A diverse group of smiling people sit in a circle in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Some have laptops on their laps; others have pieces of paper. A man, partially obscured by another man in the foreground, shows a piece of paper to an older woman who is rising to her feet.
Joining a local business organization will give you an opportunity to share ideas and learn from other small business owners. — Getty Images/SolStock

Growing a small business can be a challenging and lonely endeavor, so you want to take advantage of any resources you can find. Fortunately, many local organizations provide mentorship, training and business development to small business owners. Here are six local business organizations to check out.

Your local chamber of commerce

One of the best ways to form business connections in your community is by joining your local chamber of commerce. You’ll pay a fee to join the organization, but it’ll be worth it, especially if you rely heavily on local business.

When you join a chamber of commerce, you can network with other business owners. You’ll also receive discounts on valuable services for your business. And you may even have access to free marketing opportunities or customer referrals.

[Read more: Chamber of Commerce Directory]

SCORE

If you’re interested in obtaining business mentorship, SCORE is an organization you’ll want to check out. It’s owned by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and provides free mentorship to small business owners.

Your SCORE mentor can help you refine your business plan, work through challenges and provide practical feedback about your business. When you sign up, you’ll receive three hours of remote mentorship from one of SCORE’s volunteers.

[Read more: How SCORE Can Help You Start a Business]

Entrepreneurs’ Organization

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) was founded in 1987 to help like-minded entrepreneurs learn about and grow their businesses. The organization has grown to become an influential community of over 14,000 business owners in 61 different countries.

If your business brings in more than $1 million in annual revenue, you’re eligible to join EO. Members receive access to networking events, professional development opportunities and peer-to-peer forums.

One of the best ways to form business connections in your community is by joining your local chamber of commerce.

1 Million Cups

Founded in 2012, 1 Million Cups focuses on educating entrepreneurs across the country. The program provides new entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to break down the barriers that stand in the way of growing their business.

There are a couple of different ways you can get involved with 1 Million Cups. First, you can find your local community and register for an event.

If you’re a new entrepreneur who’s been in business for less than five years, you can sign up to give a presentation. Every week, two entrepreneurs will present their business idea to a group of peers.

When it’s time for your presentation, you’ll give your pitch for the first six minutes and then participate in a 20-minute Q&A session. The feedback you receive will help you refine your business idea and get insights from other experienced business owners.

Small Business Development Centers

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are an often-overlooked resource offered by the SBA. These centers are located across the country and provide the following resources to small businesses:

  • Business consulting.
  • Accessing financing.
  • Coming up with a business plan.
  • Marketing.
  • Regulatory compliance.

Since these centers tend to attract a lot of business owners, your local SBDC may provide valuable networking opportunities as well. So even if you have some experience in business, it’s worth checking out the free resources your local SBDC provides.

[Read more: What is a Small Business Development Center?]

Business Network International

If you’re looking for new networking opportunities, you’ll want to check out Business Network International (BNI). The organization has more than 7,500 chapters across the country, which makes it the largest networking organization available.

Local chapters meet regularly to pitch their business ideas, provide support to other members and share referrals. So when you join your local BNI, you’ll gain immediate access to a sizable networking platform that could help your business.

To get started, you’ll have to find your local chapter and apply for membership. If you’re not sure whether BNI is the right fit for you, you’re welcome to sit in on your first meeting for free.

[Read more: How to Network From Home]

Kiwanis

If you want to join a purpose-driven organization, then Kiwanis is a great organization to consider. Kiwanis International is an organization of volunteers that are dedicated to improving the lives of children around the world.

Every year, Kiwanis clubs raise more than $100 million to support community causes like building all-access playgrounds, creating food pantries and hosting diversity fairs. The organization also offers youth programs to help develop and cultivate the next generation of leaders.

If you’re interested in getting involved, the organization is always looking for corporate partnerships. This can be a good way to meet like-minded individuals and invest in a cause you care about.

The Rotary Club

The Rotary Club is another organization that’s creating lasting change around the world. The organization has over 35,000 clubs dedicated to fighting disease, providing clean water, investing in education and growing local economies.

As a Rotary Club member, you will get to network with other leaders and discuss ways to positively impact your community. Rotary Club members are invited to attend the yearly convention and receive access to discounts on certain products and services.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 14, 2021