Thursday’s Moundridge Chamber of Commerce meeting was a perfect example of how little can actually be accomplished during a meeting.
The community business leaders came together with one primary goal for the month’s meeting, and that was to brainstorm a way to keep the chamber not only alive and well but growing and becoming more vibrant.
On Thursday, the main goal that was accomplished was everyone got to eat lunch.
During the discussion the chamber’s members came up with no workable solution to the organizations budgetary woes.
Hand wringing took place the majority of the time.
The conversation didn’t get off topic too badly, but few had anything to contribute in the way of a plan of action.
The only prevalent idea for helping the chamber was to raise membership dues, and that is a horrible idea as the sole solution to the problem.
For any business, it is never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Multiple revenue streams are vital, especially in such economic times as our country currently faces.
In this case, by relying almost solely on membership dues to fund the organization, the chamber is setting itself up for disaster.
There have to be other income avenues being used otherwise the chamber’s dues are going to price the organization out of existence because the very people they are relying upon will cease to see the benefit of dropping a large sum of money into such an organization when said money could be used toward remodeling a portion of the business’s building.
The chamber already has a few fundraisers it performs as a way of generating revenue, but that clearly isn’t enough considering it was announced during Thursday’s meeting the organization consistently operates with a negative bank balance for the year.
As an organization about business, the Moundridge Chamber doesn’t seem to be displaying very much business acumen.
That can be fixed, however, if the Moundridge Chamber Board gets proactive.
They need to shake things up, but so by not passing the burdens onto the people that help make the organization successful.
More fundraisers need to be had or current events need to be expanded upon to create more opportunities to earn money.
Maybe once a month the chamber serves breakfast, or during harvest the chamber joins with a local food provider to feed the farmers working strange hours as they attempt to get their crops out of the fields and money into their pockets.
The goal of any fundraiser wouldn’t be to replace an existing business, so if such a venture would be mimicking what a business already does, the chamber and said business should work together and develop some sort of profit sharing.
Not only would such actions help all those involved make a little extra revenue, but it would also be a way to cross promote the entities taking part in the event.
Promotion is never bad.
Which is why the chamber needs to market itself better by making it known that the chamber exists, and anyone, not just businesses, can be a part of the organization since it isn’t just about commerce but also about the community.
In any given area, the local chamber should be one of the loudest voices in town as it advocates helping the community from which the member businesses benefit.
This is hard to accomplish, though, if the local business aren’t fully involved in the chamber and its directives.
Everyone that runs a business in Moundridge, no matter how large or how small, needs to pony up and join the chamber.
But just joining isn’t enough. People also need to be active and attend the meetings and other functions.
It takes everyone and their ideas to do great things, and the chamber has that potential, which is being hindered by a lack of full-on support.
Don’t be scared about being placed on a committee or having to perform a little volunteer labor because any of that stuff is worthwhile as a way to help the community that is supporting you.
The magic solution to help a cash-strapped chamber doesn’t just mean charging members more or getting more people involved.
It is going to take a myriad of actions on the behalf of the local community to push the Moundridge Chamber of Commerce forward and become an agent for change, growth and prosperity for the town.
All the answers aren’t clear yet, but the conversation has started.
However, discussing the matter for less than 30 minutes once a month as the Moundridge Chamber did Thursday is not going to cut it.
A fire needs to be lit, and there needs to be some radical action taken to force a solution to the surface.
The best way to do that would be to find a windowless room, make a pot of coffee and have all of the chamber members gather in that room, lock the doors and don’t let anyone leave until a solution is developed.
Perhaps this initial solution won’t be the cure-all, but inaction will only breed further inaction. At the very least, though, it would force everyone to get all their ideas out right then rather than waiting until after the meeting and discussing them with just a select number of members.
It is time to become proactive and do something instead of just worrying about it.
Worry gets you no where. The time for talk is quickly coming a close.
Now is the time to make something happen that will allow the chamber of commerce to live up to its potential.
Becky McCray, publisher of “Small Biz Survival: The Small Town Business Resource” ( www.smallbizsurvival.com), was kind enough to share a list of five things a chamber could do today to help turn things around.
Her comments are as follows:
1. Start a Buy Local campaign.
You can start that simply as writing an article for the local paper, and printing off some one sheet handouts. Lots of ideas here: http://www.smallbizsurvival.com/2008/08/new-ideas-for-your-shop-local-campaign.html
2. Partner with another neighboring chamber for an event.
Call a few of your surrounding chambers, both larger and smaller. Ask them what they have coming up. See how you can work together to make something even bigger.
Walk into every business in town and ask what their biggest challenge is right now. Do the same by phone for those home-based businesses and professionals.
4. Find answers.
Call the state chamber, the department of commerce, and the Kansas Sampler Foundation. See if they have answer to your business’s questions. You might be surprised what resources are out there, just for the asking.
5. Get online.
Pick any one of those five. Get started today!