Starting a business today is arguably easier than it has ever been in the history of mankind. But with the rise of platforms that give us unprecedented exposure to potential fans, clients, and guests comes a sneaky caveat…
The easier and less costly a tool for your small business is, the more you will invest in it. The more you invest in the tool, the greater your dependence on it becomes. The greater your dependence on any single given tool becomes, the more leverage the executives of that company wield. The more leverage the execs wield, the more likely the business model will pivot in favor of profit. From there, every change to the platform can begin to erode your work.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]The more you depend on one platform, the less sustainable your business model is.[/thrive_text_block]
It’s not a vicious cycle because we know what we’re getting into when we sign up. But it catches a lot of people by surprise!
In My Industry…
I work in vacation rentals and this worrying trend with regards to listing sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com prompted me and some colleagues to create Listing Site Independence: it’s the first framework (4 sequential stages) to walk property owners and managers through building a truly diversified marketing portfolio.
Some people ask “so you don’t use listing sites at all?”
And the answer is quite less dramatic: we use listing sites TO OUR ADVANTAGE. We use any platform that generates results without compromising our local brands.
This is a subtle but very powerful difference and I encourage you to embrace some version of it when building your own business.
Examples Of Dependency Leading To Despair
From Super Hosts to Power Sellers, be aware that this trend happens across all industries:
- These Influencers Are Quitting Instagram And They Want Others To Join Them: After dealing with burnout and frustrations over Instagram’s policies, these influencers are rebuilding their businesses on their own terms
- Apple Will Remove Your App: A new email app called “Hey” from the team at Basecamp has run into trouble with Apple for refusing to offer a subscription option that can be purchased in the iOS app.
- The app-store War: A growing number of software companies are looking to bypass the dominant app store gatekeepers at Apple and Google
- Medium Realizes It’s Model Is Broken: Thought your future as a writer was through the annals of platforms like Medium and Huffington Post? Think again.
- Instagram Secretly Made A Huge Change: Brands and influencers are concerned about Instagram’s surprise algorithm change because it will significantly diminish their ability to reach their audience without paying Instagram to boost posts.
- iTunes Podcast Ranking Fluctuations: Over the course of the last year, podcasters have watched their podcasts go up and down in iTunes rankings — the biggest podcast platform in the world.
- Google To Hotels — We Pick Your Thumbnail Photo: While Google ostensibly offers businesses the ability to set this profile photo for their own business, that appearance of “freedom” to a large extent is a sham. Business wishes be damned, Google is going to make the choice that optimizes their monetization of local.
- The Terrifying Moment In 2012 When Youtube Changed Its Entire Philosophy: YouTube re-jiggered its search-and-discovery algorithm on March 15 to make watch time, not views, the determining factor in what videos to recommend. This resulted in a massive plummet for many long-time users
- Amazon Suspension Crashed My Sales From $50k to Zero: The story of how one seller’s account got suspended for no reason. To this day, he has no clue or idea as to why he was suspended and my listings had to be deleted.
So what does all this mean?
Taking advantage of any platform to generate more business is a good thing. In fact, it may be the very thing that sets apart successful small businesses from the rest.
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But equally important is remembering where that channel fits in your diverse and sustainable marketing portfolio.
Use a good email marketing platform to begin building bringing all those fans into your own court so you can reach them directly should the rug be pulled out from under you. Because when it does happen, you will leave your immediate competitors in the dust.