Young entrepreneurs wary of mixing politics and business in Trump era

Maria Patterson, an assistant clinical professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, considers a political approach an important part of growing a business. “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to make a considered decision of what are our values,” she said. “Once you determine what your values are in business, then you make decisions of what kind of engagements you’ll make in the political arena.”

Patterson says small businesses eventually grow large enough to affect the community and, by extension, politics and policy. “At some point a business has got to understand, whether it likes it or not, there are tools that business can use to affect the political process.”

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Microsoft famously shunned corporate lobbying until they were hit with an antitrust suit from the U.S. government. “There comes a point where, as a business person, you need to understand what the tools are and how you can use them and use them responsibly,” Patterson said.

Some, like 19-year-old Neel Somani, the owner of tech consulting firm Apptic in California, find it impossible to wait. “I don’t go actively seeking out [business] because of my political views, but I definitely don’t draw the line between the two,” he said. Being political is good business, he said, because it provides common ground that lets clients feel more comfortable and communicative. “People are more willing to share their ideas,” he added.

By Mike Juang, special to