An entrepreneur or business affinity group is key to developing an organization's network. The nature of a business is that there are good times and pretty hard times as well. It’s during some of those times that you need advice from like-minded individuals. You can also share your experiences in these groups to help someone else. The support-system you get from a business community, whether online or physical meet-up, enables you to grow and re-assure that you're not alone in the struggles you face thus increases your confidence. In the case of a large community, marketing becomes easier as the community members spread the word out there.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners if they are members of an affinity group and its benefit to them and here are the responses;
#1- Executive Women's Forum International
I attend the Executive Women's Forum International once a month. In the group, women business owners come together to discuss challenges and opportunities in their business. It works because the advice makes sense and you are among your peers. Although it's nurturing, they will not sugar coat the truth for your own benefit. You present the challenge and or opportunity, there is a round of clarifying questions and then feedback. We also have great speakers and in-depth educational discussions about topics and trends that could effect everyone's business in the room. Being in this group is a great motivation to do more since they are more advanced then I am in my business. It is long term too, so you can have ongoing support and education. It has helped me refocus my product offerings, fire a client and give more thought to an expansion.
Thanks to Hope King, Black-Tie Babysitting, Inc.!
#2- Two groups
Coming up with a brand new market (scam prevention) has it's hurdles; when one is first to market – how do consumers find you when they need you? How do you gain your customer base's confidence and trust. Joining the Better Business Bureau and the local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce has been priceless. The networking opportunities has helped us to market our product.
Thanks to Tammy Sorrento, Fireball Approves!
I joined Strategic Coach a couple of years ago because a few friends recommended it, and I've found that it’s helpful to have a peer group to share high-level business challenges with. The number one benefit of the program has been something we call Impact Filters, which are a way of documenting a project before you start: What is the best case outcome? What resources are required? What could go wrong? This process has helped our company avoid many labor-of-love type projects that sounded interesting but really didn’t have much ROI, and instead double down on the successful projects that helped us grow from $600,000 per year in sales to nearly $3 million.
Thanks to Nick Gray, Museum Hack!
#4- A number of groups
As a small business owner, speaker, author and career strategy coach, I have been an entrepreneur since I founded DeCoste & Associates in 2007. Affinity and membership groups are vital to my success. I was actively involved with the S Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce for 8 years. I have been active with Rotary of Denver Southeast since 2010 and recently I became a Gold Member for Powerteam International with Bill Walsh. Through Powerteam, I have connected with hundreds of other entrepreneurs and we have already begun several significant joint ventures that are mutually beneficial and have impacted my bottom line immediately and directly. I believe people do business with PEOPLE and they prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. So, it important to constantly expand the network in which you are known, liked, and trusted.
Thanks to Kim DeCoste, DeCoste & Associates, LLC!
#5-Key Person of Influence (KPI)
I joined an entrepreneur business accelerator group called Key Person of Influence (KPI) in Tampa, FL approximately two years ago. My business was at a difficult point where growth had plateaued. We were stuck in the startup phase of business and had reached a point where we were not growing and not as profitable as we needed to be to progress the business forward. By joining this high-level entrepreneur group and attending their strategic mentoring sessions, I gained clarity on our business that allowed us to increase our profitability quickly and substantially. I also learned how to take the next step through the Entrepreneur journey and make the necessary changes to scale and grow the business both in revenue and bottom line earnings. One of my biggest takeaways that helped transform the business was understanding “vital vs. functional” tasks that can either accelerate or choke business growth. For my business to effectively scale, I had to focus on vital tasks in the business, the ones which I as the CEO was uniquely qualified to do, and allow my team to focus on the functional tasks. The success that has come from this seemingly simple mindset was so significant I have had our entire senior management team join the Key Person of Influence entrepreneur accelerator group. In two years we have grown the company to earn a spot on the INC5000, Business Observer 500, and we were named to the 50 fastest growing Security Integrators in North America.
Thanks to Robert Hessel, Source 1 Solutions!
#6- Two groups
Women of Sex Tech: We are an inclusive community of sex-positive women changing the sex tech industry. Building any business is hard. However, there are a number of challenges related to building a business in female health that seem to require even more drive, commitment, passion and thick skin. Often, one gets the feeling that you are putting a boulder up a sharp hill, trying to create businesses and conversations that make many people uncomfortable. Women of SexTech provides partnership and collaboration and really defines the idea that a rising tide raises all boats. I have met leaders, thinkers, changer makers and pioneers who educate and inspire me as I hope I do for them. WPO – Women Presidents’ OrganizationsThe *WPO* is a non-profit membership organization for women presidents, CEOs, and managing directors of privately held, multimillion-dollar companies. Every entrepreneur needs a brain trust, a group of trusted advisors, who are smart and insightful supportive. My WPO chapter members are a unique combination of business advisors and trustworthy friends. They share constructive criticism and helpful recommendations for my most challenging professional situations. And importantly, they can relate to the complexities of managing a personal life, parenthood, and community responsibilities.
Thanks to Rachel Braun Scherl, Spark Solutions for Growth!
I'm a member of Vistage, which offers executive coaching to peer-to-peer groups of executives across non-competing industries. Over the years I've found that Vistage has provided tremendous benefit to me as an entrepreneur and small business owner. Vistage has helped me to develop stronger leadership skills, decision-making skills, and run a growing company. Since joining Vistage, business growth has increased by 25% and the agencies profits have maintained at 15% or greater. Additionally, Vistage has equipped me to be able to overcome challenges and has fostered great business relationships. Peer-to-peer based referrals for clients and vendors has increased year-over-year. In 2018, approximately 10% of new business has been referral driven.
Thanks to Alex Membrillo, Cardinal Digital Marketing!