was draining the state system). Appointed by
the governor to represent small-business
interests on the state Unemployment Advisory
Council, Hudak helped change the system by
testifying in hearings and educating legislators
on the issue. “We restored it to solvency,” he
says. “I’ve been amazed at the impact I’ve had.”
“It’s extremely valuable to get to know
your representatives when you don’t have a
problem, so that when you do, you’ll be dealing with a friendly face and not someone who
knows nothing about you and your business,”
Getting to know city or state decision-makers can be as easy as making an appointment—by phone or email—to introduce
yourself, your business and your concerns.
Or, introduce yourself at a public event and
ask if you can follow up later.
“We depend upon the expertise and
insights of all of our constituents,” says Anne
You’ll likely get face time
with local or state officials, but
on the federal level, try for a
meeting with your representative’s district office staff.
“Even if you can’t get access
in a timely manner to your
U.S. senator, getting to know
that person’s chief of staff or
chief of a district office is
very important because
those people have the ear of
their very powerful bosses,”
might not know about. As an advocate for
small and independent businesses, the NFIB
also helps support issues and positions that
the organization considers favorable to those
types of businesses.
“Being involved is part of being a responsible member of an industry,” says Graham
Weihmiller, president and CEO of Griswold
Home Care, a nationwide home-care company headquartered in Philadelphia.
Weihmiller, a Costco member, realized
that it was important to speak up about a proposed change to a labor law that would affect
both clients and caregivers. With the Private
Care Association, which represents caregiver
registries, Weihmiller helped bring attention
to a Change.org petition that netted more
than 1,000 signatures. He then traveled to
Washington, D.C., to meet with legislative
staffers. “We’ve provided thousands of comments to the Department of Labor, and
they’ve acknowledged that they’ve taken that
input into consideration,” says Weihmiller,
who feels his efforts have paid off.
Become an advocate
There’s a difference between complaining
and advocating. “Advocating means speaking
up not just about the immediate impact of
policies, but also helping officials understand
the needs of your business and industry going
for ward and being a source of information for
them,” Handlin says.
After meeting government representatives, small-business owners can stay involved
by volunteering to serve on task forces, commissions and committees, and helping inform
others about issues.
“No small business is an island any longer,” says Handlin. “You can make yourself a
resource for government officials and, in
doing so, build and sustain relationships.” C
MAY 2013 ;e Costco Connection 25
Carrie Madren, a freelance journalist based in
northern Virginia, has spoken up on issues
affecting independent journalists.