Every day, someone is trying to put you out of business.

Some days it’s a competitor, or a supplier. Other days, it’s the government bureaucracy by virtue of that ever-increasing pile of paperwork.

And some days, it’s the people you least expect – your legislators.

I spoke a while back about this issue as it related to a misguided “Do not mail” bill that came up in the Montana House.

As annoying as it may seem , you simply MUST keep up with what these people are doing with their “spare time”. At the Federal level, the small business person is in a tough position because your voice is but one in the maelstrom of lobbybucks coming at Senators and US Representatives. But you have to contact them anyhow. If you don’t, you get the government you deserve.

This is one of the best reasons to support the trade organization that lobbies for your industry (assuming you agree with what they do) and similar organizations. No, they aren’t perfect, but they are better than nothing. EVERY business niche has a trade organization of some kind. Sure, some are better than others. Sometimes a local or state trade or business organization is your most effective voice. It all depends on what you do and how interesting your industry is to legislators.

Regardless of how annoying they are, you HAVE to keep contacting them. FYI: Being a nutball is the wrong way. Be concise, avoid jargon and be reasonably polite until they no longer deserve it and then do it anyhow – otherwise you’re wasting your breath.

At the state level, things are different. In many states, these people have real jobs or real businesses that they are concerned about when they aren’t in session. My State rep ( a freshman rep this session ) is a school guidance counselor. Here in Montana, the sessions are every other year and only last a few months. Because the state has a small population, those of us who actively participate in the process (by contacting them when they need it), can get something done.

Still, like any other place, BS partisan politics is present. The 300+ water-related bills in this year’s Montana legislative  session are a fine example.

But I digress:)

The point of all this that the Do Not Mail thing is just an example of what can happen to your business. Don’t assume that direect mail is never going away, any more than you should assume that having an email address and no other contact info is “ok” for your business. EMails change, legislators flip flop.  Get that phone # and mailing address. Use them APPROPRIATELY. Remember – all these Do Not <whatever> bills exist because there are unscrupulous (or just stupid) businesses out there.

Those of you who are starting up and fighting for a toehold are the ones most threatened by these kinds of bills. Why? Because you don’t have all the relationships you need yet.

For more details on the Do Not Mail legislation and the efforts to wake up the legislators who are in favor of it, see the DMA web site ( http://www.dmnews.com ), where you can get and stay up to date on these issues.

Another brief read about the Do Not Mail issue is at http://www.melissadata.com/enews/listadvisor/articles/0704/1.htm