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Updated: October 9th, 2020
With the entire world gripped by the upcoming US elections, they’re nearly impossible to ignore. On one hand, the role of politics in business can be a slippery slope because you don’t want to alienate customers or potential customers. On the other hand, elected officials will play a part in some of the important issues that you face as a business owner. Considering that the election results could affect your business directly, you could make the best of it and build the elections into your business strategy.
You might be wondering how – or if – you should leverage the election for business. Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether or not your business should wade into the world of politics is up to you. One way you can decide is to observe whether the chatter around the office (physical or virtual) is interfering with productivity or causing division within the ranks.
One case study could be of the US-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. The CEO issued a memo in which he explained that Coinbase was a mission-focused company. He explained that discussions surrounding debate causes or political candidates had no place during business hours. The chief executive, Brian Armstrong, went so far as to offering severance packages to employees who didn’t want to stay at the company because of the culture change.
Before you can create a strategy around the election for your small business, it helps to get up to speed on the key issues. For instance, tax policy will determine how much of your income is going towards taxes.
In 2017, a new tax policy was signed into law called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This resulted in business owners being able to keep more of their earnings. However, the upcoming election could lead to changes in the tax law yet again. As a result, you might want to sharpen your small business tools during elections to be sure you are prepared for any scenario.
For instance, there could be a change in the tax law that affects the amount of cash flow you can keep. As a result, you might want to explore small business loans now so that if you need access to quick financing later you don’t have to scramble. Some steps you could take now include learning what credit score is needed for an SBA loan, for example. If you plan to take out loans, it may be worth preparing for acquiring a business line of credit sooner rather than later.
Another way to maximize your small business during election time is to tailor your marketing strategy to the big day. You could even create a product that is only available during the election period. One bakery owner launched a “Presidential Cookie Poll,” giving their customers the ability to “vote”
for their favorite candidate based on their purchase. Depending on your type of business, you could use a similar strategy. For example: instead of using the actual candidates and possibly dividing your customers, you can pit two of your best cookies against one another or somehow create an election-themed contest without actually getting political. If this is not possible, you could do your civic duty by simply reminding your patrons to vote through a sign, email, social media post or newsletter.
In addition to being informed about the issues, you could also create an action plan so that you are doing everything you can to fight for small business-friendly policies. One example is reaching out to your state’s Representatives and letting them know the issues that are important to you. These might include the pandemic and qualifying for an SBA loan. Even if you don’t find yourself agreeing with your politicians on every issue, there are some bipartisan issues on which you can find common ground on. You could even ask them what your business can do to solve problems that you both agree need solutions.
Another step you can take is to mobilize your employees. Let them know about the importance of the upcoming election — whether or not you discuss specific issues and candidates — and make it easier for them to make the time to vote. You might need to create a flexible schedule on election day so that none of your employees have an excuse not to vote.
While you might think that your voice won’t make much of an impact, joining the more than 30 million other business owners in America, makes it much louder.