Should Entrepreneurs Care About Politics?

Why I Care

I am an entrepreneur- or at least I hope to be one in the near future. I have experimented with a few ideas, some have succeeded and others I’ll pretend never even existed. I have also been able to speak to and work with entrepreneurs across a number of industries, countries and levels of experience. I haven’t had a lot of exposure, at least not by most conventional metrics. What I have had though, has been instrumental in shaping how I think about politics from an entrepreneur’s perspective. I have begun to think more about what really matters to entrepreneurs, especially as the relationship between business and politics has gained visibility. I chose to write this piece in the post election season (in both Ghana and the US) for a very deliberate reason. My intention isn’t to make a political statement, but to spark the beginning of a meaningful and sustained discussion on the role of politics in the lives of small business owners. So, what really is best for us?

The Relationship

Business and politics have always engaged with one another in a somewhat cyclical relationship. Though there are several factors which influence the nature of it, the underlying principles are fairly simple. Politicians, once elected to office, shape the environment in which businesses operate with respect to taxation, regulation, funding and other considerations. In turn, as businesses either succeed or fail, they determine how long or short the careers of these politicians will be. Over the last few years however this relationship has become increasingly strained. Things have been rough on the global economy and in particular entrepreneurs. The result has been increased dissatisfaction as evidenced by the global wave of uprisings and demonstrations like The Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US, The austerity protests in Greece and The Arab Spring in The Middle East.

The Issues

With all of this in mind, as we work our way through the next four years, I would encourage entrepreneurs to think critically about:

The Economy: What effect are the government policies having on the economy as a whole? The economy affects customers and suppliers and therefore your business. If the economy is doing well your customers will come out in droves, if not, you may see them begin to disappear.

Taxes: Know which taxes affect you and what is being taxed. Is it revenue or profit? Is it a marginal amount? Knowing how taxes affect your bottom line will affect your investment and growth decisions.

Healthcare: We all need it at some point in time, so it’s important to investigate the options available to you and your business to make the best choice.

Access To Capital: You need capital to help your business grow. Do you have access to what you need and how difficult is it to obtain? What is your government doing to help?

Regulations:These can often be costly to comply with, so investigate which ones you are affected by and what you need to do to be in compliance.

Access to International Markets: It sounds like a cliche, but the world has truly become a global village. We’re more connected than ever, but how easy is it for you to interact with customers around the world? Does your government have resources in place to make it easier for you to expand internationally?

This list is by no means exhaustive so share your thoughts- what matters to you?

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