You have an original idea and you’re ready to hire a freelancer to make it happen. Great! But if you’re like many entrepreneurs, you might be afraid of losing your competitive advantage. How can I ensure that my idea won’t be stolen by the freelancer I’m hiring? Don’t let fear get in the way of your success. Protect your big idea from the moment you post your job by following a few simple steps.
1. Leave the big idea out of the job description.
Any time you post a job publicly and it contains proprietary ideas, you’re sharing that information with the world. It’s best to find a sweet spot between being too vague in your job description and revealing too much up front. Provide as much information as you can about the skills and experience you’re looking for, and save the award-winning details about your idea until after you’ve hired someone.
2. Limit who can see your job posting.
A great way to control the quality of freelancers who apply is to hand-select freelancers to submit quotes. Simply set the exposure to “None” so only freelancers you invite can see the job posting.
If you are extremely concerned you can limit your job to freelancers living in the same country as you. This makes it easier to enforce the legal protections you include in your agreement (see number 4 below).
3. Screen each freelancer.
There are several ways to judge who is reputable and who isn’t on Guru. One simple method is to look at a freelancer’s feedback rating, how many jobs they’ve completed, and how much money they’ve made. You can filter out quotes from anyone who has no feedback or has less than 3 stars average feedback rating.
Also, make sure to review each freelancer’s profile and portfolio. Many freelancers post details about their work terms in their bio. If anything concerns you, ask them about it. Once you’ve found someone that you trust enough to hire, then you can get something in writing.
4. Include legal protections in your agreement.
After hiring a freelancer, you can ask them to include legal protections in your agreement:
Non-Disclosure Agreement: A non-disclosure agreement commits a freelancer to confidentiality. While it may be difficult to enforce a NDA outside the U.S. it can scare off potential crooks. Have one drawn up by a lawyer, or simply search Google to find free NDAs you can tweak to fit your needs.
Non-Compete Agreement: A non-compete agreement prevents a freelancer from starting a business that would compete or threaten yours within an established radius. Some freelancers may be resistant to signing this kind of agreement because it can limit the number of future clients they can work with.
Work-For-Hire Agreement: A work-for-hire agreement establishes that you own any and all improvements made to the idea. Anything your freelancer comes up with while working for you, you own.
Following these steps will make it harder for others to steal your idea. Consult an attorney if you have concerns about protecting proprietary information.