Photo bearded account manager working with new project oped space

By Christine A. Goss

Politicians frequently point to small business owners and entrepreneurs as the engines of the economy. It’s true, we play a huge role. But while we are often lauded as integral to our communities, we don’t speak for ourselves enough.

We must make the time to voice our opinions on issues about which others speak for us — from healthcare and education, to transportation and regulation.  One way is to write an Op-Ed (an opinion article) for a local newspaper or relevant website on an issue on your mind. We have a unique role in our communities and our opinions matter!

Here are 4 reasons why small business owners should write an Op-Ed this summer:

Business owners have unique insight

One of the main reasons I enjoy helping people write Op-Eds is that I get to see issues from different perspectives. Unique circumstances and experiences frame individual opinions. Moms, teachers, nurses, young professionals, senior citizens — pick any characteristic and you’ll likely get a different point of view.

Business owners also experience community issues differently. Consider the minimum wage debate. Some policy makers claim raising it will benefit workers, others say it will kill jobs, and workers are excited about the prospect of bigger pay checks. But those that sign workers’ pay checks should be considered. When we hear from small business owners, the picture is less rosy: Owner of pizza shop says new Seattle minimum wage law is forcing her to close.

Likewise, when it comes to healthcare, small business owners have a lot to grapple with: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma (Forbes).

When businesses thrive, so do our communities. We have an obligation to contribute to the conversation!

Op-Eds remind the public that people are behind business

When we take the time to participate in finding solutions to problems that trouble our communities — public safety, economic opportunity or any other measure of human well-being — we remind our customers that we, too, are community members and integral to its social fabric. The business owners in the articles above struggle with painful decisions and their care for their employees is clear.

Showing the public our human sides, will go a long way in advancing environments that allow businesses and communities to flourish.

When we thrive, our communities benefit

Entrepreneurship and small businesses are great assets to communities: They drive innovation, they create jobs and many contribute to the unique characters of their communities — think of the charm of a local ice cream shop or clam shack.

So it makes sense that our policy environments should work to make it easier for us to launch, run and grow our businesses in a way supports a fair playing field. But only we know our obstacles and the impact of the challenges we face —whether the minimum wage, an unreliable public transportation system, or regulation that simply doesn’t make sense for our unique product or service.

The bottom line is that, healthy, growing business benefit the whole community. Let’s let them know what helps and what hurts.

Op-eds are short and sweet

If the word “writing” brings back memories of all-nighters in college, don’t worry.  When it comes to Op-Eds, the crisper the better. Op-Eds are only about 500-600 words.

The average attention span is now 8 seconds so make your points as concise as you can.

As business owners, it’s in our nature to adapt to hurdles but there’s no reason we shouldn’t, at least, point out these hurdles and offer alternatives. This summer, put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard) and write an Op-Ed. We certainly hear how valuable we are to our economies, let’s let them know how they can help us!

Christine A. Goss is founder and president of Pixton Public Relations. Follow her at @PixtonPR and @ChristineAnneG.