There are many factors that can influence the success or failure of your small business, and two of the biggest are pressure groups and stakeholders. While these two groups have some similarities, their goals are often at cross-purposes. Typically, pressure groups don’t have a vested interested in your company, but they do have an issue or cause that they find important, which can have an impact on your business. Stakeholders have a vested interest in your business and are, therefore, more likely to be concerned with more than just a single issue or concern related to your company.

Pressure Group

The primary goal of a pressure group is to influence some aspect of the way a business operates, including which types of products businesses manufacture. Typically, pressure groups are formed to influence businesses regarding one specific issue. For example, a pressure group concerned with harmful emissions from a coal-burning plant would focus on persuading the owners of the plant to find ways to reduce emissions. By narrowing its focus to one issue or to only a handful of issues, pressure groups can tailor their message in a specific way that's easy to understand. Pressure groups can exert influence by finding allies in the media, by organizing protest marches, and by running marketing campaigns to express their concerns.


Stakeholders are any individual or group that has a personal stake in a business. This can include business owners, investors, shareholders, vendors, suppliers, employees, customers, and people that live in the local community where a business operates. Although stakeholders can pressure a business to make changes or to address specific issues that they find concerning, their main interest in a business is to help it succeed or to regulate that business’s activities if it impacts the local community in a negative way. For example, let’s say you own a computer software company, and one of your major investors asks you to develop a new product to sell to your customers. That investor has a direct stake in the success of that new product, and will likely offer financing and other incentives to persuade you to agree to his wishes.

Similarities and Differences Between Pressure Groups and Stakeholders

The main similarity between pressure groups and stakeholders is that although they have different goals, they both try to influence how your business operates. Pressure groups do so through more public and disruptive methods, whereas stakeholders exert influence internally by voting (board of directors), pricing (vendors and suppliers), and buying or not buying your products and services (customers).

The main difference between pressure groups and stakeholders is that pressure groups are external to your business. In other words, although pressure groups may include some of your customers, they are usually not connected to your company, which means they don’t have a stake in its long-term success or failure. On the other hand, stakeholders are vested in the success of your company, and are essential to that success, whether as investors, buyers, or consultants.