Posted by 2013-12-22 11:56:41
Title: Who can I ask for opinions and advice on my business idea, without having them "steal my idea". Sure...
It's a good question to ask, Alison. It's understandable that any entrepreneur would want to protect their idea, and you're right to start asking these types of questions. Once you have an idea for a business, it's hard to know who to trust for that impartial feedback and how to protect your intellectual property (IP). Thankfully, you're really not alone, and there are a couple of ways you can go about this.
One option is to talk to your local Centre for Business/Business Enterprise Resource Centre. Business Advisors are there to support you, provide you guidance and honest feedback. In Ontario, you can find your local office at http://www.onebusiness.ca/. Kristina LaCourse, Business Advisor at the Stratford Perth Centre for Business assured me that Business Advisors are bound to maintain confidentiality for any client that they consult with. Not only are your visits and conversations documented, but they're also tracked in their systems.
Another option is to have anyone that you speak with sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Sample documents can be found within the article linked to here. Or if you feel more comfortable, you could contact a local attorney or paralegal to help you with creating one that specifically suits your purposes.
To help you work out exactly what your IP is and how you can best protect it, check out these workbooks and these articles from the Entrepreneurship Education team at MaRS Discovery District. They'll help you prepare for those first discussions, and guide you in which next steps to take in making your idea a reality in 2014.
Best of luck!
Karen Schulman Dupuis, Manager, Digital Communications
MaRS Discovery District