Cost of Doing Business?

Two days in a row I had someone come into my shop in order to hit me up for money. I am used to the solicitations from non-profit organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Humane Society, the March of Dimes, etc., and they typically use the "soft sell" technique of sending you a piece of mail. These couple of organizations sent people.

First was a man from a group called National Write Your Congressman, he was a very nice man who was from the area, has kids in the school system and all that. The group he represents gathers opinions on the concerns of the day from business owners (and others, I would assume) and then sends them all to your representatives. His sales technique bugged me, he wrote down my opinions, showed me the print material he had with him -- and then asked for money. They want a minimum of $425 per year for you to belong to their club. Why would I want to spent 1000 times the cost of a stamp to have someone else write my congressman for me? I had to apologize and send him on his way.

Next was a guy from the National Federation of Independent Business, he was also a very nice man. He represents a lobbying group that goes to Washington, D.C. and, well, lobbies members of the House and Congress on behalf of its members, who are typically small business owners. He would have taken as little as $100 from me, but would have preferred more.

I am continually astounded at how much money I could spend in a year to be a member of the various groups and organizations who would love to take my money. Directly related to my business is the National Coffee Association ($275 per year), the Specialty Coffee Association ($405 per year), the Roasters Guild ($225 per year) and Fair Trade USA ($750 per year), and that doesn't include the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce ($350 per year). So all tolled I could be spending somewhere around $2000 per year to belong to these groups, add the two guys who visited me this week and it would be closer to $3000.

But the other dilemma I'm experiencing is trying to balance what I believe as an individual who leans pretty damn far to the left, and a businessman who has concerns that lean a little more to the right.  For example: from an environmental standpoint the Carbon Tax sounds like a great idea, make those who put CO2 into the atmosphere pay for it, but that could raise the price of energy for my business up to 80%.

A simple thing like raising the minimum wage, which is great for workers, takes money from the pockets of business owners -- and I'm not some big, corporate entity who can swallow something like that, spending more means not being able to buy new equipment or not being able to expand. Of course, it's kind of a moot point, seeing as I am my only employee, but the concept is the same, and I don't want to remain the only employee forever.

Regardless of all that, these visits threw me off my stride because I sat around with each of them for an hour talking politics before they asked me for money. I don't like that and I wish they'd both been more upfront about it. The first one really bugged me because he took down all my opinions before he told me he worked for a for profit group, that would be akin to showing someone a menu, cooking the food and placing it in front of them before you mentioned that they'd have to pay for it, and that it was going to cost a shit-ton more than you thought it would.

I tried to warn the second guy, I told him I'd been visited the previous day by someone who wanted money from me, and I wasn't prepared to give him any either. He said, "Well, that depends..." and went on with his pitch.

I think I'm going to go get a "No Solicitors" sign and put it on my door. If you want to buy my product and give me money, c'mon in. If you want money from me, don't bother.

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Cari said…
I've considered putting a "no solicitors" sign on the front door of our house. I'm really not curmudgeonly its just that living so close to the HHH Job Corp and the state fair grounds, we get more than our fair share of whack jobs stopping by to sell, poll, beg, etc. I often don't answer the door unless its a neighbor kid that I recognize. I think that you should require folks like this to make an appointment with you if they want to pitch their organization to you. You're busy.
Unknown said…
My Dad had a sign that read "No Peddlers" It worked.

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