Small Business


​Online entrepreneur set to lock horns with copycat

Show comments

It didn't take long for Natasha Stewart to realise her online business idea had really struck a chord with her target market: mothers.

The Sydneysider launched Business Jump in December 2015 to help mothers create custom and pre-made online businesses, giving them greater flexibility to work and spend time with their children.

Business has boomed since then, with revenues growing to more than $1 million in 18 months, and continuing to grow.

Stewart now has a team of 15 and a business that suits her home life and fits her mission to create more flexibility and opportunities for other mums.

Clients are guided through the process of launching and marketing an online business, spending on average between $3000 and $4000 with Business Jump.

"Often clients come to us overwhelmed and confused about how to do it all, but once they make that step they can build a hugely successful business and experience the freedom that comes from self-employment."


But a copycat business allegedly trying to emulate Stewart's success has emerged, prompting her to speak out.

The strikingly similar business, reviewed by Fairfax Media, offers the same business packages as Stewart. It also emulates wording on her website and even weaves her own professional background about being fired and launching an online business in the baby market into their own story.

"I was being contacted by business friends who had noticed that the other business was deceptively similar to mine. I couldn't believe it – it's like she's copied and pasted from my website. It's not nice; we were taught in kindergarten not to copy," Stewart says.

She decided to go straight to her lawyer, who is considering the best way for Stewart to proceed. Costs involved in defending her turf aren't yet known, but Stewart says she's determined to do so.

"It's frustrating because I've spent months perfecting my own words and message. This copycat has been in my email funnels and on my social media and looked at everything I do, you can tell by the wording on her website," she says.

"I've built this business on the back of my own experience and journey. And what's frustrating is that this copycat is trying to shortcut the blood, sweat and tears I've endured to get where I am.

I've built this business on the back of my own experience and journey. And what's frustrating is that this copycat is trying to shortcut the blood, sweat and tears I've endured to get where I am.

Natasha Stewart

"The saddest thing is that they're missing out on the valuable intelligence that comes from doing it yourself from scratch. Learning to do things ourselves is the beautiful thing about launching a business that truly creates value in people's lives."

Director of Melbourne legal firm Sinclair + May, Jessica Kerr, says in some ways there are more legal protections available for small businesses selling physical products as opposed to services like Stewart's.

The reality is that you can't stop someone from copying your ideas, and the better your idea is, the more likely it is that someone will copy it," Kerr says.

However, small businesses do have automatic copyright protection for original work under the Copyright Act 1968, and you don't need to register each work to benefit from copyright protection.

The first line of defence for small business owners is to develop a strong brand and ensure they have legal protections around that brand, Kerr says.

Invest in trademarks, ensure your business name is registered nationwide and include copyright warnings on all your published materials (including your website). You should also have robust staff contracts protecting your confidential business information, Kerr says.

"This gives you enforceable rights against anyone using your trademark or one which could be considered materially similar," she says.

Small business owners should be proactive and ensure they're implementing legal protections to the maximum available extent.

"You should also be diligent in enforcing your copyright around any of your written or visual materials (for example from your website), if you are aware of these materials being used by someone in an unauthorised manner."

It's also important that your confidential information in the form of business methods, pricing and strategy is protected in your contracts with employees and contractors, Kerr adds.

Stewart isn't one to be defeated. She is using the experience to grow and learn, with plans to expand her offering.

"Competitors are fine, and I wish everyone the best of luck if you want to set up a business. But there's a big difference between a competitor and a copycat. Anyone can start any business they like, but I believe you should do it with integrity," Stewart says.

Follow MySmallBusiness on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn