I am an entrepreneur in San Francisco and am afraid to tell people about my business idea without ensuring that I'm legally protected first.
Hey there. Here's how our law firm advises us (we operate in a competitive space and are launching products in a competitive space). For context, I am co-founder of a 7-figure, self-funded company that is currently building 4 products. I come from an enterprise business development background and was basically spoiled with dedicated access to in-house corporate attorney who literally answered every question I had about everything, ever, and worked with me deeply.
1. Be careful what you share with whom. What we usually do is share *enough* detail without someone being able to connect the dots. It's kind of like a front end/back end to an idea.
2. Trademarks and patents can help, but as transactions become more global, it's becoming harder to enforce patents and trademarks internationally. We own several trademarks as a first line of defense should anyone try to cramp on our work (we can simply ask them to stop using our IP, although we've never run into a situation where we've had to in 7 years).
3. IMO NDAs are "the honor system." We share varying level of details w/ the people we trust.