Stop Needlessly Turning Your Business into a Political Lightning Rod

Recently we’ve noticed local small businesses jump into the political fringe… but at what cost?

One of the greatest privileges America affords is the ability to speak freely, but just because we have that right, doesn’t mean we should always take advantage of it. Especially for businesses.

For the past week, we have seen countless businesses post politically-charged messages on their social platforms. We’ve seen both sides of the spectrum; and varying levels of fervor. Some were a bit mystical while others left nothing to the imagination regarding their political stance.

At first pass, we believe these messages are meant to extend the message of inclusion, but the results show it something different. Rather than the message being interpreted as, “We love all people,” their political posts end up polarizing their audience.

Needlessly.

One brand we checked with lost 100 followers the night of their political post (about 3% of their following at the time). While there were a few “raving patriots” showing their support of the brand’s political statement, I’d guess far more people found the post to be off-putting and simply did nothing to engage with the post. But that does not mean they did not take note.

Regardless of your stance on an issue, sometimes we, as customers, don’t want our favorite neighborhood hangout jumping into the political arena.

It is not necessary for your business to be a political lightning rod.

Your business has a specific purpose. Whether it is repairing cars, selling shoes, making coffee, delivering pizza, or whatever your business does, think about what you stand to gain by deliberately offending (likely) half of your following?

Over the years, we have seen industry giants publicly get involved in the political space, only to back down after a backlash.

Your messaging must align with your mission

If you want to be inclusive, you demonstrate that by how you serve people every day.

If large corporations like Starbucks, Target, Uber, and Chili’s — with all of their corporate and financial backing — have backed down from being a political platform, perhaps you should also count the cost.

You can do all the political activism you want through your foundations, how you spend your time, where you serve… If your four walls were built to serve the finest food in the valley, give the best cup of coffee, deliver superior customer service, spare yourself unnecessary grief of trying to use your business as a political platform.

Open your doors to all. Serve everyone the same, no matter what industry you are in.

Only then will you be inclusive.


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