Do you own or control the platform that you are building your business on?

When building a business, it is tempting to take the shortcut – that is to use some other platform to make a profit, bring in customers, etc. In most cases you have little or no control over that platform, I like to describe it as – You become a cog in their machine. While this might help you get off the ground short term – what are the long-term dangers in depending on something else outside of your control to make you money? After all, isn’t that why we become enterprising people – to break away from the control of others and have more control over what we can do?

Amazon Sends Suppliers Down the River

About a month ago – Amazon abruptly stopped buying goods from third-party sellers. Think of this like a lay off – “Bob, we are not going to be needing your services any longer.”

The e-commerce behemoth has canceled orders with many wholesalers. However, being nice they pushed them (So you got this stuff you want to sell, this is how it is going to work now) to sell directly to consumers on its marketplace.

And here is why… Having vendors sell directly to customers is a better arrangement for Amazon because it can charge merchants for services like storing and shipping products and take a commission on each transaction, plus it avoids the risk of buying inventory that doesn’t sell.

This translates into less risk and more money in their pocket. If you think for a second that a large company is main goal is to exist to help you – I got some ocean front land in Arizona, Interested?

Let’s just say, you are one of those suppliers, where Amazon made up most of your sales – it would not make for a good day.

What About Marketing – Social Media?

Let’s take a quick look at social media marketing.

If you have invested a lot of time (maybe money also) in G+ as your main social marketing platform. Guess what – G+ is shutting down.

What about Facebook? Do you control that platform? Do you actually have the contact information for everybody that liked your page? Do you have direct access to them?

I have to ask, what would happen if Facebook changed how they do business, so that they no longer line up with your ideas and/or values?

They can change the rules at any time – what would happen if they said “Hey, we see that you have built up a large following – this must mean you have invested a lot of time, and because of this we are going to start charging you X dollars per follower.” After all they are the gatekeeper.

What About Those Services?

Google is famous for shutting down services that don’t do too well. There is a web page that lists them all. G+ is one of the latest.

The point I want to make is – what if you built a business around one of those services? You don’t own it, you don’t control it – when they say it is going away. There isn’t anything you can do.

Let me give you a better example.

Back in 2011 – 2012 I got involved with Google Business Photos because of the 360 panoramic images I was already doing. Sounded like a great deal, basically do what I already was doing but for businesses and use the Google platform. Which was great to start, because I could sell it to existing customers. Then the time came where they wanted me to do more. That would require me, investing money and time to gain new clients, who might not necessarily become long term clients. Not to mention taking time away from existing clients.

Which again, building a business around something you don’t control or own is just a bad idea. It is not a wise investment.

In the end I decided the best course was to do my own thing. To build something worth owning.

It was a good choice, because shortly after that – Google came in and basically started offering the service for free. And was only spending time with much larger marketing companies.

Moral of The Story

How much of the revenue that you bring in – how much of that is by things you actually own and control? I need to clarify this – it is OK to outsource things. For example, circuit boards that I design, it is better to have that outsource and the product produced by someone else. The same with my art canvas prints – no way do I want to bring that in house.

It does not make scene to invest in the equipment, learning, etc. to do it yourself. However – if my current supplier changes their rules or goes bye-bye. I am not dead in the water. I can switch suppliers with little to no headaches. Business rolls on….

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Especially if that basket is not one of yours.

PS.. On a side note – forgot to mention online (or even) in person groups. Just remember – as long as you play by the group owner’s rules (which can change like the wind) you can continue to play the game.

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jamie@jamiestarling.com