Invest in Your Community – Invest in Your Business

According to Jared Hecht who writes in Forbes:
The 6 Essential Local Small Business Associations You Should Belong To
Jared Hecht Contributor
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably used to going it alone. You live and breathe your small business: you’re responsible for every big success, and you decide how to try overcoming each obstacle you face.
That doesn’t mean other people can’t help you, though. Local associations are an invaluable resource for small business owners—and if you don’t belong to any, then you could very well be missing out on the resources, experience, advice, knowledge, and skills that entrepreneurs regularly share.
1. SBA Community Groups – The Small Business Administration does more than offer low-cost SBA loans to business owners: they’re also a great resource for all kinds of advice and networking opportunities. You can take classes in business management and financing, for example, and meet other entrepreneurs in your area.
2. SCORE – SCORE, previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a nationwide network of over 11,000 business mentors who are just waiting to help you develop, manage, and grow your small business. And the best part? SCORE is 100% free.
3. BNI – If you’re more interested in networking than mentorship, then BNI (or Business Network International) is a good place to start. With over 7,500 chapters, you’re bound to have one near you. Unusually, BNI requires that entrepreneurs apply for membership—for a very specific reason. Just one representative from any given industry is allowed in in each session.
4. The Local Chamber of Commerce
While registering to belong to your local chamber of commerce may come with a small price tag, it’s often worth the expense—especially if you deal with local customers.
Belonging to a chamber of commerce comes with plenty of advantages, including small business newsletters, entrepreneurship workshops, booths at local trade shows, and even discounts on shipping costs.
5. The National Federation of Independent Business – The National Federation of Independent Business, or the NFIB, is another small business association that does it all. Over a quarter of a million small business owners belong to the NFIB, and for good reason—this association specializes in small business advocacy, and they lobby to the federal and state governments on your behalf, making sure that your voice is heard by policymakers at every level. You can even search your state to find out more about the issues that could potentially impact your small business, without you even being aware.
6. Relevant Industry & Trade Associations – You might be more interested in resources, advice, and contacts specifically within your industry—and if that’s the case, then you should check out the industry and trade associations near you.
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