Five Business Lessons From the 2016 Presidential Election

Let’s face it: the 2016 Presidential primaries were a whirlwind. However, in the midst of the funny soundbites, gaffes, and unexpectedness, there are five key business lessons to take away from the 2016 Presidential Candidates. 


Lesson #1: Communicate With Your Audience

Candidate: Donald Trump

Throughout the primaries, Trump craftily used Twitter as his medium to communicate with his supporters. Unlike any presidential candidate before him, Trump decided to use social media to establish his political environment. In doing so, he formed a solid connection with his audience which allowed him to maintain and even grow his base. Politics aside, your business should follow Trump’s model of communication.  If you want your business to grow or just want to retain your current base, communication is key because it will increase the visibility of your company. Takeaway: Set aside some time out of your schedule to communicate with your current and potential customers, whether it’s through social media or even an old-fashioned letter.


Lesson #2: Establish Domain Experience

Candidate: Hillary Clinton

Regardless of your political views, one thing is clear: Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for President of the United States. In the primaries, where she was consistently challenged by an emerging Bernie Sanders, this experience kept her afloat. Clinton knew the political playbook like the back of her hand, and it was key to her success as a Presidential candidate. Just like Clinton, it is important that you establish experience in your respective domain. Takeaway: If you’re thinking about starting a company in a field you’re not familiar with, try to gain some experience in that field or hire someone who already has the experience.  Even if you think you own a company in a field you’re established in, try to gain more knowledge.  By doing so, you’ll not only make your company more credible but also more efficient.


Lesson #3: Find Your Niche

Candidate: Marco Rubio

For a candidate who was named the “Republican Savior” in 2013, Rubio didn’t fare to well in the Republican primaries. There are many explanations as to way Rubio did so poorly but one of the prevailing ideas is that there were too many candidates trying to attain the establishment (non-Trump) voters. Essentially the moderate Republican space was crowded, and Rubio didn’t have a unique niche. Don’t let this become a problem for your business. Takeaway: If you don’t currently have a niche or know your niche, do some research and find your market fit.


Lesson #4: Have a Vision

Candidate: Bernie Sanders

When Bernie Sanders entered the Presidential race as a “democratic-socialist” many thought that his campaign wouldn’t sustain itself. This followed the line of thinking that Sanders’ goals were too unrealistic or impossible to accomplish in America’s current state. However, throughout the primaries, Sanders garnered votes from millions of Americans who believed in his vision. Even though Sanders didn’t get the Democratic nomination for President, his campaign struck a chord with his base and shaped the current platform for the Democratic party. Like Sanders, it is important for your company to have a purpose and be ambitious. Takeaway: Take a moment to develop a vision for your company’s future. People want something to believe in. Why shouldn’t that something be your business?


Lesson #5: Nothing’s Set In Stone

Candidate: Jeb Bush

Bush entered the Republican primaries as one of the favorites to win, and pundits were already declaring a rematch of Clinton v. Bush. He seemingly had it all: the name brand, political experience, and enormous cash flow. However, in the end, his campaign failed and was filled with numerous blunders and outdated messages. Let this serve as a warning to your company. Takeaway: Even if you think your company is currently in a great place, don’t get complacent because that leaves room for competition to come in and loosen your foothold. Keep finding ways to innovate, and make your business even better.

- Curtis Staples

Stanford Marketing Group