Thoughts About Mixing Politics and Business

I was driving by a popular business in town this morning, and I saw a large banner for one of our mayoral candidates hanging from the railings of the business. I actually saw several businesses with signs for politicians on their buildings. 

What are the upsides to promoting a candidate at your place of business?

  1. You can help get someone you like elected
  2. You might attract business from like-minded people
  3. You’re participating in democracy

What could be the downside?

  1. You might turn off a lot of people who don’t like that candidate
  2. You might lose existing customers and potential customers forever
  3. You are bound to be taking a stance that is against the beliefs of 30-70% of people
  4. You’ll be associated with what the politician does–good or bad–for a long time
  5. You could incur vandalism or destruction of your property
  6. You might be creating a politicized environment in your business
  7. You might alienate staff or suppliers.

My opinion is that politics and business almost never mix well. The same goes for religion, talk about vaccines, Black Lives Matter, abortion, and any other of the flashpoint issues of the day. This is simply because I know that there are a lot of heartfelt beliefs about these issues, and you’re bound to upset someone no matter what side you take. This is why my go-to topic for small talk is the weather. 

My job as a business owner is to perpetuate my business. Turning off customers makes it all the more difficult to keep growing the business. Almost every issue or politician will have the support of 30%-70% of the population, which means you have a good chance at upsetting 30%-70% of the population. That seems to be too big of a risk to take as a small business owner.

That said, in my private life, I am passionate about some issues, and I do support them through volunteer time and financial contributions. I view doing so as my right, and to some degree, my responsibility. I vote in every primary and general election, as I hope everyone does as well.