Going into business is always an exciting process – at least for the first few weeks. Your mind is buzzing with concepts and ideas. And you can’t wait to bring them to the world.
But sometimes somebody else can throw a spanner in the works. You might have the best idea ever, but there are always people around you and elsewhere who will exploit your creativity for their own gains, setting you back weeks, months, or years.
Idea stealing is all too common in the business world. It happens all the time. In fact, it is something that a lot of big companies will try to do to actively prevent competition.
As a small business owner or startup entrepreneur, your biggest advantage is keeping your ideas private and never telling anyone about them. This way, you can protect yourself until the concept hits the market, giving you a strong first-mover advantage.
But if that doesn’t work, what can you do?
Let’s take a look.
Prevent internal theft
The first thing to do is to prevent internal theft. The idea here is that your biggest enemy isn’t your rivals, but people within your firm who want to pinch your ideas for their own gain. It happens all the time – even if you think you can trust people.
Ideas are worth nothing unless you execute them – at least according to Steve Jobs. So if you don’t act fast, then somebody else within your firm might.
It’s hard to keep things quiet when you’re working with a team of people all day, every day. So one approach is to get them to sign a contract that prevents them from talking about work they do for the company or starting up something similar of their own once they take the job.
The other strategy is to prevent anyone other than VIPs from knowing the business strategy, especially if you work with contractors.
Sort your intellectual property first
Getting lawyers, like Fleeson Gooing, to file your intellectual property documents is essential. You need to protect your ideas to prevent other companies in your orbit from stealing your ideas. You may also want to get them to manage other documents for you, such as non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. This way, you can protect yourself legally if there’s any foul play, and prosecute those who work against you.
Find ideas that are hard to copy
Coming up with a great idea is okay. But you ideally need concepts that are hard for other businesses (or even individuals within your own firm) to copy.
Why? Because once you put your idea out there, others will attempt to reverse-engineer it and find ways around your patent.
Remember, when it comes to stealing ideas, first movers have a massive advantage. So even if another company is now working on your concept, if you can bring it to market first, you put yourself at a distinct advantage. Many times if you move early, your rivals won’t be able to catch you. And you’ll scoop up all the profits.