“If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”
-The Social Network
Plagiarism, falsification, stealing, counterfeiting, borrowing, piracy… how many words can you come up with that mean “theft”? Here’s the thing, everyone comes up with ideas all the time, at least those that I like to associate with. Sometimes they’re typewriter ideas and sometimes they’re computer ideas! The difference?
A typewriter idea is when someone comes around and copies the idea but slaps a different name on it (ie. Olivetti typewriter vs. Hermes typewriter).
A computer idea is when someone comes around and revolutionizes an idea (ie. typewriter vs. Computer).
I don’t know about you but I prefer to have my ideas sit in the latter description! The thing is, it feels like everything’s been done. Take it one step further: if you do manage to create something unique and amazing, you get stressed about speed to market and intellectual property. In 2011 & 2012 over $20 Billion dollars was spent on Patent Litigation in the US alone. All those people, seeking out lawyers, making claims and seeking compensation because they feel their idea was taken by someone else. Seems like a lose/lose but that, in my opinion, is a glass half empty way to look at things. For anyone who knows me, glass half empty be gone!
Entrepreneurs should be allowed to feel entrepreneurial without looking over their shoulder to see who’s coming out with a bigger, better version of what they’ve poured their heart and souls into. Here’s where I sit on the who ‘live in fear’ concept:
They might have your idea, but they don’t have your team. The team you’ve taken the time to scrutinize, train, and empower, that’s your team. You’ve built them up, you’ve taught them well. Some were groomed into their roles since inception while others have jumped in at the mid way mark. Either way, they believe in your vision. They understand your culture. They are supporters, team players and best of all, they’re yours!
They might have your idea, but they don’t have your experience. There is a reason why you decided to build your idea, your service or your prototype. I’m brought back to all of the episodes I’ve watched on CBC’s the Dragon’s Den. Almost every hopeful participant utters the words: “There had to be a better way!”. Your idea, your concept, it came from somewhere. Likely, you were sitting around, something happened and it triggered you into a lightbulb moment! Something inside you stirred and you knew, you just knew you had to act. No one else has that same experience. If anything sells, it’s relationships and if anything builds relationships, it’s stories. Stories allow you to prove that you’ve walked in potential customers’ shoes. They feel like they know you and they can relate, which oftentimes means that they buy!
They have your idea, but they don’t have your analytical insights. The data you collect in your early days is so very important and for the most part so very unique to your exact concept. Track every click, every conversion, and every complaint from a user. Find out what is working and most importantly what isn’t working. People trying to steal your idea will think that pixels are there just because they look pretty in that place or that those exact words were there because they sounded smart. What they don’t know is that every pixel and every word in place has meaning through rigorous analytical insights.
Here’s my point, you think they have your idea, but they don’t. They have their version of your idea and that, my friend, is a typewriter idea! Quit worrying about the thieves and bring your ideas to life, your very own computer ideas!