When I talk to fellow retailers, I notice from time to time that there's one set of potential partners that can be easily overlooked or dismissed.
Many small business owners recognize the real value and potential that comes with partnering with their neighborhood associations, local chamber of commerce and convention and visitors bureau. Unfortunately, some still don't.
What they often see are burdens. Membership dues are viewed as just another expense; meetings are seen as just another demand on an already overcrowded calendar.
What I see, as the owner of the Heart of Iowa Market Place, are opportunities to work with people who share the same philosophy about the importance of networking, making their community better and doing what it takes to make their business grow.
That's why I'm thrilled to serve as the business improvement chair on the Historic Valley Junction Foundation and why I absolutely love to participate in activities like the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau's upcoming FAM trips in which motorcoach planners are hosted to "FAMiliarize" themselves with visitor-friendly spots in our metro area.
Your local chamber of commerce is a great resource. Chambers create and foster a growing business community by promoting members' interests; providing invaluable educational resources, research and demographical data; and developing relationships between members. It's been said that a chamber of commerce is the door to an active, profitable role in the community. What a great partner for a small business!
When you're involved in business organizations, you're in tune with local business trends, new companies and expansions. You meet new people. You create opportunities to make your business stronger, more innovative and relevant.
That kind of involvement is also yet another example of actions speaking louder than words. People are naturally inspired and impressed when they see you're active and committed to success -- and that's a great recommendation for your business.
One more thing. The results of being involved in your local chamber or business association are just like volunteering for your favorite cause: You get a lot more out of it than you put in.