Entrepreneurship is hard. Really hard. But with countless tales of how entrepreneurs made it big with almost nothing, it's easy for a budding founder to jump into the startup world full of unbridled enthusiasm and some startup misconceptions.
As Director of the Founder Institute in New York one of the more common misconceptions I encounter with a lot aspiring entrepreneurs is that they are afraid of telling others their idea. There are numerous reasons though why entrepreneurs should share their startup ideas. While it is common among founders to be hesitant about divulging their startup secrets, the truth of the matter is that your company can benefit greatly from telling people what your idea is about and what you hope to achieve.
Myth #1: "I Should Save My Startup Idea Until It's Refined"
Reality: You should share your idea with everyone you meet. If you plan on pitching your idea to potential investors, why not practice beforehand? By sharing your idea with as many people as possible, you can get feedback early on to prevent wasting time on an idea that won't sell. In a Courtney Seiter-penned article titled Why No One Will Steal Your Startup Idea, Buffer CEO and Co-Founder Joel Gascoigne says:
When you build a startup, you're basically creating something that doesn't exist already. In order to figure out if your idea is actually going to work, it's essential that you share it with people. You're going to have to do it sooner or later. The longer you leave it, the more risk there is that you spend a long time working on it, and then eventually you put it out there and find out it's not something that resonates.
Myth #2: "My Startup Idea Is Too Unique To Be Shared"
Reality: No, it's not. Just look at the countless companies that offer the same product. If you have an idea for a startup, there's a very good chance that there are a multitude of other entrepreneurs working on the exact same concept. But don't let that deter you, as you should focus less on the idea itself and more on how you plan to execute it. Here's what Cory Levy, Co-Founder at One, Inc., had to say in a Linkedin article titled Startup Secrets: Should I Hide My Business Idea?:
Ideas are a dime a dozen; it's the execution that will set you apart from the rest. Chances are that there are people developing the same thing that you're working on now. We plan to compete not by keeping our idea secret, but by building the best possible team and by creating the best solution to the problem we are solving.
Myth #3: "People Will Steal My Startup Idea If I Tell Them What It Is"
Reality: Most likely not. The chances of someone stealing your idea are pretty slim. In fact, sharing your idea with others is a great way to drum up interest in your company and makes getting help easier. Still not convinced? Here's what serial entrepreneur Alexander Muse has to say in a Startup Muse article titled Should you share your idea?:
If you keep your ideas a secret it will be impossible for anyone to actually help you. Could someone steal your idea? Of course, but as I've said before your potential competitors are more likely to become partners. You're far more passionate about your idea that anyone else -- and most people want to partner with people with passion.
If you're still reticent about sharing your idea with others, take into account the multitude of opportunities that your company can benefit from by simply divulging what it is you do and how you're going to do it. And remember:
"If someone does take your idea, they will never have the passion you have for it because they didn't come up with it." - Joel Gascoigne