On Sharing Your Business Idea – Should You Be Doing It?
By Naila Tariq —
One of humanity’s greatest assets is our creativity – our ability to think of new, exciting innovations, services, machines, movements that propel us forward into the future. We are surrounded by the results of the ideas born from great minds. However, there are some people who are quite eager to make their own mark, but don’t know how.
So they steal someone else’s idea.
Unfortunately, despite advancements in copyright and intellectual property law, idea theft is still a thing, and will likely remain a possibility any and every time someone shares their creation or idea with the world.
It’s sad, but not as sad as the response some people have to it.
These people may have great ideas for startups, but they never tell anyone, preferring to work on them in secret, or simply clutching them close and not doing anything about it until they’re “ready.” They’re scared someone might steal their business idea and get to market first, or they’re worried about being criticised and dismissed. Either way, they stay quiet.
Which means that they lose the valuable opportunity to get real, constructive, vital feedback from the people around them.
It prevents them from speaking to potential customers, and learning how to tweak their idea to match the customers’ needs.
And it means that idea is a lot more likely to fail.
It’s perfectly possible to share your idea safely and continue to work on it unhindered. But you have to keep an open mind, and accept that your idea will probably need tweaking.
“Having fear of sharing your idea is equal to having fear of receiving honest feedback and hearing that your idea needs to be changed. This mindset ends to be changed in the minds of young people,” says Daniel Ludwig, Venture Development Associate at Sheraa.
“Sharing ideas isn’t just a way to receive constructive feedback, it’s an opportunity for each young entrepreneur to learn how to react to uncomfortable questions.”
So talk about it. Talking about it means you to learn how to take criticism and critique, how to sift through the doubters to get to the people truly concerned about your growth, how to pivot – change your idea – if you need to, and how to do the research you have to do to make your idea work. Talking about it is how you grow as an entrepreneur.
The When and How Much
That doesn’t mean, however, that you recklessly give away every detail about it on social media or to strangers on the street. You must know when and where to share your idea and how much to tell each group of people.
For example, if you were to come to Sheraa with your idea, you’d need to give as much detail as possible so our Program coordinators know how far you’ve taken it and how they can help. They’ll ask you questions about the kind of research you’ve done – customer interviews, potential competitors, etc – why/how you came up with it, and what goals you have for the business.
And you’ll continue to have to share your idea throughout your time in our programs. During the Ideathon, as you learn to create your first pitches. When applying for the Incubator. And definitely in our Accelerator program as you pitch to investors. This experience is vital to your growth as an entrepreneur.
However, if you were speaking to a potential customer, you may give only the basics. Customers aren’t usually interested in the how and why it’s done. They want to know what it is you’re offering, and how it can help them.
Focus instead on what features and services they would want, and continue to tailor your interview based on their answers and what you know you plan to provide. And as always, be open to the possibility that you will have to change things based on their answers.
And if someone does steal your idea? Do it anyway. Learn from the mistakes they will inevitably make, and adapt to the market.
As Ludwig says, “Ideas are worth nothing compared to the teams who are willing to change their ideas to adjust to the market needs.”SEE ALL STORIES