(I love how Dream Book always sends me JUST the right journaling cut-outs each week - my mantra for this week really helped me plug into that "I GOT THIS" vibe when I feeling a little discouraged with all of this)
Almost a month ago, I attended Rachel Rodgers’ Small Business Town Hall on creating equitable businesses.
Follow that link! The replay is right there. It was so healing and inspiring for me to see thousands of small business owners come together to explore how we can make the world better for everyone.
It was so helpful to hear from experts and I learn about where I can be doing better with the Creative Dream Incubator to BE the change I want to see in the world.
I was so excited, I posted a link to the replay in the customer Facebook group for the business I use for my website, emails, shopping cart and membership site. I was feeling so optimistic about this... but that post devolved quickly, with a bunch of racist comments and attacks on me for bringing it up. I was stunned that building anti-racist companies would be controversial in that group, since the software I use was geared towards spiritual entrepreneurs and don't we want to make the world a better place?
The culture at this particular business meant that no staff moderated the racist comments (!) so I deleted the post a few days later, because I didn’t think it should be my job to moderate their customers and I didn't want to leave racist comments unchallenged in my post. (I did get a message later saying that they were about to respond when I deed the post, but by that time I had found the owner of the company's personal social media profiles and saw that he was quite active in posting about how systemic racism is not real, so I didn't need any further response to understand that this "let's create equitable businesses together" idea was not going to fly here)
So this left me pretty shaken up.
I want to do business with others who share my values around wanting the world to be better for everyone.
I don't mean this in a "creating an echo chamber" kind of way. I mean I spend real dollars with this business and, after that Town Hall I saw more clearly than ever - those dollars can help create more equity in the world or they can help create less equity in the world.
I'm spending the money anyway, why not spend it with a company whose values match mine?
What had me feeling shock up was 2 things:
Thing 1: Moving my whole company is a huge and annoying and expensive thing. My feeling of being HOPEFUL and ENERGIZED and OPTIMISTIC about partnering with other companies to be a force for good in the world absolutely collided with how difficult and expensive it would be for me to move. It took me some time to work though all of the feelings that were triggered in that collision.
Thing 2: I also felt angry, frustrated and embarrassed that ME using this company is, in a sense, giving it my seal of approval, and some of my students had gotten their own accounts with them. I sat with that one for a long time, and have accepted that I can always only ever do my best, and when I know better I do better.
As I sat with all of my feelings I remembered… I’ve WANTED to move several times over the last few years but I’ve felt stuck because it's such a complicated thing.
Because the Creative Dream Circle is 8 years old and includes a TON of classes... and Dream Book is a very long dripped content course where everyone is at a different apace in it... and because this site is ongoing, there will never be at time when everything stops and it becomes simple to move. But it dawned on me that during a global pandemic when I’m not doing as much, I DO have time to do this move.
I also remembered three separate times over the years when this company made a promise, didn't follow through, and left me in a REALLY shitty position.
I don't want to get into those details right now - but when I reflected on this ongoing pattern of doing this, I realized that I also only want to work with companies that care about my success and wouldn't do things to trash my business. And if they inadvertently did do those things - they would at the very least apologize and do something to make it right.
I always thought… well no one is perfect.
No online business platform is perfect, that’s for sure! It's hard to find a good fit that's going to do just what you want it to do.
But this ongoing pattern of making big promises and not following through and not even apologizing was not sitting right with me. PLUS my wish to work with people in alignment with my values.
But since this situation had me reflecting on my whole experience with them, the good and the bad, I realized that over the last few years especially their values and priorities had really shifted and moving would create a better experience for me, and for my people.
So then I started looking more seriously at other options.
At first I fell in love with Podia, another third-party platform where they do EVERYTHING. Email, website, courses, membership. In fact they will migrate your current classes FOR FREE… and they are SUPER cheap. Like so cheap I thought it was too good to be true but the more I looked into it the better it was. Podia is definitely a great option for anyone starting out and they have a clear commitment to being an anti-racist company.
My set-up is a bit too complex for Podia. I was looking at Kajabi which is another similar platform but, even though they also have a commitment to being anti-racist - it felt like moving from one tech bro to another.
That’s when I looked at Access Ally.
Access Ally is not an all-in-one, it’s a WordPress plug-in. So it means I need a WordPress site and I also need another app for email and automations - I chose Convert Kit. Convert Kit is working to be an anti-racist company and I LOVE the feel of the software and how helpful everyone has been there.
Access Ally is run by a woman - a woman I actually met online like a million years ago on SARK’s forum. And I met her in person in Portland years ago. She also attended that same Town Hall and is excited by the possibilities like I am. She runs Access Ally with her husband, who is Asian - making Access Ally one of the few women/minority owned tech apps out there for online courses.
Why this matters to me: When it comes to creating software privilege DOES matter.
Software created by a white man, with ONLY white men on the development team, is going to have a certain perspective. The more privilege a person has, the less they understand what other people go through. The less they can even see other perspectives.
White women, since we experience sexism, have an easier time being able to understand and learn more about racism than white men.
The more intersections of oppression you've got going on - and it's not just about race and gender - the more inclusive you tend to be in your perspectives. You think about other people and their experiences and needs because you understand what it's like to live in a world that does not cater to you.
People with fewer intersections can also LEARN to see from other people's perspectives, of course! And doing so absolutely DOES make you a better designer and service provider.
So that's why this is important to me.
Looking back on my experience with my membership site over the last several years, when something wasn't working right for my people - I had to work hard to explain to this company WHY this mattered, and even then they usually didn't CARE. Like - "So what if comments aren't working right in your classroom?" They had different priorities.They were focused more on the selling aspects, and creating tools to help people sell more.
To me, DELIVERING what I've already sold is WAY more important than selling MORE. So that's a BIG value clash as well. (Not that I don't want to sell! But not at the expense of taking care of the people already in my classes - I should not have to choose between the two)
Your values DO determine your priorities, so software made by people whose values reflect mine WILL work better for me.
Access Ally was my DREAM app in 2014 when I moved to where I am now.
I didn't go with Access Ally because of the cost and the ease of having everything in 1 with someone other than me responsible for the membership site. I’d had a LOT of issues with WordPress plug-ins for courses in the past.
I have been with this company (it's so awkward to keep writing and not name them, but I'm not ready to do that publicly) for almost 6 years. They made all of these promises about how “we’ll never charge more for this” encouraging me to set up my business in a certain way…. and then completely changed their pricing model and DID charge more for those things - forcing me to be in the top tier when I did not NEED to set my business up the way I did, I did it because of their encouragement.
Which means that by now I'm paying so much more - I might as well get the software I really wanted.
So then suddenly all of this feels like a dream come true.
The Access Ally site will give me the freedom to make it look how I want it to!!!!
And… because my plans for this year were to make a bunch of new guided journals… it would give me space to sell those in the way I want to as well.
Just…. it’s the right tool for what I want my business to be.
And I don’t feel uncomfortable about using a Word Press plugin anymore because I have premium hosting and pampering for my WordPress site now.
So it feels like it all magically came together.
Which is what tends to happen when you make space for everything, process your feelings, and follow the magic.
It was startling to suddenly notice just how far apart my values are from this company I have used for so long. But once I gave it some time I saw that we’ve been drifting for some time.
And I realized I felt trapped because of how hard it is to move and I don’t want to feel trapped and I DON'T HAVE TO FEEL TRAPPED.
Another good thing about this move is that having separate apps for email/automations and the membership site means I have a TON of flexibility. If I move again it won’t be so difficult.
So I am setting myself up to NOT feel trapped again like this in the future.
The more steps I take with this the better it all feels.
We're in a heat wave. My husband had been away at a Sundance ceremony and won't be back until late Sunday or Monday.
So - a quiet weekend alone when I don't want to go out because it's just too hot. This is a perfect time to dive in and start building the new site. So I started this morning. It's a huge learning curve but I am really enjoying this, and seeing it as the PERFECT step for me to be taking right now to help the Creative Dream Incubator be all it can be.
I am here to help artist, coaches, healers, teachers and guides live the magic of REALLY showing up for their dreams. This work is needed and it feels really good to build a whole new foundation for the work.
It's also really cool to build a whole new membership site... with everything I've learned in 8 years of running a membership site. So I can build this one better, right from the beginning.