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  • Sharing your business idea with others
    Getting business advice without giving away too much Who can you trust with your business idea? When considering starting your own company, it is natural to want to seek out as much advice as possible. The trouble with looking for expert advice is some of the experts you consult might already be in business. Some may even be your potential competitors. How can you avoid having your brilliant business idea scooped? Seeking out expert advice is necessary. Building a successful niche in an established industry is impossible without first building relationships with potential clients, customers, financial backers and yes, even competitors. It’s important to learn who you can trust, and how much information you can safely share early in the process. Set boundaries around your property If you were going to clear a piece of land and build, you would create and mark the boundaries of the property line. You wouldn’t just march onto a piece of land and begin clearing trees and setting a foundation without being certain of where the boundaries lay. You would begin by establishing that this land belongs to you, and that you are not encroaching on another’s property. You would then mark the property line, and finally begin the hard work of clearing the property and preparing the land for building. Intellectual property is no different. If you want to avoid having your intellectual property stolen, it is important to establish ownership early on. Although taking out patents and filing for copyright may seem like an expensive, complicated process, taking those steps can save you time and frustration down the road. If your idea and product, whether it be a physical product, a service, or your expertise, has value, it’s worth protecting. Do your research and be sure your idea is different enough from what is already on the market to avoid infringing on any existing trademark. Take appropriate steps to register your own copyright or patent, secure your website domain, and protect your trademark. Success means not only creating a valuable product or service, it also means ensuring you’re the only one who has the right to offer your particular product or service. Trust is a handshake, but a contract is binding Obviously, no one goes into business completely alone. It’s necessary to form key partnerships, as well as developing customer relationships, not to mention contact with financial backers. You will need to create, and share a business plan with potential investors. Before taking the step of presenting your plan, you’ll require to seek out expert advice. Non-disclosure agreements are standard in most industries. If you have created a new product but need to buy parts or partner with a manufacturer to create it, you may wish to ask for an agreement before revealing your idea. You may be asked to sign an agreement as well, depending on the nature of the relationship you’re entering into with the company or individual. Be sure to read carefully and understand anything you are signing so you don’t get trapped in an unnecessarily restrictive agreement. Practice discretion The reality is, most people do not have the time, money or motivation to start a new business. Even if they’re in the industry themselves, chances are they have their hands too full with their own affairs to grab your idea and run with it. The risk of having someone else pre-empt your idea is very small. However, keeping your business ideas and plans under wraps serves two purposes. First, it keeps potential competitors from beating you to the punch, and second it helps to build a buzz. People love a magician’s trick because they are not told ahead of time how it works. The delighted gasp when the trick is revealed is the magician’s reward. If you’re concerned about the potential pitfalls of sharing too much information, try to break down different aspects of your business and seek advice from different people about various areas. Ask one expert about customer service, for example, while requesting beta-testing from another. Just don’t get too bent on subterfuge, or you’ll risk annoying the very people you’re seeking help from.
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