When it comes to running a successful business, you are oftentimes asked about your unique selling proposition. Sometimes called a unique selling point, the USP is what sets your product or service apart from the competition. It gives the customer a reason to choose you and not the other guy.

As such, it sounds reasonable that you would want to protect this USP and it is directly connected to the viability of your business. However, in this day and age, that kind of mentality might not work anymore.

Protecting Your Craft

While at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, our creative director Corbin had the opportunity to strap into a full-on Steadicam gear-up (depicted above). This is an expensive set of equipment that, as its name implies, allows the camera operator to get a remarkably steady shot.

It used to be that the Steadicam people were a very tight-knit community and they wouldn’t allow any outsiders into their circle. This made sense. If only a handful of people in the film-making industry knew how to use the Steadicam rig correctly, these handful of people would have a virtual monopoly on those gigs. They protect their craft to protect their livelihood.

These days, though, there are workshops available to learn exactly how to use these kinds of products in the best way possible. This is because there is an increasing recognition that not everyone who wants to learn how to use a Steadicam is applying for a job with Steven Spielberg. They’re entrepreneurs making independent movies. They’re marketers making promotional videos. They’re doing all sorts of other things that don’t compete directly with the professional cameramen who work in Hollywood.

Building the Community

The mentality behind protecting your trade secrets comes from a world view of scarcity. The pie is only of a certain size and if more people want a slice, each individual is going to get a smaller piece. So, as a person with a claim to slice of pie, you want to make sure there are the fewest number of people at the table.

The newer mentality is different. Instead of looking at the pie as a finite entity, we are starting to see that by sharing our trade “secrets” and other insider knowledge, we have the opportunity to bake more and bigger pies. And cakes. And cookies. It is the world view of abundance. This may not be true all the time, but it opens up the doors to business expansion into new areas.

Under the old mentality, I would write very little about my business as a freelance writer. I wouldn’t talk about how to get more efficient or how to improve your grammar. These would be tidbits of knowledge that I would protect in order to protect my livelihood, but that kind of approach isn’t nearly as powerful in the modern age of “everybody has access to everything.” We can all grow together.