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As a business owner, you have a lot of important responsibilities to your clients and customers, to your employees, and to yourself.

But as a leader, you also have a responsibility to the world.

That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. In order to create positive change in the world, we have to embrace our values and make an effort to help that change come to pass. A lot of us realize this to be true personally, but it’s a professional responsibility as well.

Sometimes as business owners, we have to give ourselves a call to action. We have to widen our attention to see the rest of the world {not just our launch calendar}. We have to take a look at what’s going on around us and how these events affect real people. We have to decide what’s important to us, and how we’re going to let others know what we stand for.

Because the more we embrace our stories and our values, the greater our impact is on the world.

Your Beliefs Matter

Speaking up about difficult topics like current events, human rights issues, or politics often feels like a double-edged sword for business owners. If you use your platform to bring up polarizing topics, don’t you risk losing audience members {and clients} who don’t agree with you?

To put it bluntly: Yes.

It’s totally possible that sharing your opinion could lead to someone saying, “I don’t agree with that. I’m going to unfollow/unsubscribe/never buy their products again.”

But you know what? The same thing can be said about NOT speaking your mind.

As a business owner, you’re a leader. You have influence. No matter what you decide — action or inaction, this side of the issue or that side — there are always consequences. 

That’s not to say you’re being backed into a lose-lose situation, though! When you use your platform to speak about something you believe in, you make an important connection with your audience. Sure, it’s an instant win for anyone who happens to agree with you. But even if someone disagrees, you’re upholding your values by speaking with integrity. So we actually see it as win-win!

Remember, it’s completely possible to stand in your truth without pushing that truth on other people. It’s not about having a pedestal and speaking down to people from your soapbox. It’s about showing leadership in the values that matter most to you.

Navigating Debates

So, you’ve realized not speaking up can be an action in itself, and you’ve decided to use your platform to address something important to you. But now you’re worried… Is standing in your truth going to start a debate?

Again, just being honest here: Yeah, maybe.

a chessboard featuring one prominent piece

Look, we’ve said before that no business is a-political. And frankly, it sometimes feels like no statement is completely non-controversial. You could post a picture of your dog and even that could lead to a debate online. {Cats vs dogs! The answer is simple… both rock.}

And that sucks, because debates can be scary. They can make you feel attacked or put you on the defensive. Plus, you’re running a business — you’ve got other things to worry about.

So here’s what you need to remember when starting a potentially difficult conversation:

1. It only becomes a debate if you allow it to be a debate.

{In other words, don’t feed the trolls.}

2. You are entitled to your own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts.

Do your due diligence. Anyone can have an opinion, but if you’re claiming something is a fact, that better be objectively true. Have credible backup from a reliable source handy.

3. Be aware of context surrounding your conversation.

Again, do your research. As best you can, try to understand perspectives other than your own and how they come into play with your issue. Are your biases showing?

4. Set boundaries around the conversation.

Decide from the beginning how long you are willing to engage. Perhaps, if someone seems to be genuinely interested in learning more, you’ll have a higher tolerance for continuing the conversation than if you’re speaking with someone who is just causing a stir for its own sake. It’s fine to say, “I won’t be responding after this message.”

When managing a discussion of conflicting opinions, ask yourself: Are you trying to win an argument, or are you trying to further each other’s understanding? Only the latter is a productive use of your time and a responsible action by a leader.

You Can’t Please Everyone

While we’re talking debates, let’s address what a debate really means for you, personally and professionally.

It’s easy to allow our self-worth to become tied up in the perception of our business and ourselves.

Have you ever had someone’s negative comment plague you for hours {days, weeks} after you read it? We’ve probably all experienced how much more that one criticism can affect us than a dozen positive comments. And with so much of our content existing in the online sphere now, it often seems like there’s more negativity than ever.

a blue paper boat leading a line of white paper boats

That’s why it’s so important to remember that getting negative feedback doesn’t make you a bad person or bad business owner. At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone. Speak with compassion and understanding — for others and for yourself — and you’ll feel more confident in your content, no matter what the topic of the day is.

Remember, you don’t have to be a corporate automaton! Your beliefs and values are important to both who you are as a person and to how you run your business.


Need help figuring out how to find your voice and express your values in your content?

Check out the Brand Your Voice podcast Episode 7: Know Your Values.

We’ll help you identify your brand values and reflect them through every aspect of your business.

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