The Problem with Imitation
As part of various industry groups on social media, I see it all too often, the request from a new pet sitter asking permission to seek inspiration from an established pet sitter. Unwittingly, generous pet sitting business owners give away their hard work in a matter of minutes and in a way that makes it available for everyone in the group to see – today and as long as the group is active. On one hand, I think it’s wonderful that many members of our industry are willing to share their tried and true business practices with newbies. I also think it’s great that new pet sitters are looking for mentorship to ensure they enter the industry with an upper hand. On the other hand, I have concerns.
I personally have experience with pet sitters asking me permission to borrow my business’ policies, pricing structures, even the language we use on our website. I’ve also found that pet sitters have taken my business name, service and pricing structures, and more without authorization. With or without permission, this copycatting causes me frustration because, while I believe in the power of industry standards, I have been hard at work in this industry for ten years and don’t want to see that work duplicated because, many times, it is done so at my business’ detriment.
Over the years, it has become clear to me that many new pet sitting business owners – both those that are copying from others with or without permission and those that are consenting to sharing their business’ branding, copy, etc. have not considered the repercussions of doing so. When I think about how far technology has come in the past ten years and how competitive our industry has become, I worry that copying and being copied may be significantly hurting the professional pet sitting community rather than helping it. As a proud member of said community, I want to see everyone succeed. As a business coach, I like to encourage industry colleagues in the hopes that they will find their own voice in the industry. I think we can all learn from each other. I worry, however, that if we recycle each other’s vision, language, and marketing plans rather than establishing our own, our industry will stagnate.
Before you consider copying from another pet sitter, I recommend that you instead discover and nurture your own message. Take the time to figure out what makes your pet sitting company special. And, make sure you read my article in the spring issue of Professional Pet Sitter Magazine that covers the many potentially serious issues of being a copycat.
Isabel Alvarez Arata
Pet Industry Entrepreneur, Writer & Coach