My buddy’s little brother is starting a company. He’s planning on doing a pitch competition but his co-founder doesn’t want to do it because he’s afraid people will steal their idea if they speak about it publicly.
He emailed me to ask for advice. Here was my response:
Your co-founder is wrong. Don’t worry about your idea getting stolen. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s the execution that matters. If your idea is good, then there are at least ten other people simultaneously building the same company right now. So start building fast and beat them to the market! Do the competition. You have nothing to lose.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re not telling people about your idea because you think they’ll steal it, you’re in big trouble.
In fact, you should do the exact opposite. You should be telling EVERYONE you know about your idea. Don’t whisper it to people for fear that they are going to steal it. Shout it passionately from the rooftops. Sharing your idea with others and letting them know why you are excited about it is the only way you are going to attract awesome co-founders, mentors, and early customers.
(1) Other entrepreneurs are too busy working on their own idea to steal yours.
Most early stage entrepreneurs are already working 60-80 hours a week just to stay above water. Unless you tell your idea to super-freak, Jack Dorsey, no one else in their right mind has enough time to do two startups at the same time, no matter how cool your idea sounds.
(2) More importantly, I know you think your idea sounds cool. But really, your idea is poop.
I can guarantee with certainty that the idea you initially come up with isn’t going to be the idea that makes you money. Every business pivots and changes directions as they learn more about what their customers actually need and realize that their initial assumptions were all wrong. And the funny thing is, you only learn this information after you launch your business.
Don’t feel bad if you’re just realizing for the first time that your idea is a pile of poo. You’re not alone. Everyone’s initial idea is a pile of poo. The sooner you accept this, the better off you are. Pride and ego often keep entrepreneurs from switching gears. It’s hard for people to admit that their ideas suck, but the longer you cling to a flawed vision, the greater the chances are that your startup is going to fail and you are going to waste everyone’s time and money. So by all means, let people still your crappy idea. It’s not going to help them anyway.
Moral of the story: Tell people about your idea and be passionate about. People are attracted to passion not ideas. Ideas come and go but passion is permanent. Everyone’s got ideas. Not everyone has the passion and perseverance to make ideas come to life.