There are some things you can expect when you start a business. These are things you know will be true:
But there are also things you can’t know until you jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship. Let’s call these, “the things they don’t tell you.” For example:
- It usually takes longer to get started and get ahead than you anticipate
- It will probably cost more than you estimate
- Running a business by yourself can be lonely
- As a business owner, you will wear many hats
- You must be a jack-of-all-trades to be successful
That last point is especially salient. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades if you want to run your own business because that is the nature of the gig – it’s all on you sometimes.
But keep in mind: it is impossible to know it all. No one can. So, not only will you need to know and learn a lot, you will also likely miss the additional intellectual firepower that you had when you worked for someone else. Maybe being an employee was not for you, but I can safely say that it is nice to have smart people around to collaborate with.
These are just a few reasons why your business should seriously consider aligning with some small business groups and associations. Another reason is that it is good for business – networking gives your business exposure to both the community and professionals who may be in need of your products/services.
If you align your business with a business-focused group, organization, or association, you will gain access to a plethora of programs and assistance. You will encounter smart, sharp people whose job it is to help your business succeed. You will also meet other association members who have interests and skills that align with yours. All in all, it’s usually a smart move.
Your local chamber of commerce: A chamber of commerce works to help local businesses by hosting networking events, offering business and marketing assistance and providing greater exposure for your business. The chamber will also have demographic information about the area that could be beneficial to your daily operations.
Other chambers: There are also niche chambers that may be a better fit your business. For instance, the purpose of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is “to foster Hispanic economic development and to create sustainable prosperity for the benefit of American society. The USHCC mission is accomplished [in different ways, including] implementing and strengthening national programs that assist the economic development of Hispanic firms.”
Depending upon your type of business, you may want to join a more focused group.
Small Business Development Centers: SBDCs are an offshoot of the Small Business Administration and might be another valuable tool in your association toolbox. SBDCs can help with:
- Writing a business plan
- Getting a loan
- Counseling and training
National Association of Women-Owned Business: NAWBO assists and represents the country’s more than 10 million women-owned businesses. It has more than 7,000 members and 70 chapters across the country. As the group says, NAWBO is a “one-stop resource to propel women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.”
Other associations you might want to consider joining are:
- Small Business Association of America: This group works to give small businesses the same benefits as larger businesses by offering discounts on health insurance and other goods and services like car rentals and dining.
- National Association of the Self-Employed: NASE looks to help micro-businesses with similar assistance, tools and products.
As you can see, there is no shortage of groups and associations out there that can help you succeed. The smart small business will take advantage of them.
Have you recently joined an organization that has been beneficial to growing your business? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. ©Steven D. Strauss