I think I have an awesome idea for a web startup, but I'm not sure if I have a chance because I'm not a web developer, am currently unemployed, and can't afford to hire anyone to develop my idea (I could ask my dad to help, but I dislike nagging him for money). Should I try to get funding (in my own country or the US)? Wait and save (but what if someone does my idea before me)? What else should I do?
My advice: do something, it will create value. Don't spend time pitching, spend time doing stuff. If you really believe in your idea, start talking to all the geeks you know. If you can convince one of them to spend some time to write some code, you win.
Don't worry about someone else stealing your idea. People copy successes, not ideas. Today, you are the only one who thinks that your idea has merit. That's ok, you'll prove everyone wrong, but do something.
I don't have enough rep to upvote & comment Alain's answer or comment Alex's answer, so I'll create a new answer.
I'd skip the high school and university and spend all your time acquiring the skill to develop it yourself. This will take months and your first attempt will totally suck, but once you start making progress, others will help you, possibly even partner up with you. Once the site goes live, it should become even easier to find the help you need if the site shows any promise at all.
And the best part of this evil plan is the downside. That's right ... the downside is that even if your site falls flat on it's face, you will have acquired a high demand skillset which will help you earn more money or build your next great idea (trust me, you'll have many).
EDIT: My comment about skipping high school and university is only in relation to implementing the idea ASAP. Targeted education is the best investment a person can make. If you are in your teens or early 20s, finishing school is definitely something you should consider. You can become successful without formal education (although you'll still need to acquire it informally), but you will encounter more resistance throughout your life than you would with it.
Finish grade 12, go to university, learn web development, and then get a job in the field. If, while you're doing all that, you happen to find the time/resources/energy/know-how to do your start-up, then give it a shot on the side.
It's a long path, but getting there is not easy unless you get really lucky. And if your banking on your good luck, then go buy a lottery ticket.
Check out The Art of the Start. It's a very quick read and to the point. You need to find people who can help implement your vision and get them so excited that they are willing to work for equity. Spend your time talking to customers, refining your vision, and course correcting the implementation. You don't have to be the technical genius, but you do have to be a leader.
Now you just need to "Execute" your idea. To do that, just as everyone else already said, learn what you need to learn, get experience and forget about pitching, an idea is worth zero dollars unless you can demonstrate your ability to execute it, and even then is not that easy.
Just start learning and doing. Earn enough money to get by and spend a crazy amount of time learning the skills you need to execute.
There are some incredible examples of business owners that didn't finish high school, but went on to have incredible careers. I remember interviewing the founder of a dial-up Internet provider (he founded a company called Interlog) who quit high school, founded the company in his parent's home and eventually sold for millions. When he exited his company was one of the top 2 ISPs in the Toronto area.
Yes, he was a high school drop-out. At the same time, nothing was going to stop him from doing what needed to be done to make his vision / idea work.
If you felt this incredible, overpowering drive to put your talent to work right now, then you might not be asking - you'd be doing already.
Like others have said, ideas are worth very little - I've discarded hundreds of ideas.
So having (or thinking you have) a great idea is sadly not something to get too excited about. Having true skills and having the vision of how you can use them effectively, now that is something. You can get the skills in many ways, but unless you are ready to be your own boss and build your own career, employers are going to want to see a high school diploma as a very bare minimum.
CONFIDENTIALITY-NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT. Having those persons, to whom you will disclose your idea sign a Confidentiality - Non-Disclosure Agreement is the least you can do to reduce the risk of others taking and running with your idea. Remember to have them sign it before you disclose. It is much more difficult to get them to sign and to enforce if signed after disclosure. The Agreement will not provide absolute protection, however, it is often good at detering others from acting in bad faith.
Get a job and work on your idea in our spare time. Ideas have little value in the absence of execution.
If you're not going down the track of learning how to implement it yourself, go down the other track. Learning the skill set and track history that investors are looking for. Shouldn't take you more than.... say, 10 years.
That being said, development of rather complex site ideas can take a long, long time and the learning curve can be rather steep.
If the idea is rather simple in its execution and should not take too long, you need to ask, "Why hasn't this idea been done already?" Sometimes it is because you think differently that that is good.
Anyway... Here is my advice. Continue doing high school and learn how to develop your idea at the same time. A really great idea is something that motivates YOU to put more work, time and effort into your idea that others think is unreasonable. Something that keeps you up at night and wakes you up early in the morning. Something that motivates you to skip going out with your friends, stop watching TV and work on your idea.
If your idea gains traction (as in, becomes a half decent business) then consider whether you should leave school/college/job. Not until that point. If you have a bunch of cash in your bank account (or a revenue stream already) then you can adjust that.
Here is also a couple of my tests to whether the idea is great:
1). Is it something that people really want?
2). If they don't know they want it, how are you going to educate potential customers that they really want it? (This needs to be answered for radically new ideas)
3). How is the idea going to make money?
4). No, really, how is it going to make money?
5). Ok, really. Prove it will make money. Show me something that has made money like this!
Yes I put in 3 lines about how it will make money. It's really that important. Imagine asking an investor for money and they ask "How will it make money?" and you don't know how your great idea will do it. Of course there are also questions about how I will sell the product/service, how much can/should I buy it for, potential market share are also important, but not as important as those first 5.
No one is going to champion your idea. You have to do it.
Try to convince anyone that it's a great idea. You might be the only one who believes so. If you failed to find other people who believe that it's great, get a real job and move on with your life.
launch fast, iterate and get to ramen profitability then decide what you want to do when you reach that milestone http://www.paulgraham.com/ramenprofitable.html as an inspiration http://popupchinese.com is a 1-man startup based in Beijing (the founder is Canadian)
Might I suggest reading Growing a Business by Paul Hawken?
He has the quite good theory that the first effort at any particular area, be it sales, marketing, design, etc should be yours. It might not work, but at least you'll have the knowledge to find the right person for the job.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, others don't have college degree's. So you do not need one too.
But won't hurt going to school a little more before you totally drop out part-time and work on your startup part-time. Make sure you can learn what it takes to do the startup. Can you learn programming, marketing, outsourcing, social marketing (Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Myspace all are free and you should use). Get started on your ideas, write it down, write down goals. See what can be a reality. All dreams are possible, need to take some action and see how it goes.
Wow, some of you guys are brutal. Mike, I don't know how to do every piece of my business, but I make sure I surround myself with people who do. If your idea is that great, and I have no idea if it is, you need to find people to buy-in to your idea. If you have no money, maybe you can partner with someone who has the skills you need.
If you feel like your nagging your dad for money, do you really believe in it? If you are that passionate about it then at least share the idea with him. You never know. Most start up business are initially funded by the "3 F's"; Friends, Family and Fools (Shout out and credit to Professor Ed Marram at Babson College).