Starting and running a business is not easy feat. Business owners are often burned out as they try to grow their businesses, while providing services to their clients. Without support, business owners can lose motivation and become unproductive.
One of the best ways to help your business succeed is by participating in organizations related to your business by location, industry, or other shared affiliation. Active participation in organizations provides opportunities to develop trusting relationships with potential partners and customers, build your expertise through organization-sponsored workshops and conferences, and increase visibility for yourself and your business by taking advantage of speaking opportunities, event sponsorship and leadership positions.
The top benefits of joining a professional organization include:
- Networking – Business begins and ends with relationships. Developing genuine friendships with other entrepreneurs can help your network and your business.
- Ideas — When you hear what other leaders do with their businesses, you’re likely to get your entrepreneurial gears in motion.
- Motivation — Most entrepreneurs have a healthy dose of competitive attitude, so seeing others’ success can push you to do new things with your business.
- Practice — Organizations often ask their members to speak at events. Do it for the experience and to add credibility to your business and your personal brand.
Your business goals, industry area, and location will factor into which business organizations are best for you. But merely adding yourself to the membership roster of an organization does your business little good. Whichever organizations you choose, make the most of what they have to offer by volunteering, attending events and taking on leadership roles. The following are examples of organizations available to business owners:
Small business organizations/associations: These organizations provide technical assistance and other benefits specifically focused on helping small businesses succeed. Many small business associations consist of a partnership between private enterprise government, educational institutions, professionals and other local nonprofit organizations. Associations have the primary objective of helping existing businesses to grow locally, expand into new markets and remain competitive in an increasingly complex and evolving global marketplace.
In addition, they work with entrepreneurs and start-ups to assist them in realizing the dream of owning a business.
Many business owners join business associations for any number of reasons, including:
- Profiles of owner/company
- Sales and marketing tips
- Local business advice
- Membership directory
- Networking opportunities
- Expert referrals
Small business associations advocate for small business—helping them to grow, stay viable and remain competitive, especially in an environment that increasingly favors large corporations.
Local chamber of commerce: These are great places to develop long-term, trusting relationships. They provide educational opportunities, as well, but their main focus is on networking and helping to create win-win business relationships for their members.
Industry-specific trade organizations: To keep up with your industry’s trends, you’ll want to join at least one trade organization. Many of these organizations are national, with regional and local affiliates, allowing you to broaden your geographic scope while retaining valuable local networking. Other benefits of trade associations can include access to industry data (valuable for developing business plans); group discounts that can lower your costs in such areas as insurance, business travel, and telecommunications; and industry-focused lobbying.
Social/community service clubs: Especially in small communities, clubs like the Lions, Rotary or Kiwanis can help you improve name recognition and build relationships. There are also a lot of opportunities to speak and volunteer, which establishes your expertise and your desire to contribute to your community.
Other affinity groups: Business organizations are becoming more diverse, so joining a group like Urban League’s Young Professionals, Latino and black business associations/chambers of commerce and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) can expand your networking, education, and leadership opportunities.
One group you can count on for help with your small business financing needs is Biz2Credit, which has helped arrange more than $1.6 billion in funding since 2007. Visit Biz2credit.com to get started.