Putting the issues of politics and the negative tone of campaign ads aside, political campaigns are amazing businesses. Think about it: in a short amount of time, a large group of people come together, generate significant volumes of money, spend significant volumes of money, create nationwide organizations that involve hundreds, if not thousands, of people, achieve their stated purpose, and then disband never to be reformed again.
What’s even more amazing is that such a short-term business can generate such huge amounts of capital (some campaigns generated over $6M or $7M in just 24 hours). Of course, the reasons why people contribute to campaigns differs considerably from the reasons why people buy products, but the magic of large numbers works equally well.
In an earlier post, I analyzed what it would take to generate $5M a year. You would need to sell 100,000 $50 products in a year or 50,000 $100 products in a year, for example. But these campaigns can generate $5m in a day by leveraging the same power of large numbers: 100,000 contributions of $50. Not bad for a day’s work.
What I’m most interested in is the mechanics of how political campaigns work. For example, are they considered to be non-profits? Do they incorporate in one state (as an LLC or C-Corp or S-Corp) and then register in all other states? Do they have to pay employment taxes, worker’s comp, and unemployment benefits for their campaign staff? Do they have to pax taxes on the campaign income? I wish I had answers to those questions, but that digresses a bit from the point of this post…
The point is that for a Four-hour-a-weeker, we are building an business that can sustain significant revenue without requiring a lot of time. One would think that would be in opposition to a political campaign which works 24-hour straight days for multiple months. But in actuality, my observation is that the person at the top of the campaign — the candidate himself — does not really spend that much time with the business of the campaign itself. In many ways, they are the product. The politician is the item that people are paying their hard-earned money for (the donation). But at the same time, the candidate is the reason for the campaign’s existence. At any time, the candidate can pull out of the race and poof the campaign ceases to exist.
The question is: can we run an organization that’s meant to exist for a short amount of time, generate a significant amount of revenue, and involve hundreds or thousands of people in an outsourced capacity reducing the involvement of the company founder to simply being the figurehead of the organization? I think so. I think it depends on the sort of company being built, but I don’t see that the concept of the political campaign as a business in opposition to the ideas of the 4HWW-style business I’ve been discussing here.
It’s hard to say if I have any specific conclusions about this in relevance to my own business or to yours, but it sparked this thought that I wanted to communicate in my blog. What are your thoughts with regards to campaigns as businesses? How do you think they relate to the business ideas put forth in the Four-Hour Work Week book?