On November 3, as usual, small-business owners will bring one of the highest voter turnouts of any group, with 93 percent of owners expected to vote in this year's presidential election. Your business probably shares a lot of the same concerns with other small-business owners, especially in these pandemic-stressed times.
Politicians looking to win the small-business vote should start by addressing the two largest barriers to entry entrepreneurs face when starting a business: access to capital and the implicit bias in capital decisions that limits opportunities for the New Majority of small-business owners. In the last 10 years, New Majority entrepreneurs have represented more than 50 percent of new businesses started in this country, creating 4.7 million new jobs, yet these owners are largely excluded in funding. Only 5.5 percent of women-owned businesses in the U.S. access capital from banks or other financial institutions compared to 11.4 percent of male-owned companies. These same business owners are being hit the hardest by Covid-19, with two-thirds of New Majority businesses reporting concerns about having to close permanently.
Still, small-business owners are well-positioned to make some big noise. When all 30.2 million small businesses speak up, our voice gets heard and big changes can happen. From supporting your employees with time to vote to speaking up about the policies that matter to your business, my company, Hello Alice, has gathered everything you need to ensure your #SmallBizVote rings loud this year. It's all compiled in a nonpartisan Vote for Small Business hub meant to rally owners to get involved this election season.
Anchored by three interactive guides, you can learn how fellow owners are influencing small-business policy and you can also share your policy wish list. Your responses will inform a recommendation to both presidential candidates outlining what small businesses need right now--an opportunity for you to be a part of shaping the policies of the next administration.
Here are three ways for you to make the most of your power as a small-business voter:
Advocate for You and Your Business
Whether its regulation, taxes, or emergency funding in the midst of a global pandemic, the actions of our lawmakers often determine whether a small business sinks or swims.
That's a lesson that Janice Jucker, an owner of the Houston-based Three Brothers Bakery, learned when she contacted her congresswoman about the need for additional small-business support to survive the pandemic. Working with her local office, Jucker was instrumental in the creation of the recently introduced Lift Up Act, designed to expand the eligibility for debt forgiveness provided by the Cares Act to owners who received Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans. If passed, the bill could save thousands of businesses--proof, Jucker says, that "one small voice can make a difference."
"Your lawmaker works for you," she adds. "You don't have to agree with their political views. You just need to know them so, when you need them, they know you." You can read more about Jucker's story and how to get involved in business advocacy with this guide.
Encourage Your Team to Vote
Small-business owners can influence the voting habits of their employees. Recent data shows that as many as 35 percent of voting-eligible Americans did not vote because of work or school conflicts. I believe that we can quickly reduce that number if we take steps to encourage voter registration, educate our teams about voter laws, and consider offering paid time off to make the journey to the polling booth on Election Day. We outline specific tactics--including ways to celebrate 100 percent team registration and a reminder to stay impartial--in this guide.
Develop an Election Day Marketing Strategy
Getting involved in the political process can be good for your bottom line. How? A Harvard case study concluded that associating your brand with civic engagement is a huge plus with consumers. This can be something as simple as including voter registration information in your email newsletter or even creating a special product as an election tie-in. As an example, Three Brothers Bakery holds a quadrennial Presidential Cookie Poll in which customers can purchase a cookie to "vote with their taste buds" for the Democratic candidate, Republican candidate, or Gingy the Gingerbread Man. You can read more about different election day marketing strategies here.
The bottom line is this: Who do you want to lead this country after Nov. 3? Whatever your answer is, it's important that you register, vote, and ensure the voices of you and your team are heard. Our nation is counting on it!