One of the most common topics idea-lovers engage me on has to do with their fear that others may steal their ideas.
While it’s true that people have stolen ideas from others, I think that the vast majority of people who live with this concern have very little to worry about. Here’s why:
- The success of an idea has more to do with execution than the core idea itself. In other words, you can have the best idea in the world, but that doesn’t guarantee any actualization. Successful people are successful in large part because they’ve figured out how to implement well.
- The originator of an idea usually has the competitive advantage. The one who came up with the idea and takes it to market first will naturally have the initial advantage over his/her competitors because of the time and resources they’ve invested in the concept. They are able to test their ideas and experiment often as to how it can be refined and scaled. Their competitors will have to play catch up which means that there will be an initial lag of innovation.
- If you’re idea contains a strong value proposition and your approach to implementation is unique, then you shouldn’t worry too much. If you think you’ll be easily replaceable once another person hears about your idea, then maybe you need to either (1) make your concept more remarkable or (2) consider another idea because the one you have may not have the legs to survive.
- The truth of the matter is that all ideas evolve. The idea you start with will rarely be the idea that you end up with. Finding life in your idea only comes through its activation.
If you’re really concerned that someone will steal your idea, I would recommend that you create a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) before talking to another person and documenting your progress well with dates that can be verified. All I ask is that you don’t use your fear of someone stealing your concept to excuse yourself from the hard work of implementation.