Small Business Associations To Help Grow Your Business

Certain small business associations have proven over many decades to be a common source of valuable training and resources for new businesses and business leaders. Smaller businesses particularly find such resources to be gold mine so it's important to take full advantage of the resources available to you.

Especially for the entrepreneur who is just starting out, you are encouraged to consider joining one or more business associations. As you'll soon learn, the rewards can be invaluable to your future success, but if you don't make the effort to educate yourself on what's available, you could be placing yourself at a competitive disadvantage.

small business associations

When you are new to the area, or just opening the doors to your new business, your ability to quickly get involved in the communities your serve can help pave the way to success.  The value of developing quality business relationships cannot be overstated. There is still a lot of truth in the old saying, "It's not what you know, but who you know."

Building a solid network of business contacts that support your dream is no less important than building strong relationships with your customers. The relationships that are formed as you build a solid support structure for your company, may in fact save your business sometime down the line when times are tough.

The great news is that many have come before you and there are "tried and true" strategies for building a strong networking group.

Part of getting past your learning curve in business, and in life, is having a clear understanding that the quickest way to get educated is to get connected with other professionals who have your best interests at heart. 

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 

– Dale Carnegie

To make those relationships stick, you must approach it with the 'heart of a servant'. The more you give, the more you'll receive in return.  Using your unique talents, always seek to add value in the lives of others. Taking a "what's in it for me approach will quickly be viewed as self-serving and only work against what you hope to accomplish. 

Small business associations can provide the means to gain support for your business. In addition, by becoming involved in local chapters of one or two small business associations, you can receive many tools and resources that will make you more successful. For example, learning how to become a better public speaker, or how to more effectively network within your community are both skills that can provide long-term value for you and your business.

Next, let's take a closer look as some of these small business associations and learn what they might offer. 

Small Business Associations Worth Considering

First, it's fair to state up front that most of the small business associations we recommend are usually a local chapter of a much larger national organization. This provides many benefits, but there can also be challenges. 

For example, national organizations tend to have well developed tools, resources and materials available to all their chapters. This is great because small communities with fewer resources can receive the same high-quality benefits as much larger, better funded, communities. 

Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.

- Diane Helbig

As with any organization, the quality of the local leaders involved can have a huge impact on the quality of how the chapter operates.  So it's important that you do your research before joining any organization to ensure it will be a good fit for your and your business.

Of course, if you join a group only to find out later it's not a good fit, you can always make the choice to go elsewhere. However, you could run the risk of burning bridges if you leave too soon, so it's best to be sure about the organization prior to joining whenever possible.

Here is a list of amazing small business associations worth considering

  • SCORE Association - SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with free, confidential face-to-face and email business counseling. Business counseling and workshops are offered at 389 chapter offices across the country.
  • Local Chamber of Commerce - Your local Chamber of Commerce provides a natural networking opportunity for like-minded business owners to work together toward the improvement of a business-friendly community.
  • Rotary International - Rotary is a well established and highly respected global organization for business professionals. This group is assists leaders in fostering key business relationships while assisting their community in a wide array of local projects. Check their website for a local chapter near you.
  • Kiwanis - Similar to Rotary, Kiwanis is also a service based association comprised of local business leaders. Kiwanis has a mission of improving the lives of children one community at a time. 
  • Toastmasters International - Toastmasters was established to help business owners and aspiring leaders in developing their communication and public speaking skills. In business you must be able to speak to groups of people. This organization will help you gain the confidence you need to effectively speak with authority.
  • Optimist International - By providing hope and promoting a positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in youth, their communities and themselves. Leadership development programs are offered to members to assist you in growing your skillset and becoming your best self.
  • Soroptimist - Women at their best, working to help other women to be their best. Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. Soroptimist was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, at a time when women were not permitted to join small business associations or service organizations.
  • Other Local Development Associations - Depending on where you live, there may be opportunities to join associations focused on economic development, downtown/neighborhood development, or development of local attractions such as a Farmer's Market, Saturday Market, Friday Art Walk, etc. Your local Chamber of Commerce should have information about these types of small business associations.

Additional Small Business Support

It's often been said that no one person succeeds alone. Ask any successful man or woman who they attribute their success to and they will no doubt provide a laundry list of influential and highly supportive people who have helped them along the way.

In addition to the above networking and support entities, it's critical that you seek out the best team of experts to serve you on a business management level. Create your winning team to include the following key positions:

  • Tax Accountant/CPA - Search for a certified public accountant in your area. Interview several before choosing the one to advise you and partner with you to grow your business.
  • Legal Advisor - Search for an attorney in your area that will work with you to guide and protect you and your business. Ask other reputable business owners who they use.
  • Financial Advisor - Search for an experienced financial advisor that will work with you to create a short and long-term plan for your financial safety and security. Ask other reputable business owners who they use.

Create the leverage you need to succeed by building strong small business associations and partnerships. Strong business relationships provide leverage - and leverage ensures longevity.

The efforts you make early on to develop long lasting small business associations and partnerships will continue to pay off for years to come.  Plus, you'll receive the amazing experience, and gift, of serving others - which is something you just can't put a price on. 

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