actually seen this derail people's businesses for years. They get one copycat and that's it they're out, and that's just such a shame. We don't want that to happen to you. So the cease and desist thing is really great. Sometimes you need to escalate this and get a lawyer involved. Again, don't let that freak you out. Put on your big girl panties, your big boy panties, and that's okay to go down that route if you want to. Or you can just ignore it in most parts. Because, as I said, a lot of times, these copycats, they can't sustain it. They'll move on to something else.

                                                So sometimes when I see people try and replicate my Money Bootcamp, I've run this program since 2012. I've had thousands and thousands of students. I've dealt with all sorts of things. So sometimes I just go, "Good luck with that," because I know what work went into it, I know the energetic work that it takes to sustain that business, and I'm just like, "Good luck to you. Good luck. Good luck to you." One other practical thing that you can do to stop copycats, especially if, say, you've got a program or you've got some sort of IP that you're worried about people taking, my program, for example, it's a six week program. There's a ton of stuff in there. There's a ton of bonuses, whatever. So how can you stop someone just joining and just downloading everything? So, one thing that I did is I've got a two week money back guarantee. I've got a two week notice period to get a refund. But I don't give everything anymore in that two weeks.

                                                I used to let people see the whole course, see all of the bonuses. And that's when you do sometimes get those dodgy people who join just to rip your stuff off and then leave without even giving you the money for it. And so in that case, you can tighten up some of your terms and conditions. You can tighten up your refund policies just to dissuade people from doing it in the first place, but also just to actually prevent them from seeing everything and downloading everything. Yeah, I used to have a much longer money back guarantee. I used to have a 60 day one and it just opened it too much for people just to get all the information out of the course. I honestly had a ton of people who would set their calendar and ask for a refund on day 59, which really hurts. It doesn't feel good. So there could be some practical things you can do in place of that.

                                                The other thing you can do, really, really simple, if you have handouts as part of your course, make sure you've got your copyright stuff on every page. You have just little things like that you can do to protect yourself and your work. But here's the mindset lesson. The mindset lesson around that is that my ideas are valuable. My ideas are worth protecting. It's safe for me to share my ideas with the world, but it's also safe me to protect my ideas. So my last tip around this is to reframe it as a business milestone, a milestone that's worthy of celebration, because, as I said, if it hasn't happened already, it will happen. If it has happened, it will regularly happen. But make sure you have a community of people around you who will help you reframe that and see it as something that's successful.

                                                So, as you know, I have a community as part of my Money Bootcamp. We talk a lot about things like this in that group and we are celebrating what might seem like a crappy thing to happen, we actually celebrate all of those things as a business milestone to celebrate. It's like, "Yay! I got my first copycat." And as always, I'd love you to reach out. I'm on Instagram @DeniseDT. Tell me about your first copycat. Tell me about your next copycat, your last copycat, because it really is worthy of celebration, and your mindset and your ideas are your biggest asset. It's not a big deal. Now, remember don't stress about this happening before it does. And when it does happen to you, know that you can totally, totally handle it. Copycats adjust a rite of passage and we can do it altogether. We really can. All right, gorgeous. I'll see you in a sec.

Amanda Yuen:                   Hi, I'm Amanda Yuen, a self nourishment guru and coach at my business, The Lilac Lounge. And I live in beautiful Fremantle, Western Australia with two daughters, 17 and 19. I'm curious, adventurous, and always working on improving myself and finding time for fun and to play. I joined Money Bootcamp in January 2021 after many other money programs, coaches, and books over a decade. A friend was in boot camp and always mentioned it. I wasn't making the changes I needed and I knew there was more to smashing my money crap than spreadsheets. After I joined, weird things happened. I got a 15K tax return. I'd never had a return. Always had debt in the past. And abundance came in many other ways, more than just money.

                                                I adore the community, the Facebook group is phenomenal, and the mindset work and the way Denise injects fun into everything. I'd recommend it for sure if you're really ready to ditch your old ways and never go back but you have no idea where to start. I'm so excited for the rest of the year to smash my income goals and 10X my online business, and have fun and joy along the way. This really isn't like any other money programs or courses and you just need to do it.

Denise Duffield...:            Hey, welcome back to the final thought. This is something that, it's a mirror exercise that completely shifted and changed my life. And I know I say this about every single affirmation that I tell you about, but this one is really cool. So I remember, every time I thought about myself as a rich person, I felt like I had to change everything about myself. I wasn't thin enough. It wasn't fancy enough. I wasn't like cultured enough. I wasn't cool enough. And so I started doing this mirror work where I looked in my own eyes and I said, "This is what a wealthy woman looks like." And it wasn't one of those affirmations where you're like, "I'm rich. I'm rich," because actually it was to challenge myself about what a wealthy woman looked like. And so every time I did that, a little voice would go, "No, it's not. You're not this enough. You're not that enough. You're not fancy enough. You need to have different hair."

                                                And so this exercise is actually in an acclimatization exercise and it's also to challenge your brain about what you perceive as wealth and what you're allowed to be and wealthy. So I challenge you to do this today, and I want you to make it personalized for you. So I identify as a woman. So I say, "This is what a wealthy woman looks like," but you can say whatever it is that you feel like would make your brain go, "Oh, what?" So it could be, "This is what a queer millionaire looks like." "This is what a wealthy Black woman looks like." "This is what a wealthy, non-binary, super successful CEO millionaire looks like." I want you to use those juicy words. And, of course, you can reach out and tell them to me as well. But the reason to do this is just, one, to acclimatize yourself. "This is what wealth looks like." Wealth can look like you, there are no rules anymore about what wealth looks like.

                But the other part of it is to uncover those feelings, so feelings and thoughts that are already there in your brain. If you do this every day, I really think magical things are going to happen, because it's going to just create new pathways in your brain about what wealth can and does look like. It looks like you. It looks like me. It looks like all of us. And yeah, I can't wait to hear how that's going to shift and change your brain. So you are what wealth looks like. Go forth, chill and prosper. Peace out from me. And I will see on the next episode. Bye.

About the Show

Chill & Prosper is your weekly dose of money mindset, marketing and humour from best-selling author and entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas.

Denise's philosophy is that there is ALWAYS an easier way to make money and that's what she's here to help you do. Each week, you'll get actionable advice to help you make more money, with less work. There's no need to hustle - let Denise show you how to embrace the Chillpreneur way.

Be sure to hit subscribe so you don't miss an episode!