Why Small Businesses Should Consider Hiring Lobbyists Too
When you think of the concept of lobbying, you likely think about the mega-conglomerates hiring a massive lobbying firm who send out a fleet of suits to advocate to whichever state or federal representative they need to on every given issue. You most likely do not think about yourself, and your interests, and how you could hire a lobbying firm, too.
Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea when you found out a new law was being implemented that was going to affect your business’ day to day. Maybe you’ve even hired a consulting firm to advise you on how to move forward given that law’s imminent implementation. But hiring a lobbyist? To protect your interests? How could you possibly afford it?!
Well, we’re here today to tell you that you, too, can hire a lobbyist to advocate on behalf of your small business to any governing body, from down at your local city council all the way up to D.C. And you don’t have to bleed gold to do it, either.
Here are a few potential reasons, alongside a few examples across multiple industries, why you might consider hiring a lobbyist for your own small business.
You Might Want Regulatory Approval for a New Building
Let’s say you are a small business entrepreneur looking to open a new location for your business. You found the perfect area, maybe you’ve even bought a property, but due to commercial zoning laws in your area, you might encounter a snag over the features of the building that you want to change in order to launch your business there.
You could be opening an auto body shop, or renovating the inside of a building for an open office space in a traditionally historical district. Depending on your district’s level of red tape, you could use an insider to help you advocate for your cause.
Or let’s say you’re a restauranteur looking to serve alcohol at your new location. Due to commercial zoning laws, which control what type of activity your business can do in your particular area, you might not be able to obtain a license in your new venue’s neighborhood without working with a lobbyist who can help advocate on your behalf.
You Might Want to Lend Your Voice to a Growing Concern in Your Community
Perhaps you are already operating a business in your area, and a new law could affect not only your business, but the immediate community around you. There might be good cause to hire a lobbyist who knows the representatives who are voting on the law in order to lend your particular voice to the choir.
As way of example, maybe a new park or super-store is being considered that could negatively impact the availability of parking on your storefront’s block. This could affect your company, as well as all the rest of the businesses on your street.
In that instance, you could team up with a coalition of store owners from your neighborhood to split the costs involved for a firm, as well as show community solidarity around the issue being considered.
You Might Want to Share Your Expertise on an Issue Through the Proper Channels
Not all entrepreneurs are business-owners in the brick-and-mortar sense like the above. Maybe you own a consulting business where your expertise and knowledge is your business instead.
In this instance, maybe you want to work with a lobbying firm to help share your knowledge on a particular topic through the proper channels. You aren’t using the influence and access provided by lobbyists to affect an outcome, per se. Instead, you’re using a lobbyist as a resource to better inform politicians and lawmakers on a topic that you are directly knowledgeable about.
For example, perhaps you are a researcher and expert in the oil and gas industry who wants to lend their voice to an upcoming energy bill. Or maybe you are an ornithologist looking to share your input on how a new development project could affect the wildlife in the area.
If your business is in information, data and research, lobbyists might even want to work with you to share your information with lawmakers on behalf of other clients. By working with lobbyists, you could be a neutral resource for all kinds of causes that are informed by your know-how.
You Might Even Want to Advocate on Behalf of A Business You Haven’t Started Yet
Here’s one wild reason you might want to work with a lobbying firm.
Imagine you have a great idea for a startup. You’ve thought it through, drawn up a business plan, maybe even collected some seed capital and have seriously considered dropping everything to pursue it full time.
There’s just one problem: your business idea is centered around a substance that’s illegal in your state and federally recognized as a Schedule 1 narcotic: marijuana.
So much for that dream. Except, not really.
With over 33 states having legalized marijuana in some fashion or another, and 11 of those (as well as D.C.) having made smoking recreational marijuana legal, there’s a pretty compelling case to be made for advocating on behalf of the green rush for a new business venture.
But if you’re a member of the growing community sitting on the sidelines in a state like Texas, left to watch the green roll into other states while unable to cash in yourself, you could hire a lobbyist to lend your voice to the mounting support to legalize in the lone star state.
In this instance, you don’t even have a company yet, but you could still hire a lobbyist. And while we aren’t recommending everyone go out and hire lobbying firms to launch their own marijuana startups, hiring a lobbying firm before you begin any super niche business venture isn’t crazy.
Think about other pioneering industries who had to lobby a federal government agency before their flagship product could get off the ground. What if your startup idea was to create something a little less controversial, but just as unregulated, like a real-life jetpack?
In that instance, you could need to lobby an organization like the FAA to pass new regulations that would legally clear your company for take-off. You’d certainly want to do that before you took your jet-powered product to market, and no one would think you were crazy for it – they would think you were crazy not to do it.
…Plus Any Other Reason a Small Business Would Want to Work With a Lobbying Firm
There are plenty more reasons why your small business might want to work with a lobbyist to pursue your interests. You might be thinking of one right now that’s hyper specific to your business, area, or industry. You absolutely can reach out to a local firm or consultant to consider working together on a particular topic or issue. You don’t have to be a big shot to give it a shot.