I have been reading various posts from Venture Capital partners about “Trump and your company”. Since I am out of step politically with 99% of the VC community, I have a much different take on the election.
First, elections generally have no significance to your startup. If your startup is totally dependent on which candidate or party is in office, you have massive uncorrelated risk in your business model. One stroke of a pen can wipe you out. Lesson, change your business model. If the city or state you are building your business in changes politically to where it’s unable for you to execute, hire, or find customers, move. This election will have little effect at all on the startup community in the US. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible to know. Presidents and politicians aren’t innovators, and they aren’t job creators.
Second, I strongly urge any startup to stay out of politics. I remember a startup I knew came out strongly in favor of Obamacare. I cautioned them against it. In this polarized age, you piss off 50% of the people. I have been discriminated against because I am a Republican. Better to stay in the closet. Don’t politically message. Don’t even tell people to vote. Just build a business and leave all the politics to everyone else. Tune it out, build value for your customers.
Third, Trump won’t help or hurt startups. Startups were going to happen no matter who got elected. We are living in a time when groundbreaking technological advances happen regularly. Things are going to change. We also live in a time when technology enables more and more non-technical people to do really cool stuff.
Fourth, follow the golden rule. Treat your employees like you’d want to be treated. Treat your investors and your customers how you’d like to be treated. You don’t need government edicts or the peer pressure of others to govern your behavior.
Fifth, reading these posts make me wonder if there is a “political test” for founders with some VC firms. Would they back a person that didn’t share their politics. Would they co-invest and share deals with someone that wasn’t aligned with them politically? Or is it just a walled club? We talk about diversity in startups/venture firms. Why are we focusing on gender and skin color only? Shouldn’t we be welcoming to both sides of the political aisle? I know I have backed founders with political beliefs 180 degrees from mine many times, and I would again. Most of the founders I have invested in don’t share my politics. Your politics don’t matter when building a business. All that matters is if you can execute.
When I meet people no matter how they feel about politics I find they are all sort of the same. They just want a better life for themselves and their family. They want opportunity. Even with people I disagree with, I can have very amicable conversations. We find that we agree often on the outcomes, but we have different paths to get there.
Your business will stay in business if you build value for people. Building value for people creates change. It creates opportunity. The more value you build the more opportunity you create which will filter down to everyone regardless of where they sit in any spectrum.