Ideas Are Free

But execution costs

I don’t get why some people are afraid to talk about their ideas because 
“someone might steal it.”

I mean I get it.

Your idea is so awesome that only you could have come up with it. No one else could possibly have had the same insight as you that the world really needs an Uber for [your X here]. So you protect your idea. You only tell your closest confidants and swear them to secrecy about the whole enterprise.

And when, God forbid, you have to tell someone about it you send them a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) to protect yourself. This Agreement, you believe, will protect your idea from the ravenous idea wolves.

But then you realize that once you mention NDA to someone you want to simply discuss your start up with, she suddenly sounds less enthusiastic. You’ve started off what could have been a fluid relationship from a position of distrust. It’s like going on a date with someone and signing a prenup.

Or, if you’re a bit farther in the process, it’s like marrying someone and writing a prenup in case things go sour. I understand that divorce happens, but it must not be fun to consider that “until death” might be an exaggeration.

When it comes to digital projects with non-proprietary technology, NDAs are a joke — they don’t protect you all that much — and are often an indication that you have no idea what you’re doing and afraid that a better solution to the problem can spring up any day. I understand also, that folks with legal, business, and nontechnical backgrounds are more likely to be comfortable with NDAs. After all, a lawyer will always recommend NDAs, because “lawyers gon’ law” and a consultant is used to signing them pro forma.

Being stingy about discussing your idea isn’t always bad. You probably shouldn’t talk about your idea to just anyone. The negative nancy in your friend group certainly won’t be every encouraging, for example. But clamming up completely can cause you to miss opportunities to learn and gain allies.

9 time out of 10 someone will tell me about their app and I can contribute some nugget of useful information and/or connect them to someone who can add value. I’m able to play a small part in their journey and strengthen our relationship. If you’re still in the idea phase, talking about your app with the right people can help validate your idea.

Next time you have the urge to protect your idea from being “stolen”, remember that ideas are a dime a dozen. Someone in this world is already working on your idea. Focus on why you are the best person — the most passionate/knowledgeable/gritty — for the job.

Fin.

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