140149256_fc00e37201_nWhen I have a great idea, I want to announce it to the world, preferably with trumpets, confetti and some sort of pyrotechnic display. Others less excitable than myself keep their winning ideas to themselves, letting them marinate for a while before unleashing them.  Who’s to say which of these personality characteristics is ultimately more beneficial?

Startups have an equivalent division in strategy: some choose to disclose their mission from the beginning, while others enter what is called “stealth mode” during development. Closed doors, NDAs, tight security—when a startup is in stealth mode, all information is on lock down, sometimes even within the company. We have to wonder…does all that secrecy give a startup an advantage?

Turns out, that’s a highly polarizing question in the business community, with many experts adamantly for or against stealth mode. Here are some points from both sides of the argument:


  • Idea Protection: Your great idea is important and you don’t want others to hear of it and enter the same market, thus creating more competition.
  • Solidified Message: Your product will always have some kinks to work out, but holding off its release can allow you to fix the worst of them before your product fully launches. Stealth mode also allows you to solidify your marketing message and strategy, so you don’t confuse your customers in the beginning with several half-baked taglines and takeaways.
  • Scarce Resources: If your business idea involves controlling and commodifying something that’s cheap or underutilized, it can be worth keeping your intent a secret to minimize competition for this resource.
  • Sense of Exclusivity: When it comes time to release your product, doling it out to a select few can really get people talking. The use of stealth mode’s cousin, stealth launch, can invoke the public’s desire to have something scarce, making your new product a hot commodity.


  • Lack of Feedback: If you don’t tell anyone what you’re doing, it stands to reason that they won’t be able to give you feedback. This is a big sacrifice: real opinions about your product can be invaluable during development.
  • No Buzz: Stealth mode can potentially hurt your business if it means nobody’s ever heard of you. You need to attract investors, media and consumers, and being in stealth mode can make this infinitely more difficult. From a marketing standpoint, if you’re going to operate in stealth mode, you need to make sure you can keep people interested while you’re keeping secrets.
  • Hiring Difficulty: As a new company, you want to attract the best talent you can afford to propel your firm into stunning success. However, that can be difficult if you won’t tell potential hires what you’re working on before they sign on.

Have experience with stealth mode? Thought of some pros and cons we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

Whether you choose to start in stealth mode or rent out a billboard to announce your mission, one thing’s for sure: your company is going to need a D&B D-U-N-S number. Learn more about what a D&B D-U-N-S number is and how it can benefit your firm! 

[Image Source:  JoshBerglund19]