Legislators, Lend Me Your Ear

A new tax, government regulations, healthcare legislation. Don’t they know in Washington how these affect us small business owners? That’s why it’s important for you to be heard by your elected representatives. But how do you do it in a way they’ll listen?

It’s one thing to voice support or opposition on an issue. But if you really want to make an impact, you need to do more. It needs to include information that supports your position.

Here are some tips from regulations.gov on providing comments that get heard:

  • Be selective – If you have a number of concerns, select the ones that concern you the most, affect you the most or you understand the best. Focusing on a vital few helps you emphasize your key points. The National Small Business Association is a great source for background information that will help make your point on key issues.
  • Construct, don’t destruct – Constructive comments, either positive or negative, are the most likely to make a difference. They’ll position you as more credible. Rants may get attention but they aren’t necessarily taken seriously.
  • Go alternative – If you disagree, suggest an alternative and include an explanation of why it might be able to accomplish the same thing. Not only are you changing the discussion but you’ll be steering in the direction you want.
  • ID yourself – Include your credentials and experience. A childcare business owner with a master’s degree in early childhood will be seen as an authority commenting on a new preschool regulation.
  • Watch your form – While a form letter might be easier to submit, a single well-supported letter may carry more weight. A series of form letters might provide volume; they are not likely to get your individual viewpoint heard.

It’s in your best interest to be heard on issues that affect you. So take the time to compose your message so it gets the attention it deserves.

Source:  Tips for Submitting Effective Comments, regulations.gov, 2013.

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