Share ideas. Think a bit about sharing opportunities before you do.
I have an idea to sell apples. So what? Everybody does. Share it.
I have an opportunity to buy apples down the street at one dollar and sell them in a nearby town. In this town apples are already selling for ten dollars each and the vendors are constantly running out of stock.
In that case, I'd keep my mouth shut and go sell some apples.
Ideas are just little blurbs. Opportunities are descriptions of value.
The reason your "I'm making the next E-bay for Twitter Reputations" idea is worthless is because it's a blurb, like selling apples, it's not an opportunity.
No one in my part of the world seems to believe in the "ideas are useless, so share them with everyone" meme at all and I think there's a reason for that.
Then again, I do share most of my ideas: http://ideashower.posterous.com
But in general, the article is completely correct. There's not really a good reason to keep an idea secret.
By the idea your [lousy] idea becomes a success, copycats are far behind. So go ahead and spread your idea now, you'll get more feedback and iterate faster toward something that actually might succeed.
(*) by now I probably have heard close to 1,000 pitches
With Alikewise, my little labor of love, my decision to pursue it (quit my job) was largely driven by the number of people whose eyes lit up when I told them the idea. Keeping it secret, I might not have thought it more than a trifle.
On the other side of it, think of the chain of events that needs to happen for someone to “steal” your idea:
- They need to understand it like you do – the implications, the possibilities, the vision. Even people that “like” your idea don’t see what you see.
- They need to have the skills to execute it.
- They have to make a sacrifice to execute it.
- They need to get the first 30, 50 and 1000 decisions right.
Not to mention, spreading the idea is a great way to find a partner.
There many pluses to talking to idea people early on in your development, potential private investors mid-way into development, or very network savvy people toward the end of development. Just starting to develop an idea and telling everyone you know doesn't make much sense to me.
I'm not very good at picking my battles when it comes to sharing my technical interests but I'm getting better as I get experience.
Entrepreneurship is something that happens in the real world. The real world is a messy place. Just because you learned one lesson in a big way from your venture doesn't mean applies to everyone.
One of the big reasons I think I can succeed where most fail is that just taking the leap into entrepreneurship seems to make so many people turn their brains off.
On one hand, people here consider ideas to be worthless and put Execution on a pedestal.
On the other hand, pure-execution copycats like the Samwer brothers are lambasted for their unoriginal ways.
Then again, maybe we just need better definitions of "idea" and "execution"...
The big danger is not in being robbed, really, but in bigger established companies coming out with a clone to compete against you and then, after they drive you out of business, dropping the clone as not profitable enough.
While it's not bad to get some feedback, blabbing about your great new idea to the world might not be wise. A bigger company could easily come along and beat you to the market because they have more resources.
The idea from one of my first startups came from another startup. They had a private beta and I was able to get to market first. It didn't work out in the end (this was 10 years ago), but I would have never even had the idea if I didn't see them talking about their idea months before it was even ready for beta.
Why bring on that competition before you can even get off the ground?