George is the only business mentor I have, but he’s actually more like a great friend. We first met when he approached me through a Craigslist ad I posted offering dance lessons. He had two left feet and immediately took a liking to me. About two years ago, I remember we were sitting down having a conversation at a startup neighborhood Thai restaurant. I had some ventures I was considering pursuing, and I threw them along with my concerns to him.
With my dance business, I told him that there was competition out there, and that their products looked very good.
He emphatically responded, “Don’t worry about the competition. It doesn’t exist.”
He pointed out that I was a good teacher, that I really walked (or danced) my talk, and that I had something special going for me. I tried really hard to believe him, but as a fledgling entrepreneur, I reserved some skepticism.
Continuing on with his own experiences from his successful business, George related to me how most of his fears never came to pass. The competition never invaded on his share of the pie. The competition never really stole his ideas.
In fact, the competition never materialized.
George continued: “It’s funny. My business partner and I were talking about our company the other day. We have a bizarre business, but what we do is very simple. If you took some time to go through our most popular web pages, you’ll know exactly what we do and probably could replicate it. And yet, over the years, no one has tried doing what we do.”
Here are some more tips from George, along with some of my own reflections:
1. Share Your Ideas With Smart People.
Most people new to business are very protective of their ideas. They’re too worried about people stealing them. My advice is to share them with smart people, people who are in business. When you share your ideas with successful entrepreneurs, almost all of the time they’re too busy with their own good ideas to steal yours. Even better, they’re neutral. Their feedback includes a list of reasons why your ideas are good, and some reasons why they are bad.
Don’t share your ideas with people who aren’t in business. They’re useless. They’ll just tell you how someone else is doing it and kill your idea before it even hatches when in fact you might be onto something very good.