[stag_dropcap font_size=”100px” style=”squared”]I[/stag_dropcap] was inspired to write this blog post based on an article that surfaced in my Facebook feed about Appetas, a restaurant website service, that up until now, offered restaurants a turn-key solution to having a website with useful integrated features such as menus, online ordering etc.  It’s not the worst idea in the world by any means, an affordable, easy solution for an industry that typically has low margins, and little to no internal resources for such a thing. But today’s announcement is exactly why I’ve consulted not only restaurants, but all businesses to stay away from turn-key solutions like this for one simple reason; you don’t own it.

Appetas announced today they were acquired by Google. Great for them, not so much for their customers. In their blog post announcing the acquisition, they are shutting down the service and will work with customers to find alternative solutions. How would you like to be one of these businesses that put your website and trust into these folks now to only be left having to find something else?

Clearly they had a successful product to have been acquired by Google, and I’m sure there is a place for this sort of product in the market. But as long as I am in a position to consult with businesses, I’ll never recommend this path. While using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., is a must in your overall online strategies, the fact is, you don’t own these platforms and you are at the mercy of the changes they make, and ultimately the shut downs that can happen. You can’t allow your entire online identity to be owned by others, which makes it that much more important that your website is owned by you. For you to control, for you to avoid being shut down and looking elsewhere.

Is it more expensive? Up front, yes, in the long run…not at all. The evolution of platforms like WordPress have made it easier and more affordable to get your own website up and running. Diversify your online presence, and make sure where you are isn’t entirely owned by others. Or you may end up like some of the unfortunate customers of Appetas.