General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Would sharing my ideas be ill advised?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9102 points ) June 10th, 2011

As I’ve pointed out in earlier questions I have what I believe are some great ideas that I hope to profit from.

But the fact is that it is hard to get anything from nothing. If I really want to make something work then the best way is to put all my effort behind it and get it to work myself. This takes a long time, and lots of resources. In the end only one of my ideas will come from such an effort if I am diligent, and lucky.

But I have quite a few great ones! So I am trying to get them out there faster so that I can start profiting from them number one, and getting them in front of people who I think would like to benefit from them number two.

So I found someone with a NDA who wants to hear about one. I signed up for the NDA, and I’m prepared to share it. I am also prepared to hear them tell me they are not interested.

The bottom line is I have started working on a couple of my ideas on my own. The others that I believe are full of potential I would also like to see the light of day before they are obsolete. Is sharing them via NDA’s a bad idea, or my only hope?

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9 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I could look it up, but I would rather you tell me what on earth is NDA?

mazingerz88's avatar

Having a Non Disclosure Agreement is the best thing you could do at this point in order to somehow protect your idea.

rexpresso's avatar

From my experience, if you complicate, you won’t ever get anything done.

From a couple of www.thestartupdaily.com newsletters I got you this:

“Preparation or Procrastination?
When launching a new business, project, or initiative, be careful about spending too much time preparing. Don’t fall into the trap of analysis paralysis.
Start Before You’re Ready
The hard part of creating something new is not getting adequately prepared, the hardest part is getting started. ”

and

“Your Idea is Worthless
When you keep your ideas secret to protect them, you are hurting your chances of connecting with people who can help you make them a reality.

Whatever your idea is, someone else has probably already thought of it.
Anyone Can Steal Your Idea, But They Can’t Steal Your Passion or Execution
Experienced investors know this. It’s why they don’t back ideas, they back teams they believe in.

Everyone has ideas. It’s the ability to execute that’s priceless.”

funkdaddy's avatar

Can’t agree enough with @rexpresso.

The value of the idea is just the inspiration it gives, and that’s enough. Just like the more mundane ideas we have “I was going to go get some lunch” or “I thought I’d mow the lawn today”, it’s just not worth anything without action and execution.

Make the smallest functional piece of your best idea, whatever it is, and see where that takes you.

If you have hundreds of ideas, don’t worry if the first try doesn’t work out, take what you’ve learned and apply it to the next one.

marinelife's avatar

An NDA is the way to go, but still be careful that you are sharing your ideas with reputable individuals or companies.

gorillapaws's avatar

@marinelife I couldn’t disagree more. Most legit investors will refuse to sign NDAs and laugh at people who think their idea is so precious that simply hearing it will somehow ruin their potential business. That won’t bode well for your businesses’ future when you eventually get competition. NDA’s are the wrong direction, instead focus on putting something together, and making it happen. Building a business is hard work, ideas are easy (I have dozens of REALLY great ideas myself, but it requires more than that).

Read Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start. It’s written by a venture capitalist who literally listens to people like yourself pitching him ideas all day long and telling 99% of them to stop wasting his time. Here is a relevant quote from him:

”[D]on’t ask any potential investor to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), because asking them to do so will make you look clueless. Venture capitalists and angel investors are often looking at three or four similar deals, so if they sign an NDA from one company and then fund another, they expose themselves to legal action. If you find an investor who is willing to sign an just to hear your idea, you probably don’t want his or her money.”

“I’ve never heard of a venture capitalist or angel investor ripping off an idea—frankly, few ideas are worth stealing. Even if your idea is worth stealing, the hard part is implementing the idea, not coming up with it. Finally, continuing the dating analogy, you probably won’t get very many dates if the first thing out of your mouth is ‘Will you sign a prenuptial?’”

derekfnord's avatar

Sure, whenever you share an idea, you run the risk (however small) of someone else claiming it as their own. So I can see how you might worry about how to prevent that. But since it’s unavoidable if you want to get anything done, worrying won’t help, and what you really need is a way of looking at it that will make you less reluctant to share your great ideas. So how about the following as a thought?

There’s no such thing as a great idea. Greatness can only be measured in something tangible, so until you have something tangible, you don’t have something great. Ideas aren’t valuable; the ability (skill, means of production, working capital, etc.) to make ideas into reality has value. So it’s not what you currently have that has value; it’s what you’re trying to get that has value.

Looked at that way, there’s no risk to you… the risk is all to them, because they’re the ones who’re looking at giving up something of known worth in the pursuit of something that isn’t yet proven valuable. If you think I’m wrong, consider copyrights and patents. You can’t copyright or patent an idea. You can only copyright or patent the specific expression or application of an idea…

Ltryptophan's avatar

I agree that working on something myself and letting things progress as they may from that is the best course.

The thing that concerns me is that I can hardly pursue one course thoroughly much less 5 or 6. In that case are those other courses just fodder! Should those great plans be wasted, or should I be sure to get them to proper channels for consideration.

I think the right thing to do is to start getting new ideas that I am not going to sink my own blood sweat and tears into, to those who might be able to get them going.

It just seems unfair to me that I might have an idea that would help people, and I would not give it up because it doesn’t profit me.

dabbler's avatar

Make sure your work is thoroughly documented with verifiable dates.

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