Should your small business join a local chamber of commerce?
If you’re looking for ways to increase sales and grow your business, joining a local chamber of commerce may be the right option. In this post we will explore the missions of various chambers and the benefits of becoming a member.
Table of Contents
- What is a Local Chamber of Commerce?
- Chamber Mission and Purpose [With Examples]
- How a Chamber Membership Can Serve Your Business
What is a Local Chamber of Commerce?
A local chamber of commerce is a network for businesses that operate in the same location or within a particular industry.
The chamber organization works in the best interest of these businesses through advocacy, networking, and various other benefits. Because each chamber caters to similar businesses, there are thousands of them across the United States, and each is completely different. There are also different levels of chambers.
For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a national group that serves all kinds of American businesses. There are also state organizations, such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, a statewide organization that serves businesses large and small in Ohio. The scope then narrows even further to local chambers, such as the Greater Cleveland Partnership or the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce.
No matter where you are or what kind of business you have, it’s safe to assume there is a chamber of commerce that can support you.
Chamber of Commerce Mission and Purpose [With Examples]
Now that you know what a chamber of commerce is, you may be wondering what exactly it does. What is the purpose of a chamber of commerce? That’s a good question.
The short answer is: to serve and advocate for businesses in a certain area or industry. However, there are many different chambers across the nation, all with slightly different missions.
On a national scale, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents businesses of all types from across the United States. According to their website, “Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing—they count on the Chamber to be their voice in Washington, D.C.”.
Therefore, the mission of the U.S. Chamber is to speak for American businesses in Congress.
State-level chambers often have similar missions. Let’s continue to use the Ohio Chamber of Commerce as an example.
Their mission states, “As the state’s leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans”.
Any business, small or large, can become a member of this organization if they hail from Ohio.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland’s Chamber of Commerce, is one of the largest metropolitan chambers in the United States.
Their website states that, “We're focused on driving the economic vitality of our region through building a strong and thriving climate for the broad business community, including small businesses, middle-market companies and large corporations”. This organization strives to better serve its members by dividing them into different programs.
For small businesses, there is the Council for Smaller Enterprises (COSE) which advocates for small businesses in the greater Cleveland area. The Accelerating Middle-Market Progress (AMMP) division serves middle-market companies in the region.
All chambers of commerce have similar missions, but each goes about accomplishing it in different ways.
How a Chamber Membership Can Serve Your Business
It’s true that most chambers will partially rely on your membership dues to remain in operation. Most chambers are nonprofit, private organizations, so they rely on funds from membership dues, donations, and fundraising to keep the lights on.
Membership costs vary depending on the size of your business and number of employees you have, but most charge around $300 - $400 per year.
As the saying goes, “you get out what you put in”. If you put in the time and the capital, there are many business-boosting benefits to being a chamber of commerce member. Here are five of the top examples:
1. Increased Credibility
We put this one first, because it’s probably the most important. By marketing your business as a chamber of commerce member, you boost credibility and your business becomes more desirable to customers.
You’ll also have an advantage over your non-member competition, as customers will see your business as more trustworthy. Many chambers will allow you to use their logo on your website or marketing materials, so make sure to take advantage of that!
2. Discounts and Resources
Being a member has additional perks for your day-to-day operations. As a member, you may have access to assistance with:
- Discounted insurance
- Office supplies
- Accounting software
- Payroll services
- And more!
Think of your membership as an AAA® card for your business and enjoy savings every day! Network with other members and you’ll find that you can access many different business resources to help solve problems or improve efficiency.
3. Networking & Advocacy Advantages
We touched on this at the end of the last section, but networking within your chamber can be a great way to find the resources you maybe didn’t even know you needed. Share triumphs, express concerns, and talk about your business challenges with other business owners in your area and you’ll likely find the answer you need.
Or, perhaps you will be able to assist another business with a challenge. Because the chamber’s mission is to support the businesses in your area or industry, it will act as a voice for your common needs with local government.
As a member, you have the power to help influence change for the businesses in your community.
4. Professional Development Events
Often chambers host training, educational, or meeting sessions for businesses in the area. Be sure to send a team to events relevant to your business to encourage growth and learning.
Many of these events are designed to teach new skills or help employees improve upon current skills to better run your business. Plus, events are often free for members or available at an extremely discounted rate.
5. Marketing Opportunities
Especially when you first become a member, your chamber may help to promote your business. The chamber likely has a larger following than your small business, so take advantage of their reach and the exposure they can offer your business. Make sure to follow them on social media and share relevant posts to your own page.
Joining a chamber of commerce is an outstanding way to be part of the community and grow your network. If you are considering joining yours, we hope that this post aids in your decision.
Just remember, you get out what you put in, so participate in events, network, and raise your voice for the community!
If you’re looking for more ways to grow your business, contact us today! Our various merchant services offerings can help you increase efficiency, boost profitability, and enhance the customer experience.