The value of a business idea

A beaver was visiting the Hoover Dam with his rabbit friend. When the rabbit saw it, he asked: ‘Beaver, do you know the builder of this dam?’ The beaver replied: ‘Look, rabbit, it wasn’t a beaver who did this, but clearly someone who stole our idea!’*

In my career, I’ve talked to a lot of people with great ideas for new businesses. Good professionals with ideas for their own start-ups. Lacking all the granular details, that’s what business plans and hands-on improvement are for, but still, the seed is there.

However, a common issue is when the person asks: “but I don’t know if I should tell a lot of people… how do I protect my idea?” Therein lies the danger. Because a business idea only has value when executed. And execution only happens when you attract people into your network to support you. And to attract these people, you need to spread your idea and start executing, without fear!

How many stories of great entrepreneurs who stole business ideas have you heard? An entrepreneur doesn’t have time for that, he’s worried about building his idea, not understanding and stealing someone else’s.

How many stories of venture capitalists who stole ideas have you heard? This doesn’t happen, either, because for a good venture capitalist the idea is inseparable from the team of founders — they want to invest not in ideas, but in combinations of ideas + people willing and empowered to build.

What if you were on the other side of the table, and someone came along with a great business idea, would you steal it and try to build it yourself? Or would you get closer to that person, support him and invest in him, betting that the one who came up with the idea is also the one best placed and most interested in developing it?

So don’t be afraid to talk to everyone about your idea. But don’t just stay in the field of ideas, either. Speak up without fear, roll up your sleeves, and start building your new business — for your sake, and for the sake of our society.

*story extracted from ‘How Innovation Works’, by Matt Ridley

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