Update 8 July: Want audio? We now podcast as well. Get it here >
Brutal Pixie made the brutal decision to go transparent and open about business, effective 1 July 2015. In doing this, I want to share with you three statements about this decision.
It was a difficult decision, and I have absolutely no idea how this will be received. It comes at a time when we pivot slightly, relaunch the website (and with it a change in visual design), and also start paying 1% of total revenue forwards. They are small, and simultaneously enormous changes.
Transparency is terrifying
People talk about open business, open startups, open metrics. They talk about transparency. They applaud and cheer people like Buffer who do this. They share information about the Open Startups Project.
And when you tell people that you’re going to work in a transparent way, hands‐down the most common response I’ve had is this:
For good reason. Making the decision to open the performance metrics of your company — especially one like mine, which is still less than two years old — is actually terrifying. It’s as terrifying as sending your heartfelt goals to 10 people by email (I’ve done that, it’s frightening stuff). It’s as terrifying as your first dance performance. It’s far more terrifying than asking someone to marry you.
Just this week, a good friend of mine — who had the response above — qualified it by saying: “See, now all of my paradigms are challenged”. Yes. Yes, they are.
Transparency is actually disruptive
The reality is that transparency is true disruption. Unlike the disruption that entrepreneurs talk about in terms of doing new things, transparency disrupts the entire nature of business.
Small businesses are not required to publish their performance as companies are. Small businesses are not required to talk to anyone, actually, about how their business is performing, beyond networking platitudes.
And while we like to think that we are open and transparent, we are not. Not until we start publishing things like how our revenue streams are split, where the money goes, and why. It’s a vastly different method of working, and the fear is tempered by this incredible excitement that it’s the right thing to do.
Transparency will be the future of business
Brutal Pixie’s core message is about connection. You can’t connect with us in a real sense unless you know exactly who we are. You won’t want to work for us, unless you know that we are honest.
Transparent modes of business force honesty upon you. It’s really hard to hide, and I think that perhaps this is why it’s such a terrifying thing! There’s no sense of faking it until you make it. There is no ability to fudge your figures, say big things that mean nothing, or spin what you’re doing. Not when every man and his dog can see that you’re lying.
This is why I believe — strongly — that transparency and open business is the way of the future. You simply can’t continue to compete on the basis of minor disruptions. And in an age when nothing but integrity is stable, you have to work beyond the thought leader ranks of publishing books, presenting at conferences, and — yawn. Do something meaningful, and be fabulously open about what you’re doing.
Honesty is a key component of trust. As the founder of Brutal Pixie, I truly believe that real honesty, at all levels of business, is something to be desired, chased, and celebrated. We aren’t waiting until we are legally obliged to produce annual reports to talk about how we’re doing. We’re doing that now: When we are young, facing challenges, and moving things forward.
If you want to find out more about our Plan B, please get in touch.