Ask Karleen - Should I join Associations Focused on my Industry?
I am running a business, and the start-up costs are so much. One area I have been debating about is joining associations dedicated to my business industry. Is it necessary?
- Jacqueline T., Idaho
Hey Jacqueline, my immediate answer is maybe! Unfortunately, there are no one-size fits all answer. However, there are metrics that you can use to help you make the right choice. The best way to evaluate this decision is to look at timing, financial commitment, potential opportunities, and credibility of validation.
An entrepreneur always has a learning curve when starting a business. There is also a financial curve. Associations can be helpful in providing mentors, business opportunities, and even financial support through their partnerships. Do you need any of these items now, or are you ready to participate in these opportunities? Starting a new business means laying the groundwork, which means you may not have the time to engage with the association as you would like. Also, because you are a new business, they may not be able to offer any insight depending on your stage; however, if you are an established business with a structure and can engage in the association without jeopardizing your business practices then it would be a great opportunity.
The financial commitment of joining associations can be much. General membership fees are one thing, but what about the association's conference? What about attending regional and local meetings?
There is a cost to all of that. If you can financially do it and know you can benefit from becoming a member, then do it. However, it may make sense to wait if it costs you money and does not offer immediate benefits.
Associations are wonderful because they can introduce you to potential partners, mentors, and champions which is an excellent reason to join. Associations can also introduce you to customers or clients, which could significantly increase the growth of your business. The question is – Are you ready for it? If you can capitalize on the immediacy of an opportunity and it means a substantial increase in your business, then the membership makes sense.
Finally, does joining an association provide credibility? Sometimes it is necessary to join an association because it means that you have been evaluated to meet core standards concerning your business by being a member. If it is something your customers need to see to patronize your business, then I suggest you consider it; however, if the association is arbitrary and does not offer any type of credibility to your business, then it may not make sense to join.
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