Why Someone Stealing Your Idea Isn’t A Big Deal.

An idea is just an idea until you act on it.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

A common fear in business is someone stealing your idea and becoming successful from it. While this is a reasonable fear, it’s a scenario that happens in one’s own head more often than it does in reality. You may see someone working on the same idea you had and it makes you feel uncertain. If so, it shouldn’t deter you from building on that idea. Great minds think alike, but greater minds become the best.

If I had a dime for every NDA I’ve signed over the years I would have enough money to afford a top tier lawyer. It’s not the idea that produces fruit — it’s the execution. Ideas are easy; it’s the work behind them that presents a challenge. I can think about how nice it would be to have an orange tree in my backyard, but until I put the seed into the ground and care for it I won’t have any oranges to harvest.

To those who know me, I am the go-to person for business advice. People will tell me their idea and I’d give feedback on what they should do. My favorite question to ask people is this:

“If I were to steal your idea, how would you feel and what would you do about it?”

Most are caught off guard. “How could he ask me that? Would he do such a thing?” It causes their mind to race and that’s the reaction I want because I want to drive a point home. It’s less about taking their idea and more about their response to being faced with a poacher. Their response will tell me whether or not they have what it takes to adapt if necessary.

Most people fear a stolen idea because they don’t know how to adjust. What people have to realize is their precious idea can be stolen at any time. It can be taken in the blueprint phase or when it’s already a full-fledged business. What prevents someone else from replicating an idea? Every day in business is a fight and someone can sucker punch you at any time.

It doesn’t matter who you tell your ideas to and it doesn’t matter if someone takes your idea. Why? You are the only person with an accurate vision of how everything is supposed to be carried out.

If I were to take someone’s idea, I wouldn’t be able to build the same way they can. I wouldn’t be able to visualize how they viewed it. As you start to build, you’ll need to start hiring people and that means you will have to tell someone your idea so they can help you scale. The fact that an idea has no certainty of success is another reason to not worry about theft. The focus should be on carrying through with the plan of action. Even if you provide an NDA and have someone swear to secrecy, people are unpredictable and the NDA won’t stop them from acting in their own interests. People break rules all of the time so what are you going to do about it?

Some people cross the line of paranoia and think everyone is out to take their idea. I can assure you that being overly guarded doesn’t help. Some people hear many impressive ideas and admire them, but again, it hardly goes past that. Most people are too preoccupied with their lives to swipe your ideas. If everyone is worried about their ideas being stolen, no one would take action. Your average person wouldn’t even attempt to if it causes them to step out of their comfort zone, so don’t overthink it. For the average person, their comfort lies in fantasizing about what could be instead of putting forth effort.

Occasionally, I’d give out an idea that someone could start as a business. People would tell me “You should keep that to yourself! Don’t tell anyone your ideas!”

They are right, however, if I don’t plan to put the idea into action then I don’t care who uses it. There are plenty of ideas on the internet for the taking and any I give out is just another to consider. Whether or not someone takes advantage is up to them.

If you have an idea you feel is of value it’s best you take action as soon as possible. Don’t let paranoia get the best of you. Focus more on what you can give to others and less on who’s going to take from you. If someone decides to take your idea, it means you have something that is useful. If you have one idea, you will have plenty more. I believe the more creative someone is, the less concerned they are. The less creative someone is, the more prevalent this issue is in their life.

As the saying goes: it doesn’t matter who does it first, what matters is who does it best. It’s not about being the only one, but being the best out of all.

As far as work ethic, we as humans can learn a lot from ants. Don’t be nice, be kind.

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