When people think about dependency their mind nearly always goes to people who are dependent on drugs, alcohol, and so on. They don’t generally think about business. Is a business dependent? Is your business dependent on something? Are you suffering from a dependency on a platform, a methodology, a guru or whatever?
The Facebook blackout that left you clucking for your next hit
It happens all the time. And people will think that they’ll be fine, that they will be okay, and nothing bad will happen to the thing that they’re dependent on. On the 4th of October, mid-afternoon, Facebook, and Instagram and WhatsApp, basically, the entire Facebook ecosystem, went down. They had some technical issues, which meant that their sites, apps, and services were unreachable.
Those sites, apps, and services are things that people have built their businesses on. Facebook and Instagram especially. They are things that many businesses around the world are completely dependent on and that dependency is dangerous. It’s also unnecessary, but we’ll get to that.
The Facebook blackout shined a light on your dependency
The danger of that dependency is that when those platforms go down you no longer have a business, you have no means of contacting customers, you have no means of disseminating your message, and you have no means of running your business in any way, shape, or form.
You have built your business entirely on a platform owned by someone else. That is not okay. You are dependent, you have a dangerous and unhealthy dependency, and you are (and your business is) completely dependent on those platforms. It is completely dependent on the whims of the people that run those platforms.
Without that platform, you were left with nothing
On the 4th of October, when everything went down, you as the person whose business is solely dependent on those platforms, had no business. It was only half a day but that’s enough to cause a panic. You had no business, no customers, no networks, no nothing. Because you were dependent on that singular ecosystem of platforms (Facebook is the owner of the ecosystem, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others are just platforms within that ecosystem)
There have been other examples of why that dependency is dangerous. For those of you that have strong political ideals, you get shut down by those platforms. The people that run those platforms have one set of political ideals. And that’s fine it’s their playground, their rules. So when something comes up that doesn’t align with the platforms ideals or, as they put it ‘community standards’, then your content gets shut down, it gets removed. And that means that nobody gets to see your content. Nobody gets to experience your message, nobody gets to understand your mindset and your mission.
There are an almost endless number of dangers to dependency
There are other examples too. For instance, people who are in certain industries, things like paintball for example. If you are a person who is a seller in that niche you can’t sell the guns through Facebook. You cannot advertise them through Facebook because they’re guns, they’re weapons, they’re firearms. Except they’re not really, they are paintball. Facebook tends to treat the ads for those weapons like you’re selling a p90 or something. Facebook won’t allow such a thing because it doesn’t conform to their community standards. So if you post something, it will be removed. You cannot use their paid advertising platform because your request to advertise will be denied.
Some other examples include people who are frequent users of that language. I have felt this one personally because I swear a lot. And there are certainly certain words, when you use them that will mean that the algorithm will almost immediately remove your comment or your posts because of it not conforming to community standards. Now those certain words, I’m not even talking about words that are in some way derogatory, they’re just plain old swear words. But Facebook doesn’t like them and doesn’t want them on their platform. And that’s absolutely fine. But if you are somebody who uses those words a lot, then it is hard to be authentically you on the platform because when you do they shut it down.
Absolutely do use those platforms but make sure you don’t create dependency
These are all examples of where dependency becomes dangerous because you exist at the whim of another being or organisation. A dependency that will cause more problems than it ever solves. Social media is a wonderful thing. It really is a truly amazing, wonderful creation. People have been given an opportunity to earn a livelihood that they never had before, because of social media. I myself, heavily use social media in my business, and it has been a source of income for me. It has enabled me to generate custom and build awareness. I’ve been able to grow my brand and connect with people in a way that would be otherwise impossible. I have been very careful to ensure that I am not dependent on it though. I will always be grateful for social media. All the same, dependency is dangerous.
It is time to move from dependency to being completely independent
What can you do about that dependency? Can you make it so that you are no longer reliant upon that system? What can you do about your dependency on that guru? What can you have in place that will enable you to actually own every aspect of your business and not be dependent on one system, platform, or guru?
Email baby, it supports your independence
Well, there are several things. So the most basic of those things that free you from the clutches of a singular platform would be Email. Collect email addresses and create an email list. You can use one of the many available systems (MailerLite, MailChimp, Active Campaign, and so on) or you could even go really basic and you could use excel in conjunction with your own email software (I wouldn’t actually recommend that to be honest because it ties up your computer resources and when you have a large list is just an impractical way of sending emails). But taking regular backups of your email list and turning them into a spreadsheet is a wonderful idea. Those platforms enable you to take that data out of their platform, you own that data, you own those email addresses, and you own that point of contact with people.
So if, for instance, you have a Mailerlite account, you can send out regular emails to those people and if you are regularly backing up that email list, you’ll get yourself a nice Excel spreadsheet of all your current subscribers. This means that if for some reason MailerLite were to go down, you wouldn’t lose your contacts, you wouldn’t lose your network. Because you still have that data, you still own that data. You can’t do that with social media, it won’t let you take data off of that platform. So that’s one thing you can (and should) do.
Create your own platform in the form of your own website
Another thing you can do, which is a bit more expensive but there are different ways you can go about it, is to have a website. And there are many ways you could go about it. In my web development days, I used to build completely bespoke systems for medium-sized enterprises. For most of you, however, that is overkill and is far too expensive. So your other option, the much cheaper option, for those smaller guys out there is WordPress.
The superhero known as WordPress can, and will, save you from dependency
WordPress is a blogging platform that enables you to host your own website and then share content with the world, search engines, on social media, and so on.
It has evolved over the years. So now you have all sorts of plugins that mean that you can build basically anything, which is fantastic. As a platform, it’s amazing. As a platform, it’s amazing. But it’s not the easiest thing to navigate at first. It does take some learning which can be navigated around by paying someone to set it up for you.
Learning about the how part of the WordPress equation will help you cut out even more dependency
If you’re willing to put the time and effort into learning about it, which isn’t a bad idea, then you can host your WordPress on your own hosting which means that you have total control of your platform. There are various plugins that enable you to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. So if you want to create a forum, or a social network of your own, for your customers then there are plugins that will enable you to do that. If you want to create a streaming platform, so that you can live stream your content and so on, there are plugins that will enable you to do that. There is an almost endless number of plugins that will enable you to do all manner of things. Most have pretty good and comprehensive documentation as well. So, that is something you can do that will enable you to gain some independence and therefore remove your dependency upon the social platform.
Get outside, release your dependency on tech altogether
There are other things you can do to increase your independence too. Some of the other things you can do are much more traditional in nature. Things like actually get out in the world, meet people, talk to people face to face, share your business card or your website links or go to events, industry-specific events, networking events, and even host your own event. There are all sorts of things that you can do. Physically going out and meeting people is a wonderful thing. And it creates a hell of a good impression to the impression that it creates is much more deep and lasting than anything that you can do online and enables you to get out in the world. Share your ideas, meet people get to know people so they know you and understand you and that is worth its weight in gold.
The question of what to do about your reliance on that Guru is a simple one to answer
Business Coaches provide you with insight and support in your business. Insight and support are extremely valuable. The support aspect of that is the most valuable part of that equation. If you want to be more independent, then you need to ensure that you have a solid support network around you in your life. That support network includes your team members and so on but outside of official work stuff it includes friends and family too.
Your friends and family are the most supportive people you have in your life. They may not necessarily understand what you’re doing in the business world, they may have no frame of reference for that but they can provide emotional support. And, they are willing to provide that support. All you have to do is reach out to those people, those people in your network, your friends and your family, and ask.
Your personal network is powerful and can be further enhanced by you
You can strengthen those bonds by checking up on them, making sure they’re okay, and showing them that you care. And they will do the same in return. Maybe not all of them, but some of them will. Doing that will help to create a solid support network around you.
That support network can help you gain your independence. Business coaches are fantastic and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have them in your life, but you need to create a support network. One that is going to be around you, always. Whereas those business coaches are going to be with you for some time but not forever. So make sure that your personal support network is solid. Make sure that the relationships between you and your team members are solid.
Talk to people, show them your human side so they can relate to you and understand you. Support them and they’ll support you. Be kind to them and they’ll be kind to you. That is how you gain independence.
The great Facebook blackout of October ‘21 shined a light on the unhealthy sense of entitlement some people have
The day that followed exposed a lot of entitlement. Three were countless people complaining about how Facebook is some sort of dark overlord. Entitlement in this case came as a result of the dependency that those people have on the platform. Facebook has provided us all with a platform and has not had many instances of blackout like they did on that day. That means that people became complacent in their position. Comfort is quite dangerous, it is that comfort that led to that extreme dependence.
If you would like to take a moment to gain some insight into my thoughts and feelings on entitlement then have a look at the post in the following link. https://mybizacademy.co.uk/the-disease-that-is-known-as-an-unhealthy-sense-of-entitlement
Some useful links to things that will help you gain some measure of independence
I mentioned some email platforms further up in the post. Links to those platforms can be found here:
MailerLite – https://www.mailerlite.com/
Mailchimp – https://mailchimp.com/
Active Campaign – https://www.activecampaign.com/
A quick note about WordPress
Something else I mentioned in the post is WordPress. There is something you need to know. There are two versions.
WordPress.Com is for bloggers. It will host a blog for you and is free to get started with. For your personal blogging projects, this is perfect however, for your business needs it is not ideal. It is still relying on another platform, which is no good long term.
What I would recommend instead is WordPress.org. This is for self-hosted sites and is much more adaptable. You will require your own hosting and domain name but that’s fine because you want to be independent, right?
There is more information on their website, which can be found here – https://wordpress.org/
If you are ready to get started with WordPress and want to learn how to go about it their resources are fantastic
WordPress has already anticipated that people would require some measure of instruction to get into and understand it all. That’s why they have so many useful guides on their website. Those guides can be found here – https://learn.wordpress.org/