July 18, 2011
“In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.” – Joseph Badaracco
A startup is an organization that has created something great from a simple concept. You’ve taken your team and idea, approached it tenaciously while keeping your passions in perspective and grown it into a Sustainable Startup with a team that is able to communicate and scale together. While being poised to grow and able to scale are important for any startup, for a Sustainable Startup giving away what you’ve learned is a priority.
The immediate concern that arises tends to be about trade secrets or competitive advantages you’ve created during your startup’s run. There are certain things which will probably remain inside your business, after all Google doesn’t readily display its algorithms to its competitors. However sharing your knowledge, tactics and strategies creates a community around your startups and feeds experience down through the entrepreneurial ecosystems. We believe there are five primary reasons that as a startup you should give away what you’ve learn in support of prosperity.
1) If you’ve created a successful, Sustainable Startup, creation is your first instinct, not hoarding.
The first instinct for creative individuals is to share their creations and continue to innovate. Artists don’t produce their works and keep them to themselves, writers don’t write novels and hide them away in safes, their instinct is to share what they’ve accomplished and continue to create. Creation in startups is no different, many of the most prominent startups and entrepreneurs are those that have immersed themselves in the cycle of creation, completion, sharing and creation.
2) Hoarding is the same as admitting you can’t do it again.
Giving away what you’ve learned, and sharing your experiences means you can accept the challenge of starting again with an even playing field. By contributing your knowledge to the startup ecosystem you are proving to yourself that you are capable repeating your successes.
3) You are not operating in secret.
Especially in the era of Web 2.0 very little is secret and even less remains that way for long. As we’ve mentioned in earlier Principles there are no new ideas, simply different perspectives and to assume your project or projects are secret and unique is misguided.
4) Innovation always evens the playing field.
Innovation happens at such an incredible rate that any perceived advantages on one day can easily be erased the next. Share your ideas and techniques openly and be prepared not only to offer insight, but to be offered great insight by other startup entrepreneurs.
5) Teaching creates new perspectives.
By sharing your knowledge and techniques you are accepting any questions that may come forward. Unwanted questioning can often create a defensive state of mind which closes the door to further creativity. Teaching what you know and accepting questions or criticisms allows you to see new perspectives and apply it in new ways.
Giving away what you’ve learned supports startup industries, communities and most importantly, your next venture.