Faye Roberts, Scout Public Affairs

Faye Roberts, Scout Public Affairs

House of Cards and Game of Thrones are political dramas that draw audiences of millions to watch politicians go to extremes to outmanoeuvre one another.

It’s a little different in Canada, although recently we had our own political drama when millions of people from around the world tuned in to watch a certain crack-smoking politician.

If the first and last time you paid attention to politics was to watch the train wreck that was Rob Ford, I ask you to give it another look – this time with your business in mind.

I would never make the case that the Canadian federal election will rivet us in quite the same way, but even if the forthcoming election fails to keep you on the edge of your seat, it still deserves attention.

Most small business owners are spread thin, need to move fast, and know enough about everything to build a foundation and keep moving. Waterloo Region’s ecosystem offers all the supports to build that foundation and has resources available at every stage, and yet, entrepreneurs often overlook government relations as a priority.

The sooner you learn the basics of government and to work within our system, the sooner you can make it work for you. As a business owner, choosing to tune out of the federal election would be a mistake. Not only will you miss opportunities, you’ll also miss out on a potential ally that can help your business in a multitude of scenarios.

Large established businesses, especially highly regulated ones, pay attention to politics and invest resources in navigating government. And although small and mid-sized businesses sometimes feel they don’t need to understand politics, that view is short-sighted and can close doors that might help them become even more successful.

If your business relies on talent locally or from other countries; a supply chain that extends beyond our borders; road access, train shipments, or airspace to move people and/or goods – that’s government. If your business wants to sell to government or government bodies; access funding; reach foreign markets – that’s government.

Elections are the ‘ground zero’ in setting out where governments will invest time and resources (taxpayer dollars!) in the years after the election. I urge you to plug into the federal election if you are a startup or a company on the rise, because government is an important influencer of your business.

Photo: Parliament Hill by tsaiproject is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Politics Plug-in is a guest column that looks at the importance of political awareness for entrepreneurs in the lead-up to the Canadian federal election on Oct. 19, 2015.