When I lived in Germany, I had the privilege of working in a public Montessori school as a teacher of English language. Upon signing my contract, I was asked to check boxes regarding my tax status. There I encountered a line item that was utterly unfamiliar to me. Which religion would I be sending a portion of my taxes to? I was asked to check a box. Catholic, Protestant or “other.”
Moreover, when it came to the point when my preschooler was to enter preschool, I would choose from the two dominant religious affiliations for her preschool and elementary education, which were funded by these taxes– or else go to a state-funded school, for the “others” who didn’t affiliate with the two religions.
This shocked me to my core. I was raised in the United States– we don’t pay taxes to a government mandated religious institution. We practice separation of Church and State. I didn’t realize how fundamental this founding tenet was in my understanding of how the world worked, until I was asked to check a box.
Here’s a question that relates to small business owners: like this instance of conflagration of Church and State, should business and personal politics ultimately be kept separate? As a business owner, would I be alienating “others” when my ideology becomes too narrow for my clientele? Or is my business intended for political expression? Does taking a stand help my brand, or hurt my brand? What does my demographic think? Am I clear about the potential benefits and/or disadvantages of mixing politics and business?
I think examining these questions is an important aspect of doing business today. I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a line, and let’s analyze your demographic’s needs and check to see if your messaging is in sync with your clientele.