Hi guys,

I have an idea for a website that is original, I've not seen anything that does exactly what I intend to do. I don't think it's amazingly groundbreaking and will change the internet as we know it, but it's my humble idea that I think could potentially serve some people. I'm coding from the ground up using HTML, Javascript, PHP, SQL, and CSS. It's quite a bit of learning and effort, as I'm not terribly experienced with all these languages and have to do it all myself.

Now I had a conversation with a friend of mine who knows some big names in the web development industry around where I'm at. He said what sometimes happens is that companies might see my website and like the idea. So all they do is implement the same idea but make it bigger and better, and I would just be left in the dust. Making it bigger and better is definitely an easy thing for a company to do because I'm just one person, and inexperienced to top it off, while they have teams they could dedicate to this matter.

Is this a major concern for web developers, and is it really that hard for the individual to flourish without thousands spent in efforts against such advances?

It would depend on project itself. If you would release your project and keep making it better, then no other company would be able to be better at it. The final step of protection for that software of yours, would be releasing it when finished, protected, and polished and then keep implementing many features. Before any other company would find out about your humble project. You would then have solid fan-base and a proof/evidence that you were one that made it work first, the first one that made working and useful tool for people out there, and they're only nothing but copying your project due to lack of imagination.

You might try to get patent for it, then no one would be able to use it, although it's not as quite cheap as free.

Essentially nothing really blocks anybody from stealing your idea. And if you can't steal their idea, you buy them and their idea (look YouTube, Tumblr, Picnik). Google is even trying to steal idea from Facebook, and it works, even though Facebook is a gigantic company now.

This is just how software production works, creating something awesomely useful without being eaten alive by big marketing monsters.