What if someone steals my idea?
I talk to a lot of people about ideas for products or services.
They come to me because they see that I’ve been successful at launching products or they hear about me from a friend; who has probably told them to contact me for help with their idea. Inevitably, if they are new to entrepreneurship there is an obvious tell tail sign; they play the reluctance game. They are afraid that I, or someone else who they reveal their idea to, will steal it. I understand, when you have what you think is your first great idea you can get a little panic stricken. You think to yourself, this idea is so good that anyone with a business sense will see how good it is and want to steal it to make money for themselves. Fortunately for you, at the idea stage this assumption is wrong 99.9% of the time.
1) An idea isn’t worth much
Any idea is just that: a thought. It’s an untested, unproven piece of brainwork that might possibly be something, someday… if someone decides to dedicate their life, hours upon hours of work, making it happen. In fact, the easier an idea is to make happen ie. steal, then the more likely that someone has already done it, and you haven’t seen it. The other common situation is that someone has already tried and failed.
2) It’s usually too much work
The amount of time and energy you need to make a business out of any idea is staggering. As successful entrepreneurs this knowledge is the first reason why we have no interest in taking an idea that is not ours and trying to make it work. We’re too busy making our own ideas work.
3) Most ideas fail
Over 50% of new businesses fail in the first 2 years. Over 80% of new ideas never even become businesses because they don’t make business sense…or cents; meaning money.
What you really need to know
1) You’re afraid and that’s OK
Most people fail to ask themselves why they really don’t want to reveal their ideas to other business people, or to experienced people that they are asking for advice; it typically comes down to fear. Fear of their own lack of skills, fear of exposing an idea that might not be that good and fear of success; better to have someone else to blame for your fear of trying than yourself right? It takes courage to expose your idea to the world and some people just aren’t psychologically ready to make that first step.
2) You need to Do your homework
Before you think you have the greatest idea since sliced bread you need to do extensive research to see if someone else hasn’t already tried it and to see if it’s possible, feasible and remotely profitable. I have a lot of people approach me about their great idea, then play the reluctance game only to later reveal their idea and upon a quick google search I find that there are numerous businesses already doing it. As a matter of process, I assume 9 out of 10 of my “amazing ideas” have already been done; then I start to research.
Throughout my personal history of making businesses out of my ideas, I have had friends and business associates steal my ideas right in front of my face.
I have had all manner of ridiculous lawsuits, trumped up claims and underhanded attempts to steal my ideas. But these attempts were only made after the ideas had proven to be successful in the marketplace. Because once you get an idea off the ground, once you start to show a profit, once the world sees how successful your idea is… that’s when the wolves will try to steal your baby.
But, by then, if you’ve done your homework and trusted experienced entrepreneurs to guide you… Well, you’ve already got the fence up, the security system in place and the guard dogs waiting.