Original ideas don’t exist anymore
While writing my previous post Somewhere Between NDA And PDA, I started thinking about the originality of ideas. Most ideas have been done before, one way or another. Ideas come from problems or opportunities in everyday life, and other people and companies have been around for way longer than you or I to solve them. With new technologies, we can offer new solutions to replace old ones. It’s still the same idea. Look around the web and I guarantee you’ll find your idea in some shape or form, always different but slightly similar – or vice versa.
No big deal, though. It’s up to you to make your idea stand out, whether in the way you communicate or deliver your solution. In order to do that, you must ask yourself why. Why have previous solutions failed? Why is your solution better? Why is your team the best to create this solution? And so on… The point I want to make is that you shouldn’t expect your idea to be unique; no one does. Customers, investors, and employees included, they expect your idea to be sound.
Who cares about being original anymore?!
An entrepreneur’s biggest fear
Unfortunately, we have this belief that when others hear our idea, they will take it and run. They will make all the money in the world. And, somehow, they will get it just right. I’m not going to argue whether an idea is important or not; I’m going to address the elephant in the
room startup world: a hidden fear found in most – if not all – entrepreneurs that others want to and will steal their precious idea.
Once we have our idea, we tend to hold on to it and keep it to ourselves. Why is that? Probably because we think someone will copy it, steal it. We don’t realize that one day someone will do the exact same thing and that someone is a competitor. So why do we focus so much on keeping it secret in the first place, why are we so competition-averse at first but not later, why are we paranoid and afraid?
It’s stupid to think that talking about an idea means giving it away; it’s naive to think that our idea is original and no one has done it before; it’s short-sighted to think that someone won’t copy it sooner or later; it’s undermining to think that we can’t do it better. Facebook wasn’t first, and neither was Google. Elon Musk isn’t afraid to publicly discuss his ideas (see this image of him talking about his plans for Hyperloop on Twitter) and I doubt he ever feared telling people about his idea to build a high-performance electric vehicle. And you know what? He’s doing just fine.
Just because you think your idea is great, it doesn’t mean someone else will. And even if they do, they may not take a huge interest in it. And then if they do, they will not have the vision you have. You can always do it better than others; you have to if you want to be successful. Think NDA’s are going to save you? Think again. I’m not telling you to start flashing your idea around like a couple engaging in PDA at the bar, but do try to be more open about it. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be careless either.
What’s an entrepreneur to do with an idea if not tell the world about it?