Are You in Control of Your Business?

Text of my newsletter from 11th October

The Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp 6-hour outage last week was a wakeup call for businesses that base themselves on any of those platforms.

Their ads stopped running, and their business pages went offline. There have been reports of some businesses losing thousands of dollars.

And those who use Facebook as their login verification for other websites, were locked out of those as well.

The lesson is this: If you don’t own the platforms you use, you’re not in control and your business is at risk.

Innocent infringements of Terms and conditions

Apart from outages, which can happen to any platform, the main risk comes from innocently infringing the platform provider’s terms and conditions.

All the platform providers can, and do, change their terms and conditions with dizzying regularity.

If one of those changes brings your business into conflict, it will disappear until you can bring it back into compliance.

Any business based on any of the Facebook brands, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, or any similar platform, is subject to the platforms’ terms and conditions. Those can seriously restrict your activities.

For example, I have a friend here who was importing saucisson (craft, herb sausages) from France, but when he tried to promote them on Facebook he hit a wall.

First they said it was illegal to sell live animals, and then they allowed some types but not others. It took 3 weeks to get qualified approval, by which time the stock had all been sold anyway.

Not much help!

All those platforms offer a cheap, quick, and convenient way of getting your business online, but they are always in control.

They are useful as outposts, but avoid making them your home base.

It costs more initially to get a professionally built website, set up on your own domain that you’ve registered and paid for, but it’s yours, and you are in control.

And it’s cheaper in the long run.

You can sell what you want, you can update your terms and conditions when you want, and no one can take it away from you.

I covered what you need to set up your website here.

It’s not difficult, and it gives you control of your business.

This week’s links

This week’s theme is about being in control of your business by owning your platforms, and understanding what they should contain.

I’ve linked to a 36-minute podcast on why you need to understand media and own your platforms, why any business needs its own website, what pages your business website should contain, and why it should include a blog.

Understanding media and owning your platforms

Matt Snodgrass and Eric Schwartzman discuss the importance of understanding media and owning your own platforms, rather than selling through someone else’s platform – such as Amazon, Etsi, eBay and so on.

Those platforms enable you to get started cheaply and quickly but, ultimately, you’re not in control – they are.

And to be both successful and resilient, you need to be in control.

Why you should understand media and own your platforms

Why any business needs its own website

I’ve met many small business owners who ask me why they need a website when they can set up a free Facebook page.

My short answer is that your website is your own bit of online real estate, where you are in control. With a Facebook page Mr Zuckerberg is in control.

This article on Lyfe Marketing goes into the many reasons why any business needs its own website, rather than relying on a Social Media page.

Although it dates from 2019, its message is as valid today as it was when it was written:

Why any business needs its own website

What pages must I have on my website?

If you accept that your business should have its own website, the next question is: what pages should it contain?

Matt Squirrel takes us through 13 pages that a professional website should have. Depending on your business model, you may not need all of those, but it’s a great checklist:

What pages must my website have?

Why should I have a blog on my business website?

In the previous article, both a blog and a news/updates page were listed as separate pages your website should include. You could, however, combine those two and offer both news and updates about your business within a blog page.

In this article, Corey Wainright takes us through 7 reasons why every business website should have a blog:

Benefits of blogging for business and marketing

Fun flashback

I love watching Status Quo videos – they love what they do! Here they are with ‘Whatever You Want’:

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Cheers,

Martin Malden

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Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.