Battling Behemoths in Your Small Business
It’s the end of the week and almost the end of the month and I’m sitting here mentally exhausted. It took me a while to figure out why, until I reviewed the past few weeks. As I looked back I realized that I’ve been constantly fighting seemingly impossible monsters. Big ones. The worst of their kind. Some will call it putting out fires, but no, this is actually going toe to toe with arrogant behemoths.
Who are these monsters? You know them…they are the largest of e-commerce and auction sites, freight carriers, banks and the biggest search engines. Just in the last few weeks, each one of them has whipped their spiny tail, and breathed scorching fire attempting to snuff the life out of my businesses.
Here are just a couple of examples.
A very large site shut our account down…out of the blue and in the middle of the night. Why? Because they said I was associated with another one of their customers that went rogue. We run an online marketing consulting agency, and in the past we did do work for their problem customer. But we are not associated with or connected to their customer. In fact our business currently does work for and has done work for many, many, many small business clients. But this giant, in all of their self-appointed wisdom shut our account down without even investigating the facts – let alone bothering to ask even a single question. Do you know why? Because they can. After an hour in the ring with them, they finally conceded that I was not associated with their bad customer and restored our account. It was a pure case of shoot to kill first, then let the victim plead their case later.
Another very large e-commerce site had a review that gave a false impression of a product we have a business interest in. This review was related to their shipping and handling of the product and not the product itself. I submitted a review removal request and they denied it telling me to read their “review guidelines”. Of course I read their review guidelines, and sure enough in black and white under “What’s not allowed” it says “Feedback on the seller, your shipping experience, or the packaging”. Shipping and packaging is EXACTLY what this negative review was entirely about. But this arrogant behemoth refused to remove the review saying that it didn’t violate their review guidelines. So I resubmitted the removal request, this time quoting the violated guideline verbatim. They replied to me again, telling me to read their guidelines. It’s obvious who needs to read their own guidelines. But they obviously don’t have to.
These are just two examples of the several run-ins I’ve had with these monsters, including eCommerce sites, banks, hosting companies, freight carriers and search engines. The larger these companies get, the more we see common sense actually walk out the back doors of their buildings. But after a certain point their customers become numbers and their employees become numbed robots. They don’t have to care – not even a little bit.
Although it does help to vent, I am writing this because we as small business owners, need to always be working towards autonomy. No matter what move we make, we must always be focusing on building our businesses in a way that is not dependent on those arrogant beasts. Yes, to some degree, we will probably always need to work with them. And they will always be whipping their tails around destroying without emotion.
The key is to not be totally dependent on or turn over control to any third party. Always be building your own independent sites and properties, not theirs. Use those other accounts to aid in building your business, not turning over control of your business. Build and manage your own independent prospect and customer database. Constantly nurture and retain your customers. And always use those other behemoths as examples of what not to become. Don’t be one of those guys!