Like many U.S. citizens, I can hardly wait for this campaign to end. But I cannot let it go without pointing out that there is another oft-ignored side to defining others without their participation and on a public scale. Obviously, people running for major office expect a certain amount of this. What makes 2016 unusual is the degree to which the Internet has become a massive vehicle for defining/profiling candidates in increasingly uncontrollable ways.
Step aside for a moment and come with me to the world of small businesses and their owners. Their access to credit is one of the most opaque examples of “other-profiling” we have today. At least consumer credit comes with a regulatory regime.
Not so for small business.
A colleague relayed an example a couple weeks ago. He had moved his small company to a new office space and was mulling over the required performance bond. Before posting it he did an online credit search. The granddaddy of small business credit (actually of all credit bureaus) returned a stellar report. Great. Bond posted.
Then two days later he started getting alerts to his inbox. Credit downgraded. When he checked it out he discovered that a different customer had posted a negative review online and the credit bureau had picked it up as a bad credit signal. The company was putting their financial advisor on the case to get it fixed. If other cases I’ve seen hold true here, it will cost thousands of dollars and significant time to get it corrected. Truth matters. Deceits have consequences.
Back to the moment at hand. If you haven’t already and are a U.S. citizen, please vote. It is so important. Then, the fact that you are reading this suggests you care about small businesses. Helping small businesses build and access credit is a bi-partisan challenge and opportunity. Let’s make sure it doesn’t get buried under all those contentious issues that get in the way of ensuring ever greater numbers of small business owners are contributing to the well-being of their communities and the larger economy!