Should Your Business Be Involved in Politics?

It's a fact of life that politicians either support a particular issue or oppose it. These issues may impact your business and your personal life. Is it wise for your business to become involved and visible in your political activities? Here are my thoughts; you may disagree.

When it's a good idea to be involved
Businesses are impacted by government rules and regulations, so it's vital for you to stay up on what's happening, particularly in your state and community. You may want to weigh in on a particular issue by supporting a candidate that favors your view; your support can be private and need not be linked to your business.

You can also speak directly to your government representatives. What you say can matter. To learn more about how to proceed, read How to Be Your Own Lobbyist by Amy Hamlin (who was a guest on Build Your Business Radio).

You can also support advocacy groups that help advance the goals you favor. For example, the NFIB, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and the National Association of the Self-Employed are three national groups that tell Washington and local governments about issues important to small businesses.

When it's a bad idea to be involved
It's probably not a great idea to be visible in your support of issues that others may oppose; you risk losing customers who don't agree with you. Signs in your store or office or comments to the media and on social networks supporting or opposing a political position should be weighed carefully.

Final thoughts
Whether or not you act in the political arena depends on what Shakespeare said: "To thine own self be true." Entrepreneurs are doers and cannot sit on the sidelines when they see injustices or have strong feelings on issues.

I have only one caution: In taking sides, consider the best way to further your goals without harming your business. Community service or supporting a nonprofit organization might be a better -- and less controversial -- way to let customers and clients know what's important to you.

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