Navigating the Political Divide: Small Businesses in 2024 - To Share or Not to Share?

Contributed by Idea Collective Member:

Pat Miller

Pat Miller

Founder of the Idea Collective Small Business Community

Exploring the Dilemma of Expressing Political Stances with Customers

2024 is an election year – Should you share your political stance with your customers?

We know this will be a wild political year and we’re operating in a polarized landscape – saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could lose you a customer in an instant. But, some businesses are specifically aligned with their political beliefs and sharing their opinions is an important part of what sets their company apart from the competition.

So, do you share your beliefs, or not?

We took this question to our community: Should small businesses avoid political stances to maintain a wider customer base? What do you do?

Here’s what they said:

Rian Cumberledge

I definitely agree with this. My products are made for everyone but are not “for” everyone, and that’s okay.

Erica Pilgrim

Well that depends what one may consider a political stance for a small business. If it is a party alignment and truly political agendas then yes avoiding as a business will give a wider base. However many “political” issues today are actually human rights issues, such as equity as well as accountability to others right to safety , avoiding them can be detrimental to some folx so it is a civic duty to not avoid them.

Ross Nelson

When I am working for a customer…I never bring up politics. Because you never know who or where this person will go…. I try to avoid it as much as possible. But if they keep asking for my opinion…I usually say nothing and try to focus on what I am doing. I maintain on being polite and respectfully decline political questions. I am in customers’ homes most of the day. We all have our own opinions…and sometimes it shouldn’t be discussed.

Tanisha Jackson

In my opinion, small businesses should avoid political stances because it can limit the customers they serve.

Michael Yonis III

While everyone is entitled to their political stance, I feel that a small business shouldn’t take a political stance. My small family-owned business doesn’t take a stance. Taking a political stance as a business could have a real negative impact. You could lose faithful customers that have bought from you regularly, for possible customers that only shows interest in your company based on your political stance.

Joshua Dickie

Whatever one does or chooses in life will always have consequences. They may be positive, negative or sometimes both. I’ll make an attempt to answer the question but it’s definitely based on my personal opinion: “The customer is always right,” but only about color, size, texture aka personal taste. Customers do not have the right to tell anyone what choices the business has or needs to make in life or business. If they don’t have skin in the game, then the customer doesn’t have the right to tell the business who they should be supporting politically or religiously. I believe a business can choose whatever political or even religious stance that they wish to take, knowing that there will be positive and negative consequences. ( they may have a decrease in customer base, but gain loyal customers that have your views for life. ) And those who are mature adults can choose to shop there or not. I’d rather build a like minded community, with loyal customers, than support views or agendas that do not align with my faith or political views. It also depends on your pursuits: for me, I don’t wish to be Elon musk, Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos. I just want to make a good living so that I can support my family for years to come, without sacrificing who I am or what I believe.

Eric Ruth

Honestly, my character centers around my faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore my business practices must reflect my character. Please know that I don’t hate those who are different— Jesus doesn’t hate anyone either! As for the political climate, we all have personal beliefs about how our government should be run, and we should not bow to the minority influences to protect our wallets. Rather, we must protect our integrity, help others as much as we can, and make every effort to protect our families from outside influences that are harmful.

Chris Hamlin

That’s a tricky question… I believe depending on what style or type of small business that someone operates.. the business/product should stand on its own merit.. the business owner has their right to own political opinions/views…

Sam Gabr

What a question! First, I will speak about my own experience, I own two small family restaurants. My purpose is to be a healthy affordable choice to all my community with any type of income. As a restaurant owner I never like to involve politics at any means,we respect all religion, backgrounds and ethnicities. We are an American business and stepping up with our community health and flavor is our number one priority.

David Coblitz

I agree politics should be kept out of most business interactions.

Stephen Darrington, Jr.

Yes.. a small business should avoid taking a political stance. It can be bad for business. Not only about the customer base but the branding in itself, making it no longer about the product or service a business is delivering rather than personal interest of the owners or employees.

Doug Knutson

I grew up in a white, suburban, politically involved family with African American sisters who were adopted in the late 60’s at the height of the Civil Rights movement. I learned to be respectful of the diversity of political opinion, but not silent on injustice, prejudice and fact. My company is me. I do not voice my opinions in business settings, but I do not hide my opinions in my personal social media accounts. I have done portraits of many Nobel Peace Laureates who are not known for their silence on important issues. We are at an important point in the public discourse in this country. It is important that we as individuals not let the false narratives be passed without calling them out. In a business setting it is a delicate balance.

RC Barnhart

As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to consider the potential impact of taking political stances on your business. While it can be tempting to express personal beliefs, it’s important to weigh the potential consequences on your customer base. Generally, unless your business is directly tied to political causes or activism, it’s often advisable for small businesses to remain neutral to maintain a broader customer base and avoid alienating potential clients who may have differing political views. It’s about prioritizing the business’s success and ensuring that you’re appealing to as wide an audience as possible.

Navigating the Political Divide: Small Businesses in 2024 - To Share or Not to Share?

What a great group of feedback! I found myself nodding, scratching my chin and clapping throughout some of the answers. It’s refreshing to have a conversation that involves anything to do with politics that can be civil, engaging and thought provoking. Thank you to those of you that answered! I appreciate it!

Whether choosing to engage in political discourse or steering clear for broader appeal, the underlying principle remains: know your audience, understand the potential impact, and, above all, stay true to your values.

Pat Miller

Contributed by

Pat Miller

Founder of the Idea Collective Small Business Community

Pat spent two decades in broadcasting management and hosting. After leaving the radio industry, he spent time consulting small businesses and realized the support system for entrepreneurs was broken. Where could you find help for improving small businesses and building real connections with other like-minded people. In June of 2020, the Idea Collective Small Business Community was born.