There is something called the 20/40/60 rule and it goes like this: When you are 20, you worry about what everyone is thinks about you. When you are 40, you don’t care what anyone thinks about you. When you are 60, you realize no one was thinking about you.
When someone tells me that they are afraid that someone will steal their business idea, I tell them the 16/40/60 rule.
As humans, we tend to think mostly about ourselves, it’s built into our DNA for our survival. Because we are thinking about ourselves so much, we think others are too. But they’re not, they’re too busy thinking about themselves. This isn’t to say everyone is self-centered or selfish, it just means we are mostly thinking of the things we need to get done that day, the projects we have coming up, the homework, housework, actual work that we have going on in our own lives. It’s what takes up the majority of our brain power.
I was asked to sign an NDA once before someone would discuss their business idea with me. After I signed it, and learned of their idea, I said, “This is a great idea, my partner and I pitched this exact concept at Startup Weekend last year. We got second place.”
Notice a year later, my partner and I weren’t executing on that concept. We had our own business to worry about. The point is this: Most business ideas have already been thought of, but most business ideas have not been executed.
If you have an idea that you think is the greatest idea the world has ever heard, chances are, so has someone else. The difference that makes the difference is if you can actually carry it out and put it into existence. Raise your hand if you’ve actually stopped what you are doing to create a new business from someone else’s idea. No? It’s because starting a business takes an enormous amount of time and resources. People don’t just drop what they’re doing to steal your idea, and even if they did – they won’t do it the same way you would.
So here’s my advice for anyone who is worried someone else will steal their idea: Start talking about it.
I don’t mean call up everyone you know and start telling them about your idea, you will more than likely feel very discouraged by the end of it! I mean, start talking about it to people who can give you real insight into the industry you are trying to break into, the people who have successfully run businesses that can mentor you or anyone else of influence that can give you real guidance and advice on getting started.
Having an idea in a vacuum is a way to stifle the creative process. Let your idea bake for as long as it needs to, then share it. Find mentors you admire and trust to run your idea by so you get some valuable feedback. Things you never thought about, connections that may never have come about, resources you didn’t know existed are out there when you start to converse.
You’ll be energized by what you find out, about the possibility if actually doing it, and your idea starts to take form. It starts to feel real. I can almost guarantee that none of the people you will be speaking to want to steal your idea. You’ll find instead, that they’ll most likely want to help and cheer you on. Don’t deny yourself.
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