National Support Your Local Chamber Day From a Member’s Perspective
What’s holding you back from your opportunities to get involved? Most business owners know that owning a business very likely includes community involvement, philanthropy, networking and continuing education. However, these are all parts of business that can cause anxiety for a small business owner or an up-and-coming young professional.
As a young entrepreneur, I didn’t have a clue about how to get involved in a community I had lived in for less than a year. I was fresh out of the Air Force, just starting a family, and doing my best to make my business work. I really didn’t know where to start.
Cue the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. At first, becoming a member was simply a way for me to get my name out there as being involved and “investing” in the community. Before long my investment became something far better than I could have ever expected. The Chamber of Commerce has given me several tools to attach to my repertoire. These tools have redirected my negative anxiety towards finding ways to plug in to the community and turned it into positive, confident, well-targeted action. It’s taken me from uneducated to advocate, from nervous to a position of poise. It has given me the OPPORTUNITY to create an impact in our community. It has challenged me to be my very best self, business owner and community leader.
An important question that I had to ask myself, outside of finding tools to get involved was “What does the chamber bring to my business?” Skepticism is generally a quality found in most entrepreneurial minds, and I am no different than most. I had to be able to find true VALUE in how the money or time I’m putting in would benefit my small business in the future. Through this vetting process I decided to get educated. I attended a “Chamber in 60” event and showed up with an open mind. I quickly learned that the Chamber is an avid advocate at the local, state, regulatory and legislative level. They attract government funding and personnel, which in turn brings me clientele to serve. They find ways to grow local infrastructure to increase tourism dollars, which allows more businesses to open locally and contributes to growth population. The Military Affairs Committee (MAC) continues to fuel our military base, Dyess Air Force Base, with pride and lobby on their behalf in Washington D.C. to ensure that our Airmen are not only taken care of, but that Dyess is going to be put to use well in the future by ensuring new squadrons of aircraft along with personnel can be housed here in Abilene.
Let’s be real for a minute. There are things that Abilene needs to survive in the future. We need talent and cohesion. We NEED to attract, retain and develop young entrepreneurs. We need to help them facilitate growth in their professional lives and we need to show them that Abilene has what they’re looking for. We need to be cohesive in every sense of the word. We are Abilene and we are stronger together than we are divided. We can make a national and global impact by working together. We do these things through education. Entrepreneurs should never stop learning, never stop moving forward, never stop mentoring, and never give up on the community that provides for them. So what’s holding you back?
It’s okay to have questions. Owning a business and entering the workforce can be daunting life changes. Ask yourself, “Why am I skeptical?” Are you anxious of where to start when you’re trying to get involved in the community? Are you not quite sure where to plug in to volunteer? Is networking something that you put off because sometimes meeting new people isn’t easy? I challenge you to CREATE YOUR OPPORTUNITY and turn your skepticism and doubts into knowledge and growth. Allow yourself the opportunity to grow here in Abilene. Allow yourself the chance to be part of a one-of-a-kind community of businesses that look out for one another. If you’re already involved, I challenge you to help others get involved, mentor them, cheer for their successes. I challenge you to educate others on the importance of a cohesive community and small business. I am happy that I found the Chamber when I did and I promise you’ll find value here, too.