How to Protect Your Business Idea in 7 Easy Steps


by Monika Beck | Featured Contributor

You want to protect your big idea, right?

As you grow your business, you will find yourself sharing business ideas with others increasingly often. Talking about your company with potential investors, customers, and colleagues is critical to growth. On the other hand, sharing your business ideas exposes your company to idea theft. If another company steals your business idea in its infancy, there is not much you can do to reclaim it. So, protecting your business idea to maintain market lead is a serious concern.

The good news: the majority of people with whom you will share your business ideas are not potential thieves. In fact, an investor would suffer greatly if she stole a business owner’s idea and used it for her own benefit. Entrepreneurs have their own ideas that they are working hard to put into action.

So, most people you will encounter are not potential idea thieves. But it only takes one unscrupulous employee or colleague to undermine your work. Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize this risk and protect your business idea.

Don’t get into specifics.

When you discuss your business idea with others, avoid disclosing unnecessary details. It is often enough to describe generally what your product does. There’s usually no need to get into how it operates. This strategy should work well when you discuss your ideas with other business owners or employees. If you are sharing your idea with investors, however, they will need all the details if they’re going to finance your idea.

Non-Disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Statements.

You can ask your employees or coworkers to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect your business idea. But, be careful about asking potential clients and investors to sign an agreement before you reveal your business idea. Avoid offending these potential financiers. Instead, print a confidentiality statement on your proposal and don’t ask for signatures.

Provisional Patents.

You can obtain a provisional patent to protect yourself while you market your business idea, but be prepared to pay a steep price. The provisional patent will protect you for one year, after which it will expire. There are no extensions available for provisional patents.

Trademark your brand.

If your business name is related to your idea, consider trademarking your company’s name to protect it. Trademarking also generates a written record of your business idea, so the process itself gives you some protection. This way, you will have a trail of evidence in case the timing and possession of your business idea ever come into question.

Be careful who you talk to.

Investigate individuals before pitching your idea to them. A simple online search can reveal whether your potential investor or client has a history of disputes or a stellar record in their industry. Take advantage of the ready availability of this information to protect your business idea.

Trust your gut feelings.

When something doesn’t feel right or seems too good to be true, it probably is. One red flag is a business owner with a suspiciously high interest level in your idea. There could be an innocent reason—genuine curiosity or a desire to invest in your idea. But this could also be someone who wants to steal your idea. Ask yourself what the person’s motive could be, considering their level of experience. Someone who has spent years establishing a solid reputation in her industry would not throw it away to steal your idea. But you could have cause for concern if you’re speaking with someone less established. Avoid oversharing until you’re sure of that person’s intentions.

Put it in writing.

Document your idea as precisely as you can. Record every meeting where you have revealed details about your business idea. By creating a written record of your ideas and the time at which you had them, you will have evidence in case a legal issue arises.

Think of this written record as your security blanket for sharing your ideas with confidence. The benefits of sharing your idea with clients and investors outweigh the small risk of theft. When you are too protective of your idea, you are actually reducing your chances of selling it. You could be missing out on important interactions with clients and investors. You might even be missing out on important input from colleagues and other business owners, who could help you improve and expand your idea.

Following the steps in this article should help put you at ease about sharing your business idea. Keep in mind that ideas are rarely stolen. In fact, many people have their own ideas that they are trying to sell.

Protect your business idea, but be sure to share it with people who are likely to help you succeed.


Savvy web designer with a twist – Monika Beck with Webene – San Diego, CA.

Monika-Beck-AuthorMonika Beck is passionate about website design, web programming, ecommerce, and building businesses. She is a serial entrepreneur and the cofounder of Success Harbor a website dedicated to help entrepreneurs succeed. Success Harbor interviews successful entrepreneurs and publishes topics relevant to business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Monika started Success Harbor with her cofounder in order to ease the life of entrepreneurs through original research, tips and unique content. Monika is also cofounder of Webene, a website design and online marketing firm based in San Diego, CA. Webene specializes in mobile-friendly responsive websites built on the WordPress platform. Monika loves playing classical music on the piano.

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One Reply to “How to Protect Your Business Idea in 7 Easy Steps”

  1. yaw lokko

    Really on point. And it’s sad how some top players steal others ideas for their own selfish interest here in Ghana (West Africa) and Africa at large. Now the young ones can even share their ideas to anyone and at the end, the ideas become unsung to the world.

    As a youth, I’m here to stop it and invest greatly in young ones ideas and skills to build our continent.

    These points will help me convene information to them.

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