So What If You Have An Idea?

Ideas have no value if you are secretive

Entrepreneurs frequently approach me seeking advice but are reluctant to share their idea. An aversion to sharing your big idea is always an early sign of failure.

Confidential Idea - Rick Coplin


Big Idea Rick CoplinNote: This is Part One of a two-part post. You can find Part Two here: 7 Outstanding Reasons to Share Your Idea Alternatively, click on the “Big Idea” picture. You can download a PDF containing both posts below.

Potential entrepreneurs fall into two distinct camps: those who share their ideas and those who do not. Fear that someone is going to ‘steal your idea’ is typically behind the reluctance to share. I have yet to see this happen.

Idea ThiefThis fear of idea theft leads entrepreneurs to waste significant time making little progress, all the while protecting their baby.

Fearful entrepreneurs are reluctant to engage partners, hire employees, seek mentors, test their business model, or gather market feedback.

These activities are the foundation for any successful venture. In addition, reluctant entrepreneurs spend precious resources on patent protection for ideas that have not been validated. They then discover they own a patent for a product the market has no interest in buying.

Fear of idea theft is just an excuse for not taking action.

Someone is Going to Steal My Idea

Well, no, that's pretty unlikely.

Why don't entrepreneurs steal ideas? There are four key reasons why the person you share your idea with will not steal it.

  1. Passion. Other entrepreneurs will not experience your idea with the same passion that you have for it. It is your passion that creates the drive and a bias for action that proves and produces your idea's potential. Passion is the fuel that compels an entrepreneur to do whatever it takes to turn an idea into reality.

“The most
significant threat
to your success
is obscurity”

  1. Validation. Ideas absent discussion and refinement have little value. They have no track record to indicate their value or probability of success. Believing someone else will steal your idea just because it sounds good is unrealistic because it is unproven, no matter how exciting it sounds to you. This is true even when there are analogs or existing competitors that hint at potential.
  2. Uniqueness. Your idea is likely not unique. It is more likely that someone is already working on something similar, maybe with an enhancement you have not thought about yet. Entrepreneurs who actively discuss concepts are likely to be aware of existing variations on your idea. They are more likely to have ideas that could refine your idea. When you fail to discuss your ideas, you miss out on this knowledge. Secretive entrepreneurs believe what they have is unique, and are almost always wrong.  Others will key in on this right away and let you know when you are willing to discuss concepts. Where you see opportunity, others see roadblocks or additional opportunity. You need that input.
  3. Focus. Entrepreneurs prioritize their own ideas. The actions they are taking to be successful consume their every waking moment. In other words, they are focused on their passion. While your idea may be interesting, it is not attractive enough for someone else to abandon their passion and pursue your passion.


The Result of Over-Protection

Broken Light - Ideas Interrupted - Rick CoplinIt is possible to “protect” your idea so well that you destroy it.

The most significant threat to your success is obscurity, not another entrepreneur taking your idea and building a business around it.

When you are unwilling to discuss your ideas out of fear that it will be stolen, you severely limit your ability to refine the concept with others' input, experiences and industry knowledge.


Start Sharing Your Idea Today

Are you an entrepreneur who shares their ideas or one who does not? I've seen ideas that have no chance of success because the creator is reluctant to discuss the idea in enough detail to communicate clearly and receive actionable feedback. Don't be that entrepreneur.

Instead, be the entrepreneur who openly shares their ideas and seeks relevant input in an effort to refine their concepts. Refinement leads to greater odds of success, and every entrepreneur should strive to increase their potential. Your customers will be glad you did.

Next week, I address the benefits of sharing your ideas with other entrepreneurs and investors in 7 Outstanding Reasons To share Your Idea.

Want a copy of this article and next week's article as PDFs?


Please Email Me the PDF “So What If You Have an Idea?” and “7 Outstanding Reasons to Share Your Idea”!


What has been your experience sharing ideas with entrepreneurs and investors?


Rick Coplin







Photo sources via Flikr: Confidential: When Cluedo Met Monopoly – Moe Moosa; Broken Light Bulb – Ideas Interrupted by Capture Queen; Lightbulb; Thief – Public Domain.






I work alongside emerging companies on business formation, commercialization strategies, and capital planning. My passion is to find, support, mentor, coach, incubate, & fund start-ups engaged in innovative technology businesses.

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