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How to Protect Your Business Idea

19.09.2016 Olga Polev
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How to Protect Your Business Idea

Every hopeful entrepreneur has to tackle different issues on his way. You can get far, you can create a detailed business plan, make research on a market, find investors and even give several business cards to potential partners. And all of a sudden somebody launches start-up based on a similar idea, your potential product or service is already out. Made by someone you know, or aware of existence, or a random person from another part of the world! You’re shocked; you’re broken-hearted. How can you predict such a case? How can you protect your new business ideas from being stolen or leaked? Bad news – there is no way to protect them. Good news – you can still benefit from your ideas, just change the strategy. We will give you a couple of tips in this article.

Idea is not yours

It is a pity, but entrepreneurship ideas don’t belong to anyone in particular. You don’t own it just because you had an insight. It is not yours just because it got stuck in your head and you deprived of sleep. Best small business ideas are disseminated in the air and born by the zeitgeist, and whoever will execute on them first, will be a winner. Of course, there is a law out there. You can put a copyright on your piece of art, of patent your invention, put a trademark your business logo, motto, video, etc. That helps, but only for limited time and some creative areas, and it also takes a lot of time and money. Good news is that there are not that many people who want your brilliant idea. Those who intend to enter the market more likely would eager information about available funds and investors. Ideas are in spades, money, effort and time are not.

Another important point is that you can’t sell an idea, so why to steal it? Nobody wants a mere idea; people buy results of idea implementation – products, services, software, etc. So the only thing you can do after you got an insight is to execute on your idea. For this, you need a dedicated team, how to deal with them?


Key points here are who you share your idea with an how much you share. You can do nothing without a team, even internet business ideas require work of several people with different specializations. A secret told to somebody is not a secret anymore – the same about ideas. But don’t get too paranoid, investors and close circle of allies are benefiting from fruits of your idea, so they will try to keep it secret. Though keep in mind that all commitments eventually can get broken, and yours can too. To prevent damage, tell everyone a piece of information they need to know and avoid speaking about unimportant for their work details. The same about pitching your idea to a client – tell what is necessary to convey them.

If you plan to work with a new person or company, do research. Google them, find their website, products, track record. Are there any complaints, any mess? If so, look for their previous customers or partners and talk to them, ask what this company or individual is all about.

Legitimize it or not

Concerning legitimization of a trusted process, you have to think twice whether it is worthless. First of all, as we mentioned above, all commitments get broken so that legal documents won’t ensure you for 100% from disclosure. Secondly, it can ruin interpersonal trust with your dedicated team at the very beginning. If you work with friends or old colleagues, that can be an issue. In a sense, it is better to deal with people, not papers. But in some cases, when working team is really vast, or you really don’t have time to build trust, go for documents. There are different types of papers that can help you: non-disclosure or non-compete agreements, for example. Probably that won’t work well for clients and investors as a balance of power is in their favor. In all cases, ask for legal advice of a trusted attorney.


So the only way to bring your splendid idea to life is to work on it. As Nike commercial put it, ‘Just do it.’ Can you imagine how many times this line came to other people’s minds?.. An idea has no value, an action does. You have to be quick, especially when you have online business ideas, competition is high out there. You have to develop a prototype, do a viable product and user testing. Get a feedback and analyze the results. If you discover that it doesn’t work as you desire, or that nobody wants your product in real life, you have to change your basic idea and the plan. That happens in software development quite often, why internet business ideas are so appealing but labor-consuming. But persistence pays off, so one day you can be a real owner of – no, not your idea. Your business is something tangible and resourceful. The idea is an intellectual dream by their nature, so isn’t it better to own businesses, not ideas?

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