Most everyone knows what the Chamber of Commerce is and how it can be useful for business in the local area. However, what about for home based businesses? Up until recently, I had known about Chambers of Commerce by reputation only; I had never actually had a chance to work with any in much detail. However, last year, I began to work with more and more Chambers and as a result, have become a big believer. Chambers of Commerce can be one of the best friends your home-based business can have.
Think about it: What is one of the main problems you encounter as a home-based business? I bet it is isolation and lack of support. Well, your Chamber of Commerce offers help in these areas, as well as many others. The whole purpose behind a Chamber of Commerce is to help small businesses succeed. Indeed, over 85 percent of U.S. Chamber members are small business owners. And what kind of business is your home-based business? Right, a small business! So your local Chamber is a place committed to your success.
At your local Chamber, will find a host of programs and resources intended to make your life easier and your business more profitable. And having a network of like-minded entrepreneurs on your side can really be nice.
Let’s consider the various ways a Chamber of Commerce can help a home-based business:
1. Programming: Much, nay, most, of the programming done by Chambers is intended to help their members grow their businesses. Chambers bring in speakers, offer educational seminars, create informational newsletters, host luncheons, spotlight successful members, facilitate small business counseling, supply relevant demographic materials, sponsor business expos, and offer a variety of other programs intended to help grow members’ businesses
2. Networking: As I said, as a home-based business, you may feel a bit alone in the business world. But if you join your local Chamber, that will change in two significant ways.
First, you will suddenly be mixing with a host of like-minded people – small business owners who, like you, are juggling payroll, taxes, a tough economy, and home life. There will be people to bounce ideas off of, and ideas from others that can be applied to your business as well.
Second, Chambers of Commerce regularly have mixers, offering you the chance to meet and do business with your fellow Chamber members. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards!
3. Lobbying: Legislation of all sorts on the state and national level have profound impacts on small businesses. However, most home-based entrepreneurs have neither the time, resources, understanding, nor desire to lobby on a particular bill. That’s another place where a Chamber of Commerce can help.
According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, “We’re the loud voice you need to be heard in the political arena, to represent the important issues that affect small businesses. With your input, we can make a difference and provide tangible results.”
4. Getting involved: Chambers always have a variety of committees that allow you to participate in your community on issues of importance to you. By joining one of these committees, you can make a difference and have your voice heard.
5. Discounts: Chambers offer their members discounts and deals on everything from health insurance to computers to education, and on.
So if you’ve been curious about joining as a home-based business, you may find that it is usually a very good idea.
Steve Strauss is a senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible. Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.