How to stop Investors from Stealing your Business Ideas
Unique business ideas are not easy to come by for bankers and investors to steal these ideas. Think of all of the sleepless nights, all the brainstorming and all the financial and non-financial resources you put into it. Finally, you feel like you have got your passport to wealth. Soon you are going to be sitting with billionaires and granting interviews. Your name is soon going to be on Forbes list of wealthiest people.
Oh no, Wait a minute, it’s not! Why? Because someone just stole your business idea and unfortunately, this dude has enough money to throw around so while you are thinking of how to raise funds to invest in this new money-spinner, he’s ten steps ahead of you.
Unfortunately, this is the story of so many smart people who take their time to develop very smart business ideas and then because they failed to guard their ideas jealously, it gets hijacked by someone else. You can decide to sue the people and engage in legal battles which may or may not end in your favor, or you can decide to protect your business ideas from being stolen by investors, bankers or sponsors.
You would be shocked at the funny ways business ideas get hijacked. A close friend had this personal experience few months ago. He had already developed a very smart business idea and was in the process of raising funds to finance the project when someone leaked the idea.
In this case, it wasn’t even the investors or sponsors who stole the idea but the project accountant. In a discussion with her boyfriend, she revealed some details about the project. Her smart money-bag boyfriend saw the huge opportunity in the business and before we all knew it, the project had been hijacked.
You have to know how to protect your business ideas from people like this who knowingly or unknowingly expose your business ideas to theft. Business ideas could also be stolen by sponsors or investors through your business plan.
A potential investor would ask for your business plan as one of the basic criterion to base his decision making on and you. In a bid to convince investors that your business is worth their funds, you would make the extra effort to prepare an excellently written business plan. Unfortunately, this may backfire if not done the right way. Here is how to protect your business ideas-:
Before you reveal your unique business idea to anyone, ensure that you get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement which would prevent them from disclosing, using or sharing your business idea with anyone else. Sometimes, investors may frown at the idea of signing non-disclosure agreements as a way to protect themselves too but you can still protect your business idea by backing your business plan with a confidentiality clause which states that the contents in it should not be divulged without proper permission or authorization.
People can only know as much as you reveal to them about your business idea. If you want to protect your ideas from being stolen, ensure that you do not reveal too much about your business idea to investors. Reveal only as much as would help them in their decision making. If there’s a secret knowledge, or strategy or ingredient that makes your idea stand out, keep it away from investors.
Patents are also very good for protecting business ideas from being stolen. The only problem is that patent rights are expensive to incur. In the United States of America for instance, you would need about $10,000 to be able to get a patent right for your business idea.
However, all hope is not lost as you can still make do with a provisional patent which is cheaper to obtain but would only last for about 12 months. But this should be sufficient enough to cover for your fund-sourcing period and protect your ideas from being stolen by potential investors.
Before you came up with that business idea, you probably had to do a lot of thinking and strategizing. You had to add some tweaks here and there and change some things. Now, you have to ensure that you put all of this down in print
There are a lot of people who would pose as potential investors only so that they can steal your ideas and sell it to other people. Therefore, you have to do a lot of background check before you can trust anyone to the point of revealing your business ideas or plans to them. Work with people with integrity and a proven track record and completely avoid people whose credibility you cannot vouch for.
You may tempt people to steal your business idea by being greedy. As much as you can, be very generous with rewards and profit-sharing with your investors.This would make them feel like a part of the project and prevent them doing anything that would jeopardize the project.
Do not be too quick to hand out your business plan to everyone who requests for it. You should protect your business plan and only give share it when you are sure that you are dealing with credible individuals.
It is also advisable to involve your lawyer and seek legal advice from him. When people know that you have legal backing, they would most definitely think twice before stealing your business idea.
Time is of the essence when it comes to protecting your business idea from theft and you shouldn’t joke with it. You cannot expect to leave your business idea for 5 years without expecting that someone else would think of something similar or even better. So as soon as you catch the idea, start working on it and make sure you do not rest until your huge dream becomes a reality.