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Making the decision to become an entrepreneur and to start making a living from an idea you’ve had is an incredibly liberating one, but it’s also a highly stressful one that many people find more than a little daunting. The fear of failure for most of us can be huge here, and particularly when we are taking a risk financially to make a go of it. When you have never released a product or tried to sell something before, your mind can start doing cartwheels coming up with all the different things that can go wrong and this can be highly distressing.

One such concern may be that someone will ‘steal your ideas’. How can you go about producing your life-changing invention when anyone you explain it to could just launch their own version and beat you to the punch?

Of course if this is holding you back and preventing you from trying at all then you need to get out of that mind set NOW. Even if people would steal your idea, it’s no better off just sitting in your head without you doing anything about it and if you wait long enough then someone could come up with the same idea on their own anyway. Better to take the risk and no you tried…

And at the same time it’s also worth noting that there are plenty of ways you can manage this risk and protect your ideas and designs as you go. Here we will look at some of those.

Keep Schtum

Schtum is a German word my Mum uses that means ‘quiet’ but I think it has a more pleasing onomatopoeic quality to it. At any rate, while you don’t need to be paranoid you should avoid talking about your idea more than necessary and you should try and be as vague as you can be even when you do talk to people about it. Keep your cards close to your chest and people will be more impressed when you make a success of your idea too (trust me, people get bored hearing you explain every idea in detail…).

Make Some Confidentiality Forms

NASS-2010_Census Form Mailout

Sometimes you will need to show your ideas to people who could make something of them whether that means journalists or shop owners. To put your mind at rest at this stage then, make some non-disclosure forms and get anyone you talk to to sign them.

Keep a Journal

Journal: Jan 1, 1960-1963 |

Keeping a journal where you work through all of your designs and your ideas is an important way to keep track of the design process and improve your ideas, but can also be used as evidence in court. It’s not watertight by any means, but it will help.

Get Protection

Cromna Patent 13-19mm

For a product there is only one kind of protection that will prevent people from stealing your ideas and that’s getting a patent. Copyrights only work for stories and artistic works, while trademarks are only for things like brand names and characters in stories. Decide then if you need a utility patent or a design patent and then hire a lawyer to handle the (length) process for you.

Get to Work!

The very best way to protect your ideas though is to just knuckle down and get to work. Releasing a product takes a long time so the simple fact that you’ve started already means that no one is likely to beat you to market if you keep moving. And once your product has got a foothold in the market and everyone knows you’re the ‘original’, copying won’t do anyone any good.

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Sara Brown is a business blogger. Her company Berkeley Sourcing Group makes products with the help of overseas manufacturing techniques.


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