I love to discuss the projects I’m pursuing whether people seem interested in them or not. I’ll ask everyone what they think, if they’d use my product, how they would do [blank], and any other questions that seem appropriate. Sometimes I’ll get interesting and even helpful feedback, but that is fairly uncommon – at the very least doing so simply helps me refine my pitch.
People’s responses are varied. However, there is one response I can count on hearing 99% percent of the time regardless of the project, and another not quite as frequently…but almost.
This first is usually said in a low voice after the person leans in close. They’ll say, “you really shouldn’t share this with people” or “you need to protect that”. Until recently, I’d listen to them. After hearing their cautious advice I’d become paranoid and very worriedly begin contemplating ways to protect those ideas that I had. It seemed wise to not share my “big idea(s)” so that no one could steal them.
Now I argue differently…because it’s not.
What would you say to an aspiring musician who doesn’t play his music due to a fear that someone else will cover it? A young painter who keeps his work in the closet to ensure no one copies it? Or a practicing chef who won’t let others taste his food so that no-one can try mimicking his recipes? I know that I for one would laugh. And tell them they will never make it anywhere by thinking like that.
The reason I mention these scenarios is because in essence they are no different from you not sharing your business ideas, because by doing so you eliminate the possibility of feedback, potential input, and limit growth to only your own knowledge – all to protect, frankly, nothing.
Most all of us have heard the phrase, “ideas are worth a dime-a-dozen”. However, we all are guilty of exempting our own ideas from the phrase – it’s no new news that our best advice is seldom the advice we follow ourselves.
The only way your idea (song, recipe, art, ect…) can have value is if people are exposed to it, believe in it, and participate in it coming to fruition. So how does keeping it a big secret help you get there? …it doesn’t. Simply put, your “big idea” is only as valuable as the quantity, and quality, of people who support it – not in of itself.
In a way this is comical, and sadly suggests that the person saying it will never execute on their own idea. Why? Because if the person truly knew the amount of time, energy, and often money that goes into maturing even the simplest idea into a business, they would never be worried about me, or anyone else, casually stealing it.
Currently I’m developing a fast, fun, and engaging marketplace where people can buy, sell, and discover amazingly cool items in their local area. That really is, at the moment, my big idea. And over the past months of hard work – pouring well past several-hundred hours into the project – not once have I felt worried about sharing the idea with anyone.
Now, here are two reasons why I feel comfortable sharing this idea with you (and in much greater detail) – and why you should feel comfortable sharing your ideas too.
Firstly, every person that you share your idea with will imagine a different final product than you do. And because of that, the value is not in the idea itself, but in your own vision for it and your execution of that vision.
Secondly, ideas take a significant amount of time, energy, and commitment to mature. And why do people steal? Because it’s easy. So even if someone were to try stealing your idea, chances are that they’d never see it through. Simply because unless you are truly passionate about the idea, you will never take the time necessary to making it work…it’s hard.
Naturally this advice is not absolute, because there are always exceptions in life. But at the end of the day most of us are trying to create consumer products and services – and the best way to do that is by talking with, and getting feedback from, as many potential customers as possible.
These pictures have nothing to do with this post…but I did just get off spring break