Consumers crave transparency—and that means knowing everything about your business.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Do you think, given the state of our world right now, that transparency doesn’t seem all that important? You’d be wrong. According to Trendwatching, there are five powerful forces that are key to influencing change for consumers. The first is transparency. Trendwatching says there’s a “global, rapid march towards a future of ever more reliable, useful, instantly accessible information.”

There are already businesses that are aware the “demand [for transparency] is only going to intensify,” Trendwatching says. Here’s the context: “Billions of people worldwide expect to find out pretty much anything they want to know, often instantly. And that includes anything about you.”

In fact, Trendwatching reports a recent survey of global consumers shows “78% of consumers said it is ‘somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent’ while 70% said that ‘these days I make it a point to know more about the companies I buy from.’” You can’t hide from this trend; you have to embrace it.

One aspect of transparency is ratings and reviews. Trendwatching cites Yelp’s growth (it took the peer review company 2.5 years to get to its first million reviews, but 10 million reviews have been posted in just the last 15 months) as evidence that consumers want to know everything about your business—and are happy to share that knowledge with millions.

Although the specifics are different for every business, for startups, Trendwatching says, transparency can be the “instant point of [differentiation] against your legacy competitors.” Even if you’re not a startup, being transparent—with your employees and your customers—can be the leg up your small business needs to forge ahead.

Small Business Trends says if you want to make transparency a priority you need to invest in content, publish data and take customers behind the scenes. And it warns small business owners to not underestimate the value of transparency.