Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
I’ve come across many aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to start businesses but who are afraid that their ideas will be stolen or copied by others. Well, unless you are inventing a product or service for the first time that no one has never seen or heard of, your idea may not be that unique. Have you considered the possibility that someone, somewhere has had the exact idea?
Always remember that there are many people with great ideas but very few people can action or bring those ideas to reality. In essence the value of the idea comes with the execution, nothing else. While you can protect an invention by trademarks, copyrights and patents; keep in mind that not all ideas can be patented, which means they are open to be used or improved upon.
Instead of holding back on your idea and losing out on a great business opportunity; take a leap of faith and share it, regardless of your fears.
In fact, that is what innovation is about - making significant improvements to an existing product or service instead of starting the concept from scratch. Consider an IPod for instance; various manufacturers already had MP3 devices on the market when it was released. So, what gave the IPod the competitive edge? It combined ergonomics, design and easy to use single device on a platform that effortlessly kept the device updated with music. This is what revolutionised the music industry.
Sometimes it is beneficial to bounce your ideas off people close to you - your friends, mentors and others who are likely to support you. People’s feedback makes it possible for you to fine tune or test your idea before launching. If you are really concerned about pitching your idea to new clients or associates or reveal trade secrets about your business to others, don’t reveal too much; simply give them enough to work with - details necessary to convey the idea.
Non-disclosure agreements can also help to protect your idea to some degree before revealing it to associates; however, you may find it difficult getting it signed by investors or critical clients. In fact some investors and clients may be put off by this requirement and simply walk away. Think about it, reputable investors are far too busy to steal your idea; besides they receive far too many financial requests to back great ideas daily.
Even if you can get the non -disclosure agreement signed, enforcing it is always a challenge. You have to have legal and financial resources to pursue the matter in a court of law and prove that the idea was in fact stolen from you, including solid proof of the loss you may have experienced as a result. This can be extremely time consuming and exhausting.
Remember, you can only control what you are doing, not what others are doing. Focus on what you have control over and what sets you apart from the rest, and on all that is difficult for the competition to replicate.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn
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