Somewhere Between NDA And PDA

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?


Why $10 Is Better Than $1M For Your Startup

Here’s why we should change the way we think about money for startups

Ten dollars is, of course, a nominal amount. But, the point is that if someone – anyone – is willing to invest even the smallest amount of their own money on your product, then you know you’re onto something. The bigger implication here is that money for startups is, most of the time, synonym to investment when money for startups should mean support; so stop searching for that big paycheck and go find what will really boost your startup.

Many startups have been successful by charging for their product from the very first day. Although that may not work for every startup, charging upfront means more than just having incoming revenue, it means receiving support from people who care. Another way to get support straightaway is through crowdfunding, where every contribution counts no matter how big or small because it’s the power of the community that makes a difference. This means, again, receiving support form people who care.

Besides being a great way to validate your startup idea, charging for your product or asking for contributions will get you real, genuine support as opposed to an investor looking to make a quick buck off your idea. Bootstrapping might not be a possibility for every entrepreneur, but startups should pay more attention to alternative opportunities for growth. While a large investment might help market the product and increase user base, a small number of paying users can help improve the product itself and strengthen communication.

One million dollars is a dream, a mirage in the desert, and worst of all, it’s a distraction. An entrepreneur has to think about every dollar cent his startup earns – and to fight to earn it. With every cent comes great support (yes, I’m borrowing from Spider-Man) and you would do well to collect all the great support you can because it will make a huge difference for your startup. Your customer is your biggest supporter and when you do cash out, it will be more fulfilling knowing that people have supported you along the way than filling your pocket with money.

What would you do with $10 (from a loyal and recurring customer)?