How do you start a software business when you have no idea about it


Let's say that I have come up with a good software idea that needs to be built and designed. Let's also imagine that I have no background in IT and therefore need to find somebody to build and write the software, and also operate and maintain the application.

I have the business plan more or less all articulated (distribution channels, marketing, financing, start up expenses, maintenance,...) but I am concerned that when the IT people hear about my project, they may decide to execute it without me. How do I prevent that?

Getting Started Ideas

asked Nov 30 '09 at 03:19
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • How far did you get with this in the end? – Zubair 13 years ago
  • The biz plan is still sitting on my desk. – A. Garcia 13 years ago

7 Answers


There is an expression that goes something like this: Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. The point here being that the truly unique ideas are usually lost on most anybody else and you don't have to worry about people wanting to steal them. For all other ideas, there are usually several other people who will think of something identical or similar in a relatively short time period (say a 6 to 12 month window) whether or not they have seen or heard it from you.

Therefore, the value of all these classes of ideas really comes down to one very specific thing and that is execution . Businesses are built on the execution of ideas, and it is not the ideas themselves that are scarce but in fact the ability to execute ideas well is what is scarce.

answered Nov 30 '09 at 05:04
Tall Jeff
1,406 points
  • Totally agree. Plus the "programmer" or "IT guy" that you find has the opposite problems. He may be thinking, "I know how to write software, but I really don't know what business to start. I wish I could find a partner (or job) where I could create cool products." – Jorgem 14 years ago
  • I actually have that quote as my email signature. :) I read it years ago and started to use it. – James Black 14 years ago


If you want to share your idea with someone, you can try getting them to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), for which you can find some templates online, or you can have a lawyer draft one up for you that's customized for what you want to do. However, even this won't fully protect you, since the idea itself may not be worth anything without an implementation behind it, which you don't own.

You can also try finding an IT person who may be willing to let you bounce the idea off of them, but tells you up front that they aren't interested in being involved with the project for some reason that you trust (e.g. they are so fully occupied that they wouldn't have time for another project). That person could then refer you to someone appropriate who might be interested in developing for you.

You also need to know what you're going to offer the IT person to develop it. If you can pay them, then you can get them to sign an IP Waiver along with the NDA, which would prevent them from taking your idea and building it themselves for a certain amount of time (a limited non-compete agreement). Alternatively, you can offer equity for work (e.g. you'll do the marketing and sales aspect, while he does the technical construction, in a 50-50 split), and draft a statement of understanding which outlines what each of you expects to get for your work.

answered Dec 1 '09 at 10:33
4,692 points
  • Thank you Elie! – A. Garcia 14 years ago


One approach is to hire people to work for your business and make your product. Many people (oddly) want jobs that simply pay them to do work that makes a business succeed. As long as these people are your employees, they don't have much incentive to steal your ideas.

Sometimes you don't even have to convince them that the idea is any good. They will work as long as you pay them.


But seriously, there are plenty of people who can do the work for you if you have the business idea and the financial backing to do it.

On the other hand: Convincing someone to initially work for free is one sign of a great leader AND a great idea.

answered Nov 30 '09 at 05:26
749 points
  • I don't think I'd categorize people as great leaders by their ability to get free work out of others. – Tim J 14 years ago
  • @Tim: In the early days of a startup, it is common that no one is getting paid. So getting a co-founder on board (just based on the idea), or getting some folks to believe in your idea and work for stock is leadership to me. But, I guess you could call it salesmanship. – Jorgem 14 years ago


Choose IT people who are rather nerdy, i.e. lack the social skills to market the product by themself. They will be happy to work on something new and hot, and the last thing they'll want to do is to negotiate with investors, prospects etc.

answered Dec 1 '09 at 22:44
Ammo Q
561 points


In the most basic form, you can not do anything to guarantee that that won't happen. You can't patent or otherwise obtain a monopoly on a business idea. So you main defense against someone 'stealing' your idea and implementing it themselves without you is:

  1. Not presenting your idea to people who would do such a thing.
  2. Make your own contribution so awesome that nobody would want to cut you out, i.e. convince the others that your value-add exceeds your cost.
answered Nov 30 '09 at 03:31
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points


I'd be willing to help you if you'd like. I have no interest in stealing your idea, I work at a couple non-profits, growing two start-ups full-time, and I have several other commitments. I've assisted with IT for many startups (dozen+) and have been able to be a big help. It's a shame how many IT folk/programmers/etc don't know quality or how to treat a client. I can help you assemble a team as well if you decide to fly with this. I have over a decade of experience with tech and over 5 years with startups. Feel free to read testimonials at if you'd like.

answered Dec 1 '09 at 15:34
460 points
  • Thank you Matt. I have to figure out if I go ahead with this idea. – A. Garcia 14 years ago


You are better to find an outsourcing software company to build your product. They process very processional and you will not be worry about they get your idea to build their own product since NDA MUST be signed in this case.

  • NDA signed
  • Cost saving
  • You are not worry about progress (your vendor will take care of it), take your time to do other works

As far as I knew, the process should be:

  • NDA signed
  • Requirement sent and discussion
  • Question/concern/answer

  • Project proposal (Time, cost, etc) sent by Vendor
  • Contract signed
  • Project Started
  • Release

Danny Huynh,
VP of Engineering at EVERS Corp.,
Home page:
Email: [email protected]
answered Nov 5 '11 at 02:05
Danny Huynh
11 points

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