Now, more than ever, it is imperative for small business owners and sole proprietors to find their voice on issues that matter most to them. We’ve laid out three key steps to help you more effectively advocate for your business and industry. But first, some thoughts and insights into this fascinating and complicated arena.
What does it mean to be an advocate?
In its simplest form, advocacy is the act of speaking in support of a person, place, or cause. Advocacy can take many forms – it can be meeting with a local elected official to educate them on your industry, issuing a newsletter on how a new law will impact your business, or organizing a rally on a particular issue that you care about.
How is advocacy different from lobbying?
Lobbying is any direct attempt to influence a new or existing legislation through communication with a member of the legislature or any other government representative who has a role in the legislation. Advocacy, on the other hand, isn’t tied to a specific piece of legislation or ballot initiative.
Three key steps of business advocacy:
1. Issue Discovery
Hone in on the exact problem you are trying to solve. What is the existing challenge and how can the approach be improved? Be proactive in identifying solutions to the problem. Quite often, the current challenge you are experiencing is the result of unintended consequences of another regulation. Calling attention to common-sense fixes can become the starting point for your advocacy.
2. Personal Outreach
Determine who has the ability to create the change you’re seeking and build a personal relationship with those stakeholders. Know who your elected officials are, as well as the key figures that make decisions directly impacting your community, such as your local planning commission or police chief. In some cases, the decision maker may not be who you expect. Build a relationship with them – schedule a meeting and share your concern and proposed solution.
3. Coalition Building
Align with persons or groups that share your interest in order to enhance and elevate your concern. It might be easy to ignore one voice but it’s harder to ignore 1,000. This can happen in a few different ways such as joining your local chamber of commerce and leveraging them to raise your issue, joining an industry group that shares your interests, or finding a coalition of partners that share your same concern. There is strength in numbers, and the right partner or group of partners can augment your voice and raise your concern to a higher level.
We’re interested in hearing what issues concern you. Share with us your top priorities by emailing us.