We often have people come to us asking us to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or asking a client to sign an NDA. An NDA is basically a document that says: “I haven’t heard this idea before. You’re giving it to me for the first time. It’s not common knowledge out there. But I will keep it a secret for you for a period of time.” We have been asked to sign an NDA numerous times, but we can’t sign them because we’ve seen about 30 businesses over the years and most investors who are sophisticated won’t sign them. You can’t be afraid of investors.  You can’t be afraid to expose your idea. If you think you have something to protect, file patents or trademarks or have an attorney help you to do it. See if there are ways to cover your idea. Copyrights are good, but they are hard to enforce. Then tell everybody about it. See if you can build consensus around your idea. You’re the best person to bring it out there. If somebody takes your idea, there’s not much you can do about that unless you file for protections over time. But if people are afraid to express their idea because they’re afraid people will steal it, their idea isn’t going to go anywhere. Don’t be afraid to talk to everybody you know about it who can help you to refine the idea and might get involved in building the company.

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