You have the latest and greatest idea ever and you are just raring to talk about it. But you are nervous about taking your idea to the people because what if they steal it? You are not alone in your startup fear. Many entrepreneurs are protective of their ideas. Some are way too overly protective and this will likely hurt their chances of growth. Some are overly cavalier with the details of their idea and this can leave them vulnerable. Is there a happy medium?
A non-disclosure agreement (sometimes called a NDA) can be a very useful tool. These agreements basically allow you, the entrepreneur, to disclose all the gory details of your invention, startup or idea without fear that the individuals you are disclosing this information to will steal your idea.
These agreements are not full proof and can sometimes be off putting. Just like a patent, slight variances from the original are not subject to the NDA. So while someone might not steal your exact idea, they can still use your idea as their inspiration to create a competing startup. At the same time, asking a party to sign a NDA before you meet with them can come across as accusatory. While you are just trying to protect yourself, some might see this as you accusing them of potentially wanting to steal your idea.
You should always make sure that the NDA you use is drafted specifically for you. This way you ensure that those pesky loopholes that make the agreement not full proof are limited as much as possible. A Grand Rapids startup lawyer can help you draft a great agreement that protects you as much as possible. These professionals have also worked a great deal with NDA’s and can provide some insight on the best way to present these agreements so as not to offend.
Talking about your idea is never a bad thing. Most people you speak with are neither capable nor motivated to take your idea for themselves. In fact most want to offer information to help you succeed. I often advise to treat your idea just like a chef would his recipe. Of course a chef is going to brag about his food, describing what he makes at his restaurant, how it’s different, etc. but he isn’t going to give away measurements, ingredients, preparation, and tricks that he uses in making that food.
You should treat your startup the same way. Tell the world what problem you are solving, how great it is, what you need, etc. At the same time you don’t tell them details of how you have created the solution and give away your secrets. There will be times that you do need to go into those details with someone but that is when you should consider a NDA.
Consulting with a small business law attorney can get you more details of what an NDA can do for your startup and help guide you through similar situations. The information they provide can mean the difference between success and failure. Every startup learns lessons but that doesn’t mean you have to learn them the hard way. So contact a West Michigan business law firm today and find out how they can help you.