In a post at the Influential Marketing Blog, Rohit Bhargava challenges the assumption that corporate secrets give you a competitive advantage. "The … problem with this line of thinking is that it may be limiting your small business because in your desire to protect how you [sic] company works under the umbrella of trade secrets, you may be missing a golden chance for transparency that can transform your business," he writes.

Bhargava isn't suggesting that you tell the world exactly how you make your amazing product. But he does discuss areas in which additional transparency can produce surprisingly good results:

Be open about where you make money. Most companies want to disguise the high-margin elements of a deal, but this is increasingly difficult to do. "[W]hy not come clean and share it directly with your customers?" he asks. The upside: When clients try to squeeze you on price, you can demonstrate—convincingly—why you wouldn't make any money on the deal.

Be open about where you're not making money. Customers might not realize what you subsidize or throw in for free. Detail how many hours of work they're getting for their flat fee, for instance, or outline the valuable perks for which you don't charge.

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