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Why No One Will Steal Your Startup Idea

When you’ve got a great idea, share it.

It might seem like counterintuitive advice, but that’s the philosophy that’s building Buffer: An emphasis on transparency and openness around almost everything we do.

So it’s no surprise that Buffer founders Joel and Leo focus on openness even when it comes to new and untested startup ideas.

Instead of the (quite natural) thought process of keeping a startup idea to yourself out of fear someone will nab it, they say the sooner you shout your idea from the rooftops, the more successful you’re likely to be.

It may feel uncomfortable, but often that’s a sign you’re on the right track. After all, how else are you going to figure out if your idea is what people want?

In this Founder Chat video, Joel and Leo explain the reasons why sharing early in the process was the right move for Buffer. Could it work for your idea?

What do you think? We’d love to hear your take on this topic in the comments.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might enjoy our Buffer: Open Blog newsletter. Receive each new lifehacking, productivity and business leadership post delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here.

  • Guest

    I loved this, I would love for my bosses to understand it! Thank you Courtney!

  • Belen Pulgar-Figueira

    You’re right on point about it – I only hope more startups (and my bosses) understand this! Thank you Courtney!

    • Courtney Seiter

      Happy to share the video! Maybe you can find a way to show it to your bosses. ;)

  • It certainly doesn’t pay to be a recluse. You’ve got to talk to people and get feedback as soon as possible. Don’t let your mind fool you into thinking your million dollar idea is bullet proof (this stuff isn’t that easy).

    Beyond that are things like passion, motivation, discipline, expertise. It’s extremely rare to find someone who will fight harder than you and mold your idea into something worthy of anything close to a million bucks.


    Somebody stole my idea

  • If you haven’t already bookmarked the paragraph about the pointlessness of startup stealth in Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup – you should. More details here

  • Michael Schaarschmidt

    I’ve made the experience, that sharing the idea can push you forward – much stronger than keep it secret. If you describe your idea in 2 or 3 sentences and you can see the the small flash in the eyes of someone who gets the idea and when this person comes to you and shakes you on your shoulders and almost shouting at you ‘thats exactly what I need, do it, do it now’ …

  • david hite

    Totally Agree, had the other mindset at first but now i dont think anyone would want to (anyone in their right mind anyway) as it is so hard!

  • mreyher

    Nothing creates value without it changing hands. Especially ideas.

  • esolesek

    I disagree on one level however. If the idea is great, and the execution is not difficult, or, say, can fit into another company’s already established supply chain, then your idea CAN get jacked and you will be F’ED. The question I have is does a startup just build from a ground level, or if the idea is that great, invest in a bigger marketing push and an actual LAUNCH?

  • Chris Welter

    I’m an entrepreneurship professor and I tell students this all the time. Telling people your idea increases your commitment level and helps to refine your idea by giving you feedback.

    If you worry about your idea getting stolen, typically I have found that your idea already exists (you just haven’t looked hard enough). Or, you don’t have the commitment level (or want the commitment level) it takes for execution.

    In the rare case someone can easily steal your idea just by knowing about it, then you won’t be successful for very long anyway. As soon as you launch, they’ll know about your idea and beat you at your own game.

  • Hector Perez

    I think this is really important for first time entrepreneurs so I’m gathering a list of all the people who agree (and disagree) to convince them

  • Jason Kirkwood

    This is great info depending on what niche your in, then again like they said usually the focus shifts to something different in due time. I will have to agree.

  • Alex Flom

    That is a great article.

    I also wrote a nice post about why you should actually share your startup idea with everyone:

    There is no reason to keep a startup idea to yourself.

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