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The Last Word

The Benefits of Joining a Business Organization

A. Scott Anderson Jul 9, 2018

Starting and operating a small business is a dream for many people. It is also usually a very difficult undertaking. An entrepreneur pursuing his or her dream can often feel lonely and even isolated.

A good way to enjoy support and camaraderie among people in similar circumstances is to join a business association. The benefits are many. An entrepreneur can find networking, training, best practices, conferences and seminars, suppliers and partners, new employees, and even clients and customers at such associations. Much success in business is the result of developing relationships like those cultivated in business associations.

Another good reason to join an association is to influence government policy. A group of similar businesses can be a strong voice for change in government regulatory and taxation policies. Government leaders often look to business people to gauge support for things like infrastructure, education funding and workforce development. It’s a lot easier to work with government as a large group, rather than as a single business.

The variety of business organizations in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming is astounding. Some associations, like chambers of commerce, attempt to represent all kinds and sizes of businesses, often on a geographical basis. Chambers of commerce often have strong voices in their communities and among policymakers. Joining a chamber is almost always a wise thing to do. There are some 59 chambers of commerce in Idaho, 29 in Utah and 25 in Wyoming, located in cities, towns and regions. They are truly the business voice of their communities.

Many other business associations are highly specialized, representing businesses of a similar nature. For example, every agricultural specialty is represented by an association such as cattle, sheep, dairy, potato, general farming, fruit, etc.

Associations represent solar energy businesses, restaurants, women business owners, retailing, technology and medical specialties, advertising, real estate, apartment managers, oil and gas, mining, manufacturers, and many more. There are associations representing ethnic minority business owners, gay and lesbian business owners, and so forth.

In Salt Lake City, there is even the Vest Pocket Business Coalition, representing small, locally owned mostly retail businesses in the urban area.

If you can’t find a business association that fits your niche, perhaps you should start one.

Most business organizations understand that small business owners don’t have a lot of discretionary money, so they try to keep dues or membership fees low, often assessing them based on the size of business or number of employees.

I have interacted with thousands of small business owners over my banking career. I appreciate the fact that they are very busy, work long hours and keep their proverbial noses to the grindstone. But I’m convinced that spending a few hours a month participating in a relevant business association will pay dividends. As the old proverb says, you’ll get a lot more cutting done if you stop once in a while to sharpen the saw.

Your business will benefit, your industry will benefit, and the broader community will benefit as businesses are successful, creating jobs and economic vitality. Time spent serving in these organizations eventually bounces back to benefit the individual business.

At Zions Bank, we have a tradition of encouraging employees to become involved in business, civic and cultural organizations. We believe the bank — and the community — are better for it.

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