Tag Archives: How To Screw Up A Good Idea

Cindi’s Thoughts – How do you handle confidential information?

Confidential Information

How do you handle confidential information?

There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about how confidential matters have been handled, and I was just curious where people stood on this subject. Let’s view it from a business perspective.

I worked in Silicon Valley for many years where I was given a lot of confidential information regarding product development, product launches and any number of other projects in order to properly do my job. I also observed early on in my career that even at the same company, not everyone was read into a project. So, if employees within a company aren’t allowed to know about the subject, why would someone think they can share that material with anyone outside?

To me, confidential is confidential. Whether obligated by a formal written agreement or a verbal acknowledgement, confidential data should not be shared with anyone who is not directly involved in the matter at hand.

Some confidentiality agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements or NDAs) allow you to share the data with those you contract with to help execute the project. However, the agreements typically state that you are responsible for all those you share that knowledge with to keep the information confidential until such time as it’s made public by the company. So, don’t share unless you must.

When you share confidential information, you do a number of things. First, you potentially undermine the success of the project. If information is released too soon from a source other than a corporate announcement, a lot of bad things can happen including the complete failure of the project or business. In some cases, the information is never to be made public and is strictly for use within the company.

Second, you put the person you told at risk of releasing the information accidentally. It’s a small world and you never know who knows whom or what data might be valuable to them. Making an off-the-cuff remark while waiting for your Pumpkin Spice Latte at the Starbucks counter at Target could be overheard by a potential competitor even though it was a seemingly innocent location.

Third, you risk your own reputation. If people can’t count on you to keep your mouth shut, they won’t tell you anything. You’ll be deemed untrustworthy and may lose your job, your clients or even relationships with friends or family, depending on the circumstances. Why risk it?

Confidential means everyone is not privy to the information. In this age of social media, some people feel they need to share everything. Sharing confidential information on social media can get you fired before your next paycheck. Don’t do it!

I’ve had people hit me with the spouse or significant other excuse, that spouses tell each other everything. Really? EVERYTHING? And, when I do raise that argument with others, I’m often told of stories of couples who were married for decades and never quite knew what their spouses did for a living because they were required to keep their work life confidential.

If I look back to my Silicon Valley days, it wasn’t unusual for people who worked for different companies to wed. With all the secretive product development going on, I’m sure they didn’t sit around the dinner table sharing design specs.

Keeping your mouth shut and doing the right thing can have a negative effect as well. At one point, I had been working with a client for about a year when another company contacted me to consult with them. I was really excited until I discovered that their products would compete with those that my current client had in their long range plan. I had to turn down the new client inquiry. Unfortunately, my existing client eventually chose not to pursue that market so I lost the opportunity to work with a great company on a long term contract, impacting my bottom line. Still, it was the right thing to do.

So, now that I’ve rambled a bit about my observations regarding the sharing of confidential material, where do you stand?

CIndi

TTPD – June is for Vendor and Contractor Review

June is Vendor Contractor Month

Greetings Sparklers!

Summer is inching its way towards us, but work goes on year-round and it’s time to take another peek at our monthly topics. We’re up to June!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents), June is devoted to vendors, contractors and consultants. Now is the time to double check all your current agreements to see that you’re getting the best service for the best price while considering which vendors you no longer need or others which you do.

This can be a tough month for some people while others enjoy the challenge. Some people like to negotiate. Others will pay full price no matter what. Some business owners will nickel and dime their suppliers to the tenth of a penny but balk at their own customers requesting a discount for early or all cash payment. Other business owners are afraid to call for service or necessary meetings because they know a sales pitch will accompany them, forgetting that their own businesses depend upon the same such sales calls. I think most of us fall somewhere in between.

Here are a few steps to getting through the month and hopefully saving some money.

  1. Review all current vendor/consultant agreements. Are you paying for something you don’t use? Are you unhappy with a particular supplier? Are you receiving the best price for what they have to offer? Make a list of questions for when you contact the vendor.
  2. Pull out your June folder and review others who have contacted you and piqued your interest. Is there someone in the folder you’d like to interview and request a quote?
  3. Pick up the phone and call all your current vendors. Tell them you’re doing your annual review and you’d just like a few minutes to chat. Then, ask all the questions you have and remember one of them should be, do you have any new services or packages that might better suit my needs?
  4. Gather the results of your research and decide who you plan to use for the next year and at what price.
  5. Work your new figures into your budget for the next 12 months, or the terms of the contract.

It doesn’t take much effort to save money. In the last few weeks, I received a sizeable credit from one vendor just for doing an annual review with them. I didn’t change my contract because they no longer offer the package I have and any changes would incur higher fees. However, just by calling them and doing a review, they give me an invoice credit for being a loyal customer.

Another vendor has reworked their offerings and, with a few minor tweaks on my part, I saved $50/month on my agreement. Might not seem like much, but it only took a few minutes and it resulted in saving $600/year. If I can do that with five vendors, that’s $3,000/year savings just for a few simple phone calls. It all adds up.

I’ve also replaced one vendor with another, finding one that does an excellent job for my needs at a lower price.

One of my pet peeves is not offering a discount or perk to a long-term, loyal customer. Many businesses only offer them to first time customers, hoping to build their clientele. While I think that’s a good strategy for them, there should also be some reward for those who stick around a long time, something like an Anniversary Discount. I talk about my own experiences in my book, How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents). I’ve been on both sides of the equation and hopefully, I’ve learned.

It’s nearly impossible to be successful in business by yourself. Whether you have your own staff or a team of vendors, contractors and consultants, it’s important to have the right people at the right price providing exactly what you need.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are our own.

Why Aunti Cindi Presents?

Aunti Cindi Presents

About a year ago I released my first books in the Aunti Cindi Presents series, including How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents)
and Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents). People have been asking me, Why Aunti Cindi Presents? So, I thought I’d give you a little background.

Over the years I’ve had several ideas for small non-fiction books that were not particularly related subject matter. I would jot thoughts down here and there but never took the time to write entire books because I felt if I released them individually, they might get lost in the vast universe of bookdom.

One day I was looking through my cache of domain names and realized I owned AuntiCindiPresents.com. I purchased it, along with AuntiCindi.com, long ago for one reason in particular. I’ve been called Aunti Cindi since I was a child, having been blessed with my first nephew when I was a mere eight-years-old. Even in business I used the name to differentiate myself from other Cindis, Cindys and Cyndees in a company. People would remember Aunti Cindi and actually got a kick out of calling me that. I felt, eventually I could put those domains to good use.

Aunti Cindi Presents opens up the opportunity to become a series of much shorter informational books than something like the Dummies, and potentially allow different authors to have books published in the series. In fact, I’ve been talking with two authors already who are interested in sharing their sage wisdom in such a manner.

The goal of the Aunti Cindi Presents series is to offer sage advice for a fulfilled life. Its tagline, Sparkle On! means to find your inner gem and shine it out to the world. Who could resist that?

The first two books in the series are business topics, but others will fall under a variety of subjects, even those I write myself. I’m busy working on two novels right now, so I’m not sure when the next in the series will debut, but keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links but all opinions are my own!