Entrepreneurs frequently approach me seeking advice but are reluctant to share their idea. An aversion to sharing your big idea is always an early sign of failure.
Potential entrepreneurs fall into two distinct camps: those who share their ideas and those who do not. Fear that someone is going to ‘steal your idea’ is typically behind the reluctance to share. I have yet to see this happen.
This fear of idea theft leads entrepreneurs to waste significant time making little progress, all the while protecting their baby.
Fearful entrepreneurs are reluctant to engage partners, hire employees, seek mentors, test their business model, or gather market feedback.
These activities are the foundation for any successful venture. In addition, reluctant entrepreneurs spend precious resources on patent protection for ideas that have not been validated. They then discover they own a patent for a product the market has no interest in buying.
Fear of idea theft is just an excuse for not taking action.
Someone is Going to Steal My Idea
Well, no, that’s pretty unlikely.
Why don’t entrepreneurs steal ideas? There are four key reasons why the person you share your idea with will not steal it.
- Passion. Other entrepreneurs will not experience your idea with the same passion that you have for it. It is your passion that creates the drive and a bias for action that proves and produces your idea’s potential. Passion is the fuel that compels an entrepreneur to do whatever it takes to turn an idea into reality.
- Validation. Ideas absent discussion and refinement have little value. They have no track record to indicate their value or probability of success. Believing someone else will steal your idea just because it sounds good is unrealistic because it is unproven, no matter how exciting it sounds to you. This is true even when there are analogs or existing competitors that hint at the potential.
- Uniqueness. Your idea is likely not unique. It is more likely that someone is already working on something similar, maybe with an enhancement you have not thought about yet. Entrepreneurs who actively discuss concepts are likely to be aware of existing variations on your idea. They are more likely to have ideas that could refine your idea. When you fail to discuss your ideas, you miss out on this knowledge. Secretive entrepreneurs believe what they have is unique, and are almost always wrong. Others will key in on this right away and let you know when you are willing to discuss concepts. Where you see opportunity, others see roadblocks or additional opportunity. You need that input.
- Focus. Entrepreneurs prioritize their own ideas. The actions they are taking to be successful consume their every waking moment. In other words, they are focused on their passion. While your idea may be interesting, it is not attractive enough for someone else to abandon their passion and pursue your passion.
The Result of Over-Protection
It is possible to “protect” your idea so well that you destroy it.
The most significant threat to your success is obscurity, not another entrepreneur taking your idea and building a business around it.
When you are unwilling to discuss your ideas out of fear that it will be stolen, you severely limit your ability to refine the concept with others’ input, experiences and industry knowledge.
Start Sharing Your Idea Today
Are you an entrepreneur who shares their ideas or one who does not? I’ve seen ideas that have no chance of success because the creator is reluctant to discuss the concept in enough detail to communicate clearly and receive actionable feedback. Don’t be that entrepreneur.
Instead, be the entrepreneur who openly shares ideas and seeks relevant input in an effort to refine concepts. Refinement leads to greater odds of success, and every entrepreneur should strive to increase their potential. Your customers will be glad you did.