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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 1
Issue 7

Make A Difference: Speak Up, Get Political!

I can't believe I came up with that title - I am telling you, my readers, to speak up and get political. After testifying before the Democratic Small Business Forum in Washington D.C. last month and talking with legislators, I am a believer. Let me tell you why.

We need to speak up because:

  • Small businesses need to differentiate their issues from those of large corporations
  • You can affect your own circumstances
  • You can initiate changes that will help make your business more successful
  • Complaining to your colleagues just helps fester dissatisfaction, talking to legislators creates action

Businesspeople complain all the time about what the government is doing to them. There are too many forms to fill out and complex regulations to contend with, out of control health care costs and rampant off shoring making it hard to compete.

Several weeks ago I was invited by Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) to participate in the Small Business Forum. Possibilities@Work was one of 80 small businesses from across the country represented at this event.

The primary forum topics discussed were:

  • Affordable health insurance
  • Off shoring and workforce development
  • Government procurement opportunities for small businesses
  • Available sources for funding and financing

So why do I say, "speak up and get political?" We listened and spoke to about 20 members of the House of Representatives during the course of the day. The legislators listened and seemed to be sincere about making things easier for small business. Since returning, I have gotten a steady stream of e-mails informing me of bills that have been submitted and of votes affecting issues discussed at the forum. Congressman Tierney's office called to ask my opinion of the event and get my ideas on other small business issues Congress could address.

Now that it is clear why you should speak up, what are the avenues you can use?

You can get involved.

  • Join a local or regional chamber of commerce. These community organizations push for legislation that affects regional businesses.
  • Participate in a national business association like the National Small Business Association, which lobbies in Washington to support small business causes. Regional organizations like Associated Industries of Massachusetts and Mass Software Council work with national and state leaders to promote various industry interests.
  • Communicate with both state and federal legislators. Let them know what legislation you would like passed to support your business: let them know your issues. Remember, members of Congress were elected to represent you.
  • Write letters to people who oppose your point of view and explain the reasons behind your opinions. All elected officials and pending bills can be accessed at http://congress.org.
  • Vote and support candidates who work on issues you support.
  • Get others involved. The more voices, the more likely you will be heard.

This experience has empowered me. I was able to represent my clients and their needs. I was listened to and respected as a small business owner. And, I presented my ideas in a report that has received some notice both locally and nationally. If you would like to read the report, click here. There is a presidential election coming up this year. You, your business and your ideas can be moved to the forefront if you speak up and get political.

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