When you’re a small startup, your ideas are the most precious asset you have. Your ideas are your goldmine. They’re the potential to huge profits and customers. Without your ideas, your company is going nowhere. That’s why it’s so important to protect them. If your unique business concepts are inadvertently stolen, you’ll lose everything. The smartest business owners know exactly how to protect their ideas.
Most people aren’t out to purposely steal your ideas. But, the exchange of concepts can subconsciously find themselves into someone else’s business plan. One minute you’re discussing you latest brilliant idea with a colleague. Next thing you know, they’re using your bright spark in their new product! It’s rarely malicious, but it happens all the same. Here’s how you reduce the chance of losing your ideas.
Don’t reveal too much – There are very few people who need to know the full details of your business venture. If you’ve got a fantastic business idea, by all means tell people the broad strokes. But, if there’s a unique secret behind it all, keep it to yourself. There’s a reason why KFC keep their chicken recipe so secret! Only you and your closest colleagues need to know the deepest secrets.
Non-disclosure agreements – In some cases, you need to reveal the inner workings to people. It might be a production company in charge of building your prototype. It may be the first few employees in charge of taking your new idea to market. In these cases, you can ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement before going forward. A word of caution here, though. Never ask investors to sign a non-disclosure agreement. They’ll run for the door. Investors aren’t out to steal your ideas, they’re looking to invest in you!
Trademarks and patents – Of course, you can protect your ideas in the eyes of the law. Applying for a patent is the best way to secure your intellectual property. By doing this, it’s proof that you are the owner of the idea or concept. It’s a tricky (and lengthy) process, so you might want to seek advice from a qualified solicitor like London IP.
Keep a paper trail – The age-old method of proving ownership was sending a dated letter to yourself. Many early entrepreneurs would write down the details of their invention and post it to their address. It provided a paper trail that proved the idea was theirs. You can do a similar thing by keeping track of all emails and correspondence regarding your product. By doing this, you can identify the source of leaks too.
Trust your instincts – Lastly, listen to your gut feelings. You’ll find yourself explaining your business model over and over again. Networking events and trade shows are an essential part of business and you’ll be talking extensively about your product. Just be careful who you trust and how much you reveal. Use your instincts here; they’re usually right!
Follow this advice and you’ll protect the most important assets of all, your ideas. Remember, they hold your future potential. Keep them safe.