Do You Have a Great Business Idea? Are you wondering what you should do to protect it?
The first thing to understand is this – There is no such thing as a million dollar business idea. “How can that be?” If you ask anyone, they will tell you that they have an idea for a business. The idea is important, but it is not a business. A business idea combined with execution is a business.
The second thing to understand is this – Your idea already exists. If you think about it, there were other social networks before Facebook, there were other search engines before Google, and there were other coffee shops before Starbucks. What was different about these businesses was not the idea, but the execution.
You don’t need to be overly protective of your business idea. When sharing your business idea use common sense. When you tell someone about your idea, they won’t drop everything to start a business with your idea. Even if they did their business would be completely different from your business. The idea isn’t what makes a business unique. It is the execution. There are so many different ways to run a business, create a product, or serve a customer.
When you start your business, you will need help. You might reach out to other entrepreneurs for advice. When you talk to them, they will want to know about your business idea. They are not asking because they want to steal your idea, but because they can help you better if they know more.
If you need investment for your business, investors will want to know about your business idea. They will not sign an NDA, and if you ask them to sign one, they will walk. Asking a potential investor to sign an NDA is a mistake. Investors look at many deals, and they are not in the business of stealing your idea.
As an entrepreneur you already know that taking calculated risks are integral to your success. Keep that knowledge in the forefront of your mind as you carefully share information while building your business. Know that you can protect your business idea with strategic information sharing and legal advice when necessary.
If you are hiring someone to help you, you can ask the person to sign a non-compete agreement. The non-compete agreement prevents an individual or business from starting a company that would compete with yours.
You could also have a work-for-hire agreement if you hire someone to help fine-tune your product. A work-for-hire agreement ensures that anything they come up with your business owns while working for you.
If you are thinking about patenting your idea, file a provisional patent application. You can file it yourself at the USPTO website. You can also call the USPTO with your questions. A provisional patent can protect your idea for up to one year. During this time you can market your product as patent pending.
At the same time, you should consider registering your trademark. You can also do this online.
Before you talk to a consultant, potential investor, or anyone do your research. You can find out about disputes or disagreements if you do your homework. If you are still unsure about trusting someone listen to your gut.
Keep detailed documents. Put as much as you can into writing and save it. When there is a paper trail, there is a better chance to eliminate misunderstandings. Documents will help you protect your idea. Keep a log of every meeting or discussion.