Trade Secrets is a website dedicated to connecting people in the same industry for the purpose of exchanging business advice. Our website consists of Experts and Clients. Experts are people who are experienced and successful in their trade. Client's seek advice from these experts to sow or grow their businesses.
Client's search our site using their trade as a keyword, e.g. 'Electronic security'. They then check out the Expert profiles of people in their trade, choose someone, and schedule a telephone call with them through our booking system.
Clients and Experts can ask each other questions on the booking system to make sure they can benefit by working together. When they have agreed a date and time, we provide a standard rate telephone number.
Client and Expert dial the number we provide and the Client obtains the advice they need to get their business to the next level. Payment is calculated by the expert's per minute fee (shown on their profile) multiplied by the call length, and is taken from the Client's PayPal account.
Experts earn from the call and Trade Secrets takes a percentage of this for providing the service.
Clients can also invite guests on the call.
What's the story behind Trade Secrets?
The co-founders of Trade Secrets are Karen Bartle and Paul Peace.
We had previously run a business together that hadn’t performed very well. We started an undercapitalised ecommerce website selling wildlife gardening products, such as nest boxes and bird food. We couldn’t compete with the big boys and girls because they were able to buy products and courier serices in bulk and offer lower prices. The right advice before starting out could have saved us from adding our footprints to this well-trodden startup path.
Later, we started a very successful therapy practice in Sheffield, UK, followed by a training company in Sheffield and London. As therapy supervisors, we noticed that many therapists had great therapy skills but they didn’t always understand marketing, so their practices weren’t taking off.
At the time of our therapy practice startup, we attended a marketing course where we were given advice on advertising in telephone directories. We followed the advice to the letter but the expensive advert failed. Meanwhile, a smaller, cheap, 2-line, text-only advert under a professional association performed much better. The well-meaning marketing expert knew general marketing principles that he would apply across multiple industries but he didn’t know our particular trade.
It got us thinking and we decided to include marketing know-how in our trainings and supervision to help other therapists – people in the same trade – to succeed like us.
In 2012, we decided to live our dreams and backpack 26 countries in 9 months, an incredible experience, before landing in Australia and starting a new life here.
It was time to start a new business. After exploring lots of ideas over a few months and everything coming unstuck, we thought back to how useful specific industry advice can be. We suspected the same problems could occur in any industry. We wondered, ‘What if a business owner in any industry could obtain trade secrets from other successful business owners in the same industry, and slipstream their success?’
Our excitement was hard to contain. We looked around expecting this seemingly obvious concept would already be out there. Many other websites had ‘experts’ but these were like our ‘marketing expert’ – people who help cross-industry. Such expertise is very valuable, we thought, but what better person to speak to than someone in your own industry; someone who knows the secrets to success?
Business owners would be able to ask about trade-specific marketing - what works and what does not, staffing, increasing profit, suppliers, customer service, referrals, loyalty systems, expanding, franchising - anything that would bring them greater success. Startups could gain confidence by shortcutting all the years of learning instead of reinventing the wheel. It was clear we were onto something very special that the business community would love. You wait years for these moments of inspiration.
Then came the low that often follows the excitement of a new idea. It all went quiet as we asked, “If this is such a good idea – so obvious – why is this service not already available? Are we missing something?
The obvious answer was that people think that business owners won’t ‘help the competition’. Well, call us disruptive, or maybe just plain naive, but we don’t believe this is always true. The business community can also be very cooperative and people love advising and providing consultancy. Indeed, we trained new therapists in our own town (creating our own competition) and helped them as much as we could with their marketing.
In any case, we wondered, perhaps we can use the latest telephone technology to connect people in different towns and even, as we expand, around the world on domestic numbers in their respective countries. The world is shrinking through technology and we’re surfing the crest of a wave.
After a great deal of research, and a 210 page technical spec, we found a way to enable business owners to call someone in the same town for hyperlocal advice, or if competition is a concern, they can call a retired expert, an expert in another town, or even an expert in another country. We have a search engine, profiles, a lovingly crafted appointment scheduling process, feedback system...
If you could ask a successful entrepreneur in your industry anything, what would it be? What price would you put on it? We feel we’ve found a way to create an amazing return on investment opportunity.
Please have a look around our site, and schedule a call to get the business advice that will take you to the next level, and/or become an expert yourself!
This is our dream come true. We hope it makes all of yours come true.
Paul Peace and Karen Bartle, Co-Founders.