Robbie Baxter defined Membership as “the state of being formally engaged with an organization or group on an ongoing basis.” He went on to say that “membership provides recognition, stability, and convenience while connecting people to one another. The Membership Economy is all about putting the customer at the center of the business model rather than the product or the transaction. “
As a small business advocate, I believe that there exists a real need for the small business owner to have an organization that is dedicated to them. Before I go into more detail, let me define the “small businesses” that, in my opinion, are in most need of such an organization; they include the solopreneur, (a one person business), businesses with up to 10 employees, and last but not least, the person that wants to start a business. I also include commission sales people that too often don’t realize that they are running their own businesses.
Technology has created an isolated small business environment. The lack of a community or peer group to share with and learn from is but one part of what is needed. Having to re-invent the basics of running a profitable business or learning how to keep up with an ever increasing change in marketing are two more issues that need to be addressed.
I believe that there is a human need for small business owners to be connected. The connections have to provide an opportunity to share products/services as well as an “answer service” that can provide help when needed. Membership also has to provide “prestige” which becomes evident by the membership brand. Members have to be given the opportunity to engage with both the organization as well as with one another.
Why don’t these “Business Membership Organizations” exist now? I found several reasons: 1) Most existing membership organizations have their focus on the organization not its members. 2) A lack of trust among small business owners, “How do you know who to trust?” 3) How to find such an organization amid the clutter of solicitations that small business owners receive promising huge rewards with very little substance. 4) Affordability is of great concern to small business owners; a three day weekend in how to succeed in business at a cost of $3,000 seldom provides the needed answers. 5) On-going support is another critical factor that must be provided. Getting a small business owner excited by attending a seminar then leaving them alone usually results in a step backwards instead of forward.
For the last five years I have been researching this issue. I believe that I have designed the framework for such a membership organization and will be looking for participants to help make it a reality. I would be very happy to share my story over a cup of coffee.
Membership is timeless, important and powerful. It is evident in our faith and should also be in our business lives.