An entrepreneur’s natural instinct is to keep his idea a secret. Is that always the best way to proceed with your startup business? You do not what to give away the details of your idea and find out that someone stole it and ran with it. Here is my advice: don’t keep your idea a secret.
There are two major reasons that I give you this advice. The first is the feedback you will get from others. When you are networking and meeting with other entrepreneurs, they are likely so busy with their own projects that they are not looking for ideas to steal. When was the last time you were out networking with entrepreneurs and met one that was not in the throes of developing his or her own ideas? It is highly likely they are not looking to take on another major project. Instead they are much more likely to give you some great feedback and constructive criticism. Remember these are very innovative minds and they are likely to give you a tip or two that might slightly pivot your business plan into a huge success.
The second reason to not keep your idea a secret is that at some point you are going to have to take off your innovator hat and put on your salesman hat. Either you are going to have to sell your idea to an investor or you are going to have to sell your idea to the public. In either case, you cannot withhold information. The greatest ideas still need to be sold. And just like a car salesmen, the name on the front are not going to be enough. Think of pitching Priceline before it became what we know it to be now. “We have a tech company that is going to revolutionize air travel and how tickets are purchased but we can’t tell you how” versus “Through allowing airlines to fill seats that would otherwise be empty and allowing travelers to name their own prices for those seats, we are going to revolutionize the air travel industry.” The latter version is much more enticing and going to garner more buzz then the former pitch.
I am in no means advocating that you run all over town giving away the gory details of your idea. But the days of you skimming the surface of your idea in a conversation with someone should be over. Look for that feedback and do not be afraid to play the salesman. You never know who you might be talking to that can help you succeed.