Last week I happened to be running through Christchurch, dwelling on my learnings from the recent Franchise Association of New Zealand Conference, and in particular what makes being part of a group valuable.
Against the Christchurch background I thought of the African proverb – If you want to run fast, run alone; if you want to run far, run together. Running together is running in association. Association has certainly helped Christchurch rebuild and move forward. However, we can all benefit by being associated with others with similar needs and interests.
Formal associations include franchises and cooperatives, industry and sector associations, chambers of commerce, and business networks. Informal associations are people bound by ideas or common goals. In all its guises, association generates collective wisdom and collective power.
Collective wisdom is knowledge created by and shared by individuals and groups. Association collects and distributes the information and knowledge related to that group’s interest in a number of ways.
Best practice is a term used by many to define how they wish to operate. To define best practice for our business, we need to understand what that involves, and this requires data across a range of fields. Only through the collective wisdom generated in association with others are we able to define what is best practice.
Professional and industry experience is gathered over time in an ever-expanding pool.
Industry trends and developments can often be difficult to keep on top of when you are running your business day to day. Again, it requires shared and collated data. Legislation and regulation, like industry trends, can also be challenging to stay on top of and up to date about.
Perhaps most importantly, and the reason that many join a formal association, is that the speed of learning and growth is accelerated by accessing the collective learning and development experiences.
Collective power. The essence of collective power is that a group can assert greater influence than individuals. How can this power be flexed?
Creating and promoting a brand. Brand decisions influence almost every aspect of our lives. Franchises are brands, as are industry organisations, as it the local rugby or surf lifesaving club. They all have a group identity or a brand. This makes promotion, communication and marketing all that much easier as people relate to and identify with, and ultimately make decisions based on brands. By simply being part of the brand, a lot of that hard work is undertaken for you.
Almost every franchise system will tout their group purchasing power over individual businesses. Likewise, most chambers of commerce, industry groups and professional associations will have areas of purchasing power. In some instances, the benefits can be significant and provide a real competitive advantage.
In a world where legislation and regulation are increasingly prevalent, having a voice is vital and ensuring your voice is heard and protected is critical. Accordingly, advocacy and representation are high on the list of functions for many formal associations.
Whether formal or informal in structure, there’s great benefit in being associated with others. So I encourage you to join, be active and take advantage of the association(s) available to you in your region, industry or sector. Let’s run together.