Reprinted From Entrepreneur Magazine
Ever since becoming an official entreprenuer, I have been attending entrepreneurial events. I have attended and joined 1000’s of different organizations. There are many out there that I personally haven’t gotten anything out of.
Whether you’re looking to network, meet mentors or gain insights on the latest industry trends, joining and participating in an organization has an abundance of benefits that can make you a stronger and more effective entrepreneur. However, not all organizations are created equal. That’s why I’ve compiled the following list of entrepreneurial organizations – in no particular order – that you should join if you want to experience more success than failure.
1. Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
Founded in 1987, EO has become “the global thought leader on entrepreneurship.” Entrepreneurs’ Organization gives you the opportunity to share the challenges of being an entrepreneur on their forums and EO will connect you with over 10,000 peers. EO provides you access to a mentor, offers customized learning programs, and gives you the chance to attend global networking events. EO even has a healthcare option through the Healthcare Foundation.
2. Young Entrepreneur Council.
If you’re an entrepreneur under the age of 40, then having the chance to join this invite-only organization is an absolute must. The perks of a YEC membership include peer-to-peer forums for 24/7 support, discounts on beneficial products and services, in-person events and an editorial team to assist you with content creation and distribution. Other benefits include the chance to participate in mentorship discussions and publication, and a complimentary FoundersCard membership as well.
I’ve been a member of the YEC for the past year and a half and it’s been one of the best things for my business.
Related: Thinking of Joining an Incubator? Check Off These 5 Things First.
FoundersCard, this is an organization that has over 15,000 members who enjoy generous networking events and many discounts are provided. For example, FoundersCard offers members discounts on travel expenses, business products and services, and even VIP benefits to improve your lifestyle. The lifestyle benefits include discounts from vehicle, fashion and fitness brand products. The global invite-only events are a great way to network with like-minded entrepreneurs.
4. Social Enterprise Alliance.
In 1997, six seasoned entrepreneurs met in Seattle to plan the first ever gathering of social entrepreneurs. The first event took place from November 12-15, 1998 in Colorado Springs, and SEA has been providing entrepreneurs with resources and networking opportunities ever since. Members receive subscriptions to a monthly newsletter, GrantStation Insider and extensive webinar series. Other benefits includes access to forums, the SEA Knowledge Center, consultation services, and networking opportunities at chapter events.
5. Startup Grind.
Founded in 2010, Startup Grind has become “the global leaders in Startup Events.” Over 100,000 Entrepreneurs have attended Startup Grind in the past years. It’s now in 150+ countries with over 100 events going on each month making this one of the largest entrepreneur organizations on the planet. They have a Startup Global Event once a year.
I’ve been going to Startup Grind events for the past three years and have found them one of the top events and organizations to be apart of.
6. Edward Lowe Foundation.
Founded in 1985 by Ed and Darlene Lowe, the Edward Lowe Foundation aims to “champion the entrepreneurial spirit.” This foundation achieves this fantastic goal by connecting second-stage entrepreneurs with their peers through leadership programs like Economic Gardening and the PerSpectives Roundtable System. The ELF also has the beneficial tool, YourEconomy.org which tracks the performance of over 44 million businesses in the U.S.
Related: Why Joining an Accelerator Isn’t for Every Startup
Since 1957, Vistage has been helping CEOs and companies improve and grow their business by exchanging ideas and passing along advice. Today, Vistage has more than 18,000 members and holds well over 16,000 meetings per year. Whether you want to network, speak with mentors, or meet with your peers to brainstorm ideas, Vistage is a great resource for each and every entrepreneur.
8. Association of Private Enterprise Education.
Formed at Georgia State University in 1963, APEE is an organization that provides education and information involving funding, research, programming and teaching methods. Annual membership includes consultation between members, entry into membership directories and a subscription to, ‘The Journal of Private Enterprise.’ You can also attend annual conferences to further extend your knowledge regarding entrepreneurship.
9. Young President’s Organization.
Ray Hickok founded YPO in 1950 and today has approximately 22,000 business leaders in more than 125 countries. Joining the YPO affords you the opportunity to bounce ideas or seek advice from a global network on the YPO forums. The YPO also collects performance metrics and trends for quarterly reports, networking events, and roundtable discussions. The YPO not only assists you with your business life, but it assists you with your personal life by providing guidance for family members and couple’s retreats. This is a great organization if you’re under 45.
10. United States Association Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
In 1957 the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) was founded, with the U.S. organization launching in 1981. The USASBE is a community that focuses on four pillars: entrepreneurship education; entrepreneurship research; entrepreneurship outreach; and public policy. Annual membership includes subscriptions to Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and the Journal of Small Business Management. Also included is access to their online career center with networking opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers.
If you want to change the world, then joining Ashoka should be on your shortlist of organizations. Since it’s founding in 1980, Ashoka has become the largest network of social entrepreneurs with over 3,000 members from all over the world. Ashoka provides everything from start-up financing, networking opportunities to professional support systems.
12. The Entrepreneur’s Club.
TEC may not require be a membership organization, but attending any of the ten or so events or seminars a year gives you the chance to network, exchange ideas with peers, or sit-in on discussions surrounding the latest markets trends. Events also include influential speakers ranging from Steve Blank to Guy Kawasaki.