Your competition is the back button

I’ve talked to so many early stage startups who are worried about the competition or people “stealing” their ideas, or even (god help us) want VCs to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Rule #1. Nobody gives a crap about your stupid idea. Even if it’s not a stupid idea.

Y0u should be so lucky that somebody cares enough about your idea to try to steal it. They can steal your idea, but they can’t steal your brain. Ideas are worthless. Execution and commitment are everything. They can’t steal your execution, and they will undoubtedly lack your commitment — after all, it’s not their idea — it’s yours.

Here’s the truth.

Rule #2. Your competition is the “back” button. The total indifference of the world to what you are doing. When I hit that page, or start that app, and have the slightest doubts about the quality of what I’m seeing, I’m outta here and not coming back. I’m busy and I have too many choices.

If you’re doing something new, other players in your space help you, not hurt you when you’re young — because they’re helping socialize the idea that something like this might be something somebody wants. And people might use both products. Goodreads and LibraryThing are book review and cataloging services. I use them both, I like them both. Even though I’m building a semi-competitive book recommendation engine called The Hawaii Project. As you get bigger, and your category more established, then competition becomes more of an issue. In the early days, just stop worrying about.

Get over the cleverness of your idea, get out there and tell people about it.

And build it so well people don’t hit the back button.