How do you share information in forums such as this one without compromising your market edge or your trade secrets?
I responded to another question that I felt was digging too deep into the way I run my business, I felt that by providing the level of detail that was asked, I would be giving too much away.
I believe in giving value to get value. I look at the question and try to provide the best answer I possibly can without giving away the farm, so to speak. If I can't do that, then I don't respond.
I agree Tara. I see the practice of personal development as just that personal. Each client has their own unique set of problems and issues and personalities. What works for one client will probably not work for another. In that regard sharing what we do rather than how we do it is a way around some of these questions. If a client presses me for too much detail regarding the way I deliver results I either turn the tables and start asking them questions or tell them that my processes are adapted to each client and I would be pleased to work with them if they engaged me.
Tara, you hit the central nerve in your comment. In forums such as this, a pitfall can exist in that either disclosure of proprietary info is asked or the forum simply has limits as to what can be asked. I see the questions here as something I can respond to while also being credible. Some see it as a peek inside something or a forum to sell versus advise
Part of our mandate is to answer peoples questions and provide helpful information.
Trade secrets relate more to ones one business rather than the general way of doing things. Teaching people how to sell, or apply basic principles would not come under the banner of trade secrets but perhaps a companys criteria in gaining business might be.
I've been reading through all your responses, and I must admit, I'm truly inspired by their content, and I thoroughly agree with the concept of sharing.
Please don't get me wrong - I LOVE sharing my thoughts, and I LOVE hearing from others. It's called SYNERGY - synchronised energy - the power that comes from the combination of many sources of knowledge, etc.
I really feel that the questions asked in this forum should be kept at the 'mentoring' level, and not asking for in-depth detail.
That was the main problem with the other question I responded to.
You are all very gifted people! Let's share our knowledge!
In today's electronic world, there is nothing which you can keep hidden for long. You may feel happy and secure by not sharing but that is like living in fool's paradise. All that matters is the Commitment,Quality and Service you render to your client. People may try and copy you but the it takes time and talent for the same. This is where matter of being smart comes, keep innovating and move with times and you will have new customers/markets and a crowd of copy cats behind you which will give you more publicity since they would be selling what you sold in the past at much higher profit margins.
I think that you cannot, in the limited space here or in similar fora, really give away your IP. You can talk about your approach or what you do, but your knowledge of the deep whats and hows far exceeds what you can publish here. You can offer people insights, but they will still need to invest a lot of time and effort unless you are simply confirming what they are already doing.
Transparency seem to increasingly be becoming the currency of success. I don't recall right off where I read it, but I read something saying that those who share openly in the changing economic conditions are the ones who are meeting with success, if for no other reason than through that sharing they are presenting themselves as subject matter experts in their fields.
I wouldn't advocate giving away the farm. I a point where I too draw the line. But unless its proprietary in some way share away. Knowledge is so easily accessible to anyone, might as well be an outlet for those who are willing to listen.
I agree with that. When you are talking with a potential client, You half to build that relationship with that person. You give general details, not to detailed. That potential client has to be comfortable with you. Give the client enough information of your products or services, the company will become a client of yours at the end of the day.
In the Digital Economy you give to get. Just make sure you have strong value proposition. Remember nothing is really new or secret, but it is how you respond and put your own unique spin on things.
I believe in the law of reciprocity however trade secrets are not to be shared. Your time researching and educating yourself to support those in need is called "value".....and "price" is what is paid for it. Conduct your business with integrity with intent to "help others" and your business will take care of its self.
Next time someone asks sensitive questions, ask them "why do you feel that information is important?"
If your market position is that fragile, then you're doing something wrong. You don't have to share what's in the secret sauce, but transparency goes a pretty long way to building up your credibility in the market, both with your clients and your competitors.
Read any of the 37 Signals books or Jack Stack's "Great Game of Business" and you soon realize that keeping it all to yourself kind of kills innovation.
I treat these forums as places to share ideas. I do not believe most ideas in the group are new or are that original. Comments to questions that I read help me see where people are and how they respond to different situations.
If someone has developed a new product or idea that needs protected, then they shouldn't share on a forum. However, that is at the discretion of the individual. All this to say, I basically agree with what Walter Wise has said.
At the end of the day business is business and you share what you are comfortable with.
I personally look at these forums as helping each other and learning from each other, and if my response can add value for just one person I am happy.
For me, basically, I could tell you every tool we use, every scan we take, and every step in development we take... but it wont be enough. You have to know what do do with the tools. It's the experience that counts, and that is something you can help people with, but wouldn't give away.
I can explain to you how to fly a plane in 2 minutes... but I wouldn't get in there with you until you have practised at least 50 hours... you see the difference?
Well, the idea of how to start and when to stop. You can always site examples on the "How-to's" and then let the person try for himself the things you had mentioned, if it works for him, then it's good, if it don't, perhaps the strategy or technique is just not right for him. Besides even if you had told them information to a level that you think you shouldn't have, always think that there are strategies that may work for an individual, some may don't. It all depends upon one's application of the information learned.
I doubt anyone on this website is a direct competitor and I think it would benefit more people to help out others and they will return the favor. If we always skim the top then we won't learn much because anyone could spend five minutes on their favorite search engine and get the same answer. MasaicHub is a place to truly help one another.
I understand that people have a responsibility and obligation to some information like clients and such. That being said I do think we can all go more in depth and give each other advice and "secrets" because when the tides are turned you will need the same back. Not getting answers for your question does no good on this site. Its a community and we should act like it.
Keep it light...mention a few topics, but not the detail. This helps people by pointing them in the right direction but doesn't directly transfer your depth of experience and competitive advantage.....that will always need the reader to put in the same leg work that you did.
I believe in adding value and that value will be returned to me. Keep the answer relevant with some key points and enough information to have been of assistance. Leave the finer details and your processes out of the answer.
The key is to just give it all away. If someone is inclined to use what you have created, then you must have something special. In many cases, people do not use everything that you offer. They may take some of your great ideas, however.