Occasionally my friends and I run into people who have ideas about businesses and are either feeling things out or trying to find people to execute their idea. It usually goes something like this:
I have this idea, but I can’t really tell you until you sign this NDA. Or I have this idea but we really can’t tell you anything other than it’s a Facebook killing social network. The reason we can’t tell is because you might steal our idea.
Unless your idea is geolocation and checkins and you already have millions of users and you are sitting in Yelp or Facebook’s office, I think most people are not going to care.
From my personal standpoint I rarely care about other people’s ideas. It’s not that they are bad ideas, although some are. It’s just that I am way too busy with my own ideas. Ideas are just that – ideas. Without someone to breath life into them day after day, it’s really not worth much.
Think about it. If ideas are worth that much, there would be a marketplace where people sell and buy ideas. I am not talking about patents since those are more than ideas but are blueprints. But people don’t do that. People buy companies and own stocks in companies because companies execute and produce profits.
It’s really the execution of the idea that matters. I may have the idea of creating a social network or a geolocation based checkin, but there are tons of other companies with the same idea. What differs is the execution of the idea, and the victor more often than not, out executes and out maneuvers the competition.
Do you think Groupon cares that much about someone like you or me “stealing” their idea of group deals? Unless I have 600 sales people pounding the pavement, an email list of millions of people, and the manpower to create a platform like they have, they are not too worried about me.
Here’s what Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com has to say about ideas and execution:
I went around and talked to as many people as I could about this idea. A lot of people, when they come up with a business idea, they keep it inside. They don’t want anybody to “steal” their idea. I think that’s a horrible idea. I think you should tell everyone and anyone your idea, without fear that they’re going to steal it. It’s all in the execution. A good idea is really a dime a dozen.
I think the most radical world changing ideas are so out there that the average person cannot see the possibilities of it. I still meet people who don’t get Twitter.
I think Howard Aiken, the original conceptual designer of the IBM Harvard Mark I computer, said it best:
Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.
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