I've learned a lot about running my own design business throughout the past year. Most of which is the amount of creativity and dedication the day to day operations require. Living a "creative life" is not just about following your whims, painting on canvas, and attending culturally progressive events—it's hard work.
Having failed at running my business before, I decided I needed to make a big change. It started with a list: be available, engage, respond, follow-up, and share knowledge freely. I've been sharing about each of the five list items for the past few weeks and am excited to touch on the last (and possibly the most important) piece—share knowledge freely.
Share Knowledge Freely
There's a fear in the professional world that if you show someone how to do exactly what you do you'll likely be showing yourself out of a job. At one point in time when opportunity was scarce that may have been the case. Today, I don't believe that to be the case.
Sharing is valuable. Sure there is an appropriate time and place to divulge information and you will know when people are inquiring out of curiosity versus when they are trying to take advantage of you. Most importantly I think the more you share, the more valuable you become.
The truth is there are little to no industry secrets anymore. The internet has answers, research papers, and information for just about every topic, every job, and every project. But what it can't compensate for is the value of a person—the value of you.
You have skills and talents, but so do a hundred other people in your immediate job market. What differentiates you from (for lack of a better term) other workers, is your wisdom and experience.
Tell all, because even if someone picks up every trick you have, they'll never be able to steal your wisdom and experience that you've gained over the years—it can't be acquired.
I read a lot of books on leadership and management, most are passed down from my father who for years was an executive at a prominent San Francisco-based financial institution. During his time there, he trained hundreds of managers and recently shared with me the criteria of what makes an authentic leader—I loved it. If it were my list I'd add a sub-category of sharing knowledge freely...
Criteria of an authentic leader:
When it comes to running your own business, there are a lot of important pieces that make the entire machine run and you can't always do it on your own, but the art of business is about being present, working your hardest, and delivering a genuine product you're proud to call your own.
I hope that my blog posts over the last few weeks will encourage you to find what's most important to you and the people you work with. Most of all remember to be available, engage, respond, follow-up, and share knowledge freely—if you do those I think you'll go far.
If you have questions or comments on what to share and what not to share professionally, I'd love to hear from you—email me firstname.lastname@example.org!