As a complete business services firm that includes in our ranks a small business attorney and bookkeeping/tax folks, Sexquire sees a lot of new sex related businesses in their infancy. We’ve helped set them up from a variety of angles, creating their legal entities, getting them off on the right foot for keeping their financial records, and even taking part in a few crowd-funding campaigns. For each of these clients, whether they are internet entrepreneurs or sex toy makers or launching a brick and mortar location, we have a list of things that we cover with each of them, sort of a “dos and don’ts” of getting your business started on the right foot.
But there is one item that we never mention, despite the fact that it comes up for nearly every new client we meet. Why would we leave out something that comes up for everyone, regardless of the type of sex related business they are starting? Because it’s so powerful that you have to experience it for yourself, as no matter how someone explains it, nothing will take the place of that first experience with it.
So what is it? There’s no official term for it, as far as we know, but, like Supreme Court Justices and porn, you’ll know it when you see it. It’s the prejudice that arises when you mention your business has something to do with sex. And guess what? In every state in this country, it’s perfectly and 100% legal. A form of sex discrimination that you are going to run into time and time again once you decide you want to dip your toe into any area of the sex industry. And where does it come up? Well, where doesn’t it? Below are some prime examples and some ways we’ve found to help clients overcome these obstacles and the people who present them.
- We Don’t Want Your Money. One of the first steps every business or individual does when starting a business is open a bank account so they have a place to put the money they earn. Fairly simple, right? Well, not in our industry. We’ve encountered clients who are welcomed to open business account by banks they have had relationships with for decades, only to be told later, albeit sheepishly, that on second thought, now that the bank knows exactly what the business is, they need to close the account. We’ve also heard “we don’t do business with your type of businesses” and lots of other offensive quotes from bankers. Keep in mind, these clients were not doing anything illegal in their states or towns, and they weren’t asking for a loan or financing…all they wanted was a CHECKING account. But many banks, both large and small, have refused them based solely on the fact that their intended business has something to do with sex.
- A Special Deal Just for You. This is another gem that comes up often for businesses in the beginning stages. In this particular type of discrimination, the business provider, who you are actually doing a favor by using for whatever need you have (merchant processing, website development, etc.) lets you know in no uncertain terms that they generally wouldn’t do business in this area, and most all of their competitors wouldn’t either (so don’t bother going to ask them) but just this once, because you seem so unlike those OTHER type of businesses they’re going to do business with you. Of course you’ll pay a premium, but they’re doing you a favor just for doing the work, right? Wrong. And if you buy into this line of reasoning, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting others in the industry who might come after you and might not pass this particular company or person’s “not REALLY sex-related” test. If you hear this line of reasoning, turn around and keep walking.
- We’re Just Concerned for You. This one is the subtlest form of sex business/work discrimination. In fact, many people don’t realize this one is happening until someone else points it out to them. This is where some third party, who has exactly ZERO relation to or business in your business, offers some thoughts about what you might want to do, out of feigned concern. It might sound innocent enough “do you think you should put curtains on your windows? I mean, some people might have a problem with what you do.” But rest assured, these people ARE the “some people” they talk about, and listening to them will be only the tip of the pain in the neck iceberg for you. Again – run, don’t walk, away from these folks.
So how can you deal with these situations and issues? For one, know the laws that effect your business, the statutes and definitions of things like “obscene” and “adult” material in your area of the world, and have these handy when dealing with anything related to your business. Stay calm, and inform whoever is offering you some advice or a special deal that you’re not interested, and you know the facts governing your particular business. Then, refuse to deal with anyone who doesn’t respect your business for what it truly is, equal in value to any other type of work. You are doing something many people would love to do, but often do not have the courage to pursue, and you are blazing a trail for those that come after you.
And take it from me, I’ve seen the same banks that refused a company a checking account try to court them to finance expansions later when the business was thriving. So find professionals and providers who share your values and respect your business, recognize sex discrimination when you see it, name it and keep moving. The best revenge is living well, and by doing something you are passionate about, you’re well on your way. Let the haters hate!