If you have spent any time speaking or meeting with entrepreneurs you have probably heard this statement many times:
“I’ve got this really great idea, but it’s a secret (or revolutionary, or proprietary, or blah blah blah). I can’t tell you anything without a signed NDA…”
And even with an NDA in place, many entrepreneurs would still rather not share much of anything about their business concept. Why is that? After more than 30 years working with entrepreneurs I am still not quite sure.
In my opinion, the best way to build a business is to get as many people to know about you and your new venture as possible. Or, you at least as many of the right people.
To create a really convincing value proposition that will get investors to pull out their checkbook and fund your vision, you need to be sure you sure that all of your bases are covered. That you have thought of anything and everything material that will improve and strengthen your concept.
How do you do that? The best thing you can do is talk to people about your idea. You never know when someone will provide you valuable feedback or advice that may springboard your idea into the next billion dollar success. You never know who knows what person and where that connection might take you. Your neighbor’s brother may be the CEO of a potential strategic funding source or your cousin might play poker every week with a venture capitalist who invests in your space. See the opportunities you might miss if you remain silent about your revolutionary business?
I was once talking to a woman who had a really dark tan, as if she had been in a tanning booth. I said, “Wouldn’t it be great if they just built the tanning lights into shower stalls? You take a shower every day anyway. You might as well get tan while you take a shower.” The woman thought it was a great idea and said, “I think I’ll go do that.”
Do you think I was worried that she would rip off my product idea? No. By sharing my idea, I got a response from someone that acknowledged its worth. People are so busy doing the things they are already doing that the chance of someone stealing another person’s idea is remote (it happens, but it is remote). Even if I went to a company that made lights and said, “You really ought to make a shower light so people can get a tan while they shower,” they still would probably never do it.
Get out there with your idea. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your next great adventure. You want as much input – qualified and unqualified – as you can get. You need the feedback and you should want to gather as many good ideas as possible. As you are formulating your long-term plan for success and doing your due diligence, it is OK to tell people about it. You never know when the person you are sitting across from in a coffee shop or next to on an airplane may offer you that one critical idea or personal introduction that will make the difference between ultimate success and failure.
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