Many years ago I was on a flight, and sitting there I listened to two guys in front of me speaking in hushed tones. As I listened carefully, I realized they were from a competitor company discussing a very interesting opportunity that I had not heard about! Wow!
As soon as I got off the plane I did two things: First of all, I moved in quickly and took over that deal from right under their nose. To this day, they don’t know what happened! No regrets on my part, those were fools!
Second, I told my people, never, ever, open your mouth about what we are doing in public. Don’t discuss business issues whilst on the phone in public, and don’t sit next to each other on the plane or bus!
It never ceases to surprise me how careless people are about what they are doing. Some just do it to boast, and those ones I won’t talk about here! (We don’t have the boastful type on this platform.)
When I was a graduate student at university, one of my engineering professors asked me to help him on a criminal court case where he was an “expert witness.” We had to set up an experiment to demonstrate that a person who claimed to have overheard a confession could not possibly have heard it from where they were. It was a very technical sound engineering experiment at the time. Through that work I learnt not to say too much in public…!
Actually a good entrepreneur does not talk about what they are “planning to do” before the business reaches the customer. If you must, talk about what you have “already done.” Otherwise keep quiet.
This is a principle I try to use all the time. When you get into serious business, your competitors are constantly studying what you are saying or doing. It’s not just a question of being accidentally eavesdropped by the guy sitting behind or in front of you on a plane…
And don’t make the mistake of assuming certain people are harmless by observing the way they’re dressed, or even their age, or gender. You can make a deadly mistake through thinking someone is not important!
There are also detractors who, whilst not being an actual competitor, are consumed by what can best be described as a “spirit of jealousy” and will go out of their way to destroy or impede the work of others, even though there’s no gain for them. It’s part of life, so don’t give them the ammunition they need.
Some time ago, I wrote a series about how you protect your plans, and Intellectual Property (IP), including ideas and inventions. Go back to it, and study it carefully.
Even on this platform, please avoid giving details about what you are “planning” or “thinking” about, without taking adequate measures to protect it in the professional manner. Don’t send or publish business plans to people.
It is like leaving your wallet on a counter in a bar!
The above piece is written by Strive Masiyiwa.