In the twelve-plus years that I've been working with authors and would-be authors, the second biggest roadblock I've seen standing between them and a final manuscript is a fear of sharing their ideas (more on the single biggest roadblock in a moment).
Whether it's rooted in a fear of rejection, a fear of someone stealing the idea outright, or some combination of the two, many people use the crutch of sheltering an idea as an excuse to keep the hard work associated with launching it relegated to the back burner.
Like authors, entrepreneurs exist in a community powered by creativity and ideas. Also like authors, entrepreneurs can be hamstrung by fear and distrust.
The first thing I tell an author in this fear mindset is to bear in mind that the power of an idea lies in its execution. This is also true in business.
The single biggest roadblock between an idea and its launch is the failure to execute at all, as in not even start. And the people who ARE good at starting are, you guessed it, knee deep in launching something of their own, leaving little time to spend on stealing others' ideas.
Moving past the nonstarters, the power of execution also refers to the unique approach that you and your experience bring to the table. There are countless combinations of approaches to constructing business models, product launches, marketing strategies, branding, company culture, and so on - but only one combination that you would choose based on your experience and philosophies.
You and your background are part of your competitive advantage.
Another point to consider...if your idea is that easy for someone to steal, you may have a different issue on your hands. Something that is easy to rip off and implement without your guidance, knowledge, connections, and so on may have difficulty holding onto market share.
In most cases, you'll be better served in the long run by taking the time to understand your market and create a better product. You don't necessarily need to be first to market to be successful. Often, as the saying goes, the pioneers get the arrows and the settlers get the land.
Sharing your idea is important to its success for a number of reasons. First, you need feedback to refine both your idea and how you talk about/pitch it. Entrepreneurs understandably hold a personal bias of favor towards their own ideas. You have to, or you wouldn't have the confidence to launch it!
But sometimes we make the mistake of projecting our own preferences onto a wider audience that actually does not share the interest we hold.
The best way to catch that early enough to shift gears is to begin bouncing your idea off of trusted parties well before launch, using their feedback to retool where necessary if you encounter confusion about the pitch or a general lack of enthusiasm.
You also need support and a strong network, so holding back on sharing your idea can mean missing out on opportunities for partnerships, collaborations, recruiting, and even investor interest.
Last but not least, speaking your ideas aloud to others creates a certain level of accountability. Many of us are more apt to follow through on something once we've made our intentions known to others. If you're tipping towards the nonstarter side of things, start by telling a few trusted family members about what you're working on.
A good way to strike a balance between the fear of sharing ideas and the need for feedback is to focus on sharing the why, not the how.
What problem are you solving for your customers? What need do your customers have that you fill? Remember, execution is the magic behind a successful launch...and outside of investors, most people don't care to hear about how you're doing what you're doing. They really want to know what you're doing that will make their life easier or better.
This is also a good reason to use the pitch technique of comparing your idea to a known entity ("It's like Yelp for creative services"). You save having to explain how the functional part of the business works and are just focusing on the new angle and market served.
In the words of Anatole France, "It is by acts and not by ideas that people live." Your ideas are seeds; feedback and execution are the light and water that make them thrive.