We’ve discussed the rise of the solopreneur a couple of times on this blog. Many solopreneurs don’t think to join the chamber, not because they couldn’t benefit from it but because they have several limitations such as:
- money is tight
- networking time is tight as well and it’s easier to do during off hours
- they don’t feel represented (how many business initiatives is the chamber supporting that helps virtual businesses?)
These reasons are pretty common and we could probably name a few more that would be shared by this career demographic. But have you ever thought about how these solopreneurs would change your chamber if they became members or how you would need to change your chamber to entice these people to join? And do you want to?
The Solopreneur Effect
Here are a few things to consider about how your chamber may change if you saw the potential behind solopreneurs:
Solopreneurs are used to online networking and social media. Chances are, if they don’t have a brick and mortar office, that’s how they started their business. They will expect you to be responsive on social, listening, and have a social and virtual component to the chamber. They’ll expect information on membership and a Join Now button that will allow them to join your chamber when they want to.
Some solopreneurs would find unscheduled phone calls or drop-ins a severe inconvenience to their business but that doesn’t mean they are anti-social. Many of them find their social outlets in online communities with other solopreneurs or being part of incubators and shared work offices. Some chambers have created space in their offices for member use or shared work.
We tend to assume that business people are in our community because they love it. Maybe they grew up here or maybe they transferred in. Chambers make sure the economic landscape is appealing to businesses so that they relocate here or open branch offices.
Solopreneurs can be transient. All they’re looking for is a good Internet connection. Will they have the same interest in the economic development of your area when their business connection is virtual? Probably not.
They’ll be more focused on the quality of life your community provides. They’ll want things to do and beauty. If they became a solopreneur to create the type of life they want without the constraints of a corporate business, it’s likely they’ll want the same in a community. They might be more interested in the free concert in the park, for instance, than workforce development.
As a chamber, you will likely need to think about how, or if, you’ll adapt to the solopreneur. Some areas will see a lot more of them than others and each chamber will need to decide what works for their community. But this group of business owners has very different needs and concerns. Choosing to market to them may change your chamber and your offerings quite a bit.