One the many challenges a small-business owner faces is isolation.
Day-to-day activities and emergencies monopolize your time and energy. Participation in outside associations is easy to ignore, but you do so at your own peril.
Consider joining one of these groups to increase your business footprint:
• Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) (www.asba.com) is largest business trade association in Arizona. ASBA represents a unified political voice for businesses and advocates for legislation beneficial to small businesses. Members benefit from discounts on all types of business services.
• Better Business Bureau (tucson.bbb.org) Many consumers, especially people moving to Tucson, look to BBB to get trusted recommendations for all their service providers. BBB carries a lot of search-engine-optimization weight and members' websites frequently appear on the first page of a Google search.
• Tucson Business Club (www.tucsonbusinessclub.com) connects local business owners and teaches them how to generate business and create opportunities for one another. Money spent locally has an estimated economic multiplier of 6 times.
• Marana Chamber of Commerce (www.maranachamber-.com) has 600-plus members who support one another with referrals. More than 100 business owners attend their breakfast every month. They are involved in the community and help several non-profits.
• Oro Valley Business Club (www.orovalleybusinessclub.-com) offers monthly meetings with speakers focusing on local issues and how they affect local businesses.
• Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce (www.greenvalleysahuarita.com) has 300 member companies serving a regional winter population of over 100,000. The chamber recently partnered with the University of Arizona to restore the historic Canoa Ranch property as a tourist destination.
Engagement in any one of these groups guarantees access to people with similar interests, problems and solutions. It also increases your visibility within the business community and gives you a seat at the table to influence change.
As the saying goes, "If you're not at the table, you're probably on the menu."
Ralph Hershberger is president of SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For more information, go to www.southernarizona.score.org, send email to email@example.com or call 505-3636.