Is there a downside to Transparency Reports?

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There are people who share their regular monthly revenues. Or others who do it yearly. And for some of those folks, I get it. It encourages their followers. It assures their audiences. It tells them that they're proof that the things they're selling can really work and make a difference.

I get all that and I appreciate its value.

If a person tried to sell me on webinars and didn't do any webinars, I'd likely question them. Right?

So for all the internet marketers, podcasters, authors and more that do it, I can see the value and don't sense a huge downside.

Is it Good for Everyone?

I'll be honest, when I first read a transparency report from a product developer in the WordPress community I was impressed.

“That's cool and inspiring.”

But the more I thought about it in practical terms, the more worried I got.

I'm not saying it's bad. I'm not saying it's wrong. But I am saying that it could be a bit worrisome—depending on how you see your future playing out.

Three Reasons You Might Want To Reconsider Transparency Reports

1. Things will go worse later if you decide to stop

The first worry is the standard you're setting for yourself and your company. You're setting an expectation and later that could back to haunt you. When you're making $145 in a year, it's not a big deal. But are you ready to share your details when you're making orders of magnitude more?

And the issue isn't just revenue. Some people share costs and profits. Others share customer totals. All of that is data that once you start, maybe expected of you. And the moment you stop sharing, people will think you're hiding information. So that transparency works against you. Or could.

2. You might be hurting yourself if you decide to sell

Most people think that the only way to evaluate the worth of your company is to focus on your total revenues, with a multiplier. But that's just one way to determine business value.

And even if that's the way you evaluate the value of a business, not all revenue is equal. I've read details in transparency reports that would allow me to determine which revenue streams were the ones I cared about, and I could effectively determine a different value for the business because you gave me enough details to do so.

In essence, you'd be negotiating against yourself because all my valuations would be based on information I couldn't have gotten without your reports.

3. People may be motivated differently than you hoped

I know the goal is to inspire others on the road behind you. I get that. It's an awesome motivation and all the people who have written these reports in the WordPress community are awesome people doing something they hope is inspiring and encouraging. Their motives are great.

But their motives aren't the only ones to consider.

What if someone reads about the hard year and decides to quit their efforts because they had hoped for better results? Reading the post leaves them feeling despair, not the opposite.

What if someone reads your month (or year) and decides that they can do what you're doing and the result is more competition? Everyone says it's fine until their competition shows up and starts winning big.

My point is that there are a lot of different kinds of folks out there and the consequences of sharing may be the opposite of your hope.

The Motivation is Still Great: Stay Transparent

I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't share our stories. Quite the opposite.

  • Keep sharing.
  • Keep challenging people.
  • Keep encouraging them.

Just maybe consider that instead of sharing revenue, costs, profits, staff counts, and customer numbers, you can share lessons learned, challenges faced, and stumbling blocks suffered.

As for me, I can tell you I'm adding an employee to chrislema.com soon and I'll happily tell you all about the why and the how. I just won't tell you what she costs me or the exact revenue that comes from hiring her. 🙂

What's your take? Am I off here? Why?

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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