If you’ve turned on your TV, opened a newspaper or spent any time at all on Facebook or Twitter since Trump took office 11 days ago, you’ll know the world is hardly “business as usual” at the moment.
We are all grappling with how to handle the daily deluge of scary-ass shit, sorting the reliable from the spin, the factual from the emotional.
So where does that leave us as business owners?
Should you keep politics out of your business?
“It’s the smart BUSINESS thing to do. STAY QUIET.
You should never alienate potentially half of your customers because you have feelings that you need to share with people. Even if those feelings are about real problems that will drastically impact our future and our kids and our businesses and ME ME ME ME ME ME.” – Derek Halpern, Social Triggers
Or is it tone deaf to continue sharing & selling as if nothing is going on?
Is anyone even LISTENING right now?
After Lyft condemned Trump’s immigration policies and pledged to donate $1 million to the ACLU, they jumped to #4 in the App Store and have seen a 78% increase in weekly downloads.
So yeah, people are listening.
But this is NOT time for business as usual. This is NOT the time to keep your opinions to yourself to prevent offending a potential customer. This is NOT the time to carry on like nothing has happened.
If you and your business have been lucky enough not to be directly affected by the events of the last 11 days, it’s time to recognize how incredibly privileged that makes you.
If nothing that has happened in the last week has impacted you or your loved ones adversely, please examine what a deep privilege that is.
— Aatish Bhatia (@aatishb) January 28, 2017
And it’s time to use that privilege to DO SOMETHING and speak up.
What is happening in the world today, right now, is a humanitarian issue. This is not about picking sides or playing politics.
And your customers ARE paying attention.
“Today, retailers are paying closer attention to their social/philanthropic strategies in part as Millennials, which have eclipsed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest buying group, have shown an inclination to favor brands that align with their beliefs — and shun ones that don’t.” –Forbes
How you should respond to this crisis
What do you want to be known for? What do you and your business stand for? Start there to frame your response to the current world events.
Here are a couple of great examples:
Marie Forleo’s brand is strongly rooted in empowering people to create “a business and life you love” so her focus here on personal power and what each individual can do to make the world a better place is on brand. She makes her own views known in a positive way and gives people some concrete steps they can take.
Denise Duffield Thomas helps women make more money by upgrading their mindset so I love that she’s taken the angle of sharing there are more important things than money in the world. She’s also very open and shares quite a bit about her family on social media so to frame this from her point of view as mother and let us know she doesn’t have this all figured out yet is perfect.
Bushra Azhar of The Persuasion Revolution teaches small business how to use the science of persuasion in their marketing and sales. She positioned her post less in the context of her brand and squarely in the unique context of her reality as a Pakistani Muslim woman living in Saudi Arabia where “we don't raise an eyebrow about denial of basic human rights for anyone much less for minorities or women.” Her thank you note to her friends and customers taking a stand is heartfelt and honest.
Meg Casebolt is a graphic designer and is speaking up from her point of view as a business owner struggling to focus on marketing during this tumultuous time. The blog post she shares in the post above shares a transparent look at her internal struggle as well as the concrete steps she's taking to keep her business running while also doing her part.
Racheal Baxter Cook teaches conscious business design for female business owners who want to balance ambition with ease. She posted this note in her Facebook group (I'm sharing with permission) sharing how female empowerment features in her personal story and in her business.
(Have you seen some other good examples of small businesses responding to the current state of affairs? Leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org — I’d love to add them here.)
Another great question to ask is, how can you HELP right now?
How could your business serve your audience while taking a stand?
The blog post I linked above from my friend & life coach Kate Courageous is a great example of this: Building Resilience: How to navigate your social media feeds with your nervous system intact.
Chris Brogan's Should Your Company Protest? article on LinkedIn tackles the questions of how to respond to the current state of affairs not by protesting but by showing people what you stand for and how you belong in their world.
And that’s where the idea for this blog post you’re reading right now came from.
This could also mean getting your audience involved in financially supporting an organization you believe in by running a special promotion or donating a portion of your profits.
I’d love to hear from you
Do you think businesses should share their stance on human rights and social justice issues? Does it influence your buying decisions? Have you shared publicly with your audience where you stand?