It’s common for entrepreneurs to be protective of their business ideas in the fear of someone copying all or parts of them. This is natural as the entrepreneurial spark is largely ignited by the almost religious experience of having a business idea. We feel we see and know something others don’t and that this our competitive advantage that we must protect. The dominating view with serial entrepreneurs, however, is that there’s more to lose than gain by not sharing your ideas and in fact you should share it as early as possible with as many as you can. Here’s five reasons why you should not be afraid of sharing your idea and how you can actually gain from doing so.
1) Personal biases
Ideas don’t fall down from the sky, but are a result of your own experiences, learnings and insights. There’s a special reason why you come up with an idea and not your neighbor or competitor. Your personal biases can be as much your weaknesses as your strengths, but whichever way it is, your individual path of learning and gaining understanding are your main competitive factors even as entrepreneur as opposed to an idea alone.
2) Ideas can’t be protected but can be improved on
No idea is protectable no matter how much you want it. As soon as you launch your business it can be copied by almost anybody. But you’d be surprised how few ideas get copied and the reason is that we’re human. We all have our own lives and ideas that we think are great. And everybody’s right since there’s a personal reason to why we have the ideas we have. Since you can’t protect an idea, you should work harder than your competitors in improving them by getting first hand feedback from your peers and potential customers.
3) No idea survives first contact with a customer
A business idea is the entrepreneur’s perspective of offering something to customers and typically encapsulates the entrepreneur’s personal biases too. Customers, however, aren’t interested in novel ideas or innovations, but of acquiring concrete value. Communicating value to customers so that they understand it is the hardest there is in business. The winner is not the entrepreneur who has the best idea, but who understands the customer’s problem the best and turns customers into fans in the process of doing so.
4) Only execution matters
Every business idea has at least a thousand alternative strategies and business models. Success therefore lies not in what you do but how you do it. The smartest entrepreneurs typically end up changing their business idea as their knowledge and understanding of customers and markets grow. If you have two teams with the same idea you always get two different outcomes. Forget the business idea and focus on building the best team for realizing it.
The smart way to start a business is by seeking validation from potential customers. The only way to do that is to openly and systematically talk to people. If you happen to talk to a competitor that gets overly interested in your idea, treat it as a part validation that you’re onto something. Since you can’t protect your idea, you should focus entirely on being the best candidate to succeed with it.
The list could go on and on but I hope this is enough to shake any naive believes or fears you might have about the uniqueness or importance of business ideas. True entrepreneurship is a million times harder than having an idea and the real battles you must win are complete elsewhere.
To help you avoid the common traps startups make and become a genuine startup talent, we’re hosting Startup Cup on 28-29 January at Haaga-Helia campus in Pasila. You can join with or without an idea or team. The event is primarily aimed at Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia students.
Register for free event on 28-29.1.2016: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-cup-2016-tickets-19421745965?aff=ebrowse
Sign-up for startup talent newsletter: http://www.hub13.fi/project/startup-cup/
Like Startup Cup on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/startupcupfinland/
For more info contact: ola(at)hub13.fi, 040-549 47 55 or Maria Averina at Haaga-Helia Startup School
Ps. Haaga-Helia students get 3 credits for participating