How Ignorance Will Make Your Small Business Fail

I was just in the car a few minutes ago and saw something which I feel is a bad trend – a vehicle used to advertise the owner’s small business that also had political bumper stickers on it (at least one of which that was somewhat harsh). It caught my eye because one would think that the owner would have enough common sense to not do this because not only is it unprofessional but it’s just plain stupid.

You’re probably by now wondering what this SUV had on it. First, it had a nice door sticker with a color logo for the business (a pet nanny service) on the driver’s side door (I could only see the driver’s side and the back). On the back was a telephone number in large bright letters. Underneath on the rear bumpers were at least four bumper stickers on the bumper.

The two stickers that caught my eye were “Obama ‘08” and “Defend America… Fire the Republicans.” Since I live in Massachusetts, these stickers would normally not catch my eye – and believe me, I’ve seen a lot worse and not just pro-democrat. The reason why they caught my eye was that there was a phone number right above these stickers – which pretty much invites people that might get angered by these stickers to call it. Regardless of where you lean politically, you can probably agree with me up this point. If the car had “McCain ‘08” and “Defend America… Vote Republican” on it, I think it would be equally stupid of the owner (and possibly more so given that this is a very liberal area).

This business owner made two key mistakes. First, he or she mixed business and politics which is bad for business. This not only turns off potential clients that might disagree with you, but it also makes you look unprofessional. I’m of the mindset that’s immature to not do business with someone because I disagree with them politically and I think it’s a shame that so many business owners fear having their clients find out where they lean politically or what religion they are (which is another topic for another day). But I question someone’s judgment in other areas when they advertise their political beliefs a foot away from where they advertise their business.

The second mistake is that they displayed a negative message. Most civil people aren’t bothered that someone differs from them politically so just the Obama sticker on a vehicle without the business info would have been fine. I’ve done business with business owners who have run for local office for both major parties and supported them. I think most of us agree that we wouldn’t stop going to a hardware store just because the owner is registered in a different political party than us.

But we might consider not doing business with them if they put us down because of our beliefs. The “Impeach Bush” as well as the “Impeach Clinton” signs of years back (and it’s only a matter of time until “Impeach Obama” signs start popping up) can anger people, but are attacking that particular politician (although it infers that folks that voted for them used poor judgment). The mistake that this person made was having a sticker that said “fire the republicans” (and again, “fire the democrats” would have the same effect) because it insults a particular group (which may contain potential clients). As a business owner, this makes you come across as one or more of the following:

  • Condescending: Telling others that you are right and they are wrong.
  • Arrogant: Taking the position that you don’t want the business of a group of people.
  • Stupid: Not realizing that people might not do business with you because you’ve insulted them.

So in summary, it’s fine to be politically active but don’t insult potential clients and keep politics out your business. We’ll get into the unfairness of political and religious discrimination in future posts.

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3 thoughts on “How Ignorance Will Make Your Small Business Fail

  1. DaleK

    I couldn’t agree with this post more! I have good friends who’s political leanings are quite different than mine. That’s OK, so long as they don’t call me stupid for mine!!

    People tend to be passionate about their beliefs. Go figure! I wouldn’t do business with someone who all but told me I was an idiot certainly.

    I don’t advertise on my vehicle – not because I have bumper stickers (never liked ’em) but because then I’ll have to drive “nice”. I don’t always like to do that!! I tend to be passionate about oh things like people not cutting me off or failing to use directionals! 😉

  2. James Post author

    Dale,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I agree. Since I wrote this, two other things occoured to me. First, people who advertising on their cars should spend the 5 minutes to clear snow off their roof. There’s nothing worse then getting snow blinded because someone couldn’t clear the snow off their Mini Cooper.

    The second is as you pointed out, to drive nice. Once, someone in a landscaping truck nearly killed me so he could cut me off so I called the number on the truck.

    Good points.

    James

  3. Pingback: Personal Success: When People Have Wronged You | Overnight Sensation - Public Speaking, Communication and Personal Development

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