As most long-term readers know, I’m passionate in my belief that free enterprise is the cornerstone of a successful small business in Australia.

Let me define what I mean by “˜free’ enterprise. This is the equal opportunity for anyone to be unequal in terms of success in business, their careers, and of course, in their lives (both with their families and as an individual).

Being “˜free’ to utilise outside information readily available to assist in business and personal development is a resource to which many owners, managers and employees in other regions of the world do not have access to.

Being “˜free’ to decide to expand, stabilise, or yes, contract business, and personally develop is a privilege that usually only comes about following the analysis and adoption of up-to-date information from outside sources.

That’s why the general reluctance by many to avoid involvement in one, or multiple, industry associations is very perplexing to me.

Now, I’m not going to get into a discussion about the actual number of associations there are in the timber industry.

What I do have trouble understanding is the reletively common belief that a business doesn’t need to be involved with, and committed to, an industry body solely existing to support its members.

Even if a business belongs to an association, sometimes it’s not fully engaged. I believe the reason some businesses are members is because they get a piece of tin to put on the fence, near their front gate, proclaiming that they are “Members of the “˜X,Y,Z’ Association”. It’s the feel-good factor.

So, what have I observed over the last couple of decades or so? The businesses that embrace the concept of commitment, even to multiple associations, are usually the most successful.

For example; why would a fabricator, of any size operation, only be a member of the Frame & Truss Manafacturer’s Association? If they are in the business of supplying to the building trade, why wouldn’t they also be a member of either the Timber and Building Materials Association or the Timber Merchants Association (depending on their location)? Why not even the Housing Industry Association or a similar industry body?

Why would a merchant with a focus on trade not be a member of a number of the above organisations and even add the appropriate hardware industry association?

Each of these organisations have valuable information and assistance available to their members and, generally speaking, these materials and services are different and unique to the individual bodies.

But, I hear some say; “It’s too expensive!”

After checking around I believe a small business of ten or so employees can be a member of, and engaged with, three key industry bodies that would suit their business for approximatetly $5,000 per year.

Still a problem? Make sure you seriously and objectively analyse the benefits and corporate savings and I know the memberships will turn out to be, at the very least, revenue neutral.

Maybe think of the rewards and benefits possible from this course of action?

To paraphrase an old saying; “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape!”

Or, my personal favourite, “The day you make a decision about the rest of your life is the day your world will change”.