Should businesses stay out of politics?

Keeping up with the news means sometimes seeing articles about what companies have donated to, and some people taking that personally. Some vocal people say that businesses should keep their noses out of politics, but in reality, that is up for the business to decide.

Depending upon the size of the company, there are various things to consider. If it’s big enough to have shareholders, it means having to consider what they think before donating. If the company is smaller, there may not be a whole lot to donate in the first place. And even if a donation is made, it likely won’t make front page news anywhere. But in the smaller company, employees might take it more personally if business profits are given to a cause they feel strongly against.

Outside of the business, going back to the idea of current and potential customers not liking any sort of political involvement, that idea seems to mostly come from older crowds. There’s a newer idea, at least being vocalized more, that consumers are okay with businesses donating to causes that align with their ideals, because then the consumer can choose either to support that business or not.

There’s another bit of truth that businesses can’t entirely avoid politics, even if they aren’t actively donating to a cause. Business practices like deciding who to hire or what regulations are enforced more strictly than others can be seen as political statements by consumers. At that point, it becomes a matter of deciding what principals they want to back, to stand firm by those values, whether they’re called political or not.

Small businesses might not be as small as you think.

A business may feel large or small, depending on factors like building size, customer to employee ratios, and so on. Actually being defined as a small business in a legal sense, though, has more defined parameters. Deciding to stay a small business or working toward growing into a big business — that all comes down to the personal choice of a business owner.

The legal definition of a small business would likely surprise many readers. A business that has $7 million in annual generated revenue and 500 employees, depending on the industry, could still count as a small business. The numbers can go even higher for industries such as railroads and certain food services. When talking about small business, that’s not going to be what the average person thinks of. Most often, they’re imaging a small store with an employee count that doesn’t hit double digits and brings in a moderate amount of money. A business owner might have a different perspective on these numbers, but for the 95 percent of business owners that make up small businesses, they might still seem odd.

However, when thinking about how large certain businesses and industries are in America, those businesses can certainly seem small in comparison. Wal-Mart Stores was reported to have generated over $350 million in revenue; a big enough difference to bring to light what kind of scale is in effect here.

Growing to become a big business may take much more time and effort than a business owner was originally anticipating. But for some, the challenge may be worth it. For others, the business may expand over time, but the owner will have no problem remaining in the rather large parameters of a small business.