When coming up with an online business idea, it’s tempting to keep it to yourself until you're ready to launch. It was hard to come up with this idea, and you want to be sure it remains wholly and solely yours until you are ready to share it with the world.
This is the number one myth surrounding business ideas and entrepreneurship. We are often convinced our idea has to be protected or we risk losing our idea to someone else.
In reality, there are huge benefits to sharing your business idea with others! Even if you’re not quite ready for your business to officially start, sharing the idea can help shape and refine your online business in a way that is good for you—and your future customers!
Let’s dive into the misconceptions about sharing your business idea, the benefits of doing so, and some important caveats when it comes to being vocal about it.
The driving force behind the myth that you shouldn’t share your business idea is the feeling that you need to protect it. Finding a business idea can be a time-consuming and challenging process, and you want to protect the results of your hard work.
But many successful entrepreneurs—ourselves included—have found that the reasons we feel we need to protect our idea just don’t hold up when you think about them!
Here are three main reasons we feel we need to protect our idea—and the reasons why they just aren’t true!
It’s very easy to think we’re the first person who had an idea...but in reality, ideas are rarely completely unique.
It’s a disappointing thought at first, but consider how many innovative businesses were really just a twist on an existing business model or concept.
Take Netflix as an example: when they were founded, Blockbuster was the king of video rental, and at its core, Netflix was also just offering video rentals. But their unique twist was allowing video rental by mail.
Their business idea wasn’t a completely unique concept, but it was a new improvement to an existing idea that proved wildly successful.
What makes a business idea unique isn’t having a completely original concept. It’s really you. How are you going to improve upon an existing idea? What can you tweak to create something that will better serve your niche?
Your niche is the other thing that makes your business unique. You have a specific set of customers in mind to serve, and the ways you will adapt your business to your needs will set you apart from other businesses that offer similar products or services. This is why finding a niche is so important!
Have you ever come across a business and said to yourself, “Wow, that’s a brilliant business idea! I wish I’d thought of it!”?
There’s a simple reason why it’s such a brilliant idea: the business owners saw a gap in the market and they filled it.
When someone actually takes action to meet a need, people see the results and are impressed by them!
Now, if you had thought of this idea before the business idea, would you have “stolen” the idea?
Even if someone did “steal” your idea, their business would be different than yours. You are different people and you’d serve different customers—that’s what makes a business unique, not the idea itself!
In today’s episode, we’ll explain this idea even further, drawing on the Blockbuster and Netflix example we mentioned above!
Some of you might feel like your idea is too raw to share right now. It feels too new, and you want to let it marinate and mature before sharing it. But to transform your idea from something raw to something tangible and mature, you can leverage the opinions and insights of others!
It can be helpful to mull over business ideas when you’re in the brainstorming stage, as we talked about in episode #6 and episode #7. But at some point, you have to get out of your head and see how your idea is received by other people!
This brings us to the benefits of sharing your business idea with others. We’ve hinted at these benefits above, but let’s take a deeper look at the two main benefits and the reasoning behind them.
Sharing your business idea with others helps you refine it. It puts your idea to the test against other people’s questions, opinions, and assumptions, letting you flush out your idea into a real, viable business!
You’ll test your own assumptions and get constructive feedback when you talk through your business idea with others. You may be able to fill in the gaps or improve upon your initial idea to find something even more impactful for your niche.
When you share your business idea, you will also hear from people who tell you why you shouldn’t do it! These are the “nay-sayers.”
We’ve heard our fair share of feedback from nay-sayers, but over the years, we’ve learned to appreciate their feedback and turn it into constructive criticism that makes our ideas better. Nay-sayers have helped us understand the potential objections so we can address them.
On the podcast episode, we share our own story of getting critical feedback on our idea for Bloomdocking—and how we used it to improve our business idea and turn it into what it is today!
It’s important to remember that hearing objections or criticisms of your business idea does not mean it’s a bad idea! Acknowledge the feedback you are getting and use it to:
Do NOT take feedback as reasons why you can’t be an online business owner or why you can’t work a 20 hour work week!
Sharing your business idea also helps you narrow in on your ideal audience and find your true niche.
As you share your idea, you’ll probably be met with a lot of blank faces. These blank faces are from people who don’t connect with your idea because they are not part of your ideal audience!
This is completely normal, so don’t get discouraged by it. Acknowledge that this person may not be your ideal audience, and move on to tell the next person. It’s not a bad idea just because a few people can’t relate to the audience you are trying to serve.
When you talk to people about your idea, you’ll find people who can totally relate or who know someone who can. Go to those people to test your assumptions and get constructive feedback! Pay attention to their struggles and goals and see if there is some characteristic of this niche that you didn’t initially consider—it’s all part of strengthening your idea into the best it can be!
Now, there are two important caveats to freely sharing your business idea. We believe it is crucial to get feedback on your idea, but there are two key reasons why it could be wise to hold back at first.
First, sometimes it is important to be first to market. Some cities or regions may only allow one vendor for certain types of businesses, meaning there may be a higher chance of someone else getting there first if you share your idea too widely.
The second caveat is your business name. You’ll need to secure a domain name, Facebook page, and other social media profiles with your chosen business name, so be sure you have those registered before you share your business name. Once you do, share away!
Today we did some myth busting: it can be hugely beneficial to share your business idea with others!
Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea or feeling like it’s too early or raw to share. Sharing your idea will help you:
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