Welcome to episode 50 of the Launch Yourself podcast.

In This Episode

In today’s episode, I share with you some ways to handle a fellow entrepreneur stealing your idea – whether on purpose or by accident. And how to prevent it from happening in the future while still being able to validate your ideas and keep your creativity flowing.

Here’s a look inside this episode:

  • Why sharing your ideas is ok… sometimes.
  • My own personal experience of having a friend steal my idea—what I did (and didn’t do).
  • If someone has already stolen your idea, you have three ways you can handle it: you can address it, you can revamp it and make it yours (and crush it), or you can move on.
  • What to consider sharing and how, especially when it comes to social media.

Click here to listen in!

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Melissa Anzman (00:00): This is the Launch Yourself podcast episode, number 50, all about what to do. If someone steals your product or course idea for more information and show notes, go to launchyourself.co/50.

Melissa Anzman (00:16): Welcome to the launch yourself podcast. My name is Melissa Anzmn. I'm a best-selling author and the CEO of two businesses and employee experience company and launch yourself where I help entrepreneurs diversify and scale their business by launching digital products each week, you'll hear mindblowing interviews where we peek behind the curtain of other people's launches, as well as actual tips and strategies that you can implement in your daily work work-life to create launches that actually make you money. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now let's get started

Melissa Anzman (00:53): Today. I want to talk with you about something that comes up to me all the time. It is a question I get asked just about once a week, maybe slightly less than that, but once a week is usually when it comes up, because it is really important for people. And that is what if someone stole your business or product idea now, as if being an entrepreneur or solo preneur or a course creator isn't enough, you're constantly hustling for clients and creating content and selling things, wearing all the hats, being the sole decision maker, all the things. Now on top of that, you think you have to worry about someone, you know, stealing your product idea or your business idea, or do you have to worry about it at all? Now, early on in my entrepreneurship journey, I was on the other end of the spectrum.

Melissa Anzman (01:55): When it came to sharing, brainstorming, asking for help, I would overshare with too many people, or I would hold things so closely to my chest that I never sanity checked anything. So I was like an either or a person of extremes. I'm sure that's not surprising to those of you who know me, but I was very much a I'm going to tell you everything and all the idea and all the nitty gritty details and all that fun stuff. Or I'm just going to say, I'm working on a project and used to infuriate my accountability buddies because they're like what project, what it, like, it felt like pulling teeth and I get it. But here's what happened in one of my oversharing moments. I told a trusted friend, fellow entrepreneur who actually was my coach, who then turned into my client, like this was a really good friend of mine.

Melissa Anzman (02:45): I told her about a business idea that I was having, and it was for a product. And it was for a live workshop type product. It was like a little course type of thing on a very specific topic with lots of moving pieces and reach and really like a new idea to the market. I didn't think twice about it. We have been close. We had been close in business, both in hers and in mine, we worked together as client and coach in both sides. Like it was very much a good relationship. She was a friend of mine. She had her own business, it was someone I trusted and she trusted me. And two weeks later after that conversation, I saw that she had bootstrapped a new product launch and it was the exact same idea that I had shared with her, for my product two weeks earlier.

Melissa Anzman (03:37): And the kicker of this is she never even said anything to me about it. Other than asking if I would come in and teach for an hour on a topic about it, it was like to her, I had nothing to do with the idea or concept that she came up with it all on her own. And I was really bummed out and upset and hurt. And, you know, she has a bigger audience. She was more established. She was going to make all these sales, which would prevent me from doing the same thing. Cause we're kind of in the same circles. And interestingly enough, as outspoken as I am or as I can be, I also really don't like burning bridges. And so I never said anything to her. I never pointed it out. I never asked for information or details and Oh my goodness. I said yes to come in and do that hour of teaching for her group.

Melissa Anzman (04:34): Like, can you even believe it? Can you even imagine that situation? Now? Here's the thing. Like I understand that there is a need to share information and ideas, particularly with trusted partners. And I also understand being too scared to do that. And part of the problem is with social media, we feel an urge to overshare under share, or it's just not comfortable or it's overly comfortable. And the thing is is I, as I talked to more people, having your brilliance borrowed, having your ideas taken or stolen is something that happens all of the time. And even without knowing that story that I experienced first hand here is just some advice. Some high-level advice that has helped me get through it, which is, and the less you are creating something that is truly a first time ever, or a dramatic shift in the marketplace. There aren't many new unique ideas out there, but what makes your products and your business unique?

Melissa Anzman (05:44): Isn't the idea, but it's how you uniquely execute it, what you bring to the table. So if you think about it broadly, let's take sort of money or finance experts. For example, there are millions of money experts out there for many different backgrounds and areas of expertise, but how many ways are there really to talk about how to invest your 401k? What makes people listen to each individual money expert is the approach that that person takes when they discuss the issues. And that's about you. That is where you and your unique brilliance comes in. So let's get to sort of the nuts and bolts of your concerns of having your ideas stolen. So first, if your idea was stolen, you, there are a few things that you can do to manage it. The first is you can address it. If you have more guts than I do, or rather maybe have a pension for talking things through or having, you know, nice confrontations, you can always address it with your friend.

Melissa Anzman (06:50): I'd recommend not taking the confrontational approach here, obviously, but you know, that person was ruthless enough to steal something that wasn't their own. But I don't think you're going to get much traction. However, if you do address it, I want you to have your desired outcome ready to go. So let's be honest here. They aren't going to stop their train from moving forward. And really they likely didn't think that they stole your idea. Like they may have gotten a nugget from you or they may have, you may have lit a fire under them for something they hadn't fully formed, but most people aren't thinking that they are stealing your idea. I mean, especially someone that you trust. So I want you, if you're going to have a confrontation or a conversation more like, I want you to walk in understanding what your desired outcome is going to be, and you may want to ask or tell them to stop with their idea and moving forward, but they aren't going to really care much about that.

Melissa Anzman (07:51): So with that in mind, what do you want to get out of the conversation? Do you want to cut of the action? Do you want recognition that the idea was yours? Do you want to take them to court at the end of the day? What do you want? Okay. The second thing that you can do is to continue to move forward just because someone stole your idea does not mean that they can steal you from moving forward and steal your momentum. And it does allow you a lot of room to do it even better than they are doing it. So you heard me, right? If you believe in your idea and still want to see it through, then I want you to do it. If you share a similar audience, it may be a bit awkward, but remember you can deliver things that make your audience like you specifically and be sure to crush it when you deliver.

Melissa Anzman (08:47): Now, part of continuing to move forward is your idea is just that until you frame it in an offer and your pitch. And so this is really important for differentiation here, which is if you want to do this idea and someone took it from you and is doing it, and you feel a little awkward by it. I want you to look at how you can position it better and differently. What is your true offer? Because most people fail in creating an actual offer, which is something that I talk about all the time. And then when they put their pitch together, the angles often, all that fun stuff. So you have a lot of room to deliver the same type of idea, the same type of product or business with your unique offer slant to it. So I want you to dig deep on that, start with that transformation, then build out the offer of really what's going to change for that person and then create it so you can do it.

Melissa Anzman (09:45): You're just going to make sure that you do it right, and that you do it better, and you're going to own it. I don't want you to be worried about doing it because they are as well or you're doing it second. So therefore it's a wasted idea. It's not, there are a lot of people doing a lot of the same things with varying degrees of success out there in the marketplace. So think about that 401k example. I just shared with you there's millions. I may overstate that, but there's millions of financial advisors out there who have enough business and enough people coming to them to be financial advisors, for example. So, and they all are giving the same advice or similar advice. So there is room for you in your marketplace to deliver a same or similar solution for your product. As long as you make it uniquely yours.

Melissa Anzman (10:40): Now, if someone stole your product, the last thing you can do is move on. Now. Obviously it's going to be hard to give up an idea that you are really excited about, but sometimes it's just easier to let it go and move on to your next brilliant idea. And in my example, above that, I shared that what happened to me, that's exactly what I did. And because I moved on and just sort of glossed over that brilliant idea and let her have it. I was able to land on an even better idea next time. And I want to be fully transparent with you. I was pretty bitter about the whole thing for a while. And even in my bitterness, I still didn't say anything because I was ready to move on to my next brilliant idea, which by the way, was a different course that made me five figures.

Melissa Anzman (11:31): It would made me 16 grand in that first launch which was like a small deal. So always room for more. Now, if you haven't had that happen to yet first, like I hope you're, I hope you've done everything you can. Or I would say you're probably new to entrepreneurship because I find this happening. You know, I even like total side note, I saw someone use a similar social media posts that I did. Like the imagery was the same. They just changed a word. And I'm like, that seems pretty late, but you know what? It's all right. Like people take ideas. It's borrowed. It's not lovely. We feel terrible about it when it happens to us, but it happens. So the other end of the spectrum was how to keep your ideas to yourself. So one of the biggest lessons that I learned through experiencing this firsthand early on in my journey as an entrepreneur was I needed to balance what I have touched share with people between sort of the all in approach of telling him everything about my idea and keeping things close to my chest.

Melissa Anzman (12:37): I also learned who I can trust and who I can not trust with these ideas. And I don't mean this in a horrible way that people are bad and don't trust anyone, not at all. But I am very careful with who I share really important information with. So I do the front page of the newspaper test. Now this is something back from my corporate days, doing employee communications. And you know, really big HR stuff is we would say, don't put it in email. If you can't stomach having your words focused on the front page of the wall street journal or the New York times. So that's what I mean by the front page. Newspaper test is only share the things that you would feel like, Oh, that's cool if it were shared or broadcast publicly somewhere else. And you have to be very careful not to swing in the other direction of not telling people anything, because you need to validate ideas.

Melissa Anzman (13:37): You need to have those trusted partners and conversations. Otherwise your product or ideal will likely fail. Anyway, we need that advice and guidance and the sanity check. As I like to call it from others to help us decide what will and what will not work in our business and why die. Or we tend to lose sight of the end result and say too far inside of our own perspective. So here's what I would recommend. I want you to consider setting up your own circle of trusted advisors and accordingly. Now for that example, I am still friendly with the person I mentioned above. And while I'm happy to talk about our businesses together, I don't share upcoming ideas or breakthroughs or big life, you know, shakeups with my business to her and you know, that's okay. I have someone else that I share those types of conversations with who happens to be in a completely different area of business than mine.

Melissa Anzman (14:37): And that is what I have found my success of sharing, which is don't necessarily become friends with only people in your market that have the same audience. I'm not saying get those people on there. Yeah. Our market, not at all or outside of your circle, but well, you know, for me in my business, I really liked it. Talking to people who have a very different offering and a very different audience so that when I do share things, we're learning from each other, but stealable I financial advisor or a money coach really can't take my idea about how to sell a product. Now, hopefully I can teach them how they can sell their own product, but my approach and what, you know, I am breaking through with, with a new course idea or what have you is not going to be relevant for their business and their audience.

Melissa Anzman (15:31): So that is how I have kept it in line. And I will tell you, there have been certain times that I have still withheld information from my trusted group. And these are things like the name of a product or program or experience because it hasn't yet been trademarked or I didn't snag the URL yet or something like that. And that is just me being overly protective of my ideas. I also have heard a lot of other people of my friends who, you know, will share something and say, but don't share it. You can't take it like that kind of stuff. I don't want you to get into that defensive mode because as entrepreneurs, we have to be creative enough that our ideas have room to grow and room to become what they should be versus being so terrified and certain that people are going to steal our brilliance.

Melissa Anzman (16:23): So instead, I want you to continue to sharing, but maybe find some people who are outside of your direct competition that you can trust and also learn from your experiences. What I mean by that is this person is still a friend of mine, but I'm very different with what I share with them. And that's okay. It's not negative. It's not mean we're still friendly. All the things are still good. And I never had the confrontation, which is awesome. But I do know my boundary when it comes to sharing information with that specific person. So you want you to get clear with that now, some general guidance for like sharing with the world broadly. Now take this with a grain of salt because I am not the world's biggest social media fan. You probable. We already know that I don't share there. I'm often I'm not consistent.

Melissa Anzman (17:18): I don't do all the things that I tell you to do to be great at getting customers through organic reach on social. It's just not my jam. I keep trying. We're still haven't figured it out. It's just not my jam. So just know that going in because they want you to really consider what it is you are sharing on your social media when it comes to your product ideas. Now I love a sort of hidden review or reveal, even though I hate it from the other side, like, I want to know what's going on. What are you sharing? But I want you to think of that approach more frequently than say, Hey, I'm going to do this thing. What do you think type of thing on social. I want you to maybe share details about it or, you know, drop some nuggets along the way versus just dropping your ideas everywhere online.

Melissa Anzman (18:06): And I see this most frequently, probably on Twitter. Some places in Facebook groups, I want you to still think of, you know, social media is being public, which means anybody can see it. And so does what you're sharing, even on social media, past the front page of the newspaper test. And if not, maybe pull back a little bit about what you're sharing there. Now, again, it's not to stop your creativity. It's not to stop your validation, which is a whole nother process, but it is to help you feel more comfortable and confident that your ideas are protected and having a plan of attack, ready to go. If they are stolen, how you can easily bounce back and move forward.

Melissa Anzman (18:51): To join the free Launch Yourself workshop, where you'll learn why your digital products aren't selling nearly as much as you planned for and how to diversify and scale your income by launching the right way. Text: launchyourself, all one word to: 44222.