An entrepreneur association is an organization made up of entrepreneurs that is organized for their benefit and the benefit of their respective businesses. Each association may be organized according to different principles and may serve different populations and purposes. Some entrepreneur associations are based in local communities, while others are national or even international in scope. An entrepreneur may choose to belong to multiple associations in order to take advantage of the various benefits and resources provided by individual organizations.
Entrepreneurs typically start their businesses on their own or with one or two other partners. By networking with other entrepreneurs, a business owner has the opportunity to share ideas, establish accountability, and get support for his business. In addition, those who belong to an entrepreneur association can form strategic partnerships that can enhance their businesses.
Some associations focus on providing benefits to small business owners who might not otherwise have the opportunity to source products and services at a discounted rate because of the size of their business. This type of entrepreneur association essentially forms a buying club and can negotiate appropriate discounts and favorable terms with various vendors. In addition, these groups operate as a network of business owners who can provide courtesy discounts to each other. By being able to save money on needed purchases and having a ready-made pool of customers, entrepreneurs who belong to these groups may be able to improve the bottom line of their business.
Another type of entrepreneur association provides guidance and education to its members. In some cases, new business owners may have the opportunity to enter into mentoring relationships with more experienced business owners. By working directly with someone who can successfully establish and run her own business, a new entrepreneur can avoid many of the missteps that can sink a new business. More established business owners may belong to a group that serves as an advisory board, something that a sole proprietor may desperately need but will seldom be able to establish on his own.
A specialty entrepreneur association exists to meet the needs of those who work in certain industries or who share similar characteristic or needs. For example, there are associations for women and the disabled. Owners of franchise businesses may establish a franchise association as an alternative support network outside the corporate office. Home business owners may also benefit from belonging to a group made up of other home-based business owners, particularly given the challenges of working from home.