There is a lot of value to be gained from being around other entrepreneurs. Often times when when a person decides to abandon the 9-5 to become an entrepreneur, they don’t won’t have a large circle of others who are doing the same thing or have done it. This circle can provide support, insight and ideas that can help you not only survive that first year or two, but ultimately thrive as a successful business owner. After an entrepreneur has “made it” they often feel the desire to give back to those that are starting their journey. Here are a few organizations that support entrepreneurs with peer support, learning, connections and partnerships. If you haven’t taken a look at any of them yet, I would strongly consider that you do. No matter what phase you are in, from getting ready to make the leap to established entrepreneur, there are some things only other entrepreneurs can understand.
Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
Established in 1987, this is my heavy favorite. I joined 4 years ago and it has been the best decision I have ever made. EO provides you a “forum” experience, where you have a group of 6-10 other entrepreneurs that meet monthly to discuss your challenges and provide support. The caliber of members and size of this organization (approx. 11,000 members globally) provides members with amazing learning opportunities and networking. EO provides many resources to entrepreneurs at the global and chapter levels on top of those gained by members of your forum.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
This invite only organization is limited to entrepreneurs under 40 years of age. YEC provides entrepreneurs with support through their global network and portal as well as access to PR resources, media opportunities to help build your brand. The annual dues are among the lowest of the organizations listed here. YEC has regional networking events that give entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect and build their networks.
Vistage has more than 20,000 members and was established in 1957. Clearly the value of having a mentor lead peer group is there as this organization has not only stood the test of time, but has grown consistently. Entrepreneurs with small to mid-size business meet monthly with a group leader who facilitates the full day meeting. You will be hard pressed to find CEOs of companies from $1,000,000-20,000,000 in revenues that do not belong to Vistage or another CEO advisory group. Another great CEO Advisory board group that I can personally vouch for is CEO University.
Young Presidents Organization (YPO)
The most established organization on the list was established in 1950! YPO’s concepts laid the foundation for many of the other organizations on this list. The requirements are also the toughest on the list. Members must be under 45 and have gross sales of at least $13,000,000 and be a founder or president. As you can imagine the access, networking and learning events put together by YPO are world class. Much like EO, YPO is a global organization that has local chapters that mostly manage themselves.
The new kid on the block! Founded in just 2010, it has become one of the largest networks for startups, with more than 1,000,000 founders across 100 countries. Startup Grind hosts hundreds of events a year and a global event Startup Global. They have established a partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs that has helped spread the word. Membership is free and is a great place for those just starting out or thinking about making the jump.
There are so many more, I could be writing for days. These are a great place to start and I encourage you to look into all of them and others. As entrepreneurs you learn that you can’t do it all on your own and sometimes your existing social or professional circles don’t understand the challenges you face. There are so many benefits of being part of one or more of these organizations that it would also require another post at another time. For now, take a look and get involved, you can thank me later 🙂
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