In early December 2014 I was at the local WordPress end-of-year event, which basically consists of a group of WordPress professionals gathering at a place to have a drink and talk to one another.

Since I live way out of Vancouver, this event is an opportunity for me to talk to all the great Vancouver WordPress people I know but don’t get to see regularly.


Unfortunately this year’s event left me with a bad taste in my mouth. My disappointment had nothing to do with the organizers or the venue or…really anything the organizers could control.

It had to do with the mindset of the people.

More than once I had a conversation with another WordPress developer/business owner who started by thanking me for writing here. They loved that I shared so freely about how I run my business and how I think they should run things.

[Tweet “Don’t be afraid to give away secrets”]

Then each one referred to a business they considered a ‘competitor’ and how reluctant they were to talk shop with their competitor(s). Each of these business owners I talked to was super afraid that sharing any information about how they do business meant they would be giving away ‘trade secrets’ that would give their ‘competitors’ the same advantage they already had.

There’s no such thing as competition; there is only community. Creatives who do similar work aren’t the enemy, out to steal your potential income or clients, they’re just people who share your love of French abstract realism or raw vegan cooking — and that means you have a lot in common – The Good Creative

Let me be clear

If I worried about my competition using any knowledge I share to get the advantage and take clients from me, then I’d never write here.

[Tweet “If I worried about giving away secrets I wouldn’t have a blog”]

If a single idea is all that wins you clients, you’re on shaky footing.

I’ve written at length about pricing.

I’ve given away my initial email templates, for free and told you how I deal with prospects as they enter my sales cycle.

I’ve shared how I deal with the first call with a prospect.

I’ve talked about my ideal client and how I filter them.

You would have none of that information if I were worried about my readers competing with me — and I know some of you are my competitors.

You do work in e-commerce and membership sites, and it’s good work and you’re awesome.

But I don’t worry about you taking clients away from me because of something I’ve shared here at all.

I don’t worry about anyone competing with me using information they got from a Clarity call with me.

I don’t worry about any of that because I don’t operate from a scarcity mindset. Just because you win a client doesn’t mean that I am now down one project.

There is not a finite amount of work out there (well theoretically anyway). Since I work from a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, I’m booked for months and have savings for months. There is no reason for me not to help you get better at running a business.

Start sharing

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the more I share, the more people share back with me.

When I help someone craft their pitch to a client (even when I’m literally providing a pitch for the same work) and my competitor wins the work, not only do I get a big old thank you from that competitor, but they invariably send me work at some point — typically a project that matches perfectly with my skills but is less of a match for my competitor. This mutual respect and appreciation leads to more — and better — work for each of us. Everyone wins.

So share your ideas with someone else, even a direct competitor. If your competitor uses your ideas, he won’t be duplicating your work exactly. No one will package your ideas like you.

No one has your experience and personality.

[Tweet “Share your ideas, no one packages it like you”]

No one will speak to a client just like you.

So even with your ideas, your competitor’s sales pitch will be different, and yours will be unique to you.


Stop having a scarcity mindset and instead adopt an abundance mindset. Then share that abundance with as many people as possible.

photo credit: mac_filko cc

2 responses to “Getting Clients is Not a Zero Sum Game”

  1. John Locke Avatar


    It’s crazy. This is web design and development. I didn’t think there were any trade secrets left, seeing as most of them have been published 100 times, minimum.

    You’re 100% correct about abundance vs. scarcity as a mindset. There are at least 50 web agencies in every major city in the Western world. Probably twice that in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Most web shops sound the same, look the same, and market the same as everyone else. THAT’S a big part of the problem.

    Just like there was no spoon in The Matrix, there is no special sauce in web design and development. The ideas, even the processes are nothing. The EXECUTION is what is lacking.

    Comparison is the thief of joy.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Fear is totally right. Fear that others will realize they actually have nothing new to offer.

      I’m glad we’re not afraid.