Is Imitation Really the Highest Form of Flattery?

Copy CatI had something very interesting happen to me not too long ago. I noticed someone had started their own design business. Why is that interesting? That person had contacted me a few months back about doing a custom design for them. It went something like this: they contacted me for info, they filled out my client info form, we conversed back and forth a few times, I sent a price quote and then they went MIA. I followed up a few times and finally received a thanks but not interested right now response. (Side note: this was when I was first starting and my prices were way below my worth and before I really knew what I was doing.) 

Not a big deal, happens from time to time, that’s business. I didn’t think anything of it. I moved on to the many other clients and projects I had lined up.

A couple of days ago I see something interesting on the web. Said person in paragraph one has started their own design business. Good for them. I’m not worried about competition. I frankly don’t believe in competition or competing. I don’t go behind anyone’s back to get business. The clients who choose to work with me, I fully believe are the ones who are supposed to work with me.  I believe in building one’s business on the right principles. I believe if you are honest and genuine that you will attract all the business you need. I believe God will bless those who remain honest in their business practices and vice versa. There are tons of great designers out there. It’s a big world wide web and there is plenty of room for all of us. That part of it does not bother me at all.

When I was first considering designing as a business, I asked for advice from other designers and friends who were very kind and willing to help me. I never would have even thought of going behind their back to find out their prices. It was a learning process for me (and still is). I have been put in the middle several times with other designers and I hate it. I always try to contact them to let them know. I try to not intentionally undercut any other designers. My fees might be more affordable than others but it’s because I’m still new at this and want to be fair given my current credentials. As my skills and experience continue to increase,  my fees will increase respectively.

I see these kinds of things all the time online. I see people starting blogs very similar to other blogs. I see people flat-out copying posts and articles and even custom-made logos and images. I see small business and direct sales owners doing the same thing. Copying posts on Facebook, taking credit for other’s ideas, stealing customer leads… I hope that those copycats are just ignorant and do not realize what they are doing is wrong (not to mention illegal if the material or image is copyrighted).

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I’m guessing the imitator is the one who said that and not the one who was being imitated.  I don’t think it would bother me so much if the person had been upfront and said I’m considering beginning my own design business. Would you mind sharing some information with me? Would you mind sharing how you got started?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am always willing to help others. I probably help too much as I often end up being taken advantage of.  I know I am only responsible for my actions and reactions and not those of others. I’m choosing to wish this person well in their new venture. Even if I never get a thanks or any credit (or if they don’t feel bad for what they did) I hope that they are still super successful!

“There is no limit to what you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” – unknown

Bottom line- don’t be a copycat. If you see someone who is super successful in your career or in a field you are considering, ask if they will mentor you. Look for resources, tips and ideas on  your own. Don’t just copy someone’s ideas, words or images. Give credit where credit is due.  Most of all, be honest, be genuine & be an original!

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Judy Garland



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