Why be open with your work?
Let’s be clear. I don’t advocate giving away your secret sauce*. However, there is a great deal of value in sharing your ideas and your work. Consider it the digital equivalent of giving folks a test-drive or free frappuccino sample. My recommendation is to share what you are comfortable with, and then share a bit more.
*Remember the legend of the $250 Cookie recipe from the earlier days of the internet?
Yes, there will be folks who only want a free sample, and there will be folks who are DIYers who will use what you do and contribute nothing. Those were never going to be your best customers. You may be afraid that someone is going to “steal” your work and your ideas.
Reasons to be fearless
- No one is going to do you better than you. That’s why it is important to find your voice, perfect your story, and then YOU DO YOU.
- Know where your value lies – is it doing work that a DIYer can figure out on their own, probably not.
You can’t do it all. And you don’t want to.
Eventually, if your business is growing you need to figure out where you can get some leverage. You can do this either by hiring help, outsourcing, finding freelancers, contractors, using technology & automation, or partnering.
I like finding leverage by enabling my clients to do the work themselves. I prefer to consult when they get stuck or don’t want to do it themselves. First, it builds trust. Second, it helps me and my clients stay aligned and reduces the amount of time I need to spend “educating” them, and third, it increases my impact. Additionally, working this way expands the old iron triangle – which appeals to my inner efficiency-monkey.
Please note: this is not altruistic or naive. I’m not giving away anything that my clients couldn’t find on their own. What I am doing is providing value by organizing and curating content and occasionally adding some additional insight by combining my experience and perspective.
I’m also practicing what I preach which I think is a great business practice.
Full disclosure: much of what I am saying here is informed by tons of other folks, in particular, Seth Godin and my Yale econ professors Sharon Oster, Barry Nalebuff, Keith Chen, Fiona Scott-Morton and more recently folks like Austin Kleon and Adam Grant.