Today is the day... the day before elections when you realize you're one day away from exercising your right as a free citizen in a representative democracy.
Maybe you're feeling unprepared, as I am.
I hate this feeling.
I know I should vote but haven't researched my choices and don't know their positions. How could I? The topics are vast and complex. The number of legal, ethical, moral issues we face is overwhelming. We hear more and more of it with the national election now a year away.
I can't help you determine which candidate aligns with your personal values; though some of the resources I discuss may do so. But I can give you guidance on what to look for to positively affect your business.
Let's ask ourselves a simple question. Why vote? We know it's an incredibly important duty. In fact, when our country was founded, it was largely rural and driven by agriculture. November was a time after farmers had finished their harvest and before the harsh winter set in the north. Tuesday was chosen to give people a day of travel since Sunday was widely recognized as a day of religious rest. Voting day was specifically chosen to allow the most people to vote.
To think that voters would travel by foot or by horse for an entire day to exercise this right underscores it's importance!
It's About Business
Sure, it's a right, it's a duty, but I'm not asking from that angle. I'm asking, why vote? How does it help us? Focusing on business, what do we stand to gain in our professional lives and the companies in which we own or work?
First, obviously, our vote has a direct influence on the elected representative. They make decisions that affect you and your businesses. Know your representative and tell them how you feel about certain laws, either individually or as a group of concerned businesses.
But so many times we feel our vote doesn't matter because of where we live. Perhaps our district is extremely liberal or conservative, and we are the opposite. Vote in those districts? Why bother?
It does matter. The more of us who vote with our businesses in mind, the more politicians will listen to the way we want our business to run. Since politicians are motivated to vote in ways that get them re-elected, they are more likely to create laws and enact change that aligns with your feedback.
Therefore, we can enact positive change for our businesses by voting for representatives that favor tax, hiring, insurance, and other business related laws that favor us.
What to Look For
So how do we do that? How do we as professionals and business owners know what to look for? Here are some voting topics you can watch out for that will affect your business:
There are a thousand ways changes to the law can affect your bottom line. Minimum wage, taxes on tips, how contractors are classified, part-time workers, and overtime pay are just a few. Be aware, knowledgeable, and proactive in protecting your bottom line by knowing how your candidates stand on these issues.
The affordable care act was a massive restructuring of health care in the United States. Regardless of how you feel about it, it's an obvious example of how changes enacted by our elected representatives can affect our businesses.
While this example is at the federal level, watch out for local health care issues and laws, and be aware of how tomorrow's candidates may vote on them.
Depending on your line of business, keep a close eye on immigration laws. How your state and local governments tax and enforce pay for foreign workers can be an issue for some. There may be additional overhead and paperwork (time and money) created with simple changes.
E-Verify is a hot topic lately, and one on which your candidates are likely to have a position. Check their positions on this and other issues if immigration laws could affect your bottom line.
Retirement can be a fantastic benefit to your employees, but there are laws that affect how you can or must help them prepare for retirement. Benefits such as retirement are money directly out of your business so you must be aware of how changes to the law in this area translates your bottom line.
Cyber Security and BYOD
With ever-increasing attacks on businesses to obtain private customer data and steal intellectual property, cyber-security and data security laws are in the spotlight. These laws will affect how you must take care of your users private data, and what to do in the event of a breach. Massive changes in the law are going on here to quickly address a growing concern, and these changes will affect your bottom line.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a fantastic movement of sorts, aimed at allowing your employees the ability to bring their own personal devices into the work environment. If implemented properly, it can result in huge company savings, and benefits employees by allowing them to work with familiar technology. How you can lawfully protect your data while allowing employees to operate their own devices is important law being written as I speak.
Know where your candidates stand on both of these issues lest you be surprised when they create laws to address them in the future.
Finally, how your business is taxed can change quite a lot. Be aware. A business I own was hit with $4,000 of taxes which resulted in months of work to reclassify my LLC as an online business instead of a brick-and-mortar one.
Different laws will apply to you, but suffice it to say, understanding how the government taxes your business will help you understand how your bottom line is affected. Knowing where your elected representatives stand on taxation laws for business could save you real money in the long run.
Do Your Research
Knowing now how laws can affect our bottom line, where do we find this information? Internet searching is possible, of course, albeit tedious.
The goal is to find your candidates, know their views, and be aware of how they voted in the past. A fantastic resource for doing so is VoteSmart.org.
VoteSmart.org allows you to research your candidates voting records, read public and policy statements on specific issues, review campaign contributions, and understand how they associate with special interest groups. Best of all, VoteSmart.org has done a fantastic job of assembling a balanced group of researchers who will alert you on issues you care as it applies to your candidates and elected representatives.
Watch their video and use their website as a resource to help you in tomorrow's election.
Vote Tomorrow and Help Your Business Thrive
We must, as responsible professionals and business owners, vote to dutifully protect our business and the economy. As Alan Ryan said in his book, On Politics, "...unless the worse off have an adequate say in the rules that regulate the economy in which they earn their living, they will find themselves exploited."
Thank you for watching, listening, and reading this important article on voting. We hope it gave you the knowledge and resources you need to positively affect your business and feel armed and confident in your vote tomorrow. If we've missed anything or you'd like to share your experiences with voting, law, and business, please do so in the comments below.
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Now get out there and vote!
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About the Author
CO-FOUNDER | TECHNOLOGY, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, AND SALES
Michael Mehlberg helps small businesses owners achieve their goals and live their passion. His approach to technology, corporate strategy, product development, marketing, and sales is both practical and highly effective, and has helped multiple small businesses grow into the company their owners envisioned. Reach out by emailing him at email@example.com or learn more on our About page.