I'm posting this suggestion that a critical change that could help the progress of smaller companies, and help make the game more fun in general.
Currently no one knows if the Freeport settings on live are on purpose or an accident.
Tames, last 8 days in the Freeport, only requiring that you render them in, and feed them to keep them pretty safe, other than players trying to gather wild Freeport animals to kill them. Mine have been safe at least. You can keep anything on their inventory safely essentially saving your progress in the game.
Ships in the Freeport, at first seems unmanageable to keep them floating until you increase resistance levels, my brig at 220% resist has been fine, and would take about 16hours to sink.
So currently if you dont want a claim you can manage keeping everything besides a farm in the freeports.
Saving my progress this way, knowing other players cant ruin it has been FUN.
Knowing that if I steal something cool, or do something difficult in the game, I can save it.
I cant be online for 9 hours everyday to keep a claim.
This is the only way I can play atm as a small company, there are still huge advantages to having a claim like infinite non decaying ship storage, so that you can have more than one or two ships.
So what I'm proposing is that you make the Freeport more of a sanctuary for small companies. Introduce a Freeport bank npc that can hold like 25 slots, no weight limit, for small companies. Do not link the bank npc together, we dont want people teleporting resources across the atlas. All this would be is a small cache of items that is personal to each pathfinder, and has nothing to do with the company. Not enough to save everything but enough to pick what's important to you to save.
You have already introduced a nice trading, and shop system, which has little merit to small companies that have no where safe to keep their items, except for Freeport tames right now.
I do like the settler system, however big companies aren't struggling with upkeep, so while they probably wont mind having settlers, the settlers arent of much value, so there's not much incentive to protect their stuff on your island, also bigger companies will just push that you merge with them rather than be your own company, while they cant MAKE you do this, they CAN however, evict you and wipe all your progress.
However this small personal Freeport bank could fix alot for solo/small company players allowing them to do buisiness with big companies without fear that the big company will decide to wipe all their progress.
I LOVE YOUR GAME, and I hope you can consider a Freeport bank a possibility for its future. That way each fight/ battle doesnt have to end in someone wanting to quit, or realizing big companies are the only way to play it at all.