Today I read a thread in a local small business Facebook group where a user posed a question asking how people felt about businesses and whether they had an obligation to respond to the current civil unrest.
Interesting. An obligation?
I know there are lots of people with more business expertise than myself. But, as a business owner who is well-versed in politics, philosophy and psychology, I felt compelled to respond.
Why do I exist?
My advice to a business is the advice of Simon Sinek:
“Start with Why”.
Ask the question, “Why do I exist?” (your business, not yourself…the latter is a topic for another discussion). Every great brand/business should have a clear answer to this question. If your “why” does not include voicing your opinion on current events, then I would avoid making a statement.
By making a statement, you are trying to appease a group that is unappeasable. In our current outrage culture, this will happen again…and again…and again. I would not want to establish a precedent of voicing an opinion, and in doing so be expected to always send out an email addressing the outrage of the week.
Eventually, the goalposts will change, and you’ll be forced to take a position that is more controversial and potentially harmful to your business.
And that, is a game you should not be willing to play.
If you’re not with me, you’re against me
There is also this idea that no response is somehow a response in the negative. It reduces the debate to “you’re either with us or against us”. This idea is, to put it nicely, garbage. It is the sort of polarizing statement that eliminates any room for nuance, which effectively shuts down any debate.
This, of course, is not by accident. Rather, it is a strategy to acquire the power to dictate what you are allowed to think. It has been used many times in propaganda campaigns and it is very effective.
If you already serve your customers well, just keep running your business with integrity and treating people with the respect they have earned. If you provide a valuable service, 95% of customers (maybe more?) will not care whether you send out a token email to express your opinion about something your business has nothing to do with.
Besides, in my experience, the people screaming the loudest (the < 5%) are usually the ones that have the least amount of value to your business anyway. Someone that spends so much of their effort complaining about the world is rarely a valuable or pleasant customer.