I’ve seen it happen any number of times. An entrepreneur gets a business established, especially in a secondary or tertiary market—which I’ll call a rural market for simplicity’s sake. They earn a position of respect in the community. People look up to them, even ask them for advice on all kinds of topics. It’s really an ego booster. Everything is going well.
Then they make a decision that undermines their standing in the community and drives away half of their customers.
What is that fatal decision?
They run for elected office.
Oh, it’s usually not even their idea. Someone approaches them at church or some other meeting and says, “You know what? I’ve been talking to the chair of the local X Party, and we think you’d make a good” commissioner, mayor, judge, or whatever. The seed is planted. Sooner or later they start to think they would be a good whatever, and decide to run.
That entrepreneurial mindset that allowed them to take the risk of going into business in the first place makes them think they could win. But local politics is often a lose-lose situation. When your politics becomes public, whichever party opposes you goes from thinking, “That’s Billy Bob who runs the ice cream parlor” to “That sorry member of the other party won’t get my business.” I’ve seen businesses fail because of that, even after the entrepreneur won the election.
Now the redevelopment business is a little different than an ice cream parlor. Redevelopers and other real estate entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of repeat customers. But any blow to the reputation of any small town business can be fatal. You’ll notice we are very careful to keep politics out of this blog and our Facebook page. You may be able to guess our party alignments (or lack there of) by some of the moral or ethical stands we take, but we’re not about to bludgeon you with them. I believe our ethical beliefs are not unique to either party.
I can hear you thinking, “Lee, you seem to have thought pretty seriously about this. What brought it on?” Well, I was at the Rotary meeting and a community leader said, “Lee, I was talking to the head of the X Party in the county. We think you’d may a good candidate for” a position that I’m not going to name. It was humbling and flattering. And yes, I am thinking seriously about it even knowing the risk it would pose to my businesses. But my businesses are partnerships, and mine isn’t the only future I have to consider.
What would you do?Hermann says please like and share!