Someday I’m going to write a book called There Are Two Types Of People. I know you’ve heard the jokes:
- There are two types of people in the world: Those who can stay focused, and . . . Did you get a haircut?
- There are two types of people in the world: Those who divide people into two types, and those who know better.
- There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.
Well, I say there are two types of computer consultants: Those who are willing to share their business ideas and those who want to keep such things secret. I’m sorry to break it to you, but there are no secrets.
You might have more knowledge or less knowledge about some aspect of your business. You might have more experience or less experience. But you don’t really have secrets.
I raise this issue because of my participation in several groups, including the SBS User Group community, IAMCP, SMB Nation, and related gatherings. Every once in awhile I run across someone who is afraid to participate in these forums. They believe that revealing their business techniques will somehow allow the opposition to get the upper hand.
For example, last year at SMB Nation, a gentleman came up to me and asked me why I had written my Network Documentation Workbook. He said “You’re giving away all your secrets.”
My response was, “So what? Are you going to move from Schenectady to Sacramento, open an office and compete with me on my terms? And even if you did, knowing how I run my business doesn’t mean that you will implement it the same as me.”
Awhile back I was in an airport and the TV was on. Two sportscasters were talking about the football playoffs. One said something to the effect of:
Well, right after the kickoff Johnson went to the running game. All through the first half he relied on the running game. When they were behind, he relied on the running game. When they were ahead, he relied on the running game. Now we’re down to the last five minutes. What do you think the coach is going to do?
The answer, of course, is that the coach is going to play his game his way!
You see, here’s the thing about any business: There are no real secrets. There’s only excellent execution. If you knew every single thing about my business, it wouldn’t matter.
You can know about my marketing plan, about my budget, about my hiring process, about my installation checklists. About everything. And it won’t make difference.
The “worst case scenario” is that you look at my successful business and decide that you’re going to do everything single thing exactly as I do, and go after the same customers.
Bring it on.
To beat me, you have to work harder and execute flawlessly. You have to be better than I am at every single thing I do. Every day.
That’s the only real secret there is.
Knowing how the coach is going to play the game doesn’t mean there’s one single thing you can do to stop him. If his team executes flawlessly, they're going to win.
Your job is to get up every day, go to work, and do the very best you can.
There’s a lot to be gained by sharing information with others in your business. And there’s really nothing to lose.
I participate in IAMCP and the various online forums because it’s fun and interesting and useful to talk about the business side of business. In ten years, I’ve never lost a client (or an employee) to another consultant. But I have gained wonderful insights into the many ways to run a business.
Two great online communities to join are the Small Biz IT Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smallbizIT and the Managed Services Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SMBManagedServices.
But don’t just lurk – participate!