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There are a variety of business associations open to members on local, regional and national levels. They range in purpose and industry, but all seek to bring business owners, business professionals or business students together to communicate, network and share ideas with like-minds. Even with the diverse group of business associations available, chances are that you have an idea for one that fits a specific niche that may be untapped in your area. Start your business association by following these steps:
Determine the purpose of your business association and identify your target members. Develop a clear and concise description of your business association, as well as a mission statement, vision and goals for your organization. Come up with a name and tag line. Research the business associations in your area to see if one similar to what you have in mind already exists. Talk to friends and business colleagues, as well as community members, to gauge interest in your proposed business association. Adjust your business description, vision, goals and mission according to feedback. Take the names and contact information of interested individuals, so that you can send them an invitation to attend your first association meeting and provide them with updates.
Decide if you want to start a non-profit or for-profit business association. Most associations are set up as limited liability non-profits and run by a set of articles of organization created by the founders. Aside from limited liability, the benefits of becoming a non-profit include tax-exempt status, eligibility for grants and being organized as a formal business entity.
File articles of organization with the appropriate state office, such as the secretary of state, if you decide to organize your business association as a non-profit entity. These articles should outline the name and address of your business association, a description of it and the names of the founder and members known at the time of filing. The articles of organization must be signed and mailed; approval will be sent to you via mail. There are fees associated with filing that vary by state, so check with your state office for details.
Develop program and event ideas for your business association. Determine meeting dates, format and a general agenda outline for future meetings. Create a preliminary organizational chart that lists possible committees, officers and their duties. Work with a graphic designer to create website, logo, business cards and promotional materials for your business association.
Find a location for your first meeting once you receive confirmation that your articles of incorporation have been accepted. Create an invitation and distribute it to friends, family and colleagues via email and through postal mail. Create posters and brochures and distribute them through the community at local businesses, libraries, community centers and colleges. Order or prepare refreshments for your first meeting.
- Starting and Building a Non Profit: A Practical Guide; Peri Pakroo; 2009
- Starting and Managing a Non Profit: A Legal Guide; Bruce R. Hopkins; 2009
Miranda Brookins is a marketing professional who has over seven years of experience in copywriting, direct-response and Web marketing, publications management and business communications. She has a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Towson University and is working on a master's degree in publications design at University of Baltimore.