I have got a great little start-up but it is easily copied. Should I be worried?
Yes you should. Think of it this way. Why spend all that time, energy and money launching a business only to have someone rip it off?
Life is too short. So what you must do is get out the toolkit and build lots of barriers to entry.
Start with what you have. If the business was funded with lots of money, feel a bit better as that is a good barrier to entry.
High start-up costs lock out smaller competitors. Always take out patents and trademarks to protect brands, logos and other IP.
Next, look at your distribution channel and try and lock your suppliers into contracts. How can you stop them working for or supplying the competition? How can you build a culture so that your suppliers remain loyal and committed to your business?
Of course, your big focus is your customers. How do you keep them coming back? How can you sell them more products for more money?
How can you come up with great innovations and terrific service so that they never look at another competitor? What exclusive deal can you do with them so that when other competitors come knocking, they don't even get in the door?
How can you get your customers to understand your knowledge is unique in the marketplace and that they will get an advantage by picking your brains?
The final two areas to build barriers to entry are around your culture and your technology. How do you create a great place to work so your staff don't leave for competitors?
Have you got the latest and the best technology to give you a competitive edge?
I spend a lot of time thinking about creating barriers to entry. It is not something that can build overnight. It must become part of your thinking.