As you grow your business you must begin to reveal information to investors, clients, employees to name a few. As you start this process, you may become increasingly worried that someone may steal your company’s unique business idea. This feeling is extremely valid, although, do not curl up into a ball too much because keeping your idea a secret can lead to missed opportunities. Instead, take these cautious steps to avoid the dreaded theft of your idea.
1. Don’t say too much
A chef will let you taste a delicious meal but he or she would never give the recipe. Kinda like how this chef sustains a certain level of mystery, you should too. To do this, simply identify a piece of your invention that stands as your “secret sauce” and refrain from sharing only this information. For example, say what your product does without giving away any information on how it works.
2. Have them sign to secrecy
Try having your confidants sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) or have a confidentiality statement on your business plan. This will keep employees, associates and others from growing sticky fingers. Unfortunately, investors do not like to sign NDAs, so be prepared to give up this right if you are seeking an investor.
3. File a Patent
Filing a patent is by far the best way to protect your idea. Unfortunately this step is sometimes skipped, as some new inventors are intimidated to file a full-blown patent application because to file can be costly, complex and their idea isn’t fully vetted yet anyways.
If this is the case for you, at the very least please file a provisional patent. This option is more affordable and easier to file. Keep in mind that this option offers temporary protection and eventually after your idea has become a more solid thought, you will have to file a full-blown patent application to ensure extended protection for your idea.
4. Trademark Your Name
To file a trademark can create further legal proof that your business idea was in the works at a certain date. This is because your company name is often tied closely with your idea.
5. Research the people you do business with
You may be proud of your idea but don’t go speaking about it loudly in public, or sharing it with any average joe. Instead, make sure that the people you share your idea with are extremely worthy of hearing your idea. For starters, make sure that they are at least credible in their field and have a good reputation with previous partners. Above all, make sure that the people you do business with are capable of making your dream a reality.
6. Make a paper trail
As you last resort, make sure that you have at least established a paper trail documenting the times you disclosed your business idea. This paper trail could help you out in court in the case your idea is stolen.
What steps have you taken to protect your idea?