The first documented chamber of commerce commenced in 1599 in France. Since then, the concept has spread like wildfire. This has resulted in nearly every country, state, and even city developing a local chamber of commerce.
With so much growth and change over the years, this clever business support model has evolved into the perfect opportunity for large and small business owners alike. Unfortunately, the chamber has earned a bad rep in many regions.
From small businesses believing chambers aren’t worth the investment to misguided information about the way they work, the myths of your local chamber of commerce could be causing you to miss out on a great business community. Luckily, we’re here today to dispel these myths and uncover the truth.
Follow along to learn about the most common myths surrounding these organizations. Plus, discover why you should disregard them when deciding if you should join.
1. They Are Part of the Government
We can understand how this myth may have formed, but believe it or not, your local chamber of commerce is a business just like you.
While it would be amazing if the government supported these organizations to help small businesses grow, each chamber of commerce is an independent business with a unique model. Just like you operate by helping customers, chambers are designed to help small businesses grow.
Instead of a business-to-customer model, these organizations work by utilizing business-to-business sales via memberships. Of course, while they need to make money to survive and function, the mission and vision behind a local chamber of commerce is much nobler than that.
2. Chambers Are Only for Non-Profits
Another strange misconception about these organizations is that they are only for non-profits. While non-profit businesses are welcome to join, membership is open to all businesses. In fact, the model thrives off of small business owner membership.
As we mentioned above, the primary goal of this business community is to provide opportunities for other businesses to grow. Each chamber offers a plethora of services that any business can benefit from. What’s more, is that things like events and courses are open to any member wanting to participate.
Whether you are a non-profit organization or a budding business looking to grow and scale your sales, they will be happy to support you in your business ownership goals.
3. They Only Care About Local Business
Supporting local business is great, but what if you’re looking to grow on a larger scale? Can a chamber of commerce still be beneficial? The short answer is, yes!
While chambers have been known to promote business on a local plane, there are many commerce organizations that promote businesses nationally or even internationally.
For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business community and supports businesses of all sizes in all niche markets. This is a prime example of a worldwide organization that is geared to supporting anyone on the difficult journey that is business ownership.
4. Chambers Are Boring
Being a member of a chamber means you’ll be obligated to attend boring events and listen to lectures on business development, right? Actually, no.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to participate in chamber events if they do not suit your business needs. Of course, skipping out valuable events because you think they will be ‘boring’ may be a membership mistake.
Events and courses are geared towards raising funds and bringing awareness to businesses on the board. However, they are anything but boring. In fact, you may learn valuable tips and tricks that could help your business get past that growth plateau you’ve been facing.
Beyond this, those events are great environments to raise brand awareness. They are also great to network with other small business owners that you could partner with in the future. Even if your business isn’t a featured member at an event, attending and supporting the initiative could contribute to your support from other businesses down the road.
5. Membership Is Overpriced
If you’ve been avoiding joining your local chamber of commerce because of your small business budget, we’ve got great news for you. Unlike other marketing initiatives, joining the chamber is actually a very affordable and worthwhile investment for your business.
Yearly membership is usually only a few hundred dollars. This small investment usually includes a magnitude of services that you can opt-in or out of as you see fit. Beyond this, you’ll also have excluding access to valuable extras and add-ons.
All in all, investing in a chamber membership is one of the best things your business can do, especially if you’re looking to grow on a local scale!
6. They’re Just for Networking
As we mentioned above events are a great opportunity to network with other businesses looking to grow and scale. Of course, this isn’t the only purpose or benefit of becoming a member.
Each chamber works hard to bring in courses and offerings that are designed to help you improve. From talking shop with other businesses to advancing your knowledge in marketing and business topics, your chamber could be the business advancement opportunity you’ve been searching for.
Believe it or not, some chambers even offer things like a health care scheme for participating members. This can make it easier and more affordable for you to provide health care benefits to your staff. This could potentially contribute to keeping your employees loyal. On top of that, offering affordable benefits can help you support the workplace morals and initiatives you believe in.
7. Only Senior Level Professionals Are Members
One of the most devastating myths we’ve heard is that these organizations are only for senior-level professionals. The problem with this is that myths can easily become facts when enough people believe them. This discriminating factor then holds chambers back from developing and reaching their goal of helping you grow.
If you’re looking to target a younger audience, this may deter you from believing your chamber could be of any real benefit for your unique needs. Of course, this is simply not true.
At the end of the day, chambers are open to members of all ages and encourage diversity to ensure every business benefits. To help ensure this happens, chambers are continually encouraging members of all demographics to take part and contribute their opinions.
If you have been feeling like you ‘won’t fit in’, you’re the perfect candidate to join! The chamber is not only perfectly suitable for your needs but will also value your opinion for continual growth and advancement.
8. Chambers Are Made Up of Strictly Volunteer Staff
Volunteers are great, but many businesses become skeptical when trusting their business-building efforts to volunteer staff. Fortunately, this volunteer-driven myth is far from the truth.
Many chambers do accept and appreciate volunteer help. However, the success of your business is not left in the hands of uneducated volunteers. In fact, becoming a CEO for these organizations requires an elite level of buisness experience and education. Just as the first female CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark.
You can rest assured knowing that the board of your local chamber is topped up with educated professionals that have your best interest at heart.
9. Membership Automatically Boosts Your Business
While some businesses are under the impression that membership isn’t worth the cost, others buy in believing that becoming a member will magically boost their business results.
While this would be great, the truth is that you can only expect to gain as much as you give to your chamber membership.
This means that becoming a member won’t help you network, advance your knowledge, or benefit your small business if you don’t take part in any commerce initiatives. As we mentioned above, membership does not obligate you to any of these growth opportunities, but neglecting them altogether is as good as throwing your money away.
To see results, you’ll want to become an active and enthusiastic member in whatever capacity you can. The more you are willing to work for it, the better your business-building efforts will be!
Local Chamber of Commerce Myths
From who the local chamber of commerce is for to what and how they can benefit your business, we hope this myth-busting article helps clear up any misconceptions you may have had. At the end of the day, joining your local chamber of commerce can be a great step on your business ownership journey.
Want more tips and advice on navigating the business world? Check out our other articles to discover everything you need to know about growing your small business and the tools you can use in your approach.