As a small business owner, the idea of working on your own can be quite exhilarating at times. The sense of freedom is invigorating when you get to choose the direction you want the business to go in, choose the products or services to sell, the projects you go after and the type of people you wish to meet.
Still, it can be pretty challenging too. It is rarely a “9 to 5” job and often demands long hours because the "buck always stops with you".
As the captain of the ship, we are responsible for leading and managing the business every day. Taking care of staff and customers is a huge responsibility and requires a lot of consideration, so it can be quite daunting and even a little lonely at times.
Sometimes we have important decisions to make or need advice in a particular area. Knowing there is someone you can turn to for help and support is a wonderful resource to have.
The feeling of being part of a bigger team is very empowering, especially when we know there are people out there who will represent not only our business, but also, our industry and profession to the government on a nationwide basis.
Having the chance to come together at events with other like-minded people to share ideas and experiences can be very reassuring and rewarding.
Everyone knows a recommendation through word of mouth is one of the most valuable assets when it comes to sales. Through networking, we can open so many doors to create sales opportunities and build alliances too.
Budgets can be a little tight at times too. So, having the opportunity to reduce costs or upskill staff at very reasonable rates can help build confidence, motivate staff, and improve efficiencies and skills.
In essence, knowing I have someone to lean on, feeling a sense of comradeship and having a voice in Irish business are three of the most important reasons why I believe business owners should be part of a business group.
There are many wonderful business associations out there, serving many different industries and professions, manifestos and purposes. All of them have the common purpose - supporting their members. Often people will join a number of groups depending on their needs. Personally, I am a member of several and joined them for different reasons.
One association that I get so much out of is ISME (Irish Small & Medium Sized Enterprises). They are a wonderful group of people who really put their members first. Recently at the ISME annual lunch held in Croke Park, I was invited to participate in a promotional video. I was a little nervous, yet honoured to be asked along with other fantastic business people, including the amazing Moya Doherty of Riverdance and RTE.