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IMPORTANT! Why All The Secrecy? Here's Why...

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MJ DeMarco

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So I was reading a great entrepreneur thread over at Reddit that @JasonR provided and the topic got downvoted pretty bad because he wasn't very forthcoming with his website address and his product. Of course, the "Redditors" called it a calamity, and even some sorted to say he was in some type of MLM.

Years ago when I owned my business, I used to frequent another forum. Back then, the business was routinely generating 6-figures monthly in profit. (PROFIT, not revenue). As I participated in the forum more and more, the more and more I was queried for my website's address.

What is it?
What do you do?
Please tell me!
Can you link to your site?

I refused each and every time and here's why:

As you know, any executed idea thrown out on the internet is ripe to be taken, copied, or borrowed. It's not unusual. The spirit of entrepreneurship is to take an idea, and make it better. Improve it. Efficiency. Convenience. Whatever that is.

However, what usually IS NOT KNOWN, is how much $$$$ that idea is making. If someone discloses "I'm making $200k/mo doing this and here's the website!" - then immediately that idea has placed a target on it's back.

The result is new competitors that enter the space, most of which, cannot execute on the idea.

So what's the problem with that? Competition is good, right?

While these competitors aren't a threat in the long term, they threaten the short term in the form of:
  1. Increased PPC / ad costs (they flood the same ad space you're in, driving costs up.)
  2. Increased customer service (Hey, did you see xxxxyyyy.com? Is that you guys?)
  3. Business model damage (After they poorly execute the same business model you're doing, it can impact your business model -- "Eh, we tried that shit, it don't work.")
IMO, the danger isn't disclosing the idea, but disclosing how much $ the idea is generating. This gives wantrepreneurs an insight into what's possible WITHOUT exposing them to the process of making it happen. In other words, they see "EVENTS"! (Wow, that site is making how much??)

Of course, the above isn't true for products/services that have strong entry barriers, or for concepts/ideas that aren't easily replicable -- those barriers usually are enough to keep the idea-hoppers away.

The point of this post is to explain WHY some people are a little weary about disclosing specifics about their company, their website, and their profits.

In the end, I always thought publicly disclosing my business and attaching profit figures to it was like letting a bunch of mosquitoes into my bedroom -- yea, they won't kill me, but they will bite me here and there, and ultimately, annoy the f*ck out of me.
 

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socaldude

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And don't forget your competitors that are ALREADY in your line of work. It ridiculous how unethical some competitors can be and how much they keep track of you. Don't be surprised if they know your name or where you live. You can be damn sure that if you post your business and you disclose how you are able to get orders out so quickly or cheaply that it will affect your business.
 

limitup

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Absolutely. My first highly successful online business was something I decided to pursue because I saw a for sale listing on bizbuysell. When I saw the website for sale, with all their financial details listed, I couldn't believe that such a simple business/site could make so much money.

Long story short I started a competing site, made my own improvements, made a small fortune, and literally cut their business in half over the next few years.

Had they simply not publically listed their revenue/net figures in their for sale listing, I would have never even noticed their little business.
 

RHL

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So, as someone who was thinking of posting a process thread, this puts me in a tough spot. Is it best to wait until I'm rich and on a roll before sharing anything, to wait until the competition can't possibly catch up? It's really sad that the blow-by-blow can't be shared without risking imitators destroying your brand. We could learn so much more if people could just learn to be original and back off.
 

JasonR

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Right, and I did not post my site initially, but someone got smart and decided to post it on the thread, but it got buried.

I also had someone straight rip my landing page. albeit in another niche. Lesson learned the hard way.
 

AllenCrawley

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People automatically think it's because you're afraid of the competition. They fail to think about it critically as you've explained here.

From that thread...

I'm having a really hard time not posting your site address right now. You can either out execute everyone or you can't. Execution is the only protection. In business, there is no hiding as a mystery brand for very long.

Personally, I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. Quit worrying about people wanting to copy you. It's not nearly as easy as you think. Your problem will always be obscurity not piracy.

BTW, as someone with a similar sized company but much fewer transactions your order label printing video was awesome! That's got to be a great feeling and a bit "oh shit" all at the same time.
Yes, Jason will out execute every new would be competitor. That is not the issue. Why expose yourself to unnecessary headaches that will drain your resources, time and sanity.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Absolutely. My first highly successful online business was something I decided to pursue because I saw a for sale listing on bizbuysell. When I saw the website for sale, with all their financial details listed, I couldn't believe that such a simple business/site could make so much money.

Long story short I started a competing site, made my own improvements, made a small fortune, and literally cut their business in half over the next few years.

Had they simply not publically listed their revenue/net figures in their for sale listing, I would have never even noticed their little business.
Incredible story ...

We can then say that doing so also exposes your idea to people who CAN execute, giving them them the knowledge of the possible payoff.
 

Valor

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When someone creates a thread like that trying to help people, they can either give away their niche/product, or they can give away their process. Giving both away is like shooting yourself in the foot. It might not kill you, but could make it a hell of a lot harder to get things done.

So naturally, people who are trying to help others like Jason did are left with two choices: either talk about the product OR the process, but not both. If you ask me, I want to know the process, but the reality is that most people focus on the product. I bet if he simply talked about the product, he wouldn't have had near the responses asking him for his process.
 

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I know I posted this in another thread but Seems fitting here. Someone on the site who had been here only a few weeks wrote me this note.


Basically I want to get into the same business. Can you tell me what it's about? I know you've said that there are already people doing it on this forum, and that you are not reinventing the wheel but I just can't tell what you are doing and I really really want to know.

Please don't flame me or start thinking of me as an idiot for wanting the easy way. I am interested in the idea, because maybe I can make it better or find a twitch.
Do your own homework Marv..
 

Kak

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I know I posted this in another thread but Seems fitting here. Someone on the site who had been here only a few weeks wrote me this note.




Do your own homework Marv..
Lol. Wow. The only possible reason for entering would be the money they see. They don't know shit about what you do but they assume they want to.
 

throttleforward

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My first highly successful online business was something I decided to pursue because I saw a for sale listing on bizbuysell.
Exactly the same for me - it's what got me interested in entrepreneurship in the first place...in fact looking up stuff to compete with the business I saw for sale there not only led me to this forum, but allowed me to build something that today earns me between $500-$1500 passively/month.
 

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NoLackey

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Right, and I did not post my site initially, but someone got smart and decided to post it on the thread, but it got buried.

I also had someone straight rip my landing page. albeit in another niche. Lesson learned the hard way.
All the drama aside, thanks for posting the Reddit thread. I had to go find it and it was one of the most motivating and insightful things I've read in a while. I tend to get paralyzed by over analyzing everything, and if what you said in the thread works...I'm on it.
 

Blueskies4me

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The first business my daughter started at 15 was a really cool advertising project that she started as a civics assignment and it grew. She won a major national contest and had offers from the CEO of the company By Kids for Kids (BKFK.com) who had partnerships with Hanes etc. Another competitor from the same contest took her idea and changed the name then actively marketed to her clients. She didn't have a problem keeping the loyalty because her customers knew her but it was a rotten thing for her to have to experience after the product development and testing we went through.

However, karma or whatever you ascribe to will come calling. She's now 18 and has a full ride scholarship to college and is better for the experience of having run her own business. I'm happy. She's happy.
 

Chris R

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I even remember a time after I lost a business and finally came across a different idea and I told not even five FRIENDS and within a few short months, this idea started showing up EVERYWHERE around town. So, even without disclosing execution or numbers of this B&M idea, it didn't matter. My takeaway from this experience was to lead people in a different direction altogether without the big picture, and then sit back and watch the idea that was mentioned magically spring up.

It's actually kinda funny nowadays seeing people go down a path that you already know will have issues.
 

limitup

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I'm not a reddit'r and was interested in checking out the thread in question. I tried searching for an AMA by jasonr686 but can't find it. Can anyone share a link or PM it to me or something? I must be an idiot but I can't seem to find it.
 

GravyBoat

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As ENAEKA said, I have a progress thread on the Insiders part of this forum. I was planning on disclosing my idea, maybe not down to the last details, but still the idea/niche as a whole. Reading this thread and others now make me not want to.

How far would you guys go when explaining your business on this forum? I know the Insiders part protects from Google indexing, as well as makes sure every member reading it has at least payed to be there, so I believe that's a good filter.

Should I refrain from disclosing the idea? How far along the path would you tell others?
 

JEdwards

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I even remember a time after I lost a business and finally came across a different idea and I told not even five FRIENDS and within a few short months, this idea started showing up EVERYWHERE around town. So, even without disclosing execution or numbers of this B&M idea, it didn't matter. My takeaway from this experience was to lead people in a different direction altogether without the big picture, and then sit back and watch the idea that was mentioned magically spring up.

It's actually kinda funny nowadays seeing people go down a path that you already know will have issues.

That is 100% true in the 90's when I had a bunch of stores and was making money hand over fist, I had a bunch of old employees go off and start their own. At one time there were at least 8-10 stores run by my ex guys. All made money. Then when it ended it ended, They thought they were great business men, but they weren't. Now every now and then I run into one here selling cars, or working at Best buy. They made money cause the industry was great then, as soon as the business really got tight it was over.

One guy actually laid it on for an hour about how he lost his house cars, owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars. I was like it was fun though and you were daddy for a while right? And he was like Yea.

My point, someone can steal every idea on here, like Zens business, they can make a little money for a time, but truth is they are not Zen and sooner or later they will end up at best buy talking about how great it was in the old days.
 

limitup

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I think it has to do with the barriers to entry. If there are none, personally I'd never talk about it. But honestly you shouldn't really be too worried about competition. I mean, if you are, what does that say about your business model? It's one thing to not share anything until you're up and running with a nice "head start" but at the end of the day as soon as you release it to the world people will find it anyway.

The business I mentioned in my earlier post was literally the simplest thing you could possibly imagine and literally anyone with half a brain could have "cloned" it, and improved on it, in less than a month like I did.
 

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One of my worst business ideas ever was picked up by a national publication and went viral. 50 people knocked it off. I blew through 50,000 in advertising trying to make it successful. It was a dog. Meanwhile, all 50 wannabe knockoffs met a painful death one at a time, and I enjoyed every single slow painful death as I watched them all bleed out.
 

Chris R

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That is 100% true in the 90's when I had a bunch of stores and was making money hand over fist, I had a bunch of old employees go off and start their own. At one time there were at least 8-10 stores run by my ex guys. All made money. Then when it ended it ended, They thought they were great business men, but they weren't. Now every now and then I run into one here selling cars, or working at Best buy. They made money cause the industry was great then, as soon as the business really got tight it was over.

One guy actually laid it on for an hour about how he lost his house cars, owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars. I was like it was fun though and you were daddy for a while right? And he was like Yea.

My point, someone can steal every idea on here, like Zens business, they can make a little money for a time, but truth is they are not Zen and sooner or later they will end up at best buy talking about how great it was in the old days.
What is interesting though is in some parts I know of in other states, the idea I mentioned would still work really well, as they don't have a clue yet. And due to the knowledge learned through the growing pains of those who took the idea, things like how the local gov't will try to regulate and get their piece, liability issues etc., I'm better armed with the knowledge learned through other's paths.

This is an interesting subject, and what's kinda cool is to this day, and I've been around here longer than what's shown, but I STILL don't know what it is that YOU do. And that always kinda gave the feeling that you too have experienced idea theft. So hat's off to ya, and I think it should be a lesson that others should consider.
 

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jpa0827

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I'm not a reddit'r and was interested in checking out the thread in question. I tried searching for an AMA by jasonr686 but can't find it. Can anyone share a link or PM it to me or something? I must be an idiot but I can't seem to find it.
This was an awesome read...enjoy. Thanks JasonR! The key take away for me that you learned from Zen. Big Market, Pick a product and tweak it a bit, test if it sells, then optimize and scale. I think that was pretty much it. I'm going to try this for sure.
 

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I know I posted this in another thread but Seems fitting here. Someone on the site who had been here only a few weeks wrote me this note.




Do your own homework Marv..
Lol. Jack. You could have told Marv that you had made millions inseminating pigs, and then seen what happened next.

But, Jack "Nice Guy" Edwards.
 

limitup

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So yeah that's the problem - jasonr revealed how much he is making, and the URL of his site got posted in the same thread. So now any decent online marketer who comes across it has a nice blueprint laid out for them if they feel like copying it. There are really no barriers to entry, short of finding a supplier. Just not a good combination here.

Congrats on your success Jason. At the end of the day it's execution that matters.

Now that I think about it, I remember talking with you about your site sometime last summer, and if I remember correctly I think you said your ex-partner was doing X and that was your goal. Sounds like you did it.

Hopefully the big spike in sales wasn't just due to Christmas. Is it holding up so far in Jan??

The big red phone number at the top is awesome for building trust/credibility, but try making it an 800 number. It would take a shit load of data to actually split test it until you had a winner, but for $10 a month or whatever I'm pretty sure it'll more than pay for itself.
 
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I haven't had time to read the reddit but I'm glad I clicked on it, as I have always over analysed the 'product' thinking it has to be something awesome and new.

Just yesterday I was walking my dog and a product idea hit me! It is a simple twist on a very common product, easy to get a prototype made, cheap to manafacture and distribute and it is a problem I have heard a few people mention they have.

My mission now is to validate this idea and I may see you in the pet industry.
 
D

DeletedUser2

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I like big markets where other sharks swim.
we have laid out the exact path to execution 5 different times. the contacts, the phone numbers, made warm intros. everything.
only 1 tried to do it. and they ignored everything we told them. they made no money, in the same niche (they even borrowed some of our inventory, our websites, and tech) and just couldn't execute their way out of a wet paper bag.

Execution trumps, capital, brains, market research, copy cats, etc. its utterly amazing what some testicular fortitude and elbow grease can accomplish.
bring on the competition.


PS. we were told today, that after 20 some odd months, we now have one of the best converting offers out there. SHIT. it only took 20 months to beat some of the best? yep. just TONS of work. :)
Z
 

IceCreamKid

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One of my worst business ideas ever was picked up by a national publication and went viral. 50 people knocked it off. I blew through 50,000 in advertising trying to make it successful. It was a dog. Meanwhile, all 50 wannabe knockoffs met a painful death one at a time, and I enjoyed every single slow painful death as I watched them all bleed out.
This thread is super fascinating to me. @Vigilante would you care to explain a bit more about this failure i.e. what you did correctly, what you would've done differently, etc? $50k is a very expensive lesson and I'd love to know what you learned in the process. Appreciate you.
 

JasonR

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I like big markets where other sharks swim.
So much, this! Never before have I realized the value in this single, simple sentence.

I may have to shut down for a little bit, not a fan of the attention..I'm a laid back, very low key sort of guy. I just like to inspire people in any way I can, even with what I'm doing now that is relatively small to some people, but pretty huge to others.
 

SGBoise

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Good point on not sharing. I stopped advertising how great my services a long time ago. With my business I didn't need a sales page at all. All done with cold calling.

The only people I was advertising was to my competitors. At one time I put all my clients on my sales page thinking potential clients would see that and buy immediately. That's didn't happen. :headbanger:
 

Vigilante

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This thread is super fascinating to me. @Vigilante would you care to explain a bit more about this failure i.e. what you did correctly, what you would've done differently, etc? $50k is a very expensive lesson and I'd love to know what you learned in the process. Appreciate you.
Sure.

I listened to everyone tell me how brilliant my idea was. I didn't test the market. After I launched, none of the people who told me how brilliant I was bought the service. People tell you what you want to hear, especially when you are "selling" people on a concept, and especially when you surround yourself with people who affirm your every breath.

Neither did anyone else. The market voted with their checkbooks. There was no need.

I could have used someone telling me I was stupid. (Welcome to the Fastlane Forum!)

Spending $50k on advertising in a single major metro market means my message ran repetitively for several weeks. We had to pull the plug, because absent of the advertising, the business sold exactly zero. The model was unsustainable.

But because the company was highly visible, it was copied. And copied. And copied. All across the United States, and even tiptoed into Europe.

Everyone copied a bad idea. It was an epic failure, and a lesson in due diligence.
 

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