The phrase “cash is king” is well known in business. It speaks primarily to the idea that the availability of liquid funds in a business is important because of the flexibility it provides in a crisis. But what if a crisis, brought on by legislative, regulatory or political change, could be mitigated? Would you consider proactively investing in the civic wellness of your business?
Like many strategic approaches adopted by business, good political lobbying is always proactive, not reactive. Being proactive means you focus on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear, while a reactive approach is based on responding to issues after they appear. Every business operates at the behest of legislation – what we can do, what we cannot, how we run our workforce, how we protect it – so it makes sense that a business be cognisant of political dealings and policy direction. However, not once in my career have I come across a small business that has surplus cash it’s looking to tip down the illusive political-engagement drain.
In the most recent article in this series, we explored how small businesses can introduce political engagement into their operations by providing five steps to help build a basic advocacy plan. If you read that article you will also know that getting in front of your local member of parliament is the first recommended step. But what next? Read on to learn about the three priority groups all small businesses should consider engaging with as part of successful lobbying.
Three priority rōpū: who, what, why and how to lobby them
If, after all of this, you are ready to begin your government relations journey, it is important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach. First, identify your who – and then ask yourself, why? You will always have a greater chance of success if you understand the drivers of the group you are engaging with. Members of the legislature are often driven by giving a voice to a broad spectrum of New Zealanders, the executive by enacting the day-to-day management of the country in line with their political beliefs, and officials by their desire to serve the government to the best of their ability.
Human nature means that everyone always believes their kaupapa is the most important, no matter what else is going on. So, if you take the time to better understand the who, what, why and how to lobby, and add in a dash of trial and error, you have a better chance of ensuring those you seek to engage with will find your kaupapa important, too.
This article was originally published on BusinessDesk.