No one will steal your idea.
Share your ideas, stop whining, and create more awesome.
I wrote a post back in March of 2011 regarding this idea of “Idea Currency”. I felt that I needed to revisit it because lately, with the influx and embracement of startups and startup culture, I have had a lot of people come to me with their ‘brilliant ideas’ coupled with fear that someone will steal it and create a business/product/service, strike rich and laugh in their face.
First, do you know how difficult it is to build a business/product/service? Chances are, if you haven’t done it before and you are shaking with fear that someone will steal your prized possession of an idea, you probably don’t know the amount of stress, relationship damage, anxiety, sweat and golden unicorns go into something of this feat.
It bothers me every time I hear someone give an excuse as to why they haven’t started, and why they won’t even inquire to share the idea with someone else who could possibly help them. My post originated as a result of a conversation I had with an old classmate of mine who at the time was asking me if I knew any developers that could bring his idea to life. I suggested a few things. Back then there weren’t nearly as much options as I probably would have suggested today – his response was…somewhat expected:
“I don’t want to just throw my idea away to someone I don’t know.”
Insert blank face here. “Throw [your] idea”? Really? Even through the suggestions of NDAs, and speaking in parables to see if the function could be done, he insisted that he wanted to remain to himself. He ended it off with, “ideas are like currency, and I wouldn’t give money away to a stranger.” (by the way, his idea stopped in that room and you won’t find it in the app store)
I disagreed with my method, and I’ve actually spoke to a few people about my ideas. I learned from a lot of millionaire and billionaire entrepreneurs alike that holding onto ideas sometimes is like keeping your money under mattress. How is that helping anybody and how are you helping it to grow? You can’t be afraid to share ideas because if it’s THAT good, only you can make it the best it can be. It takes way too much effort to take an idea, do a competitive analysis, do user testing, information architecture, create wireframes, etc…
“But what about Facebook?”
[Insert blank face here] Okay, so 1 out every 1,000,000 gets away with being grimy and turning into a billion dollar empire, but last time I checked, the guys who ideas it got stolen from still got a nice chunk of change and don’t have to put up with the stress of actually running a company. Everyone still wins. Stephen Key, a successful inventor and licensee explains that you shouldn’t be afraid to share your ideas, you don’t know WHO can help you or who will invest in you. Plus, if you are talented enough to have those few ideas, there is plenty more where than came from!
Just like one would give money to charity, one also shouldn’t mind sharing ideas, there are plenty more where that came from, and if not, team up with others who are idea generators and start creating more awesome. Trust me it’s worth it in the end.
Start creating more awesome.