Avoid stepping on the toes of other businesses

By Henry Brown

It’s important to note that when it comes to running a small business, not all tactics for success are permitted or wise to embark upon. For instance, outright suggesting that your product is much better than another, and naming said product developed by a competing business, could land you in legal hot water. The same could be said for your originality. Learning how to file a trademark can help you keep your brand and everything it encompasses protected. This means that if someone else tries to copy your approach or is similar enough, you have legal recourse to defend yourself. However, others have that power to defend against your own approach, and so stepping carefully is important here.

While not something that will take up all of your planning time as a leader, it’s important to note this very vital priority, and to deftly maneuver around potential issues where possible. For that reason, and for the willingness to better your approach, we would warmly advise you consider the following guidance:

Direct, blatant targeting

Direct and blatant targeting of another company’s customers is not necessarily illegal, just bad practice. It also opens up the possibility that they will retaliate by doing the same to you. Of course, trying to gain the custom of other businesses is quite literally what competition is all about in this field. However, badmouthing other products and brands and undercutting them slightly, or countering an advertisement with a blatant, mocking rip-off, or using underhanded tactics to mock your competition can sometimes be seen as a bad faith means in which to grow, and it can lose you plenty of respect in the industry. To grow, do not tear others down, but lift yourself up.

Overly intensive headhunting

Headhunting is an important part of business growth, because skillsets truly do matter. However, pinching an entire sales team from another firm, or aggressively targeting them as per our prior example only leaves you in a ‘bidding war’ where the price of acquiring talent goes up and up, and goodwill slowly fades. Headhunting is not a bad thing necessarily, but it’s important to exercise this with care, clarity, and subtlety. This way, you can structure your departments without a worrying upheaval.

Don’t solve their problems

Don’t solve business problems for other firms. For instance, it may be that you find a business you’re competing with is experiencing a promotional blunder that has caused them to lose some goodwill among their fans. Stepping in to help them out or to better explain the product you are both selling will not help them; it will make you seem intrusive and also prevent them from tackling the problem themselves. What might seem like a philanthropic action may only lead to further complications. To that end, quite literally ‘minding our own business’ is your best practice.

With this advice, we hope you can avoid stepping on the toes of other businesses, and they in turn should afford the same respect to you.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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