For as long as I have served small and independent business owners, I have observed how challenging it is to have an impact on public policy that is commensurate with the positive impact we have on our communities and the American economy. I hope to change all of that with the announcement today of Indie Business Advocate.com! The purpose of Indie Business Advocate.com is to engage our customers, our communities, public and private entities, lawmakers and policy makers with regard to legislation that impacts our ability to serve our customers as we expand our businesses.
(If you are reading this article via email or in an RSS reader and cannot view the video, please click here.)
The Indie Business Blog, this blog, will continue to provide you with my best original tips and advice on small business success and leadership. The new blog will address legislative and pubic policy issues that deserve their own space. Here is what we must do to establish and maximize the impact of the new blog as a trusted and influential tool.
- Be Informed. We cannot speak persuasively and with confidence about pending legislation unless we first inform ourselves. We must understand the current state of the law, and how proposed laws will affect the status quo. How will a new law affect individual businesses, and what impact will it have on the affected industry as a whole? Who, including public and private industry trade groups, has a stake in the outcome?
What is the current state of the law? Why is change necessary? How will the proposed legislation accomplish legitimate governmental goals? Will the proposed law affect our ability to serve our customers? If so, how? Can the government accomplish its legitimate goals without without unduly burdening small businesses?
- Develop Policy Positions and Statements. Once we are informed, both individually and collectively, we can develop strategies to promote positions that accomplish public policy goals without unduly burdening small and independent business owners. We can join forces, one with another, and also collaborate with other public and private trade organizations and consumer groups to create advocacy synergies where possible. As our message takes shape, we can work with as many people as possible, including, most notably, our customers, to have a positive impact on the process as things move forward.
- Show Up!! A carefully crafted message means nothing if it ends up collecting dust. Once goals are identified, along with the means to accomplish them, we have to “show up” and articulate them to all interested parties and decision-makers. This means using every means at our disposal to spread the word about our position as we empower others to join our advocacy.
We must use telephone calls, email messages, email newsletters, faxed letters, blog posts, videos, Tweets, FaceBook updates, LinkedIn and in-person advocacy meetings to circulate our message. If we work together, this blog will help all of us do those things without creating a huge amount of work for any one person. And perhaps most importantly, if we work together, we will have a positive impact without having to hire expensive attorneys and lobbyists to share our message.
The Time Has Come!!
Last year, along with 4 members of IBN, I went to Capitol Hill to advocate against passage of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008, which was introduced in April 2008. My colleagues and I first informed ourselves about the proposed law, then we developed the specific messages we wanted to deliver. We created a petition that eventually got over 4,000 signatures. After that, we boarded an airplane and flew to Washington, DC to deliver our message. Meanwhile, individual business owners called and emailed their Congressional representatives to share our collective concerns. Our message was loud, clear, deliberate, sensible and, most of all, consistent.
The result is that the FDA Globalization Act of 2009, which was introduced in January 2009, contained little to none of the objectionable provisions that were contained in the 2008 draft. We continue to be very active with respect to the 2009 Act, and we are very pleased with how Congressional staffers have opened their doors to listen, ask and answer questions and respond to our concerns.
While I'm sure our advocacy was only a piece of the puzzle, the fact is that we made a difference. Our request to share our concerns was granted. We delivered our message, and we course of history.
Won't you join us in building on the progress already made?
Question: You can leave your comments here, but I would also like you to leave them over at the new blog so we can keep them all together. What are your biggest concerns as a small and independent business owner? How do you think we can work together to influence legislators and policy makers to enact laws and regulations that protect consumers without unduly decimating small and independent business owners?