The other day I tweeted about my experience with 99designs for the creation of a new logo. It’s not a logo for this site but rather for my new Ecommerce store. I was asked in a reply if I was going to disclose the actual results of the design contest and I honestly didn’t know the answer. Should I continue to keep my upcoming Ecommerce store a secret or is full disclosure the best path?
Traditional businesses have always had their secrets and in some cases those secrets were strategically important. With the advent of the Internet, it has become tougher and tougher to keep a secret as almost everything, eventually, ends up online and usually gets more attention than it deserves simply because it was a secret for some length of time.
With my new endeavor, I am working towards building a brand new Ecommerce business but am trying my best to outsource most of the day to day work. I already decided that I am going to blog about that journey and give my readers tips on how they can do the same. I don’t know if that is smart, maybe I will find some secret sauce that makes running Ecommerce businesses on the side a snap and once it gets out there everyone will copy me… but I doubt it. I am sure I will learn alot and be able to teach people the basics but the details are going to vary form business to business and as they say, the Devil is in the Details. I don’t believe there is a secret sauce to most of this. Most of what we do in my day job at a very successful Ecommerce business is standard stuff, we just do it really well. Anyone could figure out what it is we are doing if they paid attention enough.
I have always had the traditional mentality in business of not letting anyone know what you are doing so they can’t copy you but what is it that we are so worried about disclosing. Does knowing what store I am launching PLUS how I am launching it (ie. outsourcing most of the work) give my current competitors a leg up? Maybe but what I have learned in my other business is the main secret of success is to simply do everything well and not everyone is capable of that. They either aren’t driven enough to learn how to do something well, not driven enough to make sure things are executed well or simply don’t have the necessary skills or smarts to make it happen. Whatever the reason, a business is going to succeed or fail based on how well the owner and his employees do at running and building that business. There is rarely a secret weapon out there that no one knows about that will catapult you to success why others are left behind. Yet I am still apprehensive to disclose what my new store will be.
It’s a pretty common apprehension as you search the Internet. Look up a few Ecommerce sites that are experts in helping you choose a niche. Most will claim some success as having selected and sold in niche’s before but most will also not disclose what niche’s they are selling in. Mostly because they fear anyone reading their site will copy them and jump in to that same niche. Is that a valid fear? Have they really identified that one niche that has little competition and all it takes is someone else to build a store to knock them down from the position they have built for themselves? Maybe but the reality is most people are not ultimately successful at building a successful (and by that I mean profitable) Ecommerce business.
After writing this post, I have a slightly better idea on how I think I am going to approach the secrecy of my new store but I would really like to get some other points of view on it.
In my mind, here are the Pro’s to full disclosure:
- It will allow me to build a better blog here since I can speak to more specific examples.
- I can freely add a link on this site to my new store, pretty small benefit but inbound links can be hard to come by for new stores and every little bit helps
- I don’t have to be burdened by selective about what I write about
On the flipside, the cons to full disclosure are:
- There could be a few “secrets” that get revealed that really do end up having a negative impact on my business
- If everyone knows exactly what I am doing, it makes it easier for a competitor to come up with a strategy for beating me
I know there are other pro’s and cons but that is the list I came up with. I would ask, dear reader, to help me out and post your thoughts on this in the comments below. What are the benefits and potential pitfalls of full disclosure?