If you’ve come across a brilliant money-making plan or a great new product that will change the world, your first concern might naturally be how you will protect that idea from copycats and thieves. After all, entrepreneurs risk losing cash if they don’t protect their key assets—their ideas—or so we’ve been told.
In fact, you shouldn’t worry too much about people stealing your ideas. Here are four reasons why you can—and in some cases, should—talk openly and honestly about your brilliant concept.
1. Ideas Aren’t Everything
To a budding entrepreneur, a great business idea seems worth more than a ton of gold. At least at first. In reality, good ideas are very common, but they don’t breed success. You’ll need proper execution, to realize profits and kickstart a sustainable business. Most important, you’ll need a way to manage your cash flow, prove your worth with creditors and investors, and pay your bills. An idea alone can’t do all that, of course. So, truly, the work that comes after the initial idea is the tough part of being an entrepreneur. It’s when most companies fail. Visionaries may think they have a great idea, but unless they can execute on that idea, it’s worth relatively little.
2. The Risk of Stealing Is Minimal
In general, people are lazy, notes Patrick Hull, a self-described serial entrepreneur and regular contributor to Forbes.com. Chances are the people you tell your secret idea to are unlikely to go anywhere with it. Even if they think you have a great idea, it’s quite a leap for them to take it and attempt to launch their own profitable venture. They probably don’t have the same passion you do to run with it.
3. You Need to Spread the Word to Get Your Idea Off the Ground
If you hide your ideas, you might find yourself missing out on a great work partner, an investor, or someone who can help translate your idea into a real money-making business. Just by sharing your idea with the world, you’re hunting down that person who can help you translate that idea into business success. You never know if you might find a partner who will help put your idea on the map, like Bill Gates found with Paul Allen or Steve Wozniak found with Steve Jobs.
4. Feedback Improves Ideas
When you share your ideas with someone, you’re implicitly asking that person to do the same. In this case, you want their feedback, as you will need to continually refine your idea (and your budding business) until you’re ready to go to market. While criticism can be hard to take, know that any feedback you get now is easier to deal with than later, when you will have less flexibility for making changes to consumers’ or a business client’s demands.
Conversations you have with others while your idea and business concept are still forming can only help you improve it, to set you up for a profitable and sustainable business. It can lead to new and useful partnerships that will help you carry your idea forward. While the risk of idea stealing does exist, it’s minimal — but the reward of sharing what you have on your plate can be so huge. So go ahead, boast about your concept, and watch your potential customer and investor base grow.