BLOG: Why startups in “stealth mode” are deluding themselves
By Daniel Williams. Posted 26 May, 2015
It goes like this (usually)… startup founder dreams up an idea that s/he believes will be “the web’s next big thing.” Founder locks themselves in basement for a year building product without breathing a word to anyone. Founder emerges with shiny, polished product that, as it turns out, no one wanted.

I too was once super-protective of our new business idea. I trembled at the thought of telling anyone about it — that they might steal the idea and get it to market before I could. I went to the lawyers and exchanged a handsome sum of money for an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and then the first person I took it to said “I don’t sign NDAs.”

After that one time — and some reflecting — we decided to ditch the NDA and get talking about our idea with anyone and everyone who would listen. And so should you. Here’s why:
Your idea isn’t original
There are ideas everywhere. 99.9% of them aren’t original. Let’s think about it. Was Facebook the first social network? Nope. Was Google the first search engine? Nope. Was McDonald’s the first hamburger restaurant? Nope. BUT they all had something different — something that people wanted.

An idea — any idea — holds no value until it’s proven successful.
You might be deluded
My co-founder and I often talk about the trap of “shared delusion.” Because there’s just two of us and we’re both passionate about our startup, we’re wary of big-upping the idea all the time. We often have to stop ourselves from saying “this is going to be awesome!” and instead try and say “we don’t know if anyone’s actually going to use this.”

The point is, it’s easy to think your idea is so great that people will be falling over themselves to steal it, given a chance. They won’t.
Your idea just isn’t that great
People aren’t just sitting around waiting for a great idea to come along so they can quit their jobs, start a business, invest their life savings, and live in total uncertainty for two years. Startups are HARD work. Really, really hard. Most startups fail, and those who make it will often tell you “timing and luck were on our side.”
Ideas are a dime a dozen
Ideas on their own are worthless. The execution of an idea is what really counts. Successful products almost always look different to the founder’s original concept. Talk to as many people as you can about your idea — trust me, no one is going to steal it! By discussing your idea with potential customers you’ll get product validation and learn what they actually want — which can be quite different to what you think they want.

Consider an extreme example. If I announced that I was going to start a company that made REAL flying surfboards, would everyone rush out to do the same? We all know how popular they would be. You’d make billions. But there’s more to it than just the idea of it, obviously.

And if your idea simply sucks and no one wants it, you might just save yourself a whole lot of time, and money, by finding out sooner rather than later.

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