Five Ways That Over-Sharing Can Sink Your Startup

Bubbling over with enthusiasm for your newest idea for a new business? Put a lid on it.

Few human emotions are as powerful as the desire to share every detail of a great new concept that will make the world a better place — and make you rich in the process.

But the dangers of over-sharing never are greater than when you’re getting a new venture off the ground. Here are five reasons that silence is golden:

Silence Protects Intellectual Property

Everyone knows about the intellectual property dangers of sharing too much, too early. Patents, trade secrets, copyright — everything, in fact, that’s at the heart of your new business — will be put at risk if you talk about your ideas in any way that isn’t tightly limited. Non-disclosure agreements are powerful tools. Even more powerful are closed lips.

First to Speak May Lose ‘First to Market’

Even if you somehow escape the loss of your rights to intellectual property, bubbling over with talkative enthusiasm gives away your competitive advantage. Someone always will be able to get to market with your idea more quickly than you can. Second place in the race to market often is last place. Your competitor can’t get a head start if you keep your idea locked safely away.

Feedback from Family and Friends is Not Objective

You are almost certain to get the worst kind of feedback when you share your enthusiasm with your family and friends. They like you. They want to support you. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. It’s highly unlikely that your friends and family will provide an objective assessment of your great concept. Every startup and every entrepreneurial idea requires validation. Family and friends won’t provide it, but you easily can be fooled by their kind words into believing that you are, indeed, ready to change the world. Quietly do some real market research and listen carefully to what you learn.

Don’t Preclude a Pivot

You lose a little bit of your flexibility every time you talk about your idea with an outsider. If you tell a friend about your idea for great new technology hardware to be sold through traditional retail channels, you’ll have some explaining to do when you pivot to a software product sold online. Your friend still will be supportive — at least you hope so — but who wants to go through the hassle of explaining the reasons that a still-in-development idea took on a dramatic new look? Startups need to move quickly and need to keep all their options open as long as they can. Sharing too much, too early begins to close doors.

Your Credibility Could Suffer

The mild hassle of explaining a pivot to a friend can, however, become a big deal if you need to explain a major change in direction to a potential investor or significant supporter of the new venture. If you need to explain six weeks from now that you’ve discovered that the idea you so enthusiastically pitched simply won’t work, you will lose some degree of credibility. And credibility, once lost, is devilishly difficult to regain.  It's far better to do your homework, nail down the details and gain confidence in your concept well before you allow your enthusiasm to carry you away. During World War II, posters cautioned the public, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Don’t let loose lips sink your next great idea.

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Written by:
Craig Macy is the CEO of Onstream, a device intelligence framework. Learn more at
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