to share or not to share

Fear of someone stealing your idea is probably the most common fear among startups. But the pros of sharing far outweigh the cons of not.

“What if someone steals my ideas?” – is a question that numerous entrepreneurs ask themselves. Ideas are important – you’ve probably put in a lot of effort to get to this ‘eureka!’ moment – but the reality is that until your idea is executed, it remains just an idea, a thought in your mind that might not have much value. Investors invest in business plans not business ideas. The value of an idea only comes with its execution and implementation. Everyone has ideas – good ones, bad ones, world-changing ones. But how many people actually do something about it? If Kathmandu wants to be a startup hub then people need to learn that sharing ideas plays a crucial role in an entrepreneurial journey. How many people do you really think will drop everything, quit their current jobs or projects they’re working on just to copy an idea? On the other side, the benefits of sharing your idea can make way for life-changing moments. Why? How? Read on.

Benefits of Sharing Your Idea

1. Sanity Check: How do you know whether your idea is good or not? Make an initial check with smart, open minded people. Because your idea is a potential business that other people will use, it’s important to check with them if you’re on the right path.

2. Clarity: Even the basic process of putting your ideas on paper or explaining it in a way other people understand, can help shape and improve on it. Remember how things dawn on you when jotting down the day’s events in your journal? That’s because at some level you are sharing your ideas using that medium.

3. Feedback: When you share your idea with others, you benefit from their wisdom and knowledge base. “Sharing presents an opportunity for peer and industry evaluation of your idea. It gives you perspective,” says Brijen Joshi, organizer of Startup Weekend Kathmandu. If you get more negative feedback than positive, you know you need to go back to the drawing board. This feedback can save you a great deal of time, energy and money that you might otherwise spend on a bad idea.

4. Network: You never know who might be able to help with your idea and how. The person you share your idea with might be a potential partner, a mentor, or an employee with just the skill set you were looking for. They could be interested in investing in your idea – or could refer you to an investor.

5. Who to share with: Sharing doesn’t mean that you give away your idea though. Its still your baby and you need to protect it. Share your ideas with people you trust. This might include your family, your friends and close colleagues. Entrepreneurs who are already working on their own ideas are least likely to steal yours but might be able to give you valuable and practical advice.

6. Tread with care: If you’ve done a bit of homework on your idea or you have information that is crucial for its success, be careful whom you share it with or how much you share. Once you know whom to share it with, share information on a need to know basis, i.e., disclose only the parts of the idea that you think the other person can help you with.

7. Protect your intellectual property: You do need to have some basic protection before you decide to share your potentially awesome idea with others. Secure your website domain name, register your business name, copyright your designs and trademark your brand. There’s people – like cyber squatters – who’ve developed an entire ‘profession’ out of placing roadblocks on your path to success.

8. Be flexible: Be open to changes that people suggest. Don’t hold on to your idea so tight that you suffocate it. The point is for the business to serve people. Before you say no to tweaking your idea, sleep over it. Most businesses fail because they’re too rigid in their approach.

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