Many small businesses find value in association membership, but when money is tight it’s important to make sure entrepreneurs get their best return on the investment.
Now more than ever small business owners should consider joining an association in terms of value, says Susan Robertson, president of the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership, says.
“Most people who join associations often don’t really participate, but just send a check ... They should really look at what can they put into becoming involved with an association that will pay higher dividends,” she says. “What can an organization do for them that they can’t do for themselves?”
It’s also important to decide whether you need to belong to more than one association: An entrepreneur might want to join a group geared toward small businesses as well as a group catering to a specific industry.
For example: A doctor running a small shop may join the National Association for the Self-Employed, the American Medical Association and also a group focusing on emergency medical technicians. This splintering also may be why there are more than 50,000 groups listed in the ASAE database.
One Joiner's Success Story
His firm began in 2000 with 13 lawyers and now has 65 on the team, a growth rate that he partly attributes to active involvement with local and national groups. “I’m an advocate of getting involved in associations to give back and to get access to people who have different viewpoints that aren’t tied to your business,” he says.
Here are some association perks that benefit small businesses:
1. Annual Meeting – Many associations rotate locations of their annual meetings and offer training, expert speakers as well as entertainment. Some small business owners tie these events in with their vacation. “A lot of small business owners wind up not being able to see beyond the immediate fire that they must put out today,” says Ashmus. “It’s important to get out and see what others in the industry are doing.”